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Anti-vaxxers co-opt feminist rhetoric

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

This article contains content about pregnancy and termination.

There has been an increasing number of anti-vax and anti-mask crowds co-opting the pro-choice movement and slogans for their own cause. Pictures from anti-lockdown protests often depict at least one person holding a "my body, my choice" sign.

Co-opting phrases from progressive social movements isn't anything new. But with the COVID vaccine seemingly strengthening and increasing the anti-vax movement, it's currently at front of mind. The why is simple. Anti-vaxxers are going for a 'gotcha' moment. The movement, usually aligned with the political right, believes that progressives can't argue with their own slogans. You fight for body autonomy, so you HAVE to allow us to reject a vaccine. It makes sense on the very surface. But not if you scratch just a little deeper.

The pro-choice movement, decriminalising abortion, and making family planning accessible is about the pregnant person. They are carrying the child in their body. They may choose, for whatever reason, to end a pregnancy. Termination does not affect an entire community, city, or state. It does not affect a nation. In fact, that is a large part of the movement summed up. It's about personal choice.

Choosing not to get vaccinated or to not wear a mask affects the person, yes. They are at a higher risk of getting sick, and a considerably higher risk of becoming hospitalised in the case of COVID. They're at a higher risk of dying from the disease. But they are also removing their community's right to be safe at work, in the local shopping centre, and in their own home. Mass vaccination rates mean less disease. We have fully eradicated diseases with vaccines.

The pro-choice movement is based in the decision to bring a child into the world who you must provide for and look after, and the anti-vax movement is based in ignoring science and experts. When you refuse to get vaccinated and infect 90-year Betty at the shops, Betty could die just because she had the misfortune of walking by you. If you get an abortion, Betty doesn't die.

Pro-choice freedoms were won by generations of women protesting, pushing for policy, setting up organisations, fighting tooth and nail for autonomy over their own bodies. Anti-vax movements were formed by conspirators and unqualified 'wellness gurus'.

The pro-choice movement is about autonomy over one's own body and, the ability to make the decision to bring a child into the world or not. The anti-mask movement is about rejecting a piece of fabric over their nose and mouth.

Pro-choice activists advocate for the option to terminate a pregnancy that will be unsafe for the parent. Anti-vax activists advocate for the spread of misinformation and conspiracy.

Pro-choice rhetoric and slogans are powerful cries to government, rejecting the oppression of women. Anti-maskers use the same phrases to validate selfishness.

Pro-choice is about health. Anti-vax ignores science.


A recommended read on 'pro-choice' anti-vax stance and privilege: https://www.whynot.org.au/health-and-wellbeing/your-pro-choice-vaccination-stance-is-privileged/