Break the Rules Like ... Amelia Bonow
Not all Wonder Women wear capes, and not all Unladylike role models need to sit in the C-suite to spark change. We want to introduce y'all to rad women and nonbinary folks we admire. They'll offer up pointers on how we all can #breaktheruleslike they do and help them make the world a better place. If you have a role model to shout out, send hot tips to email@example.com.
1. Introduce yourself: Who are you, where are you from and what do you do?
My name is Amelia Bonow, I’m from Seattle, and I’m the cofounder and codirector of Shout Your Abortion, a movement working to create places in art, media and real-life events all over the country for people to talk about their abortions.
2. When did you first realize this was the right path for you?
In 2015, I wrote a status update about my abortion experience, my friend Lindy West added the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion and put it on twitter, and the hashtag went viral as hundreds of thousands of people flooded social media with their own abortion stories. At the time, I was in graduate school and working towards becoming a therapist. But within hours of the hashtag blowing up, it was clear that people were desperate for ways to start having these conversations and that there was an incredible amount of momentum surrounding the push to do so. I literally never went back to school after that; I don’t even think I officially dropped my classes for months. There was never any question.
3. What’s unladylike about you and what you do?
I spent my youth pretending to think that men were interesting and smart and trying to make myself seem ladylike so that they might be interested in fucking me. I don’t front like that anymore, because I think the vast majority of straight cis men are mentally and emotionally outmoded, severely disappointing, and as a category, a catastrophic deadweight on society. And fucking them isn’t even fun half of the time!
4. Which of your heroes or role models would you immortalize in bronze?
This is an annoying answer, but I sorta don’t believe heroes because I think that framing people as superhuman is a way to let ourselves off the hook for doing less. Heroes are just regular-ass humans doing the absolute most! Also, your hero might turn out to be a total asshole. They can never fall from grace if you don’t put them on a pedestal!
5. What was your feminist aha moment?
In my undergrad I studied Cultural Anthropology and had a class called Culture and the Body. I was already a thoroughly indoctrinated feminist at that point, but that course was what made me start thinking deeply about abortion and making connections that I hadn’t before. My aha moment was beginning to understand the ways in which abortion is fundamental — that we cannot make any meaningful progress towards gender justice, racial justice, or economic justice without abortion being safe, legal, free and accessible to all, without qualification. Anything less than that amounts to a human rights abuse.
6. What’s the best advice you’ve received? The worst?
The best advice I’ve ever received is to go to your underwear drawer, take out all the pairs that make you sad, throw them away and get new underwear. The worst advice is like a five-way tie between all the stupid doctors who have told me that I was imagining my pain or symptoms and that what I needed was to “relax.”
7. What’s bringing you joy right now — or at least keeping you sane?
8. Aside from keys/wallet/phone, what do you never leave home without?
Um, lots of tampons and panty liners because I’m currently struggling with endometriosis and some other mystery shit that means I start bleeding in totally unpredictable and extreme ways. So lots of period stuff and also lipstick.
9. How can unladies help you and/or your mission?
Shout Your Abortion released our first book in November. It’s a collection of 43 abortion stories from all sorts of people, all over the country, accompanied by beautiful portraits, as well as art and examples of projects and creative organizing that SYA has inspired over the last few years. Even if you are solidly pro-choice, this book will expand your perspective and your capacity for compassion, and hopefully it will inspire you to start talking about abortion in your own life, if you aren’t already. The book is available through our website and tons of other places!
ALSO, if you sign up for our mailing list, you’ll have the opportunity to start a book club, which means we send you a pile of books, some discussion questions and some cool abortion swag, and then you get together with your pals and talk about abortion. It’s pay-what-you-can and totally low-key, and there is absolutely no catch.
Oh and also, our website is a place where you can go and add your own abortion story, in text or video! There are hundreds of stories on the site, and it’s a great way to tiptoe your way into sharing your story.
More from Amelia
More from SYA
Tag it: #ShoutYourAbortion #AbortionIsNormal
Read: Shout Your Abortion
More about SYA
Why Now More Than Ever We Need ‘Shout Your Abortion’ (Rewire.News, 2018)
How One Woman Became an Activist With the Hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion (O Magazine, 2018)
“Shout Your Abortion” Is Changing the Conversation (Bitch, 2018)