Archive by Author

Another Clinic Vandalized: Take Action

17 Mar

As those of us in the reproductive justice community have become increasingly familiar with, many of our clinics that provide basic services and healthcare to individuals around the country are routinely under attack. On March 3, All Families Healthcare, a clinic in Montana, was vandalized. A project on Indiegogo is aiming to raise $25,000 dollars towards the clinic so that it can continue to provide services that are desperately needed by millions throughout our country. To donate, please click here.

Radical Self-Care

4 Mar

Like Erin, for the past several weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we, as feminists and reproductive health, rights, and justice activists engage in radical self-care practices.

As a young working professional who recently graduated from college, I’ve been thinking of ways to get reconnected to the self-care practices I engaged in as a college student. All too often we, as activists, say “yes” when we truly need a break and walk daily with the emotional stressors of activist work bearing on our shoulders. My work as an activist, organizer, and educator is directly tied to ME, my body, my identity, but can oftentimes lend itself to burnout. Thus, I’ve come up with some tips for us young activsts (and activists of any other age) to practice self-care while remaining true to our values:

1. Learn to say “No”
Learning to say no is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a form of self-love. I’m sure there are tons of us out there who love to say yes and, oftentimes, in doing so bite off a lot more than we can chew. Let’s learn to say “no,” so that when we do say “yes” we are bringing our best selves to that task.

2. Feed Your Soul
When I say “feed your soul” I don’t only mean feed your soul with soothing music and journaling. Feed your soul with nourishing foods that do well by you and by your body. Feed your soul with intellectual conversations and with relationships that build you up, not break you down.

3. Get In Touch With Your Inner Child
The inner child in you is still alive, you just have to coax it out (if you don’t already). The inner child in you would want your adult self to have some fun. Go play tag with your significant other or friends. Jump on your bed just because you can. Color a picture in a coloring book!

4. Feed Your Creative Energy
I recently read a quote that said, “just because you can’t dance well, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.” Dance if you feel like it! If you can’t paint, go paint a picture anyway, just for the hell of it! Go outside and take a picture of nature…or take a picture of yourself at weird Myspace angles. JUST DO IT.

5. Clear your life of clutter
I’m guilty of it–physical clutter, emotional clutter, all of it. Look, if it’s not sentimental to you, you’re not going to use it, or you don’t care for it, regift that shit! If you’re holding onto things that remind you of a painful time in your life, let it go and let go of that emotional clutter and pain.

6. Savor the Moment
Savor the moment in your relationships, friendships, and hobbies. In one moment, savor that time and focus your energy and thinking on it and nothing else.

7. Continue creating change
As activists, we inherently practice self-care as we work to heal our communities from external stressors and toxic factors. Continue to do your activist work so that, through healing your community, you heal yourself.

These are my my thoughts on how to engage in self-care as a radical activist. How do you, as activists, maintain your sanity through radical self-care?

Another GOP Candidate, Another Infuriating Comment about Rape

25 Oct

Every week, it seems, a new GOP Congressperson is coming out declaring their machivellian and antiquated views on rape. This week, Indiana GOP Candidate for Congress Richard Murdock declared that he opposes aborting pregnancies that are a result of rape because “it is something God intended to happen.”

What. The. Fuck. No, Mr. Murdock, I don’t believe you, of all people, have the right to deny women access to legal abortions in cases of rape or any other reason. Rape is a trauma that many people the world over carry with them for the rest of their lives. And if we’re going to talk about God, I don’t think God intended for ANY person on this Earth to be raped. Ever.

This angers me on so many levels. What also bothers me is that Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, supported Murdock in a campaign ad that began running on Tuesday. Regardless of whether or not Romney’s distancing himself, he still supported a man who is clearly a candidate who would be bad for women everywhere, not just those of us who consider ourselves to be pro-choice.

Apparently Murdock claims he didn’t really mean that God intended for sexual assaults. We can forgive, but we can’t forget. Mourdock, and really, the entire Republican party, have no respect for women’s health or physical and mental well-being. Remember that when you go to the polls in two weeks.

Mr. Waverly: Intimate Partner Violence and Blackface

18 Oct

A few weeks ago, a young student in New Hartford, NY was beaten to death at the hands of her boyfriend. This little town happens to be extremely close to where I attended college and the story hit home. There are many of us who bear witness to domestic and intimate partner violence in our lives and the lives of our loved ones, yet, this issue still seems to be taken lightly.

Everyone remembers when Chris Brown badly beat Rihanna back in 2009 and how some people believed she deserved it, while others believed she didn’t–in any case, the issue was largely made light of in various venues. Now, at a high school in Waverly (close to Binghamton, NY which is also close to my college), students at a pep rally made light of both domestic violence and blackface in an attempt to win the title of “Mr. Waverly”.

Now, I don’t blame students for this–I think the skit was insensitive both for its making light of racism and domestic violence. However, the administration at the school should have done its role as an educating body to enlighten students about the historical background of blackface and the ramifications of intimate partner violence. It sickened me to read some of the current students’ feelings regarding the skit: that it was not racially insensitive, that nothing was wrong with it, etc. Even the comments below the CNN article argued that no one would be upset if a man dressed up as a woman and that other skits in Hollywood have made light of the situation as well.

Just because current students, alums, and readers of the article don’t find the skit offensive does not mean it isn’t. Making light of racism and intimate partner violence renders complacency and apathy when one has no personal connection to racism or intimate partner violence (not that you need a personal connection to either to care).

As an educator, I charge school districts around the country to educate their young students about racism, sexism, and intimate partner violence in an effort to have students maintain sensitivity and awareness, even when it’s simply for a high school pep rally.

An Open Letter to Representative Todd Akin

20 Aug

Dear Representative Todd Akin,

Rape is rape. Regardless of whether or not a woman gets pregnant when she is raped, rape is still rape. Pregnancy can and does result from rape. When a woman is sexually assaulted without the use of a condom (which is usually the case when a woman is raped), the same pregnancy that occurs through consensual sex can occur in those instances. The female body does not “shut down,” instead the female body has the same biological reaction that it does when sperm enters the uterus, fertilizing an egg: pregnancy.

Rape is a traumatic experience that can haunt you for years. Although I’ve never been sexually assaulted, many of my friends and family members have, and it’s a scar and burden that they carry, even years later. Your declaration of “legitimate rape” effectively erases the traumatic experiences that many women, the world over, have endured for centuries. Your words only add salt to the wounds that occur from having been sexually assaulted.

I am ashamed that a man such as you is seeking to represent women, men, and children from your district. It saddens me that our country has reached a point where anyone could say words as harmful as those that came from your mouth.

I ask any woman, female-bodied person, or friend/loved one of anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault to fight back against Representative Todd Akin’s ignorant and extremely inaccurate words. Your experience IS a legitimate one.

Is It Okay to Be a Teensy Bit Sad That Bachmann Called It Quits?

6 Jan

Earlier this week, after the devastating Iowa primary, Michelle Bachmann finally called it quits. I have many qualms about Bachmann: she’s unsupportive of LGBTQ teens in her hometown and blatantly disregards for women’s rights, for starters. Despite Bachmann’s wackiness, I can’t help but have the same feelings towards her that I held for Sarah Palin.

The two both do not align with me ideologically, but the feminist in me wonders: is it better that two wacky women are running for office? Would it be far worse if there were no women running at all? It seems that a lot of a time, feminists and women’s rights-oriented people (myself included) forget that even women who are not ideologically aligned with our politics need someone to represent them. I don’t agree with the politics of Michelle Bachmann or Sarah Palin, but I appreciate that they ran for office and held governmental positions. Why? Even if they do not represent my politics, they’re still women who are running and are still blazing a trail—as faint as I may perceive that trail to be now.

What do y’all think?

DOMA Infringes on Reproductive Justice for All

4 Jul

We all know about DOMA, the Defensive of Marriage Act, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996 to ultimately define marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. We know that DOMA has placed numerous restrictions on the rights of same-sex couples to have their relationships and marriages legally recognized by the federal government, but are we aware of how DOMA affects the sex education taught in schools and, in turn, the reproductive justice movement?

What kind of sex education did you receive in school? Was it abstinence-only-until-marriage, abstinence-only-until-you-are-ready, or was it comprehensive sex education? If you were like the majority of American teenagers, you most likely received abstinence-only sex education. I was fortunate enough to attend a public high school which provided a mixture of both abstinence-only sex education and comprehensive sex education: I learned about condoms (their success and rare failures), positive sexuality, birth control, and the risks associated with unprotected sex. However, one thing was missing: information on same-sex relationships and sex. Now, I know this may seem a privileged thing to be asking for as someone who received some comprehensive sex education, but ALL students must have access to information that pertains to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

So, how does DOMA affect the sex education taught in schools? Well for starters, sex education in most schools is taught in the context of heterosexual relationships because marriage is defined by the federal government as between one man and one woman. What are LGBTQI students to think when their schools are defining sex and ignoring the ways queer students can protect themselves during same-sex intercourse?  There is seemingly little room within abstinence-only education programs for LGBTQI people because of the  flawed, heteronormative belief that two women or two men cannot possibly engage in sex. Likewise, students in some sex education programs may be shamed or marginalized if their family does not fit the type of family that is being taught by their programs or if their sexuality is not represented when discussing safe sex and positive sexuality. Thus, schools NEED comprehensive sex education programs. Not only to educate students about making healthy decisions regarding sex whenever they are ready, but to provide a safe and inclusive environment for students of various sexual orientations and gender identities. The effects of a repeal of DOMA could be far-reaching and could make it easier for LGBTQI people to learn about safe sex, healthy relationships, and more.

What was your sex ed experience like? Did your school include LGBTQI issues in sex education?

Continued Attacks on Reproductive Rights

13 Jun

Just a day after the 46th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the Maine House rejected three bills which sought to add new restrictions to abortions.

There was a bill requiring that certain information be provided to a woman seeking an abortion, including procedural risks and the father’s liability for support; the measure was defeated 88-57. A second bill required that there must be a 24-hour wait before an abortion procedure from the time a woman gives her written consent; the measure was rejected by an 81-63 vote. The third bill was one that would have strengthened adult consent requirements in cases in which an abortion was planned for a minor or incapacitated person; it was rejected by an 80-63 vote.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, Maine has previously seen challenges to its abortion laws, namely fetal pain measures. Earlier this year, the Maine House rejected a bill to outlaw violence against a fetus. It sought to create new crimes of murder, felony murder, and manslaughter against a fetus.

The battle in Maine is just one of several that have been taking place across the country over the course of this year. During the health care reform debates in Congress, several states began to pass laws banning private insurance coverage of abortion. Currently, H.R. 3 (also known as the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act”) is set to reach the Senate floor and seeks to impose tax increases on families and small businesses with insurance plans that include abortion coverage and will also raise taxes on certain individuals who use their private funds to pay for abortion services. Additionally, H.R. 3 does not include any exceptions for abortions needed to save a woman’s health and/or life. The bill was last read for the second time on May 9, 2011 and was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar.

Want to take action? Call your Senator and ask them to vote no on H.R. 3. Let them know that it is a dangerous bill for small businesses, women, and families.

For more information:

 

The Fight Never Ends

8 Jun

Yesterday marked the 46th anniversary of the landmark decision, Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). In the case, the Supreme Court protected the right of married couples to obtain contraceptives. Most importantly, the Supreme Court established the right of privacy doctrine which would be echoed in victorious cases for the rights of women; namely, Roe v. Wade (1973). This right to privacy doctrine was one which was used to repeal sodomy laws in Texas in the Lawrence v. Texas (2003) decision and has been used in several other Supreme Court cases not pertaining to  bodily agency or access to contraceptives.

It is important to remember Griswold not only for its implications for the lives of women and families everywhere, but also for the lives of other marginalized groups. Additionally, we should note that although Griswold is settled within American case law, our fight continues. One has to look no further than the assassination of the late Dr. Tiller or the recent fights over the Affordable Care Act and its provisions (or lack thereof) for abortion coverage to see that our fight still goes on. The female body is still a battleground, even in 2011. It is a scary proposition and one that angers me as well as many feminists alike, but we must continue our fight because in the end, we will prevail.

Griswold serves as a reminder to me that although women’s rights seem to be slowly eroding, we will continue to move forward. It is undeniable that women today, in America, have better access to contraceptives and legal abortions than did the women of the 1960s. These cases of settled law serve to show us that although our rights continue to be infringed upon we are, at least theoretically, somewhat protected within the legal realm. We must continue the fight and one day, I hope in the near future, we will win.

The Continued Attack on Reproductive Rights

21 Mar

After a myriad of attacks on women’s reproductive rights in recent weeks, we find another attack on pro-choice high school students. Catholic high school students in Ontario, Canada were suspended for wearing strips of tape saying the word “choice.” According to Globe and Mail, there were students at the high school wearing tape that read “life” as part of a Day of Silent Solidarity to raise funds for anti-abortion groups. In response to this, twenty-four students wore tape reading the word “choice” and were sent home by school officials.

According to the school, the students were banned because they didn’t attain permission beforehand for their demonstration. Now, not only are bills being passed nationwide to infringe on women’s rights to access safe and healthy abortions and to simply choose, students are seemingly being punished for advocating pro-choice views.

Has anyone heard of any other stories similar to this?