Tag Archives: Women’s March 2017

Feminists or not, the dilemma

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Feminists or not,  the dilemma is long standing full of contradictions, mystery and history.  This is a response toLauren Enriquez who wrote and article  in NY Times 2/27/17 Pro-Life, But Left Out in her experience of the Woman’s March 2017.  I offer my experience to you Lauren and to  other women who don’t identify or feel the feminist or not feminist dilemma.   A long standing dilemma for women since the first feminists came along.

My experience was not of a divided group of women, some “feminists” – some not. In fact, the divisions of race and age, and status and income of all the women who assembled was without boundaries as we mixed and engaged to fill the streets with our support of women’s rights and human rights. First, I need to ask? Is Women’s Rights really all about abortion, and why does abortion create an insurmountable chasm in your experience, Lauren?

Consider this: Roe v Wade made evident and overt the terminating of a pregnancy, explicitly defining for medical professionals their liability not being in assistance to women. in the early years of the 20th Century, women had their babies at home with a midwife and family. The same women who helped women with their labor and delivery, helped them with abortifacients to terminate a pregnancy. Doctors did not participate in births unless there was a dire need for their intervention. In the 1920’s and 30’s, hospitals began marketing to women to come to the hospitals to have their babies according to historian Shannon Withycombe who specializes in the history of women’s health at the University of New Mexico. She says that given hospitals were no more sanitary than at home, and since antibiotics had not entered use in the hospitals, hospitals and at room births combined to make for a high mortality in delivery. 70 women in every 1000 died in labor and delivery, but rarely did the women  see any physician or midwife prior to delivery. What really changed the tide that brought women into hospitals for delivery in the 19th and early 20th century was their marketing the promise of pain-free labor with “twilight sleep.” Until the 1960’s, this combination of morphine and amnesiac was predominantly used in hospitals by doctors. In the 1960’s, the quality of birth for the mother and the child was reconsidered. Natural childbirth-drug free with breathing training then became the potential for childbirth in and out of the hospital.

Abortion has a similar history:  prior to Roe v Wade, women were treated by the midwives for delivery, but also to end early pregnancies in such common practice that it wasn’t directly spoken of.  When Roe v Wade came into law of the land, it was the physicians who  gained legal protection in intervening in a pregnancy, as well as the women.  Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Pregnancy center in upstate New York,  kind and compassionate doctors and nurses  were what was available  to women before Roe v Wade in 1973.  But what drove the need for that was the fact that  in 1964,  Civil Rights and birth control pills gave women more power in their lives.  By 1966,  66% of women used birth control.  A huge change was underway in the marriage and family patterns over the next two decades.  Of note is the fact that when Roe v Wade became law of the land, there were already seventeen states that allowed the practice of assisting the termination of unwanted early pregnancies.  Further, as historian Linda Gordon points out”the growing acceptability of sex without marriage made the ban on abortions unacceptable.”  Women achieved “greater safety, lower costs, and greater opportunity in education and employment,”  and as well, they achieved the legal status of purchasing a home and credit as they took on jobs.   Abortion rate from 1972-76 showed that deaths from abortion went from thirty-nine per million to two per million.  Feminism was attributed to Roe v Wade, but its source was actually the legal and medical establishments giving form and legal stand to those who assisted women in their choice of abortion.

Women’s integrity to choose what is right for them does not require group membership, or exclude any woman,  Having your choice and allowing other women to have their choice does not need to come with discrediting, diminishing or holding in contempt those who make different choices.  The Women’s March for me was all about that!   Our concerns, what we marched for was Women’s Rights, Civil Rights and Human Rights and standing together, marching together as women; -some who call themselves feminists, some who don’t.

We are here for each other, for our mothers, for our sisters, for our daughters.  In response to the New Administrations intimidation and threats hurled toward limiting or reducing any aspect of those rights that support the benefit of full inclusion and social equality achieved since the 1960’s, we resist.  We will continue to show up to stand with those in need of support.  That is feminism to most, and you are not excluded.  We are here, Lauren, together we and those who march together will stand with the most vulnerable, and bring ourselves forward together to achieve that.

Peggy Reskin, author of Barefoot Frontrunners: sex, women and power

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The Woman’s March 2017: “Check Your Privilege”

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The New York Time’s article today on the Women’s March Opens A Raw Dialogue emphasized women coming together to voice and represent nationwide, young and old, a range of interpretations of why women are showing up and marching. There are those who want to represent feminism, women’s rights and civil rights, with a full throated response to the Inaguration of a new President. With him, a new administration that has at the least shown ambiquity and a shift away from the trajectory of civil rights attained by women, the LGBTQ community, children of illegal immigrants, and those who represent the Middle East community within our country. Everyone is invited to this inclusive event. The Woman’s March in cities all around the country, initiated in DC, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Atlanta and many, many cities of the nation is happening on Saturday January 21st, 2017.

The Rise of the Woman – The Rise of the Nation is the context provided by the DC Women’s March. There are meetings and more meetings to make banners that say “He is not My President” and angry disappointed voices that want to initiate and stand against all that the new President-elect has represented over the past election. There is a call for the return to feminism of the 1970’s and engage newly toward the equality that has never been fully represented in our country. There is the “Check Your Privilege” conversation between women of color to the white women as they engage together for the Women’s March in DC. Even as the unmet goals of equality, such as the ERA and the reality of what has not been gained over the years since the social revolution of the 1970’s emerge, there is anxiety about what has been achieved and may be lost in the experience of most of those who are planning to participate in a Women’s March on January 21st across the country. There is the swell of a huge potentially destructive wave collecting anger and confusion as well as mystery in the mix as the Presidential power ends with President Barack Obama, and begins with Donald Trump, and the GOP agenda.

Where will you be January 21st is the question being asked of women friends across the country. My sisters and sisters-in-laws and friends in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and DC , and those friends and colleagues around me in the Bay Area are together, even as they are of different mindsets about the election and its results. All have consideration for the fact that a new day is coming, and it is not clear what will be asked of us, but we we must all meet the future with resourcefulness, clear eyes and even open heart. In the voices of all, there is the willingness to stand for what is important to us, as the women of this country. That is what the Woman’s March is about for many of us. Even as it is about Women’s Rights, the fifty-three years process where women filled out the potential of responsibility and choice in how they live their lives, what lies ahead is unclear. A Multigenerational Woman’s Gathering in Marin County was initiated almost immediately after the surprise victory of Trump over Hillary, their agendas could not be further apart on women’s rights and civil rights, and the young women reported panic attacks and huge grief at the news of Trump’s election. The coming together of young professional women who have only known what it is to have those rights, and their voice, juxtaposed to the women who participated in the process of gaining and living out women’s rights from Civil Rights, Birth Control and Roe vs Wade. Each woman, a rich source of attitudes and viewpoints about the challenges ahead, presented perspective onto our role as women given the platform presented by the President Elect over the two years of his campaign.

What we came to was to was the value and responsibility we felt to present our bodies and ourselves in our stand for Women’s Rights are Human Rights. The history of how women came through to their power reveals the fact that through that process, the lesbian and gay community gained access to express and represent, and direct their power. The struggles in race and in sex over the decades have a correlation and powerful mutuality, evidenced in the thread of equality constrained or given access to liberty through the Civil Rights Bill. We can have this Woman’s March represent a new threshold, a new potential. I will be joining my sisters and colleagues and friends in the Woman’s March to represent what we bring to ourselves, each other and the county. What it means to me is that we are united in our stand to move forward, include more diversity and differences to achieve the whole of who we are as a country. What this means to me is we renew our investment and enthusiasm for human rights, measure our stands to correlate with our immense capacity for bringing life and hope to ourselves and the world.

Check our Privilege, not because we are white, but because the real privilege is our ability to speak and bring the best of who we are as a country to the world to meet this new transition. Efforts and gains have been made and we do not want to see them reduced due to political change of who is in office as President: educating law enforcement officers, reducing the prison population, improving the means for better education and opportunity to our children in all zip codes, feeding and caring for the large number of children and seniors: these are the priorities we do not want to see lost or reduced. This is who and what the Women’s March will represent to many of us. This is where we can achieve our greatest victory.

 

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