Hey, ya’ll! It’s been a while since my last original post and it’s my 600 post since my Tumblr-birth! Celebrate!
To honor the occasion, I’d like to tell you a story and spotlight the cause close to my heart.
As a women, you sort of have to be a feminist. Or a Republican. (Just kidding, Republicans.
Or am I?) My whole life I grew up, believing I would fight for women’s rights if the occasion ever arose. But even in my working-class, broken family, women’s rights and gender prejudice was never very prevalent. I had a very strong female role-model in my grandmother and was fortunate enough to avoid gender based violence or discrimination through my early education (to my memory at least.) I lived in a fairly small, loving world.
Then I started dating. I fancied myself a smart, liberal girl and as soon as I felt like it (and had access to contraception) I entered a series of romantic relationships. No matter how cool I thought I was though, I’m a perpetual romantic and my boyfriends were always long term and fairly sweet, respectful men.
After being intimate with on boy for a few months, we got a little hot and heavy and forgot to use a condom. I was on the pill at the time and was very contentious in my use, with few exceptions. My boyfriend at the time flipped out, however. He demanded that I get the morning after pill, Plan B. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why he was so worried, unless he thought I might have been cheating on him and had contracted an STD (false.) He explained that he had once not use a condom with an ex-girlfriend who was also taking the pill. She wound up getting pregnant anyway and having an abortion. This had deeply shaken him although he had supported her exercising her right to abortion, but he didn’t want to go through that again. I tried to explain that his ex probably hadn’t used her birth control regularly or had made some other poor decision (alcohol, antibiotics?) but he refused to see reason. We argued intensely and finally I collapsed and agreed to get Plan B against my own desires.
To top it off I was 17 and couldn’t legally buy the pill on my own. My soon-to-be ex boyfriend called the mother of a close friend to purchase the contraband for me. She arrived, judgement in her eyes, and I became the lazy/stupid/selfish slut who couldn’t control her own sexuality. But only I knew how hard I had wrestled to keep that control, and eventually lost.
Of course, this small story doesn’t have a tragic ending or traumatic, violent experience and for many years I went on with life, uncomfortable at the situation but not entirely aware of why. Now I do. A man, with apparently very little understanding of human reproduction or trust in female intelligence, had demanded my compliance with his standards of good sexual health. I was young and I gave in.
Today, I’m more mature and aware of my rights as a human being (never mind being a woman) and like to think I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. I’ve also found a much more understanding and supportive partner who trusts my knowledge and respects my decisions.
But today, more men, this time with real and far-reaching power, are threatening to do the same thing to me. Many American politicians (and other political pundits) have decided that women must not only be solely responsible for reproduction in society, but they must do so with no resources or support from anyone. No contraception, no abortions, no family planning or other social services? What options do we have? The convent (most of you aren’t even Catholic!)
Now, I consider myself a feminist. I see the inequalities lurking around every dress shop and gynecologist’s office. Women are not equal. Not in America in 2012, not in the world. We have made great strides in the fight toward equality but we have become complacent in our triumph. Equal pay, respect, education and safety are the ultimate goals and we still have work to do, sisters. So I’d like to spot light a group out of Boston working to do just that.
The Radical Alliance for Gender Equality has risen up to take on the Contraception Debate. Their founding principles extend beyond this to encompass more wholesale gender and sexuality rights, but they are smartly focusing their efforts until they build a support base of foreword thinking, democratic supporters.
Currently, RAGE (catchy, right?) is sponsoring a photo campaign: The 1 in 3 movement. They argue that 1 in 3 women have abortions in their lifetime, and with 52% of the US population being female, that’s a significant statistic (100 million women, to be exact-ish.) They ask that women who have had abortions share their stories: simply write the reason you got an abortion on a piece of paper/notecard and take a picture of yourself holding this card. They want to show the US lawmakers and fear mongers that the abortions, pills, and rights they are playing with are parts of real women, real human beings, with faces and lives and autonomy.
I like their tactic, it’s in-your-face and unapologetic. Because women are human with human rights and it’s a simple as that. Until men must face the same kinds of health and reproductive restrictions, these current debates on contraception are an act of war. The War on Women. And consider me a front-liner.