Prometheus, Vaginas, and the A-Word. (HINT: It’s Abortion).

This weekend, I went to see the movie Prometheus. If you’ve been alive and within 50 feet of a television or computer screen in the past 30+ years, you know what a chestburster is.  If you haven’t, you’re welcome.  Summing up the plot pf Prometheus quickly (SPOILERS), Noomi Rapace (of Dragon Tattoo fame) has sex with a man who ingested some primordial alien ooze. Ten hours later she’s three months pregnant with a terrible alien fetus. She asks (logically) to have it removed from her body. David (an android played magnificently by Michael Fassbender), tells her “that’s not possible.” So she runs away to the self-contained surgery suite that Charlize Theron has smuggled on board.  I know.  Stick with me.

Noomi Rapace, wracked with cramps (?) paws away at the control panel of the surgery suite, is asked what procedure she would like, then speaks the dreaded word aloud:


The control panel tells her that unfortunately, the table is designed for men only. She swears, manages to program for removal of a foreign body from the abdominal cavity, climbs on the table, and…well, we are treated to a scene of graphic abdominal surgery, topped off by a robot hand equipped with forceps, reaching into the character’s stomach and pulling out an alien fetus.

Two weeks ago, Michigan state Rep. Lisa Brown said the word vagina on the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives and was banned from speaking for the rest of the session (later reduced to only the remainder of the day, ’cause that totally makes it better). Another Michigan Rep, Mike Callton, had the following gem of a quote:

“What she said was offensive. It was so offensive I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.”

Rep. Brown responded logically:

 “If I can’t say the word vagina, why are we legislating [on] vaginas?” she asked. “What language should I use?”  To clear up any lingering confusion, she noted that vagina was the “medically correct term”, adding: “We’re all adults here.”

Let’s return to Prometheus. I will give you three guesses what the “medically correct term” is for the removal of a fetus from a woman’s body. Abortion.  It’s abortion. However Noomi’s character was impregnated, whatever the reason for her needing to remove the fetus, she needed an abortion.

And the self-contained surgical suite (from the FUTURE. Stowed away by a FEMALE crew member) was only programmed for male bodies. Ignoring the probability of any of those plot points holding true, the whole scene stinks of an intricate dance set up for a single purpose: to avoid using the word abortion.

Because, as Rep. Callton noted, “I would not say that in mixed company.” In a movie filled with sex, gore, violent death, sexism, mild racism, aliens, and the depiction of a woman having a fetus CUT OUT OF HER STOMACH, they didn’t say the word abortion once.

‘Cause to be “medically correct” would be stepping too far over that line.

What happened on the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives and in the movie Prometheus ia happening all over the country and the world. Opponents assume that by stifling dialog and silencing those impacted by anti-choice laws and policies, they will continue to win the debate. And they are not wrong. In the Michigan House, the anti-choice bill passed 70-39.

As long as silencing is a tactic of the opposition, we must stand up, like Rep. Brown, and speak truth to power.  The next day, Eve Ensler read from the Vagina Monologues on the steps of the Michigan legislature. “Medically correct terms” are not dirty words – they are the truth of the war on women and the power behind the fight for women’s health.

So if you were looking for a talking point for when your friends bring up the movie Prometheus, ask them what they thought of the abortion scene. Let’s keep the dialog truthful, powerful, and as always, medically accurate.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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