Mansplaining Abortion: You Are Never In Control Of Your Own Body
Mary Manning: If I had an abortion, it would be because all the factors of my life added up to me not being prepared to raise a child.
Andrea Benito: I love that for you. Go you and your strategic planning. But, what I don’t get is why you think you’re the authority over when a life can emerge from you and when it cannot. That you can and should control your life and biology.
MM: I can only control my body. I only have authority over my own body.
AB: Right, but you’re assuming its your biology. And the hypothesis I’m offering is this: It’s not your biology!
MM: Whose would it be, if not mine?
AB: Not yours. It belongs to “The Them.”
MM: The who?
AB: The flesh of the world. The globe. The atoms. The overcoming. The Gods.
MM: No, it’s my body. I’ve been living in it for the past 23 years. The body I own and control. MY BODY.
AB: No, this idea of ownership is an illusion that comes from a Cartesian model of the world. The best way I can explain the illusion of ownership, how ownership is an artificial construct, is through the word “author.” The idea of the “author” is a modern idea– Shakespeare, for example, had no sense of being an author.
MM: OK, I actually see where you’re going with this. Go on.
AB: What “Shakespeare” made was not made by Shakespeare; it was just an artifact, something produced by the world. Like the sea produces a seashell, words took shape and conveyed meanings. As capitalism took hold, and the idea of intellectual property came to the forefront, the idea of ownership emerged for commercial and technocratic purposes.
MM: Alright, valid. But they had attribution back then!
AB: Dude, they hardly had books, let alone attribution.
MM: But the plays performed were known to be his, weren’t they?
AB: I mean, we don’t even know if Shakespeare was one person or a group of people.
MM: Well, I mean, whether a single person or a group, various people were known to have generated various works, right? It wasn’t just like “look what so and so pulled out of God’s lap.”
“It’s an assemblage of your mom and your dad.”
AB: Actually, it kind of was. I mean particularly at the beginning of storytelling. Why does every epic poem begin with an invocation of the muses? Look at Homer at the start of his poem: “Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy.” THE EPIC POEM STARTS… IM NOT DOING THIS, TAKE HOLD OF ME MIGHTY GOD AND TELL THIS STORY THROUGH ME. This sentiment was still alive and well in Shakespeare’s time, I think. Ownership only emerged as an artificial construct to serve the interests of capitalism. There was no ownership before that, no illusion of control, the world just was impressed upon us.
MM: Uh huh.
AB: Now keep that in mind, and ask yourself: Are you inside right now? Or are you outside?
MM: I’m inside, in my apartment.
AB: Do you see how artificial that idea is? Like the idea of authorship?
MM: That I am inside?
AB: What is ownership? What is distribution? What is inside? What is outside? Is the air from the outside not inside?
MM: What? You’ve really gone off the deep end now. AT THIS MOMENT: on this earth, we are inside dwellings. We are in our respective apartment buildings.
AB: Well, the wood that holds this place together is outside? The window is outside? Where is the exact point that outside ends and the inside begins? There is no clear, definite mark. Everything is leaking!
MM: Can you walk through walls? I cannot. Unless you can walk through your apartment’s walls and into the air and fall down 25 stories to the street, my friend, you are inside.
AB: My window is open. Am I outside? I feel the breeze. Radio signals are coming in through the walls. Water is pumping through the pipes and out into my sink. I’m neither definitely outside, nor definitely inside. I’m enmeshed.
MM: No! YOU ARE INSIDE.
AB: I’m not a little bit outside?
MM: YOU ARE INSIDE YOUR OVERPRICED APARTMENT. YOU’RE NOT EVEN A TEENSY BIT OUTSIDE. Stick your arm outside, then you can be a little outside.
AB: So what defines the outside, Mary?
MM: I’m going come over to your place and beat you up so hard, ahhhh! The outside is on the other side of the walls that contain you, that contain your controlled environment.
AB: The globe contains me. The galaxy contains me. Is the world outside? Is the galaxy outside? The idea of an outside and an inside is an illusion. The inside is not a vacuum from the outside. Inside and outside are leaking together all the time; there is SO MUCH leakage.
MM: It is a vacuum. When you open a door or a window to a previously sealed room, doesn’t a gust of air rush into the vacuum? When all doors and windows are shut and sealed, isn’t that air going to become stale? It is.
AB: That’s vacuum-like. There is still leakage. It’s not anti-gravity, it’s not a blackhole. It’s not God’s land.
MM: But listen: That’s how they find these century-old apartments that haven’t been opened for 100+ years, and everything is perfectly intact. Because they’ve been essentially vacuum-sealed and preserved.
AB: IT IS NOT PRESERVED. IT IS STILL DECAYING. IT IS STILL LEAKING.
MM: I’m inside. Shut up.
AB: I touched your hand today at dinner. I rubbed off my skin onto you a little bit. When we hugged your perfume meshed into my sweater. Am I 100% Andrea?
MM: You are.
AB: I disagree.
MM: You are 100% Andrea, plus other bits tacked on.
AB: I’m not a vacuum, I’m not autonomous, I’m an assemblage.
MM: You are a lunatic. You are 100% Andrea Benito, PLUS other bits tacked on. AGAIN: You’re are 100% Andrea Benito PLUS a top layer of Andrea Benito’s encounters.
AB: I completely disagree with that sense of hierarchy and solidness. I believe you’re always mixing, meshing, always unstable.
MM: But the core is always 100% you, that’s always the base.
AB: NO. I’m saying THERE IS NO CORE. THERE IS NO BASE. THERE IS NO GROUND. THERE IS NO AUTHORITY (AUTHOR). THERE IS NO SELF-CONTAINED YOU.
MM: There is a core. There is a core plus a top layer.
AB: There is a core from a limited (and, sure, practical) perspective.
MM: Your skin is the semi-permeable layer which contains a mixture of you and your encounters and, sure, I suppose those encounters also affect your core. Maybe you are always already mixed, Andrea. And being mixed. But also, at the same time, somehow, there is still always 100% Andrea.
AB: I don’t believe in a 100% unified person, a center. I don’t believe in control. I see myself as a pinball being moved in a machine, more defined by the dynamics of the whole machine than the ball being thrown around. You see yourself as a Mary, in control of your body and womb.
AB: What is a Mary? It’s an assemblage of your mom and your dad.
MM: And that defines her core Maryness.
AB: And what are your mom and dad? An assemblage of your grandparents. There is no core. There are just assemblages. And more assemblages. And more assemblages. And cores. And further refractions of those cores into more assemblages. And more assemblages. And more assemblages. And more assemblages.
MM: I feel melty.
AB: Who are you?
MM: A MARY.
AB: Or are you a Mary-Talking-To-Andrea-Through-A-Computer-Through-English?
MM: I’m a Mary + Talking To Andrea On The Computer.
AB: But what is Mary? Mary is an infinite assemblage. Mary-Is-A-Person-Living-In-New-York-Mary-Was-A-Person-In-The-Cum-Of-Her-Father-Mary-Is-A-Fan-At-A-Sports-Game. Where is the core of Mary? Where is the center of you? Where do you claim authority? You are a thing thinging things whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere. The plates are always shifting, morphing, changing, mutating, reveling, evolving, devolving, revolving.
MM: First, eww. Second, It hurts my head to think about that.
AB: Are you an authority over Mary? Are you in control of Mary?
MM: Aren’t we all authors?
AB: Yes, we all are, and none of us are. I’m an author over you, and vice versa. But there is no AUTHOR, AUTHOR. There is no God centralizing us.
AB: I’M NOT ANDREA. I’M ANDREA. I’m not inside. I’m not outside. I’m eating the sun, the sun that grew these oranges that I’m eating. I’m putting the sun in my body through this fruit. Am I outside or inside? Please see how there is no definite distinction between outside and inside. Oranges are outside but they are inside, too. It’s leaking.
MM: I see now. I do follow…
AB: What about Drake coming from my iPad? Is that inside or outside? Am I, Andrea, Drake?
MM: No. YOU ARE NOT DRAKE.
AB: But am I Andrea listening to Drake? And where is Drake coming from: the inside or the outside? He’s streaming in from the outside through the Internet and electrical gird. Andrea-Listening-To-Drake-Andrea-Wondering-Is-He-Drake-Andrea-Saying-HE-IS-DRAKE?
MM: Has this whole conversation been a ploy to convince me and the rest of the world that you are Drake?
AB: Yes. I am Drake.
MM: Drake is in you. Deep, deep inside you.
AB: NO!!!!!!!!!! THERE IS NO DEEPNESS. THAT MISSES THE WHOLE POINT.
MM: I do get the point, I’m just being a pervert. I GET IT. I WAS JUST BEING A SICKO. DRAKE IS DEEP INSIDE YOU. GET IT.
AB: It’s not hierarchical. The phrase “far out” is much more accurate than deep. Deep assumes drilling to an actual bottom. There is no bottom.
MM: That’s actually profound – for you.
AB: Think about the Earth. How deep can you go into the Earth’s core? You go down far enough, you end up in space. The deepness is contextual; once you move far “down” enough, you’re literally floating in space. Where is down? Where is up? There is no reality of that, just illusions. I MEAN, DEEP HAS TO DO WITH BOTTOM ACCORDING TO ITS LATIN ROOT. BUT WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED FROM SCIENCE? THERE IS NO BOTTOM, THERE IS JUST INFINITE SPACE. LIKE WE GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN AND WE ACTUALLY REALIZE THAT IT’S NOT THE BOTTOM, THERE IS STILL SOMETHING BENEATH IT (CHINA, OUTTERSPACE). THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN IS AN ILLUSION. IT HAS NO BOTTOM. THAT’S A FACT INSOFAR AS FACTS EXIST.
MM: I get that.
AB: So, let’s go back to your body. Who controls “your body”? Who is the authority over you? You? Or your parents? Or the environment? Or me right now in this conversation? Am I you right now, am I controlling you and vice versa? Are we two separate people, or are one assemblage right now?
MM: Now that we’ve established all that we have, I don’t know. Everyone and everything that I encounter, and all that they have encountered––all have their own effect on my body in one big or small way or another. I suppose, in all manner of ways.
AB: HEY MARY! You’re a dumb slut. You’re ugly. No one will ever love you. You’re going to die alone. You’re worthless. Choke on my cock you dumb bitch!!!
MM: …I see what you’re doing. (I hope?)
AB: Are you Mary? Or are you Mary-Responding-To-Andrea? Or are you Mary-Ignoring-Andrea-And-Going-To-Drink-Alone? No matter what, I’m assembled within you, informing you, impressing upon you. I’m controlling you… and you’re controlling me. Why did I say what I just said? I’m not in control. Why am I saying this? Is it me? Or is it because I read some book that said we are not the authorities over our own bodies? We are all controlling one another and also controlled by everyone else and all mixed up.
MM: Turtles all the way down, as they say.
AB: There is light in my apartment. But all the inside lights are off. But the light from the moon is pouring in, so are the lights from the city. I can shut the blinds, but the light still leaks in from the outside. Look at this. It’s made by NASA. It’s supposed to be a room where no sound can enter. But, even there, “99.99% of all sound” is removed from the “outside.” IT ALL STILL LEAKS!
MM: Oh, I think I read about this place somewhere. Seems familiar. Apparently, being in a room absent any sound at all will drive a person literally insane.
AB: Yeah… Hey, do you want to come over? I have a nice wine.
AB: Something beautiful to end with. Heidegger tells us that the sky contributes to the essence of a bottle as a bottle-thing, because the bottle holds and pours out wine and thus gathers the sky. The holding and pouring of the wine gathers the sky, he explains, because the grapes from which the wine is made “receive the rain and dew of the sky.”
MM: That is indeed beautiful.
AB: I’m going fuck the shit out of you tonight.
MM: Technically, there is no you or me, just us. An us fucking everything and everything fucking us. A sublime fucking.
A | A | A
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If this doesn’t become the biggest video on the Internet, then I have no faith left in humanity.