“These days are ours”
by Anita Diamant
Emilia and I saw Obvious Child together. It’s an independent film by director Gillian Robespierre and stars Jenny Slate as Donna Stern, a stand-up comedian in Brooklyn, as insecure and nervous as Woody Allen, only charming.
Obvious Child has gotten a lot of ink because it’s described as a movie about abortion – Donna’s abortion. It’s been called “brave,” because Donna doesn’t waver in her decision to abort the result of a night of unprotected sex with a guy she just met at a bar. She’s 28, single, a stand-up comedian trying to make it living with a loyal, sane roommate in a tiny apartment, recently fired from her day job in a bookstore, which is going out of business. Also, nobody wakes up in the morning with her eyeliner intact. Might this be the first “fact-based” romantic comedy ever?
That’s right, romantic comedy. Girl meets boy, girl hooks up with boy, boy pursues girl, girl spurns boy until boy proves he’s more of a mensch than just about anyone she’s ever met. And then it looks like girl is going to get boy.
In the middle of all that, Donna has an abortion, an experience common to one in three American women (by the age of 45). Abortion is a widespread fact,a part of our lives. It may be an unwished-for and sad part, but one in three means that whether or not they know it, everyone in the United States has a daughter, sister, mother and/or aunt who have been through it.
When Jenny tells the sorry of her sad, unwished for and normal abortion during her stand-up routine, the camera pans the audience where the faces of young women radiate recognition, compassion and ruefulness.
I didn’t mean for this blog post to be about abortion. I thought was going to write something cute, comparing the experience of seeing Sleepless in Seattle with Emilia eleven years ago (her first grown-up rom-com), and how actress Gabby Hoffman played the best friend in both of them. I was going to write about the generational differences between the two films and the switcheroo feeling that comes with remembering how I used to identify with the romantic lead but now see myself in the supporting role as mother.
But given recent Supreme Court decisions about contraception and abortion, I had to get this off my chest the same way I had to go to the “Supreme Rally” at Boston City Hall. There were the usual too-many speeches, but for me the most memorable was Governor Duval Patrick’s. His message was, “Don’t be discouraged.”
He acknowledged that was asking a lot since so many of us had been at similar rallies forty years ago, fighting a battle we thought was won.
But I did feel encouraged because it was such a young crowd. I saw many more women and men under the age of 40 than past it. Some of the most compelling speakers –who are also leaders and organizers of the rally and organizations working for reproductive choice — were also young and a few of them were brilliant women of color.
I hadn’t been to a political rally in years, but the fact that Emilia wanted to go but wasn’t able to attend is what got me there. As much as I support women’s rights, as much as I am outraged by the Supreme Court decisions about buffer zones and Hobby Lobby, I was there for her.