That phrase, chanted for decades, has now increased in popularity. Heard for decades during protest marches for reproductive freedom, it is now being chanted by people demanding freedom from mask requirements during the coronavirus pandemic.
“My body, my choice!” “My body, my choice!” “My body, my choice!”
Where have we not heard this? In a march for freedom for those who live with self-directed violence. Hm… It is to the point, isn’t it? Appropriate. It is what I have been arguing and advocating for, for decades.
Why have we not marched, chanting and waving our scarred arms? I can think of two answers. We are at great risk if we expose ourselves as scarred people. One, if we are identified by our scars we might be subjected to a psychiatric label. Or as simply “gross” or “crazy.” That can have some brutal outcomes. There is a reason most people keep their lives with self-directed violence secret.
If we are labeled because of doing what we do to our own bodies we run the greater risk, more than being judged. We find ourselves vulnerable to losing a vast amount of choice. If a person working in the biopsychiatric industry wants to, they can choose to commit someone “for their own good.” Commitment is the use of force in an attempt to control someone. Living with self-directed violence leaves us vulnerable to losing our freedom and potentially our jobs and more if we are labeled “a threat of harm to self.” Right? For years I published the words and artwork of the harm done by the institutionalization of people who are doing their best to tend to their own needs. That is the purpose of self-directed violence – it is a way of solving a problem in the moment. Are their more destructive ways people cope? Yes. They are not typically reacted to in the same way. The greatest harm I experienced from my life with self-directed violence wasn’t the damage I did to my body. It was the losses and brutality I experienced in the psychiatric system. Where there was very little choice.
My body. My choice. What do you say?