IF YOU’RE NOT FAMILIAR WITH VH1’s Love and Hip Hop franchise, it’s a reality show that follows the romantic and professional exploits of a revolving cast of characters involved in the hip-hop music recording industry. The current season takes place in New York, and focuses on, to varying degrees: Yandy Smith, Remy Ma, Tara Wallace, Amina Buddafly, Miss Moe Money, Sexxy Lexxy, Cardi B, and Mariahlynn. By now, it’s pretty clear that what most people (myself included) expect out of watching scripted reality shows like Love and Hip Hop New York is entertainment and access to pop culture’s latest meme-worthy moments. Some of the characters (and I call them characters because there’s no way that there isn’t at least a little acting involved) deliver more than others; Cardi B is arguably the break-out star of the season and commands my attention every single time she appears on the screen, while I truly struggle to recall more than the bare basics of Remy Ma’s storyline.
What I never expected was for Love and Hip Hop to broach the topic of abortion and reproductive rights, which it did when Amina Buddafly disclosed, on air, her decision to terminate a pregnancy. Some backstory: Amina, a member of the now-defunct R&B duo Black Buddalfly, is married to former rapper and general, all-around scumbag Peter Gunz, and has a young daughter with him. Amina has been suspicious that Peter has been rekindling a romance with cast member Tara Wallace, who was involved romantically with Peter in the past and is also mother two of his young boys (Peter Gunz has eight children of varying ages). Amina and Tara discover that Peter has been playing them both – Peter told Tara that his relationship with Amina was a mistake and that he would leave her, while telling Amina that he was only interested in having a co-parenting relationship with Tara. Predictably, sh*t hits the fan, with slaps (and cellphones) being thrown all over the place. In last week’s cliffhanger, Amina reveals to Peter and Tara that she is pregnant with his son.
This week’s episode sees Amina meeting her stepdaughter Whitney (Peter’s eldest daughter – seriously, someone send him a brochure on vasectomies) to talk about the issues she’s having with Peter’s infidelities and overall d-baginess. In the course of their conversation, she reveals that she was pregnant again, but isn’t any longer, because she had an abortion. Whitney expresses surprises but ultimately says she supports Amina’s decision one-hundred percent, and Amina reveals that Peter had the same reaction of surprise but then support that Whitney did.
In a commentary scene, Amina opens up about her decision to terminate her pregnancy, saying that it was the best decision she could have made for herself and her family, given how uncertain Peter’s capacity in her life will be beyond his role as the father of her child. Neither painting it as a tragedy nor glossing over it completely, Amina (and Love and Hip Hop’s producers, who I’m sure had some say in the matter) portrayed the abortion exactly as what it is for many women: a difficult choice that they ultimately have to make after taking measure of their own specific circumstances. She says: “I made the best decision in that moment. I don’t like regrets in general, I don’t like to think about anything that I can’t change in the past in a negative way. So it is what it is and I have to be positive and move on from it, but I’m really sad about it and still am going to be sad for a long time.”
While many women don’t have a hard time making the choice to terminate a pregnancy, for others making the decision is agonizing. Amina Buddafly’s account is an honest, unfiltered, and most importantly, humanizing answer, and I’m pleasantly surprised that a show like Love and Hip Hop provides such a compelling counter to the popular conservative discourse that women who have abortions are murdering monsters. We would all do well to take Whitney’s, and yes, even Peter’s, approach , to women’s reproductive rights and decisions over their bodies: offering our full support, regardless of what we personally might think or expect. Thanks for the unexpected but completely welcome moral lesson, Love and Hip Hop New York!