Films and television shows tend to present a skewed portrayal of abortion—when fictional movies and TV shows include a plotline about abortion, the tale typically paints the procedure as riskier than it is in real life.
That’s the conclusion of the first-ever academic “census” of abortion in pop culture from two reproductive health policy researchers who watched every fictional plotline involving abortion they could find in American TV shows and films.
Welcome to Ms. Opinionated, our weekly advice column dealing with questions of life, love, feminism, and pop culture. This week, a reader writes in with one of feminism's most enduring conundrums: How can men help the feminist movement?
Dear Ms. Opinionated,
I'm a guy, and I've developed quite an interest in feminism over the last few months. While I know that there is a systematic laziness to portray women as individuals, I find it's a difficult subject to talk about with people. When I mention things like the Bechdel Test and how most movies fail it I have a tendancy to tiptoe around the issue, because it feels like bringing it up is somehow rude. It even sounds shameful/embarassing for me to say "I'm a feminist", so I say "I've been learning about feminism" as if to separate myself from it. What advice do you have for men who want to help the feminist movement?
In August, a doctor in Toronto received an unexpected email.
It was from a stranger in Maryland, telling the doctor that one of the transgender patients whose care he was overseeing “regularly attacks women on social media who have a lesbian feminist polititical [sic] opinion. That is, he harasses us and establishes fake Twitter accounts to harass us… Query whether this is the kind of experience one must have to ‘live as a woman.’ - you bully other women?”
The clinic supervisor quickly wrote back, “Please be aware that our centre finds this email in violation of ethical practice, our anti-oppression principles, and offensive to trans* persons.”
That email came from Cathy Brennan, an attorney, radical feminist, and lesbian activist who is well known for her beliefs that transgender women should be considered men. In the name of feminism, Brennan has advocated against a UN policy that aims to protect transgender people from discrimination.