First Person Sharing to End Shame

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 08:20
Submitted by Carlin Ross

This week we had two major first-person-sharing moments by women with major clits.  Their goal was to remove the stigma and end the shame surrounding two of the most controversial things any woman can admit to - contracting herpes and getting an abortion. 

Ella Dawson made waves by announcing publicly, on her blog, that she has genital herpes.  She's the ultimate girl-next-door, super cute and super young, things we don't equate with STDs.  I applaud her courage - she didn't hide behind a pseudonym and fake pic. 

Here's a story she shared about "coming out". She was at a party when a young man offered her a sip of his drink adding, "don't worry I don't have herpes". Her reply is perfection:

"That’s funny," I said, with as warm a smile as I could manage. "Yeah, that’s really funny. Because I have genital herpes." His face crumbled. Not because I grossed him out — I could practically see the wheels turning in his brain as he realized he’d made an ignorant joke at someone else’s expense. The guy started apologizing profusely. I had seen in the flesh what a simple 'I have herpes' could do when said fearlessly, without shame. "Because when a real person — a woman you know and respect — casually mentions having herpes, it stops being a punchline and starts being someone's reality.”

For the record, I dated someone for several years who had herpes.  I never contracted it and it wasn't a deal breaker.  If they had a cold sore on their mouth, would you walk?  What's the difference if it's on their genitals?

I've always loved Jemima Kirke (actress and star of Girls) but now I'm even more impressed.

This week Draw the Line, a campaign which uses storytelling to counter the negative narratives about abortion, released Jemima's video where she shared her abortion story. She was in college, broke, and had to forego anesthesia because she didn't have the money:

“We do have free choice and we are able to do what we want, but then there are these hoops we have to jump through to get [abortions], obstacles and stigma that make abortion not entirely accessible."

Just like me, Jemima had an abortion and went on to become a mother (she has three children).  However, I was lucky enough to have the money to afford anesthesia. There wasn't a direct risk to her life but her story reminded me of Betty's kitchen table abortion where she had no pain medication and just bit on a towel.   

This sort of honesty is infectious.  *fingerscrossed* hoping that more of us come forward and admit our deepest, darkest secrets BECAUSE IT'S NOT A BIG FUCKING DEAL. 

Editor in Chief & Keeper of All Things Betty Dodson

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Fri, 04/17/2015 - 12:48

I am horrified at the thought of a young girl having an abortion without anaesthesia in what is supposed to be a civilised country, nevermind the richest country in the world.

Don't think you could do that to a pet animal nevermind a person in the UK.

Still shocked.

I think she was brought up in

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 15:30
vanessa83 (not verified)

I think she was brought up in New York. In the UK we have a lot of organisations that help girls terminate pregnancies for free like Marie Stopes etc

Abortion with shame

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 19:10
Karo Anonymous (not verified)

I faced abortion at 18. I had no real job, not in school and had been with two guys. I was so afraid of one that had said he cared but didn't exhibit it and the other that turned out to be the love of my life whom I have been married to 32 years. My mother was so mad and I had no support. The abortion was, at the time felt, I felt the only option. Of course all these years later, I know there were other options.
Today, I look back and some days regret the decision because I ended up only being able to carry one other child. I do grieve for that child but I know at the time, I wasn't in a place to raise a child.
Either decision would not have been easy. I look back 33 years later and I can say that my decision was the right one at the time but that doesn't make it easier now. I had to have a hysterectomy 8 months after my one child was born.
Living with consequences is always hard. I, too, did not receive anesthesia. The emotional and phyiscal pain was dramatic.