Embracing the symbol of the coat hanger meant also accepting myself as a symbol, which I had always resisted. But as I shed the stigma of being an abortion provider, I felt free. I was tired of playing games, and for the first time in my life, I was ready for someone to love me because I provide abortions, not in spite of it. With that tattoo, I made some other changes: No more batting my eyelashes on dates, feigning innocence or acting apologetic about who I am. No more waiting the requisite three days to call back, or counting down three dates to have sex if I wanted to.
An unexpected side effect of the 2016 election is that many people have become vocal about their support for reproductive rights. Suddenly, dating an abortion provider can be cool, a way to proclaim one’s liberal street cred. I met an investment banker who was close to a decade younger than I am. For him, my profession seemed to add to the edginess of dating an older woman. There was the hard-partying Alaskan fisherman on an extended shore break, who found my commitment to reproductive justice “hot.” So, abortion providers are “hot” now? As time goes on, I sometimes forget about the tattoo entirely. Once, I wore long sleeves before becoming intimate with a fascinating biomedical engineer, and, when he first saw the tattoo, he burst out laughing, apparently delighted by my commitment to the cause.