Feminists Applaud ‘Dirty Dancing’ Abortion: ‘We Need This Reboot’

May 25th, 2017 4:57 PM

Feminist writers have recently pushed for more and better representations of abortion on-screen. Now, they’re cheering on ABC’s remake of Dirty Dancing as just the movie we needed.

Dirty Dancing is, was, and will forever be a movie about abortion,” wrote Harper’s Bazaar contributor Kaitlin Menza. In the classic film set in 1963, protagonist Baby covers for dancer Penny, who is suffering from complications after a pre-Roe v. Wade illegal abortion. That fact is integral to plotline, as it sets the stage for Baby getting swept off her feet by dance instructor Johnny.

Reviews for the flick have been less than stellar, but that didn’t matter to Menza. 

"We need this reboot, no matter how terrible it is,” she stressed, “because it's an iconic movie that happens to be about abortion — specifically access to safe abortions."

In an article for Romper, writer Megan Walsh agreed.

Dirty Dancing wasn't punishing Penny for choosing to have an abortion, but quietly advocating for the availability of safe options,” Walsh wrote.

“For many people who grew up loving the film, Dirty Dancing might have been their first experience seeing an abortion on screen,” she applauded. “And it was a film that prioritized Penny's desires, happiness, and safety.”

Interestingly enough, the actress who played Penny in the reboot almost rejected the role, because of her own pro-life beliefs.

“My mum got pregnant with me when she was 17 and had me when she was 18,” Nicole Scherzinger admitted to the Daily Mail. “She chose.”

When the actress was offered the role, she discussed it with her family. They cautioned her against it, but after her grandfather prayed about it, he encouraged her to accept.

“We decided that maybe I could be a voice,” she said, and “that I could shed some light on the subject without being preachy.”

If Scherzinger can do that, it would be a great win for the pro-life movement.

Pro-choice activists, on the other hand, believe that on-screen portrayal of abortion has a long way to go. Some want to see abortion become “matter-of-fact.”

“Accurate representations of abortion are a rarity on television,” wrote Vocativ senior staff writer Tracy Clark-Flory. “There are signs, though, that things are getting better with a gradual trend toward matter-of-fact TV abortions, where it is a treated as a normal part of women’s reproductive health care.”

Disturbingly, Clark-Flory is right. There has been a trend in this direction with shows like Scandal and Girls and films like Obvious Child treating abortion as a run-of-the-mill procedure.

Gillian Robespierre, director of Obvious Child, commented that her film was a reaction to movies like Juno and Knocked Up that “misrepresented” unplanned pregnancy by featuring women carrying their babies to term.

As MRC Culture staff have previously noted, the progressive representation now seems to entail a sort of casual decision that empowers a woman, letting her prioritize her own happiness over her child’s life.

In reality, America’s abortion culture actually disempowers women by convincing them that they can’t manage pregnancy, childbearing and their own aspirations.