Shades of Gray

So, this isn’t about those shitty books. I you want to know what i thought about them, you can check out my review on GoodReads on them. And, remember folks, a consensual BDSM relationship is not dirty, disgusting, demeaning, rape or assault.

Politics have been at the forefront of my mind for roughly the last year. Probably yours, as well. It’s impossible to ignore politics during the presidential election cycle, but things haven’t died down since November. In fact, they’ve gotten worse. My facebook feed is 50/50 normal stuff and politics. I’m guilty for that ratio, as well, because I’m stepped up my political posting, too. I’ve been blocked and unfriended and I’ve unfriended and blocked as well. I’ve sat on my finger and bitten my tongue to try and avoid engaging places where I don’t really want to engage, but I do want to engage. If that makes any sense. I have no idea how many people have unfriended me or how many have unfollowed me.

Something that’s bothered me, as political debates and discussions continue to rage, is how much both sides have abandoned the middle ground, the gray area where nearly all of life happen. We choose our polarization because it’s easy, not because it’s necessarily accurate, truthful or representative of how things really work. It is so easy to slap a label of good or bad on something. It fits neatly into a compartment. It’s not messy. It’s the easiest way to win an argument. It’s the proverbial low hanging fruit.

Let’s talk about abortion.

Don’t run away! Hear me out.

I’ve been pro-choice for as long as I can remember. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t. I have always believed, and still do believe, that people have the right to control their own lives and to decide what is or is not morally acceptable or them. I’ve been debating about abortion for two decades now. Abortion always distills to black and white arguements. Let me demonstrate.

Pro-life people tend to have two different arguments regarding abortion. The first are the women who use abortions like birth control. The second are the women who elect to have late term abortions. Now, statistics tell us a lot about women who have late term abortions. The odds of someone having an elective late term abortion are very slim. I can’t say none. I can’t say it has never or will never happened, but I can say it’s rare. Why? Because it’s not easy. Because it’s VERY expensive ($12,000 out of pocket dollars for the procedure alone). Because it can only be done by 3-4 doctors in the entire country.

This argument distills women who seek abortion down to their worst. They become whores. Sluts. Tramps. Murderers. Worthy of derision and scorn.

Pro-choice people have two different arguments as well. The first are women and babies facing dire health situations and women who have been victims of rape and incest. Since Donald Trump was elected president and people began to grow worried about his possibly conservative court trying to undo Roe vs Wade, families have been sharing stories about why they sought late term abortions for their terminally ill children.

This argument distills women who seek abortions into something they’re not either. They become the mother martyr. The saint. Above reproach.

What is the truth?

The truth, as we all know it, is that most people are neither irredeemable sinner or an uncomplicated saint. We all fall in the middle. Maybe you litter. Or speed. Or tell little white lies to get out of social obligations. All of us are guilty of sins and all of us have redeeming qualities. So, why do we focus so hard on the hard lines of argument that comprise only tiny portions of actual truth? Why do we draw such hard lines in the sand and then act without compassion? Both sides are guilty of this. We sling the arrows of our black and white arguments. We tear our hear over “unicorn” situations which comprise tiny teeny parts of the actual situation and we build a hill of them and then we crawl up and die on that. That’s the truth.

Let’s go back to abortion for a second.

In reality there probably are women who have more than one abortion because of either failed birth control or sexual irresponsibility. In reality, there probably has been a woman or two that have elected to have late term abortions for reasons other than the health of their baby. In reality there are women who have had abortions because of rape or incest. In reality there are women who have had abortions due to their poor health or the poor health of their unborn baby. These things are all true, but they comprise the outliers in this situation and not the real story. The real story is gray and varies from woman to woman, growing lighter and darker and existing in as many unique shade as there are unique people.

It’s hard to acknowledge that middle ground. It’s hard to admit that maybe you shouldn’t die on any hills. It’s hard to admit that you are applying your own life and privilege (that dirty, dirty word) to situations you can’t understand. It’s easy to believe that a woman has the right to walk away from sex if you can. It’s easy to believe that a woman can get birth control or reproductive health care if you can. It’s easy to believe that adoption is a “simple solution” if it’s not you attempting to adopt a child or place a child for adoption. It’s easy to believe all women have the ability (mentally and psychologically and economically) to leave an abusive relationship if you have those abilities. It’s easy to believe that family and friends will jump in and help if you’ve always had a family unit who will jump in and help.

Black and white keep us from understanding.
Black and white keeps us from being compassionate.
Black and white keeps us from being reasonable.
Black and white is driving us apart.
Clinging to the outliers and the unicorns doesn’t make you a better person.
Clinging to the outliers doesn’t make you a winner.
Clinging to the one shitty girl you know in high school that had two abortions her junior year doesn’t mean anything about anyone else.
Clinging to the one family you know that decided to have an abortion when a routine ultrasound (and then further, extensive tests) proved that their baby would not only die after birth, but die painfully doesn’t mean anything about anyone else.

I chose abortion because it’s so easy to break down this arguments. It’s easy for me to repeat talking points that I’ve read and written over the past two decades of arguing my pro-choice position. It’s easy to illustrate how those strict black and white opinions can be true, but not the whole story or reasonable or helpful. We are stuck in the throes of hyperbole. All of us. Believing the worst of others and the best of ourselves.