Hollywood’s Dark History: Life in the Shadows

The history of celebrity motherhood and abortion is convoluted. In this day and age society celebrates celebrity children (think Suri Cruise and the Kardashian children), grieves celebrity miscarriages (think Beyonce  and Giuliana Rancic) and celebrates celebrity abortion (think Chelsea Handler and Amy Brenneman).

You might think the tie between motherhood, miscarriage, abortion and stardom is of the 21st century but forced abortions, secret shame, and even hiding motherhood has been around since the beginning of Hollywood. A recent article in Vanity Fair made it clear:

“much like today, in Old Hollywood, the decisions being made about women’s bodies were made in the interest of men…”

In the era of bombshells, where women were supposedly owning and controlling their sexuality, behind the scenes contracts and mandates prevented women from actual control of their own bodies. Stars of the day practically used abortion as birth control, for the sake of their careers. Stars like Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Judy Garland often were told in order to keep their seductress or virginal image, they would have to abort their children, for the sake of the audience and their careers.

The sad truth is, it wasn’t just celebrities who were forced or coerced into abortions and the same is true today. 64% of  post-abortive women said they felt pressured by others to abort.

The dark reality of abortion is, if more than half of all women feel pressured into it, this isn’t a pro-woman decision.

The truth is, pregnancy and childbirth are unique to women. Men cannot do this. And yet, it is this very ability that society is forcing women to walk away from, to hide in secret, to end completely, or to step out of the workforce as a whole to become a mother. And pressuring a woman to end the life inside her, and to hide the one ability she has that a man does not, is fundamentally anti-woman.

Society puts so much pressure on women and pushes women into a corner saying, ‘If you want to be valuable in this society, If you want to show that you are capable or equal to men, you need to have this abortion in order to maintain equality.’ Instead of workplace environments changing, instead of society adapting to women, women even today are pressured to abort their children in order to keep their careers, maintain equality, and be valued in society.

Women then, and women today, deserve the ability to showcase their strength as women, not as a stereotype: bombshell, virgin, career woman, mother. Not in an attempt for the audience to love us. Not in an attempt to keep a career. Women should have the freedom of having a career or having children or having both or whatever that looks like and not feel pressured by society to have an abortion to be successful.

Celebrating women’s unique abilities in society is truly pro-woman.