STIGMA. We all get stigmatized for our choices, and in the last few weeks since the new abortion laws were passed, I have been hearing a lot from women who have been stigmatized for having an abortion, considering one, not having any children, having them outside of marriage, not having them on time, or having them “too late”, past her prime. We all know the ugly feeling of judgment, like we can’t do right when the world says we are wrong. But, stigma is just judgment that we are willing to accept.
The way I have dealt with all my “wrong” and difficult choices is to be proud of them, not hide them, even flaunt them in the face of people who try to inflict guilt. Why? It releases me from the stigma. It is my way of saying no to their judgment, not accepting it, not internalizing it, and remaining free from carrying that stigma around.
When you argue or have a vicious fight with someone who is judging you, the more you argue for your choices, the more you validate them and their judgment about you. Why should I argue with a mental midget that I am an equal to that mental midget? Why should I argue with an ignorant buffoon, that I should be able to make choices in my best interest without his/her approval? That drops me down to the buffoon’s psychological level.
Instead, I openly talk about the benefits of the choices I have made, how guilt free I feel, I revel in my freedom, I gloat about how I have never felt wrong, only absolutely right. Basically, I am demonstrating how great I feel, and how powerless their words of judgment are compared to my happiness. It really shuts people up.
Last summer I was at a social gathering, when two men whose egos I refused to stroke, tried to shame me in front of other guests. They agreed that at my age, my chances of scoring a “real man” like they were are nil, how at my age and my inability to bear a child made me absolutely useless to successful and powerful men, and that they were willing to introduce me to some guys would be willing to give me a chance. I’m not kidding, this was a very upscale social gathering, with seemingly educated people. I was the only female in the room who was refusing to validate both of them, the one refusing to be in awe of their bloated self-aggrandizing personalities, so they decided to talk about me in front of all the men in the room and the wives who believe in them.
Sure judgment feels awful, however I was not willing to accept it from them. Had I started to cry, I would have confirmed my insecurity to them, and they would have puffed up even more. Had I taken my boxing gloves out (I am an excellent verbal fighter) and argued for my choices, my words would have fallen on deaf ears, the douche bags only wanted to hear what they wanted to hear. And had I fought viciously, they would have used my anger as proof that they are right, and I am some angry, disgruntled woman.
So, I took a gulp of champagne, sparkled myself up, closed my eyes and took a very deep breath in and a giant orgasmic smile lit up my face. Without any acknowledgement of their judgment, I started to tell my own story to everyone in the living room. I started to revel in my singleness, shamelessly announced how much I enjoy having multiple men at the same time, how virile younger men are, and the deliciousness of enjoying a vibrant sex life. They also criticized my global travels and tried to say that I was a bored, lonely spinster for traveling so much. So, I gloated about what it is like to get on a plane, fly to an island in Thailand, and get f*cked for a long weekend by an international friend with benefits. I also exclaimed that none of this would be possible if I had children. As I stood there in that living room surrounded by judgmental strangers, I was totally lit, very much at ease with myself, almost boasting about having multiple-orgasms, and how not being married is advantageous to a woman in her prime. I could not shut up, I just went on and on for ten minutes, while there was total silence in the room.
When I was finished, I took a very deep breath and released, as if I just had a massive orgasm. Then I asked the ladies if any of them have ever had a real orgasm or if they fake it with their old men?
After that, not one person in the room dared to challenge me. I just described the awesomeness and the rightness of every choice I had made without stooping to their level. When they went low, I went super high J
My point is that we all have a choice whether to accept judgment, or not be affected by it. Judgment is only a powerful manipulation tool IF we accept it. When we demonstrate that it has no power over our emotions nor our self-worth, we also demonstrate the power we have over ourselves. No one will dare to rub your actions in your face when they see how powerful you feel for having made that choice.
Stigma is just judgment we have accepted. When you feel stigmatized, a part of you has accepted the wrongness of a choice you made, even when you made it in your best interest. Release all stigma, it isn’t yours, it belongs to the ones who attempted to control you by manipulating you with guilt. Focus on the rightness of each choice you made. Never explain why you made that choice, you owe no one your excuses. Instead, focus only on all the best things that happened as a result of you doing what is best for yourself. Never display guilt, shame, second-thoughts- all these feelings may be valid to you, but sharing your personal doubts with shamers will only amplify them, and give them a tool to beat you up with.
Many of you know that I have been volunteering for Planned Parenthood since college. Imagine how beat up women feel for making a difficult choice, and what it is like to face a crowd of angry mobs who will spit, shame, assault so that you would make a choice in their interest. Seven years ago a woman did something I thought was absolutely genius. She decided to go live on Youtube, and demonstrate using the Morning After pill, show to the public what it is like to miscarry or abort live, and openly talk about the side-effects, what is happening to her body by the hour, in full confidence of the choice she made. That one video completely demystified and destigmatized the process.
She took questions from her viewers live, addressed critics and haters with confidence, but also took questions from women who were terrified of the scary side effects they heard about. They watched her go through the process live and she was perfectly calm, and rational about it.
The reason I bring up this story is that I think she did more for the cause than anybody else. She stood on live camera fearlessly and brought down the argument that the morning after pill is dangerous, permanently damaging, painful, etc. Since her, many other women have done the same, documenting their choice, pre and post abortion to educate.
We destigmatize things by openly talking about them, not hiding as if they are shameful. Stigma is just a bad feeling we all carry. It was inflicted on us by someone who manipulated us to choose what is right for them, not for us. It is your choice to accept stigma, and totally within your power to release it.
Rather than complain about how the world makes you feel bad because you are unmarried, your biological clock is ticking, you are having sex too freely, you can just as easily not feel bad about those things. All these things are my choice and I revel in the rightness of each and every choice I made for myself. Rather than feel bad, I choose to feel great. Rather than argue with someone for my freedom to do what is best for me, I demonstrate with great passion how awesome I feel.
Judgment is an ugly feeling that is inflicted upon women to make them feel bad for daring to act for themselves. Stigma is our acceptance that what we have chosen requires their approval. But power is a magnificent thing. Power is our ability to remain unaffected by whatever they inflict upon us. There is nothing more powerful than a woman who is 100% sure of her self, 100% unaffected, and 100% willing to act in her own self-interest.
No apologies, no regrets.