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Tuesday, September 6, 2005

In August, Glamour (my must-read when I wanted to know eight sex tips I simply must have) ran an article about The Mysterious Disappearance of Pro-Choice Women. (That link is to a PDF file of the article.)

According to the article, which is based on interviews with college students, there's been a substantial shift among young women toward the pro-life position. (That's why the Glamour editorial board has assigned a reporter to write Lipstick that Stays Put When You're Sidewalk Counseling.)

A number of bloggers commented on the article when it came out.

It turns out that one of our readers is a pro-life college student who was interviewed for the article. Today, we share her first person account of that experience.

People hear what they want to hear. Such was the case when Susan Dominus interviewed a panel of students (including me) on our campus for an interview in the August issue of Glamour magazine.

When we were asked to participate in the panel, the story was pitched to us as a look into why my generation, the current batch of college students, are more pro-life than our mothers. About seven of us, both pro-life and not, were invited to participate. We introduced ourselves, placed our beliefs on the pro-life/pro-choice spectrum, and stated our religious backgrounds. All her questions led to what she wanted to hear. She listened to our reasons and “played devils advocate,” as she told us this was the role of a good reporter gathering her facts. A friend and I left feeling that she didn’t really want to know why we were pro-life, but why we weren’t pro-choice. She wasn’t interested in the pro-life group’s affiliation with Feminists for Life. She didn’t want to hear about the way we were brought up, unless we now disagree with our parents. (This was, as we were told, supposed to be the beef of the story.) I know stories can take on a life of their own. However, I cannot help but feel that either she was leaning away from that thesis from the beginning or that she wasn’t completely honest as to why she was interested in interviewing us. Sure, she wanted to hear the stories—a friend who had a baby and is successfully completing her undergrad and then going to grad school, a friend who had a baby, married the father and now they live on welfare, etc. But then she used the success stories as examples as rare situations where everything turns out ok as if to say, “see, this doesn’t always happen!”

I took great offence when I read her article this evening. First of all, the title, “The Mysterious Disappearance of Pro-Choice Women,” automatically favors the pro-choice student as if she is an endangered species, causing sympathy to her view. The rest of the article is full of condescending remarks, such as “There’s just one little problem with the new pro-life poster of many young women: They’re still getting pregnant… and still having abortions.”

My main problem with the article is this: She used the pro-life students she interviewed. She told us she was writing one thing and then wrote the opposite. We knew she wasn’t going to write from a neutral position, and I concede that she has every right to write what she wants to. However, I feel that we were greatly misled. She heard what she wanted to.

Thankfully, there are a few good issues addressed—mainly that there are fewer pro-choice people in my generation and more pro-life. I just wish she hadn’t portrayed this generation as ill-informed women who don’t know “how good they have it.”

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