Other frameworks that center around health and rights can miss important connections between the ways the State and ruling classes coerce and abuse groups of people based on race, class, gender, and ability (among other factors). Focusing on the number of clinics or Supreme Court decisions are important aspects of answering reproductive oppression, but are usually neither the most pressing or the most adequate in addressing these larger concerns.
When we focus instead on liberation from reproductive oppression as a social justice goal, it’s no longer the state and legislators granting and protect rights. It’s a question of communities and structures answering root causes of systemic inequality that manifest in issues surrounding reproduction, pregnancy, sexual health, sexual identity, poverty, and incarceration (just to name a few).
Awesome informative post and quick read!
The progressive community is deathly afraid of talking about sex and young people. That’s right. I said it. Between Banks new web promo aimed at female voters, Sandra Fluke’s testimony before Congress last February, and the reactive messaging around Rush Limbaugh’s vile comments, one thing has remained clear: our movement is far more comfortable elevating stories about birth control when they don’t involve sex. Pure unadulterated sex. Sex without the fear of an unintended pregnancy. You know… the primary reason young Americans use birth control. And for arguments sake, maybe there’s a good reason for this. Maybe—just maaaayyyybe—we’re trying to appeal to conservatives. Perhaps we’re making our funders happy. Or maybe we’re just trying to sell a message that is palatable; easy to consume. Nope. Bullshit. Not buying it.
Liberation is a collective process, goes our popular slogan. What that means is that none of us wins unless everybody wins. None of us is safe until all of us are safe. Citizenship realizes its promise only when humanity is universally recognized and is not contingent on gender, skin color, or national origin. Equality is not just a word. It is not a soundbite. It is no benighted slogan. It is a truth, a thing with substance, with real dimensions, that can be felt, and that can be lived. Transgender people cannot live their lives without a measure of reproductive justice, and reproductive justice cannot exist in a world where trans people’s bodies are not our own. When we fight for the right to name ourselves we are fighting for the right to control our bodies and our existence. When we fight for healthcare access, we are fighting for our bodies and the right to live. When we fight prison injustice, we are fighting against an oppression that criminalizes us for existing. When we fight, we share the cause of reproductive justice. Our bodies, our choices.
- Katherine Cross, Sylvia Rivera Law Project from Abortion Rights to Social Justice, Building the Movement for reproductive freedom 26th annual conference CLPP & PopDev, Hampshire College, April 13-15.