Rosh Mahtani and Vogue should be applauded for speaking clearly about abortion.
Alighieri founder and designer Designer Rosh Mahtani should be applauded for an article in Vogue this week in which she documented events that led to her having an abortion, her subsequent feelings of guilt, and how she has attempted to reconcile these with a pro choice stance.
Vogue magazine should also take enormous credit for publishing the article.
The fashion magazine has changed editorial focus in recent months, with online content featuring more on film and politics. The Mahtani piece was different again; embracing the abortion issue (through the viewpoint of a succesful, creative woman) without downplaying its moral complexities.
This comes at a time when the politicization of freedom of speech via social media has polarized the way we, and those with a public voice, talk about isues like abortion.
Mahtani, despite her pro-choice leaning, distances herself emotionally from the pro-choice camp, who – it could be argued – obfuscate the attendant guilt that certain choices endender.
For Mahtani, shame is an everyday and sometimes surprising presence in light of the choice she made.
She meditates on the act of grieving, similar to another significant, longer work on grief – Joan Didion’s 2005 memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, which documents her response to the death of husband John Gregory Dunne as the expectations and normalities of the exterior world collide with her inner thoughts and emotional processes.
There is little guilt or pain in Didion’s work. The author describes the analytical process as a way to avoid an overwhelming sense of loss.
For Mahtani, the void of emptiness, the sadness she feels at not having the child she would so love and the companion loneliness she feels in the absence of emotional support, is acompanied by doubt that she’s made the right choice and that – of course – she could have chosen differently.
For Mahtani, choice is a rather weightless concept in the face of that repurcussive guilt. In the dry face of a recession, thirty staff members and non-committing boyfriend, Mahtani’s options are polarized into bothersome feelings as unwarranted residue.
Vogue/Mahtani arguably delve too far into the absent father paradigm. Mathani’s choice and attendant feelings should not be changed by the absence or presence of others. The choice and the guilt remains, as long as we’re human, male or female. That is not necessarily a bad thing.