Friday, April 18, 2008

Abortion as art to protest society's definition of the female body

Cross-posted at Essembly

All over the news is general outrage that Aliza Shvarts, a senior Yale art student, inseminated herself and then induced miscarriages with herbs to harvest the fluids for her art. Now it comes to light that the piece is an elaborate hoax:

"The entire project is an art piece, a creative fiction designed to draw attention to the ambiguity surrounding form and function of a woman's body," said Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky.

If indeed, it is a hoax, then I am glad that the poor girl did not have to suffer to make her point. Although, she did make a brilliant and controversial point.

A woman's body is meant to titillate or to bear life. A woman's womb falls under the eminent domain of the state, evidenced by the outrageous controversy over abortion and prostitution. In short, a woman's agency does not extend over her own reproductive organs, or so the popular sentiment continues to claim with insipid discussion of abortion and birth control.

However, Shvart's project directly opposes that notion in the most shocking and contentious way possible. It takes this illogical view of a woman's womb as scared and brilliantly defiles it with the bloody taboo of a self-induced pregnancy termination. There seems to be the general sentiment that a miscarriage is something ordained by God, and that what happens in the magical and mystical uterus is the domain of the Cloud-Father and the all-seeing state, not the woman herself. A miscarriage chosen by a woman, and not for practical purposes? Well, that's just not done.

Furthermore, it may blur the lines. What separates menstrual fluid, an abortion, and a miscarriage? Our morally upright God-crusaders would like us to believe that life begins at conception or some other such nonsense based on superstition, misinterpretations of a really old book, and "ewww gross" reactions that they really should have grown out of at seven. If the story was true, the viewers of Shvart's piece would be unable to tell. The hip and savvy art student could even ask the horrified viewers to pinpoint which blood clot contains the soul for maximum humor.

Shvart's "art" is also the crazy and bizarre statement that her womb is not yours, the state's, or God's. It is her uterus, her reproductive rights, and if she wants to tax her body to the limits for what she views as art, well, that's her right.

Most of all, this story inspires me to great obscene heights. My muse compels me to draw the image of a mother ripping her fetus out through her stomach in my own menstrual blood. I appreciate the irony. Like the pregnant man, stories that produce such stupid and judgmental commentary, especially from people that have no idea what having a womb entails (read: men), is just plain amusing. Bill O'Reilly utterly fails to grasp this point, among many others, when he blogs:

Still, we can't completely fault this girl for trying to start a dialogue. Once in college, I too, created an art project to fire up some discourse.

It was actually a performance piece involving a rat.

I took a live rat and placed him in a diorama of a pre-war, lower-middle class Polish living room. Then I shoved a dradle up its rectum and played "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof while it bled to death out of its ass.

I titled it "The Gift of the Jews."

O'Reilly and his pose of Offended White Men would like you to know that doing what you please with your body is comparable to the Holocaust, animal abuse, and antisemitism. Ignorant men, and the slew of women who mistakenly apologize for them, would rather the other sex remain chained to their bed during pregnancy, lest the generous gift our Cloud-Father has visited upon us not be welcomed by our sinful and devious female minds. Godforbid we use the products of our own body to create anything but babies and boners.

At the end of the day, I figure that it is best to shock and appall as many people (mainly ignorant fuckwits like O'Reilly) as often as possible. I mean, it worked for sexism, why can't it work for reproductive freedom? The more you are exposed to sexism, the more we absorb it into our consciousness as normal. Perhaps more self-aborting art students and pregnant men would do us well.

Update: Apparently it has been brought to my attention that the O'Reilly "blog" is fake. In my defense, it is kind of hard to tell satire of someone as loony as Ann Coulter or Bill O'Reilly from their real sentiments.

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