Queen’s student newspaper just published a ‘debate’ about abortion. In a recurring pattern of anti-choice discourse, the fundamental point they make is: it’s good that we’re having debate; it doesn’t matter whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice; what matters is that you’re “pro-dialogue.” Great point. For too long, men like me have had our opinions about women’s bodies muzzled. And there are other debates that have been silenced, too. You know, like whether I should be able to enslave and own people, or whether women are actually human beings. There are all kinds of great debates to be enlivened that could help shore up white male privilege and fuck over everyone else. And to everyone else: it doesn’t matter what side you’re on; what matters is that you’re “pro-dialogue.”
The power of the anti-choice movement is its capacity to frame abortion as something that should be debated, and as something that is fundamentally about children and human life (and only secondarily about women’s bodies). And this is its great trap: by staking out a ‘position,’ it invites civilized debate from the ‘other side’. And when women (and men) tear apart the assumptions of anti-choice discourse, point to its misogynist and patriarchal assumptions, or engage with it in other ways, the reply from anti-choice advocates is: great. That’s what we are looking for: some dialogue. We need to keep this dialogue going; that’s what’s important. Like someone threatening to beat the shit out of you, and when you tell them to fuck off, they thank you for continuing the dialogue about the complex issue of whether you should get your shit kicked in.