Wednesday, April 19, 2017

It is not possible to support the prolife movement and be a feminist...

I've been busy, busy, BUSY!

Resistance work is demanding, y'all.

One of my recent activities was to participate in a panel at Catholic University in DC on whether prolife people can be feminist. It was a fascinating look at the friction between the prolife movement and those folk who are at odds with many of the prolife movement's regressive policies...but really dig those policies that seek to shame, manipulate, and control women.

Blink.

Anyhoo, I want to correct one thing I said during the discussion. While attempting a clever response to panelists critique of a Teen Vogue article on how folk can support someone who has had an abortion, I had a verbal malfunction and said something along the lines of Teen Vogue gets things wrong.

Lawd!

Teen Vogue gets so much RIGHT and I'll gladly write that 100 times on a chalk board to atone for getting that response SO DAMN WRONG.

Just look at all of these Teen Vogue articles getting shit right!

Whew.

Anyhoo...

My opening remarks are below and you can check out a video of the discussion here.



I would like to thank Catholic University for inviting me to participate on this panel. As a Missourian who grew up hearing Missouri native and infamous anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly rail against feminism as a threat to families and peace on earth, I must admit to a certain measure of surprise that people who identify as prolife are seeking inclusion in the feminist movement. I’ve been a reproductive justice organizer and activist for over a decade, so very little shocks me anymore. This one gave me pause.

Feminism is an action agenda to secure the social, economic, and political equality of women. The prolife movement seeks to deny women access to abortion, birth control, fertility treatments, give employers the right to deny coverage for the full spectrum of reproductive healthcare, and defund reproductive healthcare providers. In Missouri, the prolife movement has even pushed legislation that would require a woman get permission from a man to gain access to abortion. In its quest to make abortion illegal and criminalize providers and the women who have abortions by any means necessary, the prolife movement has aligned with regressive politicians who seek to limit access to the vote, push legislation like Stand Your Ground that has denied countless mothers the right to raise their children in safe communities, dismantle and block access to healthcare that would dramatically improve deplorable maternal and infant mortality rates, not to mention provide funding for programs that enable people with disabilities and seniors to live and participate in our communities. Prolife has lifted-up politicians who promote immigration policies that define babies as “anchors” and mothers as “illegal” opportunistic hustlers, and who are moving to destroy environmental protections that will impact the health and safety of future generations.

I live in a city where a 13-year-old child was legally shot dead for ruffling through a car, where Mike Brown was murdered, and where a Black mother named Anna Brown died in agony on a jailhouse floor for having the audacity to seek emergency care without insurance coverage. I live in a region caught in the consequences of the prolife agenda, where there are neighborhoods with an infant mortality rate that is worse than some developing countries, like Uzbekistan and Vietnam. There’s a mandatory 72 hour waiting period for abortion, one provider left in the state, and over 30 bills to further restrict access moving in the legislature, but Black babies are four times more likely to die in their first year than white babies, Black mothers are three times more likely to die after or during childbirth, but we can’t get a hearing on expanding healthcare coverage to try and improve those numbers because the legislature can’t be bothered.

No, one cannot be prolife and be a feminist too.

I can appreciate the attraction of feminism as women seek ways to survive the Trump regime. Our nation is now led by a man who thinks women who experience sexual harassment should just get another job, who has a history of boorish behavior that was alarming in a business context and is horrifying to behold in the commander and chief, and who just floated a budget proposal that threatens the stability of millions of households, particularly those led by women.

It is possible to support, find comfort, and feel empowered by parts of feminism without being feminist. It is not possible to support the prolife movement and be a feminist.



9 comments:

Maven said...

To be more to the point, pro-lifers aren't pro-life; they're pro-birth. After that human comes out of the birth canal, they don't care much (if at all) about that baby or the woman that birthed it--which of course, isn't feminist, either.

dinthebeast said...

I don't read Teen Vogue myself, but I did notice Princess Sparkle Pony pointing out that they covered several issues pertaining to the Trump administration sooner and better than the more traditionally news oriented publications did, and he's been one of my favorite bloggers for a decade...
I agree with Maven's comment, and would like to quote George Carlin on the subject: "Pro life conservatives aren't pro life, they're anti woman. They don't like women, and believe a woman's primary role is to function as a brood-mare for the state."
I have never understood how anyone with a mother can not be a feminist, but it seems that my take on the subject isn't as widespread as I would have hoped.
Anyway, it's good to hear from you again, and thank you so much for getting on with the good fight in the face of all of this madness.

-Doug in Oakland

Anonymous said...

I refer to the political movement that calls itself "pro-life" as "anti-legalized-abortion" (and often "anti-female-controlled-contraception"). I think that it is a huge mistake to address them in their chosen terms when they refer to us not as "pro-choice" but as "baby killers", "sluts", and such.

Similarly, the right wing "religious freedom" term should not be used by feminist/womanist/LGBT/liberal/lefty people without modification. I take public accommodation law seriously, and the only discrimination I want to see is "No shirt, no shoes? No service" at restaurants. We should use the term "religious imposition", as (perhaps)coined by Rewire.

Great to see the blog active! Many respects, NancyP, also a St. Louisan.

Patricia Kayden said...

If pro-life simply means forcing women to give birth once they are pregnant, then one certainly cannot be pro-life and feminist at the same time. Women need to have full agency over what happens to their bodies. Pro-life advocates second-guess women's decisions and put their opinions in the place of women's choices. In my opinion, that is horrifying and demeaning to women.

And it's pretty simple. If you don't like abortions, don't get one. You don't get to tell another woman what she can or cannot do with her body. That is what feminism is all about -- giving women choices and respecting those choices.

Mommie Dammit said...

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times - If you don't have a uterus SHUT THE FUCK UP!! End of discussion. No man, nor other woman for that matter, has the right to dictate what a woman decides for her body - her body, her life, her health, HER DECISION. Or, as Whoopie Goldberg said ages ago, "I have the answer to abortion, sir! Shoot yo' dick!" I second that...

And Pamela, I wouldn't worry. I have oft been known to insert foot and chew vigorously until reaching ass.

Grace Farmer said...

I am going to disagree just a smidge here.

For me, the term pro-life is total BS. Most of these pro-lifers should be calling themselves 'pro-birth'. This is NOT feminism.

My definition of a true pro-life person is one who actively works in counseling, adoptive services or other areas that would support a woman who decides to keep her baby. A pro-life person is pro for the 'life' of the child and the mother, not just to see the baby born. This is feminism, women supporting women, no matter what side of the aisle their decision is.

As always, love your take on things.

SRC said...

Good post..Thanks for sharing it..

gaboor said...

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