Jess Mack is an advocate for women's health and rights, and a board member of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest. This post originally appeared on Feministing.com.
On a frigid night in October 2002, I pulled my hooded sweatshirt tight around me and headed to the Roxy to see SK as their One Beat tour hit Boston. I was in college at Boston University at the time, a nascent feminist. An un-cracked geode. I eschewed women’s studies courses because they seemed too obvious. But then I fell in love with Simone Weil. I broke up with a boyfriend that cautioned me one too many times against jaywalking. I was incensed that he would tell me what to do.
The middle of three girls, raised by a Planned Parenthood loyalist mother and the most feministman I knew, something was brewing deep within me. I walked intently through chilled Boston streets listening to “One Beat” on repeat as I crafted an escape plan to study abroad in Madrid the entire next year. The song was indignant and exciting. I still love it so fucking much. I was pushing myself toward the edge of my own independence. I recall my boyfriend at the time pleading, “Don’t go so far.” But that was not an option.
From Planned Parenthood client, I became a volunteer and then intern, and later an employee during the week and an abortion counselor in a Brooklyn clinic on the weekends. I held women’s hands while they got their abortion. I offered the only thing I felt I had amidst the swirling judgment, guilt, and fear that so many women weathered. I offered all the information I had, and myself as a support, validating that they were OK and that they deserved everything. I wanted nothing more than to fight, though not a militant type of fight. The fight that floats from the alchemy of Sleater-Kinney melodies-plus-lyrics: vulnerable, reaching, impassioned, sometimes pained, and always strong.
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