‘Empire:’ 'My Body, My Choice' Trope Justifies Abortion

April 11th, 2018 11:34 PM

In the April 11 episode of Fox’s Empire, titled “Sweet Sorrow,” Becky decides to get an abortion even though her baby’s father doesn’t want her to do so. She justifies her selfish decision by using the same old tired trope that generations of feminists have used – "my body, my choice."

The storyline starts off with Becky (Gabourey Sidibe) telling Jamal Lyons (Jussie Smollett) that she has decided to “terminate” when he asks how she is doing. To his credit, Jamal lets her know that he doesn’t agree with her not telling the baby’s father – a gospel singer – about the pregnancy or the abortion, either.



Jamal: How are you holding up?

Becky: My situation is not getting any easier, but I have decided to terminate.

Jamal: You still not gonna tell J Poppa?

Becky: I really don't see what good telling him would do for him -- or me, for that matter. And since this is my body, it's my choice.

Jamal: Absolutely. I completely agree. I'm just saying, are you really gonna be able to work with him, keeping that type of secret?

Becky: I'm not keeping a secret. I'm actually just keeping it private. That's it. It's private. And I know that you are fragile right now, but so am I. And I really cannot have this fight with you anymore -'cause the thing is

Jamal: No, no, no. Stop. Come on.

Becky: I've already made my decision. It's... -I promise you.

Jamal: No, I promise. I know. I'm not... I'm not trying to fight. Uh-uh. I'm actually just letting you know that you don't have to have it all handled and it's okay for Boss Becky to be scared.

Becky: Thank you, Jamal, but Boss Becky ain't never scared.

Oh, ok. It’s not a secret being kept from the father, it’s just private. It’s an example of how a life-ending decision isn’t worthy of being shared with a partner in the baby’s creation. It’s sick. She didn’t make that baby alone.

Becky is Empire Records’ Head of A&R, so she works with all the music label’s artists, including J. Poppa (Mo McRae). She broke off their relationship in last week’s episode and now she is having a strategy meeting with him but he is clearly distracted. Then she just blurts out that she is pregnant. He is shocked but quickly comes around to telling her that they’ll work it out but her mind is made up and she tells him she has decided to “terminate.”



Becky: And so, the whole team agrees that it would be really, really great if you start...testing out headlining in some larger markets, but also, we don't want to neglect the opportunity to have you open up for some more...established acts. All right. Do you maybe want to pretend to be invested in your career?

J. Poppa: Oh, I'm sorry, I'm not excited to be here while you gloat about dumping me.

Becky: I am not gloating about any... this is really awkward for me, too, okay, so let's just get through this.

J. Poppa: No, we can't just finish, because I can't pretend like you. I need to understand what happened.

Becky: Sometimes relationships don't work out, okay? It is what it is.

J. Poppa: Our relationship was perfect. It was better than ever. You know it was! Our relationship was great, and ever since you've ended things with me, Becky, my brain has been on a loop. I can't eat. I can't write, Becky. What did I do? Just tell me.

Becky: You know, I actually have a lot of meetings to do today, so can we just... I'm pregnant.

J. Poppa: What?

Becky: I'm pregnant.

J. Poppa: You're pregnant? Okay. Okay... We could be...We could figure this...

Becky: No, no, no...Don't, don't, don't, don't, don't start planning anything, because...I'm not keeping it.

J. Poppa: I don't get to have a say?

Becky: You know, I-I knew that this would be really hard on you, and that's why I didn't want to tell you, but I can't be pregnant right now. I can't have a kid. I'm sorry. Don't walk away from me right now. Don't... Damn it.

J. Poppa is absolutely right to be angry that he isn’t even given a say in such a grave decision. Becky is showing so little respect for the man and it looks like just a selfish decision for her own convenience.

Jamal goes with her to the clinic. It is unclear what kind of office it is, though. It isn’t just an abortion clinic because it looks like an OB-GYN office with some clearly very pregnant women waiting for their appointments. Then a twist – J. Poppa shows up as Becky is about to go in with the nurse and tells her he prayed about it and will support whatever decision she makes.



Becky: Say something.

Jamal: Okay, um...What do you want me to say?

Becky: Uh, I don't know. Say something distracting. Uh, talk about work.

Jamal: I don't care. I'm sorry that I ruined the interview for you. I'm not really that sorry. I probably ruined my career, though, 'cause I'm free now.

Becky: Okay. Well, I'm free to never book another live interview for you ever again.

Jamal: Deal. I didn't want to do it to begin with.

Becky: Never.

Nurse: Rebecca Williams? Hi.

Jamal: Just remember it's your choice. You can go in there, or we can get the car. It's whatever.

J. Poppa: I'm here. If you want me to be.

Becky: What are you doing here?

J. Poppa: I prayed on this, and I do not agree with what you are doing, but Becky...

Becky: Of course, I...

J. Poppa: ...I love you, and I do not want you to go through this without me.

Becky: ....thank you.

J. Poppa: Okay. I'll be waiting.

Nurse: We're gonna come right in here.

And that’s that. She is shown the way by the nurse. We don’t know that she actually went through with it but it is assumed that she did since she was so adamant about her decision. How sad. There could have been a much better ending but that doesn’t fit the liberal feminist narrative, does it?