Writer Merritt Tierce gives a talk on the Pro-Choice essay
Last Tuesday, February 1, Merritt Tierce was invited to speak at the Gund Community Theater about her experiences as a novelist and writer in Hollywood. Her talk, titled “Women in the Writers’ Room,” delved into difficult topics such as abortion and the complexities of finding a voice in a male-dominated industry.
Tierce is a famous writer. His novel love me back was named “Best Book” of 2014 by the Chicago Grandstand. She also wrote for the last two seasons of Orange is the new blackas good as Social distancing, a Netflix-based anthology filmed in isolation during COVID-19. Tierce received her MFA from the prestigious Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, and her work has been published in many reputable magazines and publications, such as American Oxford and Cosmopolitan. Tierce is also a strong advocate for women’s rights and has advocated for the pro-choice movement, serving as executive director of the Texas Equal Access Fund.
Laurie Fink, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Kenyon, moderated the interview. The lecture lasted about an hour and consisted of a discussion followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience, consisting of classes who had already read his work. Much of the discussion focused on Tierce’s essay, “The Abortion I Didn’t Have,” which was recently published in the New York Times Review. The essay is an extremely personal story about her experience of an unplanned pregnancy at 19 and how her religious background influenced her choices. Fink and Tierce spoke about shared experiences growing up in religion and how they impacted how they view femininity and femininity.
Tierce spoke not only about the writing process, but also about the emotional journey that allowed him to publish such a deeply personal essay. The play took her a year to write, although she initially decided not to publish it due to concerns about the reactions of her son and his parents. After some time, the New York Times reached out to ask if they could include her story in an issue of their magazine. Tierce was encouraged by friends and well-wishers, she told Amanpour and Company in an interview: “Everyone said that’s a perspective we don’t hear enough of and that these ideas need to be broadcast, because the conversation as it is is so black and white and so polarized.
Part of Tierce’s goal with the essay was to provide insight into the ineffectiveness of simply banning abortion, stigmatizing sex, and restricting birth control methods. She strongly argues that sharing true stories is one of the most effective ways to convince people of something so controversial, as it forces the reader or listener to take a position of empathy.