In this episode, we look at the way movies and music discuss reproductive rights, including an analysis of Nicki Minaj lyrics, a history of American sex-ed films, and an exploration of the how movies make abortion seem more dangerous than it really is.
More ways to listen to this show are below the cut.
New film "Obvious Child" stars Jenny Slate as a 20-something in Brooklyn who gets an abortion.
One in three women in the US have an abortion in their lifetimes, while nearly 40 percent of Americans claim they do not know anyone who has had an abortion.
I left the latter group, not coincidentally, around the same time I joined the former. When I got pregnant as a 20-something in Brooklyn five years ago and started telling people I was getting an abortion, I quickly discovered I actually knew three women who’d had one.
One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, yet in pop culture accurate portrayals of real people’s stories are rare. In this special interview, two reproductive justice advocates listen and discuss two songs: Nick Cannon’s "Can I Live?" and Nicki Minaj’s "Autobiography," and ask: what messages are pop songs sending about reproductive health issues?
If you've already seen the new, Sundance-anointed comedy Obvious Child, you'll likely agree that it's the romantic comedy many feminists have long waited for—talky, sweet, and fearless; entirely relatable; offering humanity and fart jokes with equal aplomb. There's no reason to think of it—as many of us do with rom-coms—as a "guilty pleasure." It's just a pleasure, full stop, and one that has the potential to finally clue Hollywood in to what female moviegoers want to see onscreen.
A Texas protester rallies against the state's recent abortion rights restrictions. Photo by Mirsasha.
Is it possible to advocate for fetuses and babies without advocating for pregnant women?
Such a question might not even have been possible a generation ago. But over the past few decades a trend to treat fetuses as if they exist separately from pregnant women has reverberated throughout our culture and legal system, resulting in all sorts of illogical, surprising, and decidedly unfeminist positions.
A Texan succinctly protests the state's restrictive anti-abortion access laws last year. Photo by Mirsasha (Creative Commons).
Texas has been in the national spotlight for its restrictive new laws that have closed two-thirds of the state’s abortion clinics. But another insidious way the state is trying to control women’s reproductive rights has gotten less attention: local prosecutors locking up pregnant women who test positive for drugs.
When I first caught sight of a Madeline Burrows, the writer and performer at the center of new play Mom Baby God, I wanted to head straight for the bathroom and hide. She was sporting a side ponytail and pink hoodie, chatting up theatergoers with a chirpy valley girl lilt about some sort of “Students for Life Conference.” Just as I was about to make a beeline for the can, she caught me in her weird immersive-theater snare.
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.
Happy Friday, folks! Here's what's on our radar this morning.
• The talk of feminist Twitter since Wednesday morning has been this cover story from The Nation on "Feminism's Toxic Twitter Wars." Read it, and be sure to follow up with the astute critiques already published at Prison Culture and by Yasmin Nair. Stay tuned for our take, coming soon. [The Nation, Prison Culture, Yasmin Nair]
• Pro-Life Waco is organizing a "CookieCott" against the Girl Scouts, who recently endorsed prochoice candidates Wendy Davis and Kathleen Sebelius. Good luck with that. I mean, even people who would deny a woman her right to bodily autonomy cannot deny the deliciousness of Samoas and Thin Mints. [CookieCott 2014]
• Sideline reporter and perennial hate target Erin Andrews is reporting for the first time this weekend from the Super Bowl. In preparation, Gwen Knapp takes on the question of why Andrews is such a lightning rod for sexism. [Slate]
• In other Super Bowl news: One of the longstanding bits of conventional wisdom about the Big Game is that it's a hotbed of human sex trafficking. At Sports on Earth, Susan Elizabeth Shepard looks at whether accusation stands up to scrutiny. [Sports on Earth]
• Amid Texas's abortion-access restrictions, one tenacious provider has discovered a workaround: Refer to himself as a "miscarriage management" consultant. But can his reinvention stand up to ever-more punitive laws? [The New Republic]
• Fancy-schmancy department store Barney's is releasing a spring ad campaign featuring 17 transgender models, which is definitely better than its past record of zero transgender models. The campaign's creator told the New York Times that he specifically wants to highlight the spectrum of the transgender community, noting that "the L.G.B. communities have made extraordinary advances, and the transgender community has not shared in that progress." [New York Times]
That's all for today! As always, let us know what you're reading in the comments...