Tag Archives: reproductive rights

I am afraid, or, 2017: Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here

I am afraid on the basis of all of my identities. That fear is not just of Trump himself, but of unchecked Republican control of the executive and legislative branches of our government, and likely soon the top level of the judicial branch as well.

As a black person, I’m afraid that Republican power will continue to deny that my and my people’s lives matter. That there will be no push from the federal government to hold police who kill unarmed black men and women accountable. That we will continue incarcerating absurd proportions of black and brown communities. That the fact that a businessman who was openly supported by the KKK was elected will give racists and white supremacists a larger platform, a stronger foothold, or even just make them more likely to take action in support of their beliefs.

As a woman, particularly as a sexually active woman of childbearing age who does not want to become a mother now or ever, I am worried about what full Republican leadership at the federal level means for reproductive rights. I have an IUD right now, that was made possible by the stipulation in Obamacare that requires all insurance companies to cover the cost of all forms of birth control. If (it pains me too much to say when) Obamacare is repealed, I will be required to pay for the medically necessary removal of my current IUD in 2018 and for the cost of inserting a new one, which can be upwards of $1000, if I choose to stick with this birth control option that has worked very well for me. If I choose to go with a lower cost, but also easier to misuse option, like the pill, I am scared that I’ll mess up and forget to take it one day, or forget to bring it with me on a trip, and then be faced with a potential unwanted pregnancy under an anti-abortion federal government. I am afraid of catcallers and other predatory men feeling emboldened by a president who has bragged about grabbing women by the pussy.

As a queer person, I am afraid that Trump himself doesn’t care about us, as he has released no policy plans for LGBT rights or HIV/AIDS. But I know how anti-LGBT the Republican party generally is: 2016 has seen pushback on marriage equality and adoption rights for same-sex couples, bathroom bills that have devastating consequences beyond just where we pee, endorsements of gay conversion therapy for minors, and a resurgence of “religious freedom” bills designed to allow businesses the ‘right’ to refuse to serve us. Trans women, especially trans women of color, are being killed every week in this country, and I have no hope that they will be protected under our new president-elect’s leadership. In fact, as the people who oppose QTPOCs very existence see how strong their numbers are, it’s hard to do anything other than expect the violence to get worse.

And speaking of the twisting of “religious freedom,” as a non-Christian, I am worried that a conservative majority in all branches of the federal government de facto pushes church and state closer together. I have extended family members who are Muslim (of the black power, Nation of Islam variety, but that didn’t matter to folks who abused and discriminated against them post-9/11). I am afraid for their safety in the red states of Georgia and Florida under a Trump administration.

As the daughter and granddaughter and niece and sister of people who have worked in the casino industry, literally for Trump himself and/or for people like him, I am worried that Republican control means even further erosion of what little safety net is there for our senior citizens who didn’t work fancy desk jobs with 401ks or pensions and now depend on Social Security and Medicare to literally feed, clothe, house, and care for themselves. I am afraid of what will happen to my father and my grandmother. I am worried that people who don’t make living wages will lose the scraps of support they are currently able to receive from programs like SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid, and won’t be able to literally feed, clothe, house, and care for their children. I am afraid that this administration will do nothing but widen the gap between the rich and the poor in this country, and further marginalize the voices of those being trampled upon.

As the daughter of a woman who has held down a full-time teaching job through multiple rounds of chemotherapy in order to keep her healthcare coverage, I am afraid that people will literally die as a result of this election. Obama was able to bring health insurance (albeit imperfect) to hundreds of thousands of people who did not have it before, and made it so that people couldn’t be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. I am afraid that if my mom gets too sick to work, a post-Obamacare America will be one in which she cannot be insured, and my family will have to watch a disease she beat once before overcome her because we can’t afford the treatments.

I feel America’s distaste for people like me, a distaste that ranges from a lack of empathy to a straight-up hatred, writ large this morning, feel it in my bones and in my spirit more heavily than I’ve ever felt it before. This place was built by us, but not for us, and is about to be run by people who aggressively don’t support us. I feel unsafe and unwanted here on the deepest of levels. If I joke or even more genuinely consider fleeing, don’t tell me it’s my responsibility to fight through and fix this. I didn’t break it. I don’t know how to heal the divide between rural America and urban America, between white America and diverse America, between people who legitimately support Trump’s platform and ideas and people like me. I don’t know if it can be healed. I am not hopeful this morning.

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A racist woman is not a feminist; she doesn’t care about helping women, just the women who look like her and can buy the same things she can. A transphobic woman is not a feminist; she is overly concerned with policing the bodies and expressions of others. A woman against reproductive rights — to use bell hook’s own example, and an issue close to your heart — is not a feminist; she prioritizes her dogma or her disgust over the bodies of others. An ableist woman is not a feminist; she holds some Platonic ideal of what a physically or mentally “whole” person should be and tries to force the world to fit inside it.

An Open Letter to Caitlin Moran by Nyux

(via spinsterette)

Academic feminism ain’t the only kid on the block. Confession: the first time I identified as a feminist, I was in grad school. I was able to come to an informed conclusion after reading Beverly Guy-Sheftall’s Words of Fire and Patricia Hill Collins Black Feminist Thought. But we need to stop acting like a radical feminist is the only kind of feminist to be. I mean look, I’m radical and committed to a robust structural critique. But I appreciate the good few liberal feminists in Congress who show up and actually fight for reproductive rights that can be on the books! As Meek Mill says, there’s levels to the shit. But newsflash – everybody didn’t go to college.
So when women of color start waxing eloquent about how our grandmothers and mothers were the first feminists we knew and many of them would “never” use the term, I wonder then why we don’t understand Beyonce’s homegrown brand of feminism – one that honors female friendships, one that recognizes and calls out sexism and domination in her industry, one that celebrates the power of women. No, it ain’t well-articulated radical social justice feminism, but if you need a Ph.D. to be a feminist, then we’ve got bigger problems, folks. AND I’ll take a feminist that knows how to treat her homegirls before one who can spit the finer points of a bell hooks to me all day erry-day.

“5 Reasons I’m Here for Beyoncé the Feminist”

(via the dopest ethiopienne)

While early organizing saw abortion as one of many facets of women’s liberation and reproductive autonomy, in the decades following Roe, this more expansive view has somewhat narrowed. More recently, mainstream feminist organizing around choice has focused predominately on contraceptive services and abortion. In many respects this shift has marginalized the panoply of ways in which reproductive choice and autonomy is constrained in the lives of women of color in a number of discursive spaces and institutional settings.

Indeed, feminists of color have long resisted this narrow definition of reproductive choice and autonomy. While emphasizing the central importance of access to contraception and abortion services, women of color activists have also highlighted the ways in which the denial of reproductive capacity and the denigration of their identities as mothers has been central to their subordination in the context of slavery, colonialism and Jim Crow. Women of color also contested the idea that they were unable or incapable of controlling their reproductive destinies. In so doing they mobilized to fight sterilization and other practices that burdened the choice to bear children.

Yet for many poor women of color, full reproductive choice and autonomy has remained elusive. Indeed, the reproductive capacities of women of color are often targeted for suppression or derision within contemporary political discourses and official policymaking within a number of institutional settings including the criminal justice and welfare systems. The injuries suffered by women of color in this context, however, are seldom articulated as part of the broader attacks on reproductive rights of women. This targeting of women of color and their families, and the silences that often accompany this targeting, combine to form what I am calling “reproductive profiling.”

I use the term “reproductive profiling” to draw upon the ways in which people of color are profiled in the policing or law enforcement context. Similar to the failure of the Fourth Amendment’s privacy rationale to fully extend to victims of racial profiling, individuals subject to reproductive profiling are denied the autonomy and privacy interests guaranteed by the Constitution. As Dorothy Roberts and others have noted, the lives of poor women of color are often public due to frequent interactions with government agencies. Consequently, those who choose to become parents do not benefit from the privacy or dignity rationales represented by Roe and its progeny. In various institutional contexts, such as immigration, prisons and social welfare, poor women of color are subjected to behavior policing policies that limit reproductive autonomy or punish the choice to become a parent. As Michele Goodwin has noted, this “brings private, intimate spaces into the public theatre, creating spectacles of poor, pregnant women and their children; and this public humiliation functions to visually inscribe these women’s place in the social hierarchy.”

Moreover, like victims of racial profiling in the policing context, women of color are singled out for suspicion because they are deemed to be in places that they do not belong. Indeed, poor women of color have historically been denied identities as mothers, which are informed by the normative values of the white middle-class. In this way, constraints on their choices to become parents are a reflection of social views that women of color who seek to parent are attempting to access a space that is inappropriate or one that they are not equipped to navigate. The race, gender and class identities of women of color, when attached to their choice to become parents, often raises a suspicion of wrongdoing. Consequently, they confront significant regulation of those choices and are subject to pervasive surveillance.

— Priscilla A. Ocen, “Roe and the ‘Reproductive Profiling’ of Women of Color,” Balkinization 1/13/13