Fetus Cookies, or Absurdity as Activism

9 Jul

A couple weeks ago, @antitheistangie tweeted a response someone sent to her: “I hope you like the taste of fetus you murderer.” She responded: “Do people think women EAT the product of an abortion? What the hell.”

Those of us who delve into anti-choice websites know that, yes, some anti-choicers spread a meme that pro-choice women and/or doctors are actually secret cannibals who EAT FETUSES. It’s a fringe belief in the anti-choice movement, but the “eating fetuses” meme is not too far off from the belief that babies are delivered whole and alive in botched abortions and left in closets to die, a myth which spawned Congressional legislation — meaning actual elected officials took this idea seriously.

In a bit of a puckish mood, I baked up a batch of fetus-shaped sugar cookies, decorated them somewhat comically bad, including crossed out eyes and two heads, then posted the pictures on my twitter feed.

The cookies were meant as a bit of joke to my fellow pro-choice twitter followers. A gag, a prank, a bit of inside baseball for those “in the know.” I was trying to twist the distorted images antis have of us into something truly outsized and cartoonish. It was juvenile and perhaps the presentation could have made my point a bit more explicit. It also may crossed a line of good taste, even for ardent pro-choice activists.

But I also knew it would drive the anti-choice side a bit crazy.

Mission accomplished.

Jill Stanek felt the need to write a whole post about the pics, and probed through my resume to figure out I’m in my 30s.

Afterwards some of my pro-choice friends who aren’t activists, chided me for the prank. They said I was adding fuel to the antis’ fire and making the pro-choice side look bad. I don’t want to blowup what ultimately was just a picture that went out on a Twitter feed, but I do feel that the pro-choice movement may need a few more stunts like this (just executed with more brilliance and strategy). In the world of pro-choice/anti-choice rhetoric that includes everything from discussions on cable news to protests on street corners sometimes it feels like the pro-choice side is playing tennis while the anti-choice side is playing contact football. (Or we are playing polite games with rules and they are playing back with guns, bombs and death threats).

I don’t think we need to delve into violence, but I was somewhat inspired by the ways that activists protest the presence of Fred Phelps and his family when they appear at events, by holding up signs that mock the concept of signage entirely.

When the other side is making an irrational argument, the best response may not be to make a rational argument. I know this can sound counter-intuitive, but consider the Birther movement. The belief that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. is about as accurate as the myth that Plan B causes abortions or that the healthcare reform act funds abortions.

It wouldn’t matter if you had a stack of reports from blue ribbon panels that explained in thorough detail that any of those beliefs are inaccurate; politically expedient myths don’t die. But of those three beliefs I could find you a stack of recent news articles that treat the abortion myths as a “credible” belief to hold.

I don’t believe every organization in the pro-choice movement needs to act like a clown in order to get a point across. But a model of one group that I think balanced the line between “prank” and “point” was Billionaires for Bush. These “clowns” managed to get a reaction in a way a thousand Paul Krugman columns would never get.

I’d like to see a group like that in the pro-choice movement. I think by highlighting the absurdity of the anti-choice movement we can gain more supporters, not less.


14 Responses to “Fetus Cookies, or Absurdity as Activism”

  1. Not Guilty July 9, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    Sometimes good taste should be left to the cookies! I think it was brilliant! Atheists always talk about eating babies, cus that is apparently what we do. We just go with it; more fun that way!

  2. Went Rogue July 9, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    Great points, NewsCat! We are actually planning an event along those lines outside a CPC. Rather than protesting the CPC, we want to demonstrate solidarity with it. We’ll hold up signs that say “Your Body, My Choice,” “Facts Are For Fools,” “Women’s Bodies Belong to God,” etc. Not sure about outfits: an army of Sarah Palin clones, maybe? Mama Bears?

  3. Went Rogue July 9, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    Also, nothing says “I am ‘pro-life,’ but perhaps do not myself HAVE a life” like these cupcakes. Yes, they’re for real. More suggestions on how to celebrate “National Pro-Life Cupcake Day” include: “Hand (unsuspecting recipients) the cupcakes and ask if they would like to see what an abortion looks like.”

  4. placenta sandwich July 9, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    Brava! I have that cookie cutter too and absolutely love it, for the exact reason you explain: THEY THINK WE EAT FETUSES. I’ve also read that the “abortion industry” is profiting the sale of “unborn babies” to make shampoos, face creams, and vaccines, no lie.

    We made beautiful gingerbread fetuses and decorated them at our holiday party. We joked about the importance of not letting any pieces break off and get left behind in the oven — silly, of course, but based on how seriously we take the infectious risk of retained tissue after an abortion.

    And this cookie cutter has also been used to celebrate a coworker’s wanted pregnancy at an office shower. That’s another thing antis don’t comprehend, though.

  5. S.L July 9, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

    I just had the mental image of making a bunch of gingerbread protestors with signs while the fetus cookies are baking to protest any burned ones being thrown out, lol.

  6. placenta sandwich July 10, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    *”profiting from the sale of,” I mean

  7. incurable hippie July 10, 2010 at 7:39 pm #

    One of the commenters on Jill’s tirade against you has said that it’s “pseudo-cannibalism”. Which made me think of Roman Catholics, who eat Jesus’s flesh in the form of a wafer, on a weekly basis.

    Catholics are on the whole very anti-abortion. You’re mimicking their behaviour!! Well, kinda.

    Who gets to decide that some pseudocannibalism is right or not?

  8. Steph July 10, 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    To point out the obvious, these are cookies. They are not (to my knowledge) made of human flesh. Come on, antis. I thought you at least had the ability to look in a dictionary and read the definition of cannibalism. How is eating a cookie, no matter the shape, cannibalism?! Seriously, these people need to look up the meaning of words before they throw them around.

  9. Shannon Drury July 11, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    It’s funny, and it drives them crazy. Two pros and no cons!

  10. Shayna July 12, 2010 at 11:38 am #

    I guess I missed class the day Home Ec covered why it’s ok to have ‘pro-life cupcakes’ but not pro-choice cookies… still, the most important thing (besides my finding a delicious cookie to snack on after I type this) is to never use their poor behavior as justification for our own. if they want to behave disgracefully, that’s on them – I trive to toe the line between grabbing attention and doing so with class, dignity and grace.

  11. anti-anti July 12, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Ha! I am the one who made fetus cookies for a shower. Tasty! And though I no longer work in Abortionland and my new coworkers didn’t necessarily understand/appreciate the joke, I still had a larf doing it. Subtle way of letting them know who I am, while also being awesome and baking cookies.

    We eat cookies in the shapes of real live people, why not fetuses?

  12. Katherine Kramer July 13, 2010 at 12:34 am #

    We have a nurse who baked pro-choice cookies and gingerbred men and brought them to labor and delivery. They were quite tasty…No one felt guilty that the fetus wouldn’t grow up to become a gingerbread man! Its so awesome to work with so many like minded women!

  13. Jenn July 13, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    but most important of all:

    were the cookies delicious? XD

  14. Divine Oubliette August 30, 2011 at 4:02 am #

    My favorite turn on this joke is –

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