“My body, my choice”, an ironic juxtaposition

How the use of this controversial slogan has shifted

Growing up, I heard the phrase “My body, my choice” often, whether it was in the context of a history class, in the news, or from a speech my mom once gave me. And then, in the mid 2010s, I discovered the ongoing feminism, womanism, and intersectional feminism movement, and the fight towards the right to decide what’s best for our bodies.

In today’s context, the phrase has been co-opted by a new movement – anti-vaxx – that intrudes upon the safety of many. 

The disease we shall not speak of has created a faction of society that has a fundamental problem with wearing a small piece of cloth over their mouths, getting a vaccine to protect themselves and others from stronger, more contagious variants of the virus, and the use of vaccine passports.

So now, here we are, at a crossroads between the right to choose and the right to… choose, I guess?

It is important to acknowledge that traditional feminism has a long and continued history of excluding Black women and women of colour. In the 1970s, women fought for the right to work outside the home and to ensure their reproductive rights, specifically in the United States Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade, which made abortion services legal, though not nessesarily accessible.

Women everywhere were fighting for the right to choose, but white women mostly ignored important issues that mainly impacted women of colour. This resulted in the start of the womanism movement, which focuses specifically on the everyday concerns related to the Black female experience. It takes a focus on the deeper issues and the intersectionality between being a woman and a person of colour, ultimately addressing concerns that white folks were not interested in.

The phrase “My body, my choice” used to represent a movement that — although flawed — had an overarching goal to give power back to women, specifically when it came to our reproductive freedom. It’s ironic now to hear the slogan chanted by some of the same people who would yell “GOD LOVES YOU” as you walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic.

There are obviously some good reasons to not get vaccinated, such as if you have a health condition that is recognized as having a negative reaction to the vaccine.

Additionally, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 49 per cent of Black Americans stated their lack of trust in the institutions that provide vaccines. There is a documented history of mistreatment of marginalized peoples in the era of eugenics, such as Black Americans, people of Asian and Pacific descent, Indigenous persons, and disabled people. Non-consensual medical experimentation, which goes along with medical professionals having a disregard for the pain and suffering of their patients, has led to a continued lack of trust in western medical institutions for many marginalized people.

Other reasons, such as the side effects of the vaccine or thinking COVID-19 isn’t a real threat seem like a bad joke to me. I can believe some Trump constituents were brainwashed into believing the pandemic wasn’t a real threat, I just cannot get over the hypocrisy in that belief. For decades, women have been fighting for freedom and independence for their reproductive rights, but that has always been outrageous to white conservative Americans, who are composed of 85 per cent Christians. They expect us to just sit down and listen to the Bible whether or not we believe what it says. But today, when the entire world is collectively enduring a pandemic, these same people cannot handle being told what to do.

For decades, people with uterus’s have had to put up and deal with inaccessible healthcare and old white men making the decisions about our vaginas and sex lives, but as soon as those same people experience one hundredth of what it is to have your body regulated, all I hear is whining.

And the fact that the so-called injustice of today is as simple as wearing a mask, in comparison to taking any method of contraception, highly gatekept abortions, the realities of having to live with those decisions, the external judgment, your body and your choices being debated every election, and plain old birth control side effects, whether it’s an IUD and your gyno has to crawl up your cervix every five years, or you have a pill to take everyday — a pill that could make you gain weight, lose weight, have acne, mood swings, painful period cramps, and the list goes on and on.  Keep in mind, I just had to think of my own experiences to make this list… which does not even scratch the surface.

But now, this same person is angry their president didn’t get elected, mad that there’s a hoax of a virus the elite Liberals have created, and that they blew it out of proportion to control us.

Instead of being mad, I’m just going to laugh at the irony of today. It’s everywhere you look, in each nook and cranny around us – from every social media post to every article.


Feature graphic by James Fay

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