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Dear Amy,

I am a Feminist, but my best friend is, ah, emphatically not. She is about as close to anti-feminist as anyone I have ever met. And it's because of her religion. It's because her family has drilled it into her head that women, while not neccesarily less than men, are definetly not more.

This situation is tearing our friendship apart. And it's partially because I know what I believe, and I know what I mean to say, but it never comes out right.

Right now, our most difficult (and ongoing) dispute has to do with our respective (and greatly differing) opinions on abortion. She is, oviously "pro-life," and I support women's right to choose when they are ready to have children.

Every time we get into a discussion about it, she brings up the fact that, if women don't want to get pregnant, than they shouldn't have sex. And even though I know that many women use contraceptives, and still get pregnant, or are raped, I can't help but see her point.

And when we fight about anything at all, even totally unrelated things, she always ends up bringing up the fact that I'm a "murderer." Especially at church. And then people get upset, and try to convert me. It annoys me.

Do you have any suggestions, to help me more effectively argue my case, concerning abortion, or even just feminism in general?





Dear Quinn,

It's very hard to have friends who don't see things the way that you do -- it feels like a personal affront to your core being. I think the abortion issues is overused by feminists as a litmus test, when in reality the majority of us feel that there is some weakness in fighting for those rights. Not that we don't believe in them, we do, but not unconditionally and then we get into trouble. There are certainly feminists who don't support abortion rights and this doesn't make them any less of a feminist -- they prioritize other issues -- like ending violence against women, changing the workplace; opening up education to those who can't afford, etc...

Perhaps to help with your friendship, you can focus on other issues and maybe even help your friend to realize that she's a feminist, too. As for the abortion issue, I think it's important to listen to what other people say, but also to be clear about what you believe. I think that you have to just recognize that people aren't ever going to agree on this issue and each person's opinion is slightly nuanced than the next and the reality is that no one can really say what their opinion is until they are confronted with that situation. For instance, I don't think I would ever have an abortion in the second trimester, but that's my own opinion and the fact is, I think that in some situation, I might have to reconsider that -- for instance, if my health was at risk. I certainly think some women make selfish decisions, but some people abuse unemployment and I don't think that we should do away with that right.

As for abortion being murder, there is no proof that conception starts a life -- only the potential for life. In fact 50 percent of all pregnancies end in a miscarriage -- a natural abortion -- but we don't know because we often aren't paying attention, the point is that it happens and will happen whether we want it to or not or even if women made bad decisions.

I hope I have helped and not confused the situation more.

Good luck,

-- Amy

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