If you have any questions, feel free to ask on my ask site: http://fyseq.tumblr.com/ask, though check out http://fuckyeahsexeducation.tumblr.com/FAQ!
How to Speak on Reproductive Justice
I recently attended a workshop hosted by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland on how to speak about reproductive justice as an advocate. The first part of that workshop focused on what exactly constitutes reproductive justice and that it’s so much more than the availability of abortions. The second part was actually talking about abortion. The workshop is based on the information gathered by Planned Parenthood in a study that took several years on attitudes towards abortion and how language affects it. Following the layout of the workshop, the first part of this post will cover various aspects of reproductive justice and the second will cover how to speak on reproductive justice.
What is included under the term “Reproductive Justice”?
- Safe and legal abortions available to all who need
- Affordable and available birth control and contraceptive options
- Affordable and available health care (pap smears, mammograms etc.)
- Affordable and Available resources to help under-privileged families
- No forced sterilizations
- Comprehensive sex education
- Affordable and Available sterilization options
- Adoption regulations (no child taken from healthy family, no child without a home)
- Adoption options available for any who want to adopt
- No genital mutilation
- Affordable and available transition options for Trans* folk
- No forced pregnancy or forced abortion
- And much more
It’s important that we look at the intersections of oppression. All oppressed groups based on race, orientation, gender identity, intersex conditions, ability, financial status, designated sex are oppressed in this category and we need to look at how their general oppression affects this. It’s important we look at the underlining cause of these reproductive oppressions, which is racism, sexism, cisexism, heterosexism, and many more. Certain racial, orientation, gender identity, ability, and intersex conditions are sterilized against their will. Health options are limited for people of certain financial status, ability, condition, orientation, or gender identity. Comprehensive sex education is even more difficult to find when you’re not straight, cis gender, dyadic, able-bodied, and neurotypical. People of certain orientations or gender identities may be unable to adopt. Children of certain abilities, races, gender identity, or orientation may be more unlikely to be adopted. Many children of different races are taken away from their countries, communities, and loving families in amoral adoption practices. This occurs even today in the United States, with Native American children being taken away from their families and adopted off to white adults.
Try to think of other ways that someone may be oppressed as it relates to reproductive health.
How to speak on Reproductive Justice
The Planned Parenthood website Not In Her Shoes, although gendering and not inclusive to trans* people is a good resource to check out what information and statistics they have gathered in their studies.
It starts with the words “Pro-Choice” and “Pro-Life”. I have definitely seen in my discussion on reproductive justice and the abortion issue that many people I would identify as pro-choice, those who support keeping abortion legal, don’t identify as such and this can create problems. Instead of sticking to these outdated (and in the case of pro-life, plain incorrect) labels that cause people to have an immediate negative response, Planned Parenthood suggests that we say we are pro reproductive justice, and that we want abortions to be legal and safe. The number of people who say abortion should remain legal and safe are much higher than those who would identify as pro-choice, by changing our language we open up our community to more people and gather more supporters. Two Thirds of American Voters want abortion to remain legal, whereas nearly one third of voters do not identify as either pro-choice or pro-life. By using this language we are excluding one third of our supporters.
Another thing that they found was that although people aren’t really comfortable talking about abortion, they do support it as a personal decision. People respond favorably to statements like, “Abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision for a person, and I don’t believe you can make that decision for someone else.”, “A person should have accurate information about all of their options. Information should support a person, help them make a decision for themselves, and enable them to take care of their health and well-being.”, and “Information should not be provided with the intent of coercing, shaming, or judging a person.” These are good to bring up when we talk about legal limits being put on abortion.
Another thing that they found that surprised me is that it works well if you don’t describe possible situations. Something I and many people who talk about reproductive justice is to try to talk about different situations a person may come from who needs abortion. We think that this helps show the diversity of people who need abortions, and show that it could be anyone. In reality, what the find is that what we think are good reasons for an abortion may not be someone else’s. They may have a direct negative emotional response that closes their ears off to what you are saying. What the research showed was that 79% of likely american voters found this simple statement convincing, “We’re not in their shoes. It’s just not that simple.” It is important to recognize that anyone of any background may someday need or want an abortion, but it is better and less judgmental to just state that everyone’s situation is different.
It’s also important, Planned Parenthood found, to avoid using language like “unintended pregnancy”, “unplanned pregnancy”, and “unwanted pregnancy”. When talking about abortion, more people responded more favorably when just using the word abortion, ending a pregnancy, or a safe and legal procedure, when talking about abortion. When talking about the goal to reduce “unintended pregnancy” with birth control or sex education it’s okay to use that word, but not unplanned and especially not unwanted. Many unintended pregnancies are wanted, I’ve definitely had friends that were “accidents” that their parents wanted very much. People also tend to not respond to the concept that you have to plan a pregnancy, so unintended works best. “Safe and Legal” is also what more people responded to as a good goal. “Safe, Legal, and on demand” may turn off people who may consider themselves more pro-life, while “Safe, Legal, and rare” may turn off people who consider themselves more pro-choice.
Something that really hit me in a strong way was this statement that was used in the workshop, “People don’t turn to politicians for advice about mammograms, prenatal care, or cancer treatments. Politicians should not be involved in a person’s personal medical decisions.” This is the bottom line, a person should be making this decision with her doctor, her loved ones, and her own faith. Politicians are not medical experts and have no place in discussing a medical procedure.
A similar message that I thought was important to address was that of when life begins. What they suggested to say about that is that “Questions about life are deeply personal and it’s not simple. It can be cultural, religious, or scientific. All I know is Politicians are not experts.” Many cultures believe that the baby is alive until it is born, takes it’s first breath, or even for several weeks or month after it is born. Different religions have different definitions of life, and as for science it still depends on the person.
For me there were a couple of things I’d like to touch on when talking about language and reproductive justice. For me a lot of this issue comes down to consent. Consent to medical procedures, consent to having children, and yes consent to sex. It’s also about having the education and ability to have informed consent.
It’s also important for me to remain inclusive to trans* people while also acknowledging the sexism in legislation that restricts reproductive rights. Like we touched on earlier, a lot of restrictions come down to the intention of oppressing certain groups. To keep people from thriving as much as others, whether that means refusing gender transition, making them care for a child instead of going to college, never finding a family, or to never be able to have a child. A lot of this does stem from sexism, and it is important to realize it even though more than just women are affected. You can use inclusive language that acknowledges more than just women get abortions or need birth control while still being conscious of the fact that regulations are being used in an attempt to control and oppress women.
What are your thoughts? How will this help you frame the way you think and speak about reproductive justice and justice in general?
Far too often, I’ve heard radical queers and feminists, in their hipster garb, talking their academic jargon about checking one’s privilege and being accountable, and in the same breath mocking poor people. It’s not always explicit. Actually, in social justice circles, it hardly ever is. Many of you know not to say words like ghetto or white trash, or at least I hope you do, because of its classist and racist implications, but that seems to be where the anti-classist work stops. So, let me help you.
- Every time you push your vegan/vegetarian/pescatarian diet on people, remember that your diet is a privilege that doesn’t make you superior or more of an environmentalist, food justice champion, animal lover or good human. I know you know about food deserts. Well, you don’t have to live in one to not be able to afford to have a restrictive diet.
- Furthermore, poor folks went green along ass time ago. I don’t get why you feel so special about your mason jars and bicycles. Oh good for you for taking the bus when you could’ve driven. Do you want a vegan gluten-free cookie?
- Yes, Wal-Mart is evil. So, is Urban Outfitters. Get over yourself. The only reason why Wal-Mart is singled out is because poor people shop there and it is easier to distance yourself from the problem. So, stop judging poor consumers who are just trying to feed and clothe their families, and start working to dismantle capitalism, or at least organize for workers’ rights (preferably in a non savior complex kinda way).
- Your shitty college dorm room, apartment or shared house, does not make you poor, neither does shopping at Good Will.
- There is a difference between being broke and poor, much like the difference between acute and chronic pain. Learn the difference.
- For those of you who do work with poor folks, you are not special, and you are not a savior. Like I said before, drop the savior routine. It makes a big difference when you take the cues from the communities you are serving. And, just because someone isn’t a college educated career activist, doesn’t mean they don’t know what is best for them and their communities. So, don’t be a condescending ass when people don’t talk like you, and practice some real nonjudgmental allyship.
- Pro tip: classy, trashy, hood, ghetto, dangerous/sketchy/seedy (in reference to poor PoC neighborhoods), white trash, etc are all really classist terms and hella racist too. Think about it, why do we specify that the trash is white? Because all other trash must be brown, right? If you don’t have a claim to these words, don’t use them.
Anyway, the examples could go on, and if anyone wants to add onto this, please do. I just don’t understand how a community that prides itself on fighting body-shaming and slut-shaming, could be so unequivocally class-shaming. In your own words, you better check your privilege.
Oh god this is so relevant
I don’t talk enough about classism in my blog.
In what seems like a long overdue move, the United Kingdom has passed a law allowing convictions for consensual gay sex to be stricken from the records of “guilty” parties.
The U.K.’s antisodomy laws banned gay sex for years, with some of these laws not being repealed until 2003. But now, finally, men who were convicted of having consensual gay sex can have this particular offense removed from their records.
“It’s estimated that over the last century in the region of 100,000 men in the U.K. were convicted of consenting same-sex offences that were not crimes between heterosexual men and women,” activist Peter Tatchell told Pink News. “Many had their lives ruined, including serving prison sentences, losing their jobs and suffering rejection by their families.
I suppose this is good news, but I’m still kind of shocked this has to be news at all. I mean, really? It took this long?
Today a federal appeals court ruled that videos of the Prop 8 trial will not be released to the public. The trial judge promised defenders that the videos would only be used for internal court purposes, and so the videos cannot ethically be released.
This ruling overturned a lower court ruling that the videos be released. Gay rights groups and Prop 8 opponents favored the release of the videos because they would show the evidence behind Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling, especially after claims arose that he was biased because he’s gay. In addition, the judge is not allowed to keep copies of the recordings.
A very important couple of words in the LA Times article:
The same panel is weighing the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that ended a brief period in California when same-sex marriage was legal. A decision on that is expected any day. (emphasis added)
"Any day" could mean as early as tomorrow or the sarcastic colloquialism "any day now." Check back regularly to find out which it is - hopefully it’s sooner than later.
A federal appeals court will decide today whether the videos of California’s Prop 8 trial should be released to the public, though the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to rule on the measure itself.
The appeals court is reviewing an appeal of Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision that Prop 8 is unconstitutional and must be overturned. Video from the trials could be used by lawyers in the case, but Prop 8 supporters are adamantly opposed to releasing the videos. (Curious?)
Stay tuned for updates on this. It’s about time we get the ball rolling on Prop 8; it’s been way too long.
A lesbian couple from Honolulu are suing Hawaii for the right to get married after the state health department denied them the opportunity to apply for a marriage license.
On Wednesday, Natasha N. Jackson and Janin Kleid filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court saying their rights to due process and equal protection were violated. Hawaii will begin allowing civil unions for gay couples in January and has had a law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples since 1998.
Guys, this is pretty much how New York’s marriage equality law started. This could mean something big. Stay tuned for updates.
A transgender woman is suing Khloe Kardashian for allegedly beating her up outside a Hollywood nightclub.
The (quite insensitive) TMZ article above reports that Chantal Spears told Khloe’s husband Lamar he was too young to get married, after which Khloe hit the woman and caused her “serious injuries.” The incident occurred in December 2009 and no one was arrested at the time, but Spears is suing for unspecified damages.
Quoi? Why hadn’t we heard about this before?
The mother of a 14-year-old high school freshman who committed suicide in October says bullies were responsible, and she’s suing his school as a result.
Jamarcus Bell of Hamilton Southeastern High School in Indiana was targeted because of his race, emotional disability and his perceived sexual orientation, the lawsuit says. His mother says the school district didn’t react appropriately, and the superintendent denies the legitimacy of the lawsuit.
“Our teachers and administrators took multiple steps to assist the student and his family,” insisted superintendent Brian Smith in a statement to the Star today. “We will not discuss the details of our actions in the media, but we believe there are factors that are very different from the ones alleged in the lawsuit and portrayed in the media. We are prepared to present these matters to the court, which is the proper forum for this discussion.”
Oh boy. Let’s see how this one turns out. Nothing could possibly make up for this loss, but hopefully justice can be served.