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Category Archives: Stories

An Interview with Emily Robinson

 A little over a week ago, I got to sit down with 15 year old, Emily Robinson, who may have a small addiction to whip cream, cinnamon, and music. Emily will be a sophomore in high school in the Fall, and never misses an opportunity to go on an adventure. Dressed in a To Write Love On Her Arms tank top, a Warped Tour hat, and skinny jeans, Emily sat down to answer some questions from AbortionChat.

How do you identify (ProChoice, ProLife, ProVoice, etc)? Why?

I’m ProChoice because I believe that women should have control over their own bodies and have the option to have an abortion. The option should be available to those that need/want it.

Are your friends sexually active? How do you feel about this?

Yes, my friends are sexually active. I’m okay with it I guess, but I hope they practice safe sex and have a general idea of what to do if they get pregnant (or, in the case that it’s one of my male friends, if they get a girl pregnant.)

You said, “I hope they practice safe sex and have a general idea of what to do if they get pregnant” have you ever had these types of conversations with them? Would you be willing to?

I have (kinda?) had these conversations with my friends. Really, only with one. But he wouldn’t listen to what I had to say. One time, he told me that he didn’t use a condom and that he had pulled out. After asking him what he would have done if the girl got pregnant, he brushed the conversation off and refused to believe that she could have gotten pregnant. Which, thankfully, she didn’t.
But I’m willing to have these conversations. My friends, however, seem to be hesitant and are not entirely willing.

Do you know what consent is (how to convey it, how to ask for it, etc)?

Yes. Well…I like to think that I do. The easiest way to ask for consent is to just throw the question out there, “Do you want it?”

Do you feel like there is a correlation to unhealthy relationships, body image, and mental health? If so, can you explain?

Yes. Based on my personal experiences, I believe there is. A few years ago (and even in the present day) I wasn’t exactly in the best place. Honestly, I wasn’t emotionally stable. I was far from it, actually. My body image was bad and my mental health was even worse. I had no self esteem. As one of those got worse, every one slowly did the same thing. At the same time, when things started getting better, they all got better at the same time; and they still are.

If you were to find out you were pregnant today, what would your reaction be?

Surprised. If anything, afraid. I’m not sexually active, but in the case that I was and got pregnant, I would feel trapped. What would my friends think? Not that it matters, but what would my other peers and teachers think? What about my mother? Sister? Friends parents? Other people in my life? What would they say?
I’ve heard people my age talk about girls that get pregnant. The things they say are terrible. In high school, (not necessarily my high school, thank God), if a girl is pregnant she’s ridiculed and called a whore, slut, etc. and everyone talks about how she’s stupid for not practicing safe sex. Even if she did and something went wrong, people still ridicule her.
So, if I was pregnant, I would be afraid. I would go to an abortion clinic as soon as possible. If it started to show, I would stay home. Everyone is so judgmental, it’s sickening.

What do you think your family’s reaction would be?

My family would disown me and I would be sent to an abortion clinic, no ifs, ands, or buts.

What would you do if the state of Maine implemented a parental consent law? Would this affect your decision?

If Maine had a parental consent law, it wouldn’t affect my decision. My mother would make me go to a clinic, and I would probably choose to go to a clinic, too.

You said “I’d be sent to an abortion clinic, no ifs, ands, or buts,” but also eluded to the fact you’d willingly go. Do you think pressure would cause you to seek out an abortion? Would you consider carrying out the pregnancy at all? (Basically I’m curious to see if this is YOUR decision or how much influence those around you would have on this decision.)

I think I would seek an abortion either way. There is no way I could carry out a pregnancy. Mostly because I couldn’t afford a child and because I am unfit to be a mother. I refuse to bring a child into this world if it’s not going to have a good life with a good mother that’s fit to be one. Carrying out a pregnancy is not a possibility.

What about if you found out your best friend was pregnant?

I would be afraid for her. If my male best friend got a girl pregnant, I would be afraid for him, too. Neither of their parents would let a newborn into the house. Either way, I would be surprised and afraid but I would be there to support them no matter what.How would you support them?
To support my pregnant friend, I would be there emotionally and I would give them everything I could. And I would try to help them through every decision they made.

What is the sexual education program like at your school? How do you feel it could be improved?

I haven’t taken health at my high school yet, but my sister has. In the elementary and middle schools it wasn’t very good. It was vague and repetitive. For the four years I took the class (4th, 5th, 6th and 8th grade), it brushed over the same things: male arousal, condoms/preventative methods (only covered condoms), menstrual cycles, puberty, abstinence, and in 8th grade a very brief lesson on STDs. That’s it.
I found that most of the time the people teaching this stuff couldn’t answer my questions, so everything I know about this stuff I learned online. These classes never covered female arousal, pregnancy (and what happens), birth control, and other things. The world of sex is so much more than what they’re teaching.
But I hear the class is much better in high school. They apparently cover that stuff more; maybe because people are sexually active in high school. Who knows? But I hear you have to watch a birthing video?

Do you feel comfortable coming to your family with questions about sexuality? Why or why not?

No. Not with my mom, at least. She blows everything out of proportion and doesn’t take me seriously, anyway. My sister, however, is a different story. I can talk about sex and stuff with her…to a certain extent.

How do you feel about the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the buffer zone in Massachusetts?

I’m pretty pissed. Yes, it helps the picketers get their point across, but what about the women trying to enter the clinic? The people standing there yelling and holding up those awful signs make the decision that much harder.
Plus, there’s not enough room on the sidewalks to get in (as Lynne said about Portland) and to be completely honest I feel like it’s not safe.
Are they even thinking about both sides of the situation?

Do you have twitter? What was your response to the #YesAllWomen hashtag?

Personally, I thought it was great. A lot of women got their point across. It helped raise awareness. Along with that, it put the spotlight on people that were abusing the tag.
On Instagram @basically_juno posted a picture of her in jeans and a thick strapped tank top that said, “A woman’s place is in the house and the senate.” Under that, a 14 year old boy commented, “Maybe if you didn’t wear slutty clothes u wouldn’t get raped, dumb, fat feminist, #malemasterrace.” It’s disgusting. She’d never met this boy in her life. The #YesAllWomen hashtag exposes that kind of stuff. I love it.
Other tweets:
“@TrapHouseCj: ur upset bc u got raped??? people’s children get kidnapped & murdered everyday and ur crying bc u had sex???k”
“Funny, the thing men fear most about going to jail is the thing women fear most about walking down the sidewalk #YesAllWomen” ~No credit, a lot of people tweeted that.

Do you have an experience you’d like to share?

A boy that had a crush on me for two years ran by and slapped my butt when I was reaching for something in my backpack one day during lunch. Apparently he thought he deserved it because he waited for so long. After that, he continued to hit on me for about two months. I’m pretty sure he hit on a few girls after that, too.

At another point in time, I was standing with my friend and a guy came up to us. He said, “You guys have tits buy yourself lunch,” and threw money at us and walked away.

Another time, at a concert I went to, a guy slowly creeped his hands around my waist. At the time, I went along with it. I craved affection. He started saying that he wanted to kiss me (after not even an hour). I had feelings for him for a little while after that. Looking back, it was actually creepy. He was a mutual friend of a girl I knew for four years, but until that day I had no idea he existed.
He just recently stopped flirting with me (on Wednesday), when I told him I wasn’t interested.At work, an older guy (like 40/50/60, he had gray hair) was reported for saying sexual things to girls and being creepy.

Once, I was standing in the back room and I was checking off a checklist of stuff I had to do. I was in his way, so I apologized and moved. His response? “You can stand in my way any time.” That is NOT okay. My coordinator took me off my register once this week to talk to me about it and she was horrified. She’s like a mother to me and she’s being so protective about this.

And then earlier in the school year, a kid (he’s gonna be a senior this year) started talking to me after jazz band rehearsal one day. He talked to me for awhile and at one point he said that he had had sex with another girl and the entire time he was picturing me. He asked me to hang out once or twice…And he also asked me if I masturbated. After awhile we stopped talking. Now, he pretends I don’t exist.

What is your reaction to the word(s), “slut” “whore” etc?

They make my stomach churn. They ALWAYS refer to a woman. If a female decides to engage in a lot of sexual activity with multiple partners, she is labeled as a slut, whereas if a man does that, he is congratulated and put on a pedestal for everyone to look up to. He’s seen as being “more of a man.” It’s sickening. Most derogatory terms like that, “slut, whore, pussy, cunt,” are all FEMALE BASED.
The male side of things, for the most part, is on the “better side of things.” Once again, females are the “weaker sex” and males are the “better” one. Which is why I love the “Like a Girl” campaign.

Any last minute thoughts/things you’d like to share?

a while ago a kid started messaging one of my friends. He started pressuring him and tried forcing him to masturbate over Skype and eventually it escalated to the point that the kid freaked out. He told me that he thought he had an anxiety attack, but I’m not sure. The kid had never talked to my friend before, but he tried using the “no one has to know” line.
I just thought that it was sick and disgusting. It’s probably not relevant though?

Respect, the “Friendzone,” and Rejection

We’ve all read about the shooting in Santa Barbara. With the help of #YesAllWomen, we’ve seen the damage that men have caused women. We’ve all heard about the “friendzone” but what exactly does that mean?

I’ve had a guy friend for just over two years now. During that time, he’s expressed that he’s interested in me on multiple occasions. The first time, I ignored the advance. The second time, I responded with, “Yea, I didn’t respond the first time for a reason…” and then he stopped talking to me for several months. When he’d cooled down, we snowboarded together and would hang out. I found another guy as my boyfriend. I’d finally felt like he’d gotten the hint that I wasn’t interested.

Just recently, he’d come over to hang out. We watched The Hunger Games, took my dogs for a walk, and had some drinks. I expressed again, I’m only interested in friendship, and am involved with someone else. He spent the remainder of the night “drunkenly” trying to hold my hand. Thankfully, my dog was on my lap and made it impossible.

He left the following morning after sleeping on my couch, and I asked him to message me when he got home. This is the conversation that ensued. I’ve bolded the portions that I have extreme issues with what he said but am not delving into in this post.

*Out of respect, names have been changed.

Him: I’m home, L, I hope you realize after traveling for over a day the one person I wanted to get back and see wasn’t my family or any friends, it was you. I really want to be more than friends and that hope is what keeps me going and keeps me coming back. I’m not sure where I failed other than being short, but it hurts a little that we are so comfortable together yet you put up blocks. I hope you see me one day for who I am. If you take away my hope that will change our dynamic far more then the other way. I have stood aside so many times while you dated guys who were terrible. I’m sorry but won’t do that again.
Me: B, I’ve told you this a million times. I don’t want to be anything other than friends with you.
Him: Yeah, and I’ve always tried to be more. The part that really hurts is you’re more then friends with guys like J, D, P, etc. Tell me what I lack that they have. You’re proud of my accomplishments. Yet you retreat under the slightest touch. If you really won’t take a step forward then maybe it’s time I take a few steps back.
Me: You think? B, I’ve always been up front with you about the way things are between us. I enjoy being friends with you. I am not attracted to you. We are friends
Him: You’ve airways been up front with me about the way you see things. I’m offering the same courtesy. The biggest reason we are still friends is I had hope. It made things with and made me durable. Walk softly now.
Me: So are you saying you only want to be my friend if there’s a chance of fucking me? That’s pretty low, dude.
Him: No I’m saying I’ve always gone the extra mile, made time during the day, taken you out to dinner, etc in the hope you would take that step.
Him: Well not that step, but just maybe you would finally see me.
Me: It’s ridiculous that that was your expectation all the time. YOU don’t decide how I feel about people. I’ve gone out to dinner with FRIENDS forever, and they don’t put this added pressure. This conversation is making you out to be a shit friend and I need you to stop talking to me for the time being so I can cool the fuck off.
Him: So much for walking softly…
[End of Conversation]

 

First of all, I don’t even know what “Walking softly” means, except for the quote that says something like, “Walk softly and carry a big stick.” Secondly, the part where I said, “So you only want to be my friend if there’s a chance of f@#$ing me?” he continued to state,  “In the hopes you would take that step.”

That step.

Meaning, yes, in the hopes I’d bang him. And not even so much hopes as expectation. Because he’d always “gone the extra mile.” He admits that I’ve been up front about “the way (I) see things,” and yet somehow this isn’t enough for him.

Again, I’ve told this “gentleman” and self proclaimed “nice guy” countless times that we are friends, and will be nothing more. I’ve tried to say I wasn’t interested in a relationship. I’ve blatantly said I’m only interested in friendship. And yet we still had to have this conversation.

I’m posting this on the blog to illustrate to people who may not experience this type of thing, or maybe have, that this happens, all the time. For some reason, guys feel entitled to a woman’s body if he puts in time and effort. This needs to change. Saying “No” or “I’m not interested” once should be enough and for some reason it hasn’t been. Now people are being killed for saying no. Saying no to going to prom. Saying no to having sex. Not being interested in having sex, and pursuing other guys.

Women are now in a position where saying no may kill them. Where saying, “This is my body, and I’m not interested in you touching it” may get them hurt, threatened, stabbed or shot. This is the reality that women face, that women deal with on a daily basis.

What I’ve posted here is one conversation, one interaction of thousands.

And things have to change.

***UPDATE***

Since writing this piece yesterday, I’ve posted it to my social media pages. The guy in question has read it. This was his response:

Him: That’s it L, if you want to make my words out to be some sort of evil vile sex driven mad man, then you really don’t know me. Btw, it’s “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” you sound like an idiot. Goodbye, you know how to burn bridges like no other. You’re even going after your friends now.

Yes, it was in poor taste to post about my friends. However, at AbortionChat, we strive for personal stories. This is an incredibly personal story to me. I struggled with whether or not to post it, and sought advice from several male friends. They encouraged me to do this, because this is exactly my point.

He has since un-friended me on Facebook. And yet, I still feel like if I hadn’t done this, if I hadn’t taken things to this level to prove a point, he would still be attempting to pursue me. Because no matter how many times I’d said no, I wasn’t interested, we still had those conversations.

Men and Abortion

I have a lot of conversations with people on their feelings of abortion. Even at the ProLife rally we’d attended, there was a pamphlet asking about men and abortion. Yet, many people don’t go back and ask, “How did YOU feel when your significant other had an abortion?”

I think this is an important piece of the story. Where was your partner? How did he react to the pregnancy? For many men, they become just as shaken up as their partner who is pregnant.

I’ve met men who called their girlfriend a murderer after she’d had an abortion. I’ve met men who held their girlfriend’s hand in the waiting room and escorted them out. I’ve known men who’ve bailed on their partner. I’ve known men who supported the pregnancy and are now proud fathers. I’ve also known men who find out in the aftermath that their significant other was pregnant and sought an abortion. His response? “I wasn’t mad or upset that she’d had an abortion. I was upset by the fact that I wasn’t involved. I wasn’t allowed to support her. I wasn’t involved in the decision. I would have wanted to be.” This happened to this man not once, but twice.

Here at AbortionChat, we encourage healthy conversations. We encourage having a Pregnancy Plan and being prepared for if your test turns positive. We also encourage you to sit down with your partner and ask, “What are WE doing to do if WE get pregnant?”

After you do that, let us know. We want to share your story here.

AWP, WGS, SEWSA, and Grant Opportunity

It has been an incredible last couple of weeks. As many of you know, Alex and I (Lynne) adventured to Seattle for AWP 2014 with our AbortionChat table. We met TONS of men and women of varying shapes, sizes, colors, etc. It was amazing. We asked incredibly personal questions (what kind of birth control do you use? What would you and your partner do if you got pregnant? And plenty more). We gave out brochures and cards. We took pictures which you can see on our Twitter account or our Facebook account. It was a great four days. We met people who shared stories about having three abortions, and not regretting a single one. We met people who didn’t know if they were prochoice or prolife. We met men whose partner’s had an abortion without telling them. It. Was. Great. And we can’t wait for more submissions. (Thank you for those of you who have submitted. I promise we’re going through them!)

Alex at our table!

After we returned home, him to Florida, and me to Maine, we recovered from Jet Lag (yes, capital letters) and I was invited by a member of the ACLU to participate in a Reproductive Justice Panel for the WGS Conference in Maine! There I got to talk about abortion, crisis pregnancy centers, the lovely people who send us death threats, etc. I met some incredible people there. I also met some very brave men and women there.

I was clearly very involved in what I was saying :)

Next up on our list is heading to Wilmington,  North Carolina for SEWSA which just announced their panel line up. Allie and I will be hosting one, discussing writing my memoir, The Right to Live: A Christian Girl’s Struggle through Abortion, Losing Her Home, Job, and Mind, and Recovery as well as how AbortionChat got started. We would love to see you there.

In the meantime, in case you haven’t heard, The Abortion Conversation Project is now open to submissions for grant opportunities. They are the ones who granted us the ability to go to New Jersey for the Sex Ed Conference, as well as host our table at AWP. They are a wonderful organization, and if you know a project or other organization, please submit a proposal to them. The deadline is April 1, 2014 so move fast!

In the meantime, we are still accepting submissions and we’d love to share your stories. Keep up the good work. Remember to use contraceptives, communicate with your partner, and change the world.

 

 

 

 

Granted Ability to Find Stories

The Abortion Conversation Project announced six successful grants totaling $5,000 in its Fall 2013 round of mini-grants. “All of the awards focus on amplifying the stories of abortion and the voices of those who have experienced abortion,” noted Peg Johnston of the Abortion Conversation Project Board.
The Abortion Conversation Project’s mission is “to challenge the polarization that characterizes abortion conversation, lessen the stigmatization of abortion, and promote speaking and listening with empathy, dignity, and resilience about even the most difficult aspects of abortion.”
Cindy Cooper of Words of Choice has proposed a walking tour of Reproductive Justice in New York Citywith their award. Another NYC based award went to Project Voice a website created by Maya Pindyck that would promote the site and also “talk back” to anti-abortion propaganda on the streets and subways. Another blog about abortion, AbortionChat will get funding to do outreach to writers to include the complexity of abortion in their writing.
Our Bodies, Our Bikes: Women’s Health and Wellness On and Off the Bicycle is an upcoming anthology and will include a chapter on abortion as a result of an honorarium funded by an ACP grant. Funding was also awarded to Blue Mountain Women’s Clinic in MissoulaMT to create local original theatre to tell women’s abortion stories. And in Atlanta, the Feminist HealthCenter’s Lifting Latina Voices Initiative will use their grant to train Promotoras to discuss abortion in the Latinacommunity.

 

The Abortion Conversation Project was founded in 2000 and spent its early years defining post abortion emotional health, de-stigmatizing abortion through handouts for parents, partners, and patients themselves, and staging community conversations to have deeper conversations among diverse prochoice audiences. After helping to launch the Abortion Care Network, ACP explored conflict transformation techniques and decided to offer small grants to engage many more people in its mission. The Abortion Conversation Project has a website at www.abortionconversation.com and a blog at http:// abortionconversationproject.wordpress.com/, as well as a Facebook page. Supporters can also receive an e-newsletter by clicking on the link on the home page of the website.