Abuela is judging me.
I’ve been absent from this page for weeks now, for a lot of reasons, all related. The main word is work. I’ve had way too much to do, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t had down time. The problem is what I’ve been doing during my (rare) off time. I’m guilt-ridden every time I choose to do something over another. I feel guilty when I’m not working to begin with, but on top of this, when I do something other than read/study/write my proposal, I feel guilty about doing this one thing rather than another. If I choose to watch TV, a voice in my head scolds me for not writing an email or a letter to my friends instead. If I decide to knit, I scold myself for not writing on this blog, and so on. I haven’t allowed myself to do a lot of things lately, knitting is a good example. Last weekend though, Jane Fonda -my boyfriend’s mom, a fellow knitter- signed us up for a knitting class. I was excited but also pissed, because this class had an assignment; we needed to complete a few rows before showing up. I complied and did it, and I realized what I had been missing: an activity that allowed me to create AND to relieve my stress. I found myself enjoying the class immensely too, not only because I was the best knitter there and could unleash my inner Monica Geller, but also because I just threw myself in my project without thinking about all my work, for the first time in weeks.
You go, girl.
So, I started thinking: why am I feeling guilty about all these other activities? What is so bad about prioritizing anyways? I’m writing on here right now, because I don’t have the energy to do any work, but also because it helps me relax and reflect on things. Also, in my free time, I watch TV a lot. What’s so bad about that? TV can be relaxing, and it can sometimes spark reflection. TV can be quite powerful, actually. Within the past month, two of my favorite shows have tackled the crucial question of abortion (no relation whatsoever with my previous topic: knitting). I’m going to try and stay out of politics for this one, because I always said that this is not a place for debates or politics in general, but I believe certain topics are even more powerful in light of recent events. Certain topics need to be referenced and to stop being invisible and, therefore, stigmatized. Both Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex Girlfriend handled abortion very tastefully in the past few weeks, and I thought I would talk about it a little bit today, because in my opinion, this issue is closely linked to guilt, too. In Jane the Virgin, –SPOILER ALERT– Jane’s mom Xiomara has a medical abortion off-screen after finding out she was pregnant with Esteban’s baby. She doesn’t only have an abortion because it’s Esteban’s and not Rogelio’s; she literally does NOT want another child, and this is even what ended her relationship with Rogelio, whom she loves so much. Her decision is really that, a decision. She’s not a kid anymore, she could technically handle another child, even if money would be a little tight. But she doesn’t want to have to handle it, because she doesn’t want it. Her biggest problem is telling her very religious mom -can you blame her? I’m still shuddering from the gif I posted above-, but she had no problem telling her daughter, and her daughter’s husband (and probably Rogelio, too). In Crazy Ex Girlfriend, Paula gets pregnant right when she finally gets into law school. Her husband points out that she has options right away, without saying the word, and Paula brushes it off quickly, stating that those ‘options’ are for teenagers who got knocked up at prom -I’m paraphrasing. I got really upset at the show after hearing this conversation, because I was expecting more from the writers. But by the end of the episode, Paula has realized that her dreams would literally be shattered by this pregnancy, and that she would be miserable. She also has an abortion off-screen, and the word is finally pronounced by her son, who hilariously says he will get the door ‘because you just had an ABORTION’. I giggled at that one, because it’s funny, but then it hit me: this is important. Don’t hide the word, don’t use metaphors, don’t treat it like something shameful. Paula told her son, because this act of family planning concerns him. He is part of this family, he has the right to know, just like she would have had the right to hide it from him if she had wanted to. Everything about this is a question of choice.
Everything about it is also a question of guilt. The common ground between these two women is their absence of guilt. Xiomara voices it when she tells Jane that Alba is punishing her because she does NOT feel guilty about her abortion, and Alba thinks she should. People’s relationship with abortion is a catch-22: (some) women who have had one feel guilty because society is telling them that it’s shameful. But society is saying this, partly because no one is vocal about abortion. Sure, people talk about it as a societal problem, so it gets some screen time, but as a secretive practice that is, above all, private, if not downright shameful. What these two shows have done recently is take the stigma out, and prove that you can choose to have an abortion and be right back on your feet. It doesn’t make you a bad person, either.
Another spoiler alert: Abuela comes through.
So yeah, TV can spark discussion, it can be deep.
Watching TV needs to be destigmatized. I should not be shamed because I have watched TV, and I refuse to feel guilty.