In dozens of abortion documentaries, in both traditional media and today's wider swath of digital media platforms, telling has been successfully mobilized to construct a collective, visible, political subject who demands a universalized set of legal and social rights over her reproductive capacities, desires, and possibilities. And yet, despite decades of productive telling, reproductive rights advocates are arguably losing the culture war over abortion. I argue that the feminist audiovisual campaign in support of abortion has failed to fully exploit the possibilities of showing. Both of these strains of feminist documentary—those that show and those that tell—wind their way back to the early 1970s and continue to resonate in contemporary digital media productions. Although the now-dominant tradition of telling has been vital to the production of feminist subjectivity, I explore why the audiovisual struggle over abortion rights may require additional emphasis on showing.
Shilyh Warren; Abortion, Abortion, Abortion, Still: Documentary Show and Tell. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2015; 114 (4): 755–779. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-3157122
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