While autonomy has a special place for anarchists, one aspect of it, bodily autonomy, has a lot of currency in mainstream thought as well. Particularly now, you can see the protest of “my body my choice” taken up once again against the new Texas abortion restrictions and conservative anti-masking or anti-vax protesters cynically appropriating that same language though to a similar end – don’t tell us what to do with our bodies.
The fact that such oppositional forces are saying the same thing makes me think the slogan “my body, my choice” leaves something to be desired. At a glance it shares the fundamental “no” of anarchy (don’t tell me what to do), but for many who hold up this slogan the body is an isolated consumer to be freed from laws and social strictures. We live in a society in which people can’t afford abortions even when they’re “free” to have them, AK Press is urging people to donate to abortion funds, and not masking at an event can be as much of a social act as an individual preference.
Not only does society challenge our choices, but the body itself often shapes our choices through disability, age, sickness and a relationship with a whole host of forces and lifeforms around us. Is the “I” speaking in “my body, my choice” separate from the body? Can we speak of meaningful choice if we’re not able to choose how our bodies work?
How well does “my body, my choice” coincide with an anarchist position on bodies? How do we do bodily autonomy, and how do we push it farther?