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Abortion: Inga Muscio Vs. The Milan Collective

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Abortion: Inga Muscio Vs. The Milan Collective

While the allegory, "There are two sides to a story," is an often-used phrase, it's an expression that's widely untrue. In situations that are complicated, there usually aren't only two sides to a storyÐ'--it takes three sides or more to paint a more accurate portrayal of all of the details that the situation entails. Abortion isn't just an issue of "pro-life" vs. "pro-choice;" the issue has assorted variables and participants that influence different results. This essay shows the views exhibited in our course, Philosophical Aspects of Feminism, by feminist author Inga Muscio and feminist autocoscienza group The Milan Collective. In their respective pieces, SEXUAL DIFFERENCE and Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, the Milan Collective and Inga Muscio display several contrasting views on abortion, feminism, and women's rights.

One fundamental similarity that both Inga Muscio and the Milan Collective have in common is that each of them believe in women having the right to have freedom regarding what they can or cannot do with their bodies. In the minds of both parties, women have the rightÐ'--whether it's formally legalized or notÐ'--to have abortions. But for the most part, this is where the similarities between the two idealists ends.

One difference between Muscio and the Milan Collective is that the Milan Collective try to work within the male-dominated legal system to get what they want. As stated on page 60, The Milan Collective was active in a location and during a time where abortion was illegal, so women were circumventing the law altogether by getting abortions on their own terms. Even though they later found that they didn't get the results they thought were necessary, the Milan Collective initially supported working with the government to reach legally legit solutions regarding abortion and women's rights. To them, an important gateway to finding a solution to give women the freedom they deserve is to make changes within the governmental system and protect women from any penalization due to something that should be their choice. They admit that maneuvering with a lawmaking whole that is created, operated, and upheld by men holds them to a disadvantage, but they insist on trudging on, hoping that working with the system that's already in place will not only help change formal laws concerning women's rights, but change ideas, too.

Inga Muscio believes in a different approach. Bothered by two unwanted pregnancies, Muscio initially used the legal method of going to the hospital and paying for a medically, professionally-performed abortion. She hated each of these experiences, and she narrates each of them in excruciating detail: "Have you any idea how it feels to willingly and voluntarily submit to excruciating torture because you dumbly forgot to insert your diaphragm which gives you ugly yeast infections and hurts you to fuck unless you lie flat on your back anyway? I was to withstand this torture because I was a bad girl." (Cunt, pg. 45) When she reached a third unwanted pregnancy, she had "promptly decided there was to be no grotesque waltz with that abhorrent machine" again, so she took matters into her own hands, using several methodsÐ'--drinking tea, massaging her uterus in places inappropriate for marriage, a mental process called "imaging," and other activitiesÐ'--to bring on an organically-induced miscarriage. This circumvention of the patriarchal government system gave Muscio a sense of empowerment: not only did she avoid the traumatic experience of an abortion done by a machine, but she "felt the way (she) imagine any oppressed individual feels when they see that they have power and nobodyÐ'--not men and not their machinesÐ'--can take that away." (Cunt, pg. 51) In her mind, this freedom is a welcome alternative to the hopelessness and situational confinement she felt with her first two abortions: "I had the same choice...that glowing, outstanding choice for which we ladies fight tooth and nail: the choice to get my insides ruthlessly sucked by some inhuman shitpile, not invented by my foremothers, but by someone who would never, ever in a million years have that tube jammed up his dickhole and turned on full blast, slurping everything that was in its path." (Cunt, pg. 45) Further, she says that the issue of abortion and human rights don't have any relevance with the government or legal proceedings and protests, but instead, "inside each and every individual in this earth." (Cunt, pg. 52) In her mind, these concerns should only be a matter of what the woman wants to do, and laws shouldn't have anything to do with it.

Another difference between Inga Muscio and the Milan Collective is in their viewpoints regarding how to approach the abortion issue, the Milan Collective values individuality: the consideration of the vast possibilities of different situations, based on each woman's unique views and episodes. As stated on pages 61-62 of SEXUAL DIFFERENCE, the author said that while her and other women were talking about abortion among themselves, "(they) discovered how varied (their) experiences were, depending on (their) different social locations...but even more marked were the individual differences between women." The author goes on to elaborate on how different the women were in terms of their situations with their sexuality. Individuality, the Milan Collective says, is even more important a factor regarding abortion than government legislation could ever be: "the heart of the matter...was...where they stood with respect to sexuality." (SEXUAL DIFFERENCE, pg. 62) In fact, they believe that since laws treat many people as the same, that legalizing abortion would be problematic, because it wouldn't take everyone's unique situations to heart. After all, they say, men's laws are going to be insensitive to women anyway: "For men, abortion is a question of science, laws, morals; for us women, it is a matter of violence and suffering." (SEXUAL DIFFERENCE, pg. 62Ð'--Collective of Via Cherubini, February 22, 1973)

Muscio, on the other hand, doesn't place a lot of emphasis on the individual. While she says things like the aforementioned, "the real inside each and every individual on this earth," most of her rhetoric is centered around treating men and woman as only two separate entities. With the historical oppression toward women have had to suffer under the hands of men, Muscio questionsÐ'--and usually disputesÐ'--all facets of the male-dominated society, and in an effort to battle that oppression, she speaks in very definite terms, focusing so much



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