Narrative as a Method for Change
Edited By Rachel Silverman and Jay Baglia
The loss of a desired pregnancy or the inability to experience pregnancy are intensely personal phenomena; these losses are also, in our culture at least, extremely private. Communicating Pregnancy Loss is a collection of first-person narratives about the experience of pregnancy loss. Although there is no shortage of books that help prospective parents cope with an unintended pregnancy loss or ‘survive’ infertility, most of these books are authored by physicians or therapists and address pregnancy loss through the language of guidance. This book is different. It is the first of its kind because the contributors (primarily communication scholars but also healthcare personnel and other scholars from the social sciences) tell their story of loss in their own words, offering a diverse collection of narratives that span experience and identity. The authors employ various feminist theories, narrative theories, and performance theories as well as other well-known communication theories and concepts. The book’s narrative approach to writing about and thereby understanding pregnancy loss offers readers a method for changing the way pregnancy loss is understood personally, culturally, and politically.
20. Breaking Through the Shame and Silence: A Media-Centered Approach to Consciousness-Raising
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RACHEL E. SILVERMAN
In season seven (1997) of the epic television series Beverly Hills, 90210, lead character Kelly Taylor (Jenny Garth) suffers a miscarriage during her senior year at California State University. Although she fears that her condition, endometriosis (which led to the miscarriage), may cause future complications in getting pregnant, she is nonetheless relieved to avoid the difficult decision about whether to have an abortion. In an emotional scene, she and her boyfriend, Brandon (Jason Priestley), cry over the loss of their potential child and with relief because they were not ready to become parents. As a freshman in college, an avid fan of the show, and a recently sexually active (sexually experimenting) adult, I too was relieved for Kelly. The week before, when Kelly realized her period was late and learned she was pregnant (a secret she shares only with best friend Donna Martin [Tori Spelling]), friends and I debated whether 90210 would be daring enough to show an abortion on television. Conveniently, they did not have to. Little did I realize at the time, but Kelly’s miscarriage was one of many “convenient miscarriages”1 to appear in popular media. In fact, I probably equated miscarriage with being relieved of making a tough decision about an unwanted pregnancy until Charlotte York repeatedly miscarried and declared herself “reproductively challenged” four years later on Sex and the City (2001–2004). Admittedly, my initial viewing of Charlotte’s infertility did not leave much impression on me....
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