Language Matters!

March 4, 2009 § 6 Comments

I’ve written about the significance of language before, in my very first post on Women’s Glib. I’m fascinated by language and linguistics, particularly from a feminist viewpoint, because the way we talk about gender and sex has tremendous bearing on the way we think and act. Little things like welcoming a class full of students by saying “hey guys,” as I wrote about in the post, are representative of much larger social issues.

I’d like to continue what that post started by announcing a new series, Language Matters. Click below the fold for the second edition of the series.

Part Two: Choice and Life

I’m not sure when I started substituting “anti-choice” for “pro-life” – probably around eighth grade, if I remember right. The first time I used the word in conversation with a non-feminist, they snickered. “What’s that? Don’t you mean pro-life?”

No. That’s not what I mean, and here’s why: I am pro-life. I am completely in support of each person’s right to life – their right to go to school and grow up and decide what their favorite food is and ask questions and read magazines and get a job and dream about changing the world. That’s why I’m a pacifist. I want all of those things for every person on this earth, and I’m tired of being made to seem like I’m against life because I am pro-choice.

For me, being pro-life is being pro-women’s lives. It is one the most demeaning things in the world to feel that the government values the life of the fetus potentially living inside me more than my life. It will be a person. I am a person. It will have a life – a life that I’ll fight to protect – but I’ve already got one. It’s a goddamn group of cells. I’m a woman. I laugh at the idea of someone who believes in lives, who believes in autonomy and the right of every thing to exist, telling me how to live mine.

That’s why I much prefer the term anti-choice to pro-life, because that’s what this whole fuss is about: telling women what to do with their bodies, their futures, their lives, instead of letting us choose for ourselves. If anti-choicers were truly pro-life, they would give a shit once the fetus was born – which, you know, they don’t: anti-choicers are the ones who are cutting funds for child care and children’s hospitals. And if they really cared about reducing the number of abortions, they’d stop pouring millions of dollars into bullshit sex ed programs and limiting access to birth control. What they are actually interested in is limiting women’s choices – limiting women’s lives.

That sounds like just the opposite of pro-life to me.

Previously in Language Matters: Part One: “Hey Guys!”

§ 6 Responses to Language Matters!

  • shira says:

    I agree with you on all accounts, Miranda! Language reveals how we express ourselves and our ideals. Linguistically, it sounds like “pro-choice” people are “anti-life,” which is the antithesis of the happiness pro-choice people choose to pursue through equality.

    This is a beautiful post and I look forward to commenting this series up (if that makes sense…)!

  • Renee says:

    This is exactly why I refuse to use the term pro life to describe what they advocate. This isn’t about affirming life, this is about controlling womens lives and bodies. I routinely refer to them as pro birth because after the child is born they loose all interest in the life of the child. A child that we cannot or will not educate,or that grows in poverty, in a world that is filled with so much plenty is disgusting. If we are going to ask women to sacrifice their bodies and a great deal of their time and energy to child rearing it is absolutely imperative that we be as supportive as possible.

  • Vera says:

    I completely agree with everything you have said in this post. Also, not just related to the diction but the debate itself, there seems to be this crazy idea that pro-choice activists are also pro-abortion. I know we talked about this once before but it still blows my mind. No one “likes” abortions. They are scary and painful and extremely trying. The pro-choice message is just that, a support of a woman’s autonomy, it is not in fact a call for all women to get pregnant as much as possible and then get as many abortions as possible. I thought of this because I feel like the post addresses the label “pro-life” as one method of demonizing pro-choice activists. The idea that pro-choice is synonymous with pro-abortion is another such method.

  • [...] in Language Matters: Part One: “Hey Guys!”; Part Two: Choice and Life Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Having Sex For The First TimeTwo Women Create [...]

  • Gwen says:

    I hate to be the obnoxious poster making a knee jerk disagreement, but, well, it seems I’m going to do it anyway.

    Politicians who tout themselves as “pro-life” are most commonly pro abstinence-only education, anti-wellfare, “Christians” who are pandering to an audience for votes. But that doesn’t mean that everyone is. As someone who considers herself both pro-life and a feminist, I’m not advocating that we immediately stop all abortions. Instead, I support MORE accessibility to condoms/birth control for high school students, as well as programs that promote safe sex more than/as much as abstinence. Also, I strongly advocate funding for education programs and day care programs, particularly at offices and work places, to give the child quality care and a way for the mother to work and support herself without having to worry about her child. Also, I believe there are major improvements to be made to adoptive services so that, if a woman is not ready for or unable to support a child, she can be comfortable (as comfortable as one can be in such a situation) giving up her child to another family.

    I may sound ignorant or naive, but I would hate for you continue thinking that pro-life believers are as you picture them. To me, being pro-life is being able offer a woman alternatives to abortion, and gradually making non-medically necessary abortions obselete, rather than stopping abortion by itself and not addressing the subsequent problems.

    (And though this post may sound rude and obnoxious, I really enjoy the rest of your blog. I just wanted, in my own, probably unclear way, to clarify that being pro-life, at least to me, is definitely not the same thing as being anti-chocie.)

  • [...] or even concede no response at all, but I prefer to direct public attention to a post I’ve written previously on this subject. My own words: I am pro-life. I am completely in support of each person’s right to life [...]

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