Have you ever had an epiphany? A realization so immense that suddenly everything becomes simpler, yet fascinatingly more complicated, than you ever imagined?
Well, I had one the other day and let me tell you, it was altogether scary, enlightening and clarifying of how essential our college years truly are.
Throughout the beginning of my junior year, I’ve begun to realize that instead of moving swiftly from class to class, I’ve started to leave my lectures more acutely, as if the discussions for that day are little fuzzies that I can’t brush off my yoga pants.
Like pieces in an impossible puzzle, the content of my readings and assignments began to nag at me. It wasn’t until I was knee deep into a reading on “gendercide,” the killing and aborting of millions of female infants in countries where sons are culturally preferred over daughters, that I was faced with a true challenge.
I consider myself a proponent for a woman’s choice to choose whether to have an abortion or not. (Disclaimer: Just because one is pro-choice, does not mean one is pro-abortion. It simply means that a woman should be able to choose.)
However, due to sex determining technologies like ultrasounds, aborting fetuses once they are found to be female is a growing occurrence. In order to solve such a tremendous issue as gendercide, which has deep cultural and financial roots, one must also examine the tools that are contributing to the phenomenon, like abortion.
Like a stack of bricks, my stance was being called into question in a very tangible way. How can I say that I am pro-choice here in the US, but pro-life elsewhere?
How can I stand up for a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion or not but viscerally despise that same right when female babies are being disproportionally affected through abortion?
Fast-forward about fifteen hours and I find the answer during my sexuality and the sacred religion class. (Second Disclaimer: This class will blow your mind.) The lecture was on the transition of modernity to post-modernity, concepts that I have only begun to understand on the surface level.
The gist of this transition lies in the realization that society’s traditional way of organizing society, which rests in dualities (boy or girl, gay or straight, black or white), is completely insufficient. Why?
Because nothing is that simple. Classifying anything into constricting categories is impossible and completely ignorant of the world around us. This idea is so simple and yet, so incredibly daunting.
Nonetheless, we create binding categories every single day through our conversations and descriptions, which causes everything outside those categories to seem taboo and just strange. How often do you meet someone who is neither pro-choice or pro-life? That just sounds weird, right?
Gendercide can’t be solved by only addressing abortion. Likewise, abortion in itself cannot and should not be classified by whether you’re for it or against it.
When our stances are challenged, our initial reaction is usually to either get defensive or shy away. These formative college years allow us the opportunity to embrace that frozen feeling when we’re confronted with ideas that differ from our own.
Instead of fearing this inevitable sensation, embrace it. Education is about humbling ourselves to the reality that we don’t know everything. And even then, what we do know suffers from the constricting categories that we ourselves make as a society.
While this is a scary fact, it should empower us, to look beyond this phenomenon. In other words, we need to drag our feet out of the “either/or” mentality and move past the myth that we’re either this or that, Republican or Democrat, pro-choice or pro-abortion, or whatever else.
Gray areas may not be pretty, but they ironically hold the clearest reflections of the world around us. Embrace them, even if they stare you straight in the face asking for an answer with the limited options shoved in our face.
Sometimes the best answer is the humble statement that you simply don’t have one, yet.