The kind you’re born with, the kind you choose, the kind that teach Catholic school
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I used to feel like an imposter because of my breasts, because even before I got pregnant they were pretty spectacular, and it’s made me wonder if I’ve ever actually earned anything, or if all the jobs and awards and opportunities I’ve gotten, really, have just been handed to me because of fat deposits that would be disgusting if they were placed a few inches lower, on my belly.
An illegal abortion, a brother’s drug habit, Cold War secrets
If one in three women has had an abortion, you can’t really talk about it as some rare practice indulged in only by particularly evil women. . . . What do you do with that one-third of women? . . . Put them in prison?
Catching fireflies, caring for a newborn calf, hearing a slamming door for the first time
Keith had had a plenty rough day, most of it spent with his girlfriend, Bonnie, in an abortion clinic just outside of Pittsburgh. You could see how frayed he was: skinny as hell and that big head of electrocuted hair, smoking one cigarette after another, the blue veins in his forehead like hot wires about to rupture.
Once, while passing notes during a chemistry lecture, Jane and I decided we would each write on a piece of paper what articles of clothing we had not taken off on our last date. When we unfolded each other’s notes, we had both written the same thing: socks.
I thought the place looked familiar, but I wasn’t sure. I put down my plate of eggs, grabbed the TV remote, and turned up the sound. It was an abortion-clinic bombing: one bomb to lure the law, a second bomb to blow them up.
This child is not my own, but still the words of possession slip from me: “My baby girl. My sweet baby.” Although I’ve never seen her before, I think I know what she needs: the lights at her hospital bedside dimmed, her loose arms girdled securely against her chest. She has no name except “Girl” and a family surname typed on the identification card at the foot of her crib.
The definition is much broader now that feminist ideas have spread throughout the culture. I would say that anybody who wants to call herself a feminist is a feminist. In addition, there are “applied feminists” — to borrow the writer Carolyn Heilbrun’s wonderful term — meaning someone who may not call herself a feminist but who lives like one. In the early days, there was a lot of debate about who was a real feminist. At the beginning of any movement, definitions seem to matter more. In the late sixties, there was a sense that we were just a handful of people. As the movement spread, we were very worried about being co-opted. So whether or not a newcomer was a “true” feminist seemed to matter, especially if that person was representing feminism in the media; there was a lot of mistrust of the media. We didn’t want to give up on our larger ideals and settle for something less.
I have been in many women’s groups: walking groups, writing groups, ritual groups, clothing-exchange groups, exercise groups, even a long-ago Tupperware group. So it wasn’t odd to hear Sarah talk, at a meeting of my oldest women’s group, about an entirely different group of women with whom she met. These women rode horses into the deepest part of the woods, and upon arrival, each told a secret.