Busy Philipps on abortion: Women have held on to a lot of this shame

The actor and author who recently testified before Congress on why she got an abortion discusses the power in being vocal about uncomfortable experiences

Busy Philipps big dreams for the stage never included testifying before Congress about why she got an abortion at age 15. But with more and more US states passing extreme anti-abortion measures, she saw it as a responsibility.


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There is power to being vocal about your experiences as a person because whether we like it or not, people lack empathy, they lack the ability to understand someone elses situation until theyre really faced with it until its really shown to them, she tells me over the phone, cutting out to field texts from her husband and make arrangements for her daughters hair appointment. Theres a great deal of value in sharing all of our stories and experiences in order to elicit change.

Historically speaking, she has a point.

From the socialist-feminist demonstrators who spoke up about ending their pregnancies in 1969 to the 343 French influencers led by Simone de Beauvoir who signed a 1971 manifesto testifying to their abortions, all have helped pave the way to legal abortion.

The former Glamour magazine editor Cindi Leive wrote last year about coming of age at a time when abortion stories were part of the public sphere in the 1980s and 1990s, only to see them all but disappear in the mid-aughts. As the years passed, so did that urgency; my generation began to feel more secure and perhaps less inclined to air our private business, she wrote in the New York Times.

But as women stopped talking about it publicly, the anti-abortion movement gathered steam.

Busy Philipps testifies about the threat to abortion rights before a House judiciary subcommittee. Photograph: c-span

By 2014, 90% of American counties had no abortion access, even though one in four women will have an abortion by the age of 45. And now, thanks to the addition of two ultra-conservative supreme court justices picked by Donald Trump, anti-abortion activists have launched a new spate of state laws they hope will lead the court to overturn Roe v Wade, the decision that has protected abortion rights for decades.

Thats what led Leive to write publicly about her abortion, and why the Washington congresswoman Pramila Jayapal penned an op-ed last week about her excruciating decision to end a pregnancy. Its the political context that gave rise to the #ShoutYourAbortion movement in 2015.


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And its why Busy Philipps is talking to me now.

Weve allowed the anti-abortion minority to be really loud and take up the space, Philipps says. And the truth of the matter is this is a womens health issue that affects millions and millions of American women, millions and millions and millions of women and people worldwide, and if we want to take control of the narrative we have to be willing to be loud about it.

Im not saying you have to be, she adds. But, having seen the power of celebrity in advancing #MeToo, she wasnt about to sit this one out.

Women have held on to a lot of this shame having to do with their bodies and sexuality forever, she says. I think that most of us have reached the point where were no longer willing to hold on to this to make someone else comfortable or prevent someone else from feeling uncomfortable.

An activist holds up her arm during a protest against recently passed abortion ban bills at the Georgia state capitol building. Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Philipps came up in Hollywood playing supporting roles in Freaks and Geeks and Dawsons Creek. More recently she played the best friend character in Amy Schumers I Feel Pretty. But it turns out she plays no one as well as herself. Her star turn came on Instagrams stories feature, of all places, where she quickly racked up more than a million followers with video collages inviting people into the pleasures, struggles and banalities of celebrity life. Here, she is lifting weights in pink Spandex, her blond hair swept back. There, shes posted a poll asking her followers if a new necklace needs to be longer.

The appeal of Busy being Busy landed her her own late-night talkshow on the channel E!, a favorable profile in the New Yorker and a book deal on a collection of essays. This Will Only Hurt A Little which became an instant bestseller is bubbly in tone, laced with plenty of F-bombs, and features Philipps on the cover in pink. But its also dark and reads holistically rather than in the tiny shreds more typically rendered by the internet while providing a fairly devastating critique of masculinity and authority in America.

Theres the time her mouth fills with blood after being smacked across the face by her mom. And theres the trauma of her first sexual experience, how she found penetration painful and told the guy: I dont think this is gonna work. He didnt stop, slamming her against the carpet of his car so hard she would be left with a spine-length scab. I found a spot on the ceiling of his car and I sort of spun up to it and just focused on that until he shuddered and rolled off me, she writes.

Theres also a story about James Franco taking one of her (relatively few) lines back when she got her breakout role and how, when she persisted in correcting him, the relationship went cold. He was not cool to me at all, she writes, describing how he once lost his temper entirely, throwing her to the ground on set .

That this brief anecdote about Francos aggression garnered much of the media attention when the book was released didnt sit well with Philipps. The Franco story is used to illustrate a larger point about the way women are treated in this business and in life. There are no allegations and no accusations. Its a story that I have been telling for years, she wrote on Instagram. He had apologized, she said, and she had accepted.

Later she would sum it up: Im a woman in this industry who wrote a personal book about my experiences in life and in this industry, then the headlines were all about a man.

At some point you might wonder if it isnt a coincidence that someone conventionally beautiful tall, blonde, honey-skinned has such a keen awareness of womens systematic disempowerment, though presumably her college coursework in womens studies didnt hurt.


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Its a real double-edged sword, she says of the female body. I think culturally we have a really tricky relationship with womens bodies and womens sexuality and Im not sure if the origin is religious, puritanical if, you know, were going back to the Salem witch trials, she says.

But whatever the origins, she adds, these are things that exist and permeate the culture and I think part of allowing ourselves to try to free ourselves from that, from that shame, is by talking about our own unique biology and biological functions, starting with periods, breasts and nipples and destigmatizing all womens healthcare.

This is exactly what feminists have long been famous for: using insights born of personal experience to speak up on the politics of the day.

When Dr Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate judiciary committee that she had been sexually assaulted by the now supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh, Philipps posted on Instagram about her own teenage rape, an act she says she didnt come to identify as rape until years later.

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#tbt This is me at 14. The age I was raped. It’s taken me 25 years to say those words. I wrote about it in my book. I finally told my parents and sister about it 4 months ago. Today is the day we are silent no more. All of us. I’m scared to post this. I can’t imagine what Dr. Ford is feeling right now.

A post shared by Busy Philipps (@busyphilipps) on


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Having written the story for my book and having it put into the world publicly in the fall I think really prepared me for this moment, because I do think that I went through all of the fear of retaliation when my book was coming out and I had moved through all of those emotions, she says.

The book also chronicled the experience culminating in her abortion at age 15, how little she knew about sex and sexuality, and how the default silence meant being pressured to submit to penile pleasure.

My mom was so cool about so much, but she was also raised very Catholic and it wasnt ever discussed in a real way. We had the where-do-babies-come-from conversation when I was little, but sex was just something that I knew was shameful, she writes.

It was also all about pleasing men. I derived no pleasure from it really, she writes of the unprotected sex she had with her then boyfriend. I was just happy to be that close to him and to give him what I knew he wanted.

Though names were changed in the book, her personal account which the Guardian has not independently verified offers something that boilerplate political statements cannot: how blurry the lines are around sexual consent, how often young women are coaxed and cajoled into unprotected penetrative sex for mens satisfaction and how often they shoulder blame and consequences afterwards.

Well, youve gotten yourself into quite a situation, havent you? Philipps recalled the mom of her then boyfriend saying, before launching into a lecture on how she wouldnt let Philipps murder a baby.

Philipps doesnt write that her life now would have been impossible without the abortion she got at age 15, but she doesnt have to.

Busy Philipps on her mother: We had the where-do-babies-come-from conversation when I was little, but sex was just something that I knew was shameful Photograph: Chelsea Lauren/WWD/Rex/Shutterstock

When abortion bans started moving through the states this year, Philipps knew she wanted to use her platform to talk about it specifically, she wanted to talk about it on her show, which it had recently been announced, was going to be canceled. So she did.

Maybe youre sitting there thinking, I dont know a woman who would have an abortion, she told viewers on Busy Tonight. Well, you know me. I had an abortion when I was 15 years old and Im telling you this because Im genuinely really scared for women and girls all over this country.

Next she started the viral hashtag #YouKnowMe, encouraging thousands of others to share their abortion stories too. When youre a public figure, a person, a celebrity or whatever such as I am myself, people do actually know you, or they think they do, she says.

And so this month, Philipps has continued making the most of her famous (and famously accessible) personality, expanding on her personal story in testimony before Congress.

It was not a decision I made lightly. But I have never for a moment doubted that it was the right decision for me, Philipps told members of a House judiciary subcommittee earlier this month. But so much has changed in Arizona and other states since then.

She continued: Today, legally I would have to get parental consent. I would be forced to undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound, to go to a state-mandated in-person counseling, designed solely to shame me into changing my mind, then take a state-mandated 24-hour time-out to make sure I really knew what I wanted. And finally, I would be forced to give the state a reason why. Well, here is mine: my body belongs to me.

So how did it feel to be talking to a bunch of starched-suit lawmakers she had never met before about one of the most personal decisions of her life? How does it feel to be answering questions from a nosy reporter about the experience?

Why, in short, would anyone sign up for this hell?

Well, 100% its unfair, but our patriarchal society is set up to be unfair to women. So if were going to like, finish it, were going to have to go through another period of being uncomfortable, she says.

Im willing to be uncomfortable to achieve something better and I think most women are used to being uncomfortable because that is the burden that we have long carried in this society and in our own homes and in the world.

Shes not the only one making the sacrifice.

Jayapal said last week that she was talking about her abortion, even though I should not have to, while Blasey Ford began by saying: I am here not because I want to be. I am terrified.

The toll of talking about these things is clear and paid upfront, while the benefits are uncertain. But as a mother to two girls, Philipps felt strongly enough about speaking to bring the older one, her 11-year-old, with her on her recent trip to Washington.

I feel a great deal of responsibility in raising daughters in this world that they have a full understanding of the world that they live in and of specifically their own world: what it is to be a woman and what can happen, she says.

Something that I wish for them is that they never feel like their basic biology is something that needs to be hidden or is shameful or something they cant talk about, she adds. I think culturally, we are shifting, and Im happy to be part of it.

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

This post was curated & Posted using : RealSpecific

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