As Julia mentioned, today is the Fifth Annual Blog For Choice Day and we’ve been given the task of answering “What does ‘Trust Women’ mean to you?”
Here’s my go at it-
As I reflect on the meaning of Dr. Tiller’s favorite slogan on this 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, it occurs to me that this is not about abortion. It was never was about abortion. It never will be about abortion. What we are fighting for– and what Dr. Tiller simply, silently, and courageously requested through the pin on his lapel–was choice, freedom, autonomy, equality, trust.
Our nation, one made by and for adult citizens, has become one imagined only for fetuses and children, where a mass cultural fixation has turned women into children and babies into citizens. All citizens are not created equal and our rights are not freely granted. This is evident in the legislation that forces women to view ultrasound images, get consent from a parent or spouse, or wait twenty-four hours after having traveled hundreds of miles before they may terminate their pregnancy. This can be seen in the ability of pharmacists to deny a woman her birth control. This is obvious in the literature of Crisis Pregnancy Centers and pro-life organizations which falsely and frighteningly suggests that women are more likely to contemplate suicide after having an abortion. It is clear in the prevailing attitudes, practices, and policies make clear that women are not, and should not be, responsible for themselves.
But to trust women and their ability to decide what they want with their bodies is not a simple matter if more choices do not exist. Beyond abortion, we need the opportunity to educate, to provide safe homes and communities, to access health care, to have affordable childcare, to see family planning or STD clinics, and to receive equal pay for equal work.
We must not only trust women to make decisions but we must also afford them with the opportunities to do so. I trust women to make the decision that they feel is best for themselves, their families, and their lives, but that decision can only be a real decision when choices exist.
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* I want to start the post with a BIG disclaimer: any awareness for women’s cancers should be celebrated, insofar as those campaigns actually contribute money towards helping cancer patients and researching a cure. This post addresses both the lack of feminist outcry to some sexist breast cancer campaigns as well as the fixation on one type of cancer at the expense of other important women’s health issues.
Every time I see one of these stickers, I get upset. Today, I saw two, so I’m doubly mad (hence, the post). I’ve got a few issues:
- First of all, really? “Ta-tas”? I don’t think I’ve ever referred to my breasts as “ta-tas”; come to think of it, I don’t think anyone past the age of 2 would choose that name for a certain part of the female anatomy.
- Why pink? Yes, breast cancer overwhelmingly affects women, but why does that necessitate that it is symbolized by the “quintessential” female color?
- Does anyone realize that the majority of breast cancer patients end up getting mastectomies? The best way to BEAT CANCER, in most cases, is to LOSE THE TA-TAS. Get that.
- This is a clearly sexist and misogynistic marketing campaign to get men on board for fighting breast cancer (see disclaimer). Yes, male donations are helpful, but is female exploitation really the only means of raising funds? Apparently not.
- Boob lube? Really?
And those are just my concerns with this specific marketing campaign. My greater concern, of course, is for what this signifies for the future of feminist activism. As Barbara Ehrenreich eloquently writes:
“While we used to march in protest against sexist laws and practices, now we race or walk ‘for the cure.’ And while we once sought full ‘consciousness’ of all that oppresses us, now we’re content to achieve ‘awareness.’
Whither the millions of Americans raising awareness in such sheer numbers for any other “women’s” cause? Seriously, the NFL had their players wear pink everything for a game this October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Which is great. But you don’t see them fighting for gender parity in sports reporting. Similarly, a myriad of corporations has taken up the cause of breast cancer in order to sell products (and supposedly raise money). Ehrenreich, again:
“When a corporation wants to signal that it’s ‘woman friendly,’ what does it do? It stamps a pink ribbon on its widget and proclaims that some miniscule portion of the profits will go to breast cancer research.”
No, it seems that “saving the ta-tas,” like so many other corporate causes, has exploited women’s bodies under the guise of charity. Perhaps even more tragic, in my mind, is that the massive public awareness of breast cancer’s destructive effect on “ta-tas” has drawn attention away from other women’s cancers, health care concerns, and feminist causes in general. Having lost two very close family friends to ovarian cancer in the past three years, I find myself disheartened by the prevalence of sexist stickers and the lack of aqua ribbons on cars. So maybe that’s part of my anger, but a much greater piece of it comes from the corporate-style marketing campaign that uses sexism to raise money for CEOs by overshadowing the other issues (from other cancers to domestic violence to Stupak-Pitts) that affect women. Feminists cannot allow “save the ta-tas” to satisfy their defined goals for a national consciousness of (and solutions to) all issues affecting women.
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