Tag Archives: reprorights

I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about them: Generational evolution and activism

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the phrase, “Young people just don’t get it,” in the last 2 years I’d have at least enough money to buy a nice, used car. I’m tired of it. Let’s all agree to retire the phrase, mmmkay?

First of all, while I have no empirical evidence to support this beyond hearing it out of the mouths of my grandparents, I’m pretty sure every generation says this about the generations following them. “When I was a kid I walked uphill to school in a foot of snow both ways! Kids today, they just don’t get it!” It’s like generational hazing. And it’s basically noise. It has no substance. It’s highlighting a “problem” that doesn’t actually exist. Perhaps what people really mean is “Young people are doing things differently than I did them and I find that unsettling because I want my way to be the best and only way of doing things.” I’m cool with that, it’s honest, and it doesn’t have the silencing effect of, “Young people don’t care.”

Second of all, NO NO NO. It’s just not true. Young people DO get it. Older generations just need to start looking for things that aren’t on the tip of their nose and get their egos out of the way.

This cliche pops up pretty regularly in the reproductive rights movement. Nancy Keenan, outgoing president of NARAL Pro-Choice America has, on more than one occasion, stated that she has concerns about younger generations taking the reins of reprorights activism. In a recent Salon piece Keenan suggested, again, that millennials don’t prioritize abortion rights the way the Boomers do. Of course, she went on to clarify that she’s not talking about the women and men who are committed, only those that aren’t.

What really bugs me about this sentiment is that it assumes that Boomers, as a bloc, care about reprorights more  than subsequent generations. And I think this is based, almost entirely, on the blinders of a cohort.

When you find your activist cohort, you might think that no one but your cohort is involved because, when you’re planning activisty things, your friends are the people that show up, and not people that you’ve never talked to before. Which makes sense, right? I mean, you know that this group will want to be involved, so you call them up and involve them. And then sit around wringing your hands about how “there are no new faces, they must not care.” When, in reality, the new faces that you’re trying to attract are holding their own party, because they got sick of hearing, as Keenan said, “Young people don’t care. Oh, but I don’t mean you. You’re different.” If you’re going to denigrate my cohort, I don’t have a whole lot of interest in participating in your stuff.

I don’t think there is a divide in the reprorights movement, I think there is the way things have always been done, and a new way of doing things. It’s evolution. Which is absolutely necessary in order for a movement to remain relevant.

 

 

 

 

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Don’t give me this “small government” stuff.

Rachel Maddow on small government. Transcript after the video.

Small government is a great political brand. It looks great on a bumper sticker. People who don’t want the government to help unemployed people, or the elderly, or people without health insurance, who don’t want the government to create jobs , they say it’s because government has to be small. They also want government to be monitoring every pregnancy in the country to make sure the government’s chosen outcome is the result of that pregnancy, under penalty of jail. So, make your case that you don’t want the government to help the economy, but don’t give me this ‘small government’ stuff, c’mon.

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Thinking about Dr. Tiller

I drop something heavy and then disappear for weeks and then come back with this. I’m all abortion all the time lately!

Three years ago today, I was 6 months pregnant sitting on the couch with the windows open. My husband was in the kitchen doing dishes from the brunch that we’d just finished eating. I had my laptop open on my lap, and said, “Holy shit,” as I reached for the TV remote.

“What?” my husband asked as he peered into the living room. “Fucking anti-choice zealots just fucking assassinated Tiller,” I said.

I spent the rest of the day yelling about violence against providers, and clinics, and methods of intimidation, and obsessively refreshing the news. CNN, Yahoo, AP… all of them. I wanted to know everything about what had happened.  I thought about Barnett Slepian, who was assassinated by a sniper in his home in 1998. I shed tears.

I was angry. I’m STILL angry. Acts of violence against providers and facilities that perform abortion happen ALL.THE.TIME. They are acts of terrorism.

They are committed in an effort to stop a legal practice from a occurring. They are committed to remind doctors and clinic workers that they aren’t safe. They are committed in the hopes that they will do enough damage, or take enough lives that people will get sick of being harassed, hurt, and living in enough fear for their lives that they will pack up and go home.

It’s absolute bullshit.

What Drs. Tiller and Slepian did, what Dr. Carhart does, what Dr. Means is trying to do is heroic, and I’m grateful to them for their persistence.

 

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I had an abortion.

I had an abortion.

I’m not going to tell you how old I was when I had it.

I’m not going to tell you what the circumstances around the pregnancy were.

I’m not going to tell you whether birth control was used or not.

I’m not going to tell you whether it was a wanted or an unwanted pregnancy.

I’m not going to tell you how far along the pregnancy was.

I’m not going to tell you whether there was a genetic abnormality, or whether my life was endangered by the pregnancy.

I’m not going to tell you any of those things because I think answering those questions, creating the situation from which my experience unfolds offers someone, everyone, anyone, the chance to say, “She deserved to access abortion,” or “How dare she get pregnant and have an abortion,” or find some pity in their heart for whatever piece of my situation offers them the opportunity to justify their judgment, or their sense of false safety.

When I was in high school (so many years ago) we had a speaker come to talk with us about HIV and AIDS. He told us about what living with AIDS was like. What it was like to defecate in his bed at 3am and be unable to move by himself and having to call for his parents to come clean him. To live with the stares that people gave him when they saw the sores on his arms. To be asked, over and over and over, “Well, how did you contract the disease?” He said it was a question he never answered. Because the answer would muddy his message with pity or feelings of false safety. How he contracted the disease was irrelevant to the fact that he had it.

This is how I feel about my abortion. None of the, “How did it happen?” matters. It’s irrelevant.

What matters is that I was able to access abortion when I needed to. When I wanted to. When I was pregnant and had the need to no longer be pregnant. When I was desperate to not be pregnant.

I walked past anti-choice protestors with their signs, and listened to their shouting, “Don’t do this! Think of your baby! We’re praying for you!” I pushed past them as they blocked the sidewalk.

The facility that did the abortion had, what I’ve come to understand is, an abortion doula. She held my hand, asked me if I was okay. If I needed anything. She tucked the stray hairs from my ponytail behind my ear and told me that everything was going to be all right.

When it was over, I threw up.

I have never regretted my abortion. For a long time I didn’t talk about it. In fact, I’m only just beginning to talk about it. I’ve always felt that my experience was just that, my experience and didn’t need to be shared. (I will admit, I did fear negative repercussion. I feared facing hostile judgement.) But I’m learning that things we don’t talk about – abortion, miscarriage…are things that we NEED to talk about. *I* need to pipe up when I hear someone struggling and say, “I’ve had this experience, too. This was how it went for me.”

Silence equals shame. And I am not ashamed.

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RAISE YOUR VOICE

First – go read, Dear GOP: You do know how pregnancy works, right? at Angry Black Lady Chronicles. It’s a fantastic piece of writing that needs to be shared. Go read. I’ll wait.

You’re back! Okay. Now go over to Unite Against the War on Women and find your state. Join if you’re so inclined (you’ll be able to participate in conversations, post about carpooling, or logistical questions, share relevant information, etc.) or just MARK YOUR CALENDAR for April 28. If it’s easier for you, go “like” them on Facebook – they can help you find your state group and event there, too. The goal of Unite Women is to have rallies, marches, whatever you want to call them, in every state, and DC on the same Saturday in a coordinated show of solidarity against the onslaught of anti-woman, and anti-choice legislation that has been sweeping the states. This is an opportunity to RAISE YOUR VOICE.

They’re on Twitter, too, at @NatlWow, and several states have individual accounts if you’re over there and looking for a way to keep up to date easily.

Wanna know what’s happening legislatively in your state? You can check more of Angry Black Lady’s hard work in this document. Check out the #teamuterati wiki page, too. Don’t be surprised if your head blows up on your computer monitor.

Also? I’m helping with the organizing for the Virginia rally and am tweeting for them at @WOW_VA.

And THAT is what I’ve been doing lately.

What have YOU been doing lately?

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