"I Imagine She Considers Herself Pro-Choice": Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Futurism, and Rhetorical Representation in Online Discourse Communities
Mank, Casey Elizabeth
This thesis takes as its starting point the Fall 2015 emergence of the #ShoutYourAbortion movement, and examines specific features of the pro-choice online discourse community which necessitated its intervention. The pro-choice movement’s renewed emphasis on public self-identification through storytelling seeks to combat stigma and to emphasize the positive possibilities of abortion access. But normalizing narratives also reproduce linguistic features and narrative tropes which emphasize heterofuturist logics. The specific rhetorical mechanisms through which this occurs will be examined here. An introductory chapter establishes the theoretical and feminist advocacy contexts of specific instances of pro-choice rhetoric in order to frame an argument about the heteronormalizing narrative tropes of the current pro-choice vocabulary. The second chapter explores the coercive potential of linguistic features that appear frequently in narratives which the community tends to emphasize and affirm, while the third chapter performs close readings of negatively coercive in-group responses to accounts of reproductive choice which deviate from the preferred decision-making paradigms. These readings suggest how self-regulation within this discourse community serves to alienate “bad” examples; such rejections limit the range of logics and emotions that women acculturated by this rhetoric will feel justified or legitimate in experiencing. This dynamic is important to foreground as the advocacy community struggles to define what membership in the group will mean, and which narrative strategies the group will embrace in a politically uncertain moment for reproductive rights.
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