I realized this past month (once I left my like-minded, sex positive, wonderful feminist group of friends) that it is really hard for me to be around people who do not have the same values and ideas about abortion, gender, and sexuality as I do. As I left the group of women I surround myself with at school (and outside of school for that matter) I did not anticipate how different and uncomfortable I would feel in situations that challenged my core values and forced me to "defend" my position.
I traveled abroad for a week for holiday and my travel companions were two boys. Little did I know what the next 10 days would entail. I felt completely alone without my "backup," and unable to articulate to them what was wrong with statements like "that's so gay" or "when you say partner, you sound like a lesbian."
I am so used to talking about abortion, sex, masturbation, etc. with people who feel the same way, that I realized I was totally unprepared to have discussions with people who don't feel the same way, or simply DON'T KNOW.
It is this realization that reminded me, this is part of my "job or mission" as well. To be able to talk to people outside of my pro-choice, feminist group and hear what they have to say. To try and remain calm when I feel infuriated, and instead impart my knowledge in hopes that some of it sinks in and stays with them. It is enough... when you hear the words "I never thought about that" or "That's a good point. Now I'm not sure how I feel."
I realized I will not always be immersed in my safety net of women, because there is a world that exists outside of us. Which brings me to this past Thursday, when I attended a screening of abortion documentaries, in light of the upcoming anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The films were wonderful, and I felt at home with the other ladies in my program by my side, surrounded by people I didn't know, with their friends and partners, who had all gathered for the same cause: to continue the fight for abortion rights, to keep it safe, legal and accessible for every woman.
At the end of the films, one of the filmmakers talked about how important it is to continuously tell people how abortion happens to 1 in 3 women (which I already do) and how our fight is not over in face of bills like the Stupak Amendment, restrictions like waiting periods and parental notification laws and clinic violence (which I also do).
Then she said, "I know we don't always surround ourselves with people who have the same views on abortion..." and my friends and I looked at each other, eyes wide and mouths open, and said "Yes we do."
So, here is my long-winded message... are we just "preaching to to the choir?"
Is it necessary to step out of our comfort zones and mingle with people who are anti-choice? Who think abortion is a sin? Who think feminism has "destroyed" women? Who think "ego" is the reason trans people alter their bodies? Who think you choose to be gay?
All of these opinions I heard over my break from school, my separation from my friends and family who hold the same core values and who are my constant support group. I was alone and had to defend my and "our" position, and although I felt angry and like I couldn't get my words straight sometimes, for me, it was good practice to be faced with those opinions in stark contrast to my own and force the other person to question their values while forcing me to define mine.
In the end, I will most likely surround myself with other pro-choice, liberal people, mostly because I like talking to them and not always having to argue or defend my position :) But when possible, I think it is important to be able to articulate why we fight for abortion and sometimes, not always but sometimes, you will hear "I had never put myself in those shoes, or looked at it from the woman's perspective."
And once again, it is all worth it.