Really, these are favorites from the past few weeks. My time off for recertifications did not equal time off from reproductive health and feminist news. I hope you enjoy! Also, have you seen this? Love it.
The real mommy wars – Mikki Kendall at Salon
“…The “mommy wars” in lower-income brackets are about survival, not about competing with each other for praise or status. Fighting with school systems that lack supplies, that are overcrowded and understaffed, to get quality education for children is a battle that grows more serious by the day. Millions are struggling to retain access to healthcare, or fighting to afford food — whether it be via SNAP benefits or a living minimum wage. Some are denied the right to have children, to keep the children they have, and to choose when to have children.
Mothers are raising children in areas disproportionately impacted by violence. Mothers are raising kids with major health concerns in the same environments that made them sick. Mothers are going to war literally and metaphorically every day, but those wars are not with each other. Feminist discussions of motherhood often center on the idea of choice; let us reframe the conversations to include the battles fought every day by women who don’t always have choices.
We need a conversation about the war on poor mothers, on disabled mothers, on indigenous mothers, on trans mothers, on mothers who are not in heterosexual relationships, on mothers who are migrant workers, on mothers doing the most with the least. Feminism is supposed to be about making it possible for all to achieve equality, not about playing games of one-upmanship. Motherhood is a feminist issue. Part of the issue is indeed the right to choose how one structures one’s life, but even more important is having options to choose from that are actually good for mothers and their children. I’m fortunate enough to have gotten past the place where I need public assistance, but I will never forget feeling like a target in the war on mothers…”
Egypt’s women refuse to be intimidated – Zainab Salbi at The Guardian
“…Egyptian women have certainly been politically marginalised in this post-revolutionary period. The male-dominated military in charge of the transitional phase eradicated the quota for women’s representation in parliament, which reduced female members from 64 to nine, and it did not include any women in the constitutional review committee. The police also targeted female political demonstrators, going as far as stripping them naked in the street and urging molestation by thugs. They introduced virginity tests for women arrested during political demonstrations. The message was clear: women should go home and leave politics to the men.
Women’s rights had been used as a velvet glove during Mubarak’s regime (as with other administrations of the time, such as Ben Ali in Tunisia and Gaddafi in Libya), which passed laws to protect women while suppressing all other political rights. The elected president, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, rescinded some of these rights: restrictions on polygamy were lifted; a reduction of the marriage age was proposed; women’s right to seek divorce was limited. This reflected the Brotherhood’s patriarchal attitude to gender roles and family structures, and had little to do with the reality of the Egyptian economy, where women make up a large proportion of the labour force and are found in all sectors of public life.
So first the military and then the Muslim Brotherhood undermined women post-revolution. This triggered a wave of anger. Many of the issues the Reuters poll refers to, such as female genital mutilation and sexual harassment, are not new. But Egyptian women – as with women in other Arab countries after the Arab spring – are more determined than ever to confront these challenges. If they stayed silent about sexual harassment in the past, today they are writing testimonials on Facebook or creating public campaigns to confront it.
Furthermore, women today are no longer willing to see themselves as simply women’s rights activists; they are going beyond gender or class to demand citizenship rights. This is part of a progressive discussion that was triggered in post-revolutionary Egypt and is strengthened by young people, who make up about 60% of the Arab population. The impact of impassioned, youthful voices has been seen in Saudi Arabia, too – which is ranked third worst among Arab nations. (The comparison between Egypt and Saudi Arabia is unfair, however, as the two cultures are very different, making it difficult to evaluate both countries on similar standards.)…”
White Feminist Fatigue Syndrome – Brenna Bhandar and Denies Ferreira da Silva at Critical Legal Thinking
“…Writing from the early 1970s onwards, these scholars and activists have systematically engaged a feminist critique of not only state capitalism, but of a globalised capitalism rooted in colonial legacies. These feminisms have not prioritised “cultural sexism” over economic redistribution. The literature is vast, the examples myriad, and thus, it’s all the more tiring when White feminists speak of second-wave feminism as if it were the only “feminism” and use the pronoun “we” when lamenting the failures of their struggles. Let us just say there is no such thing as a “feminism” as the subject of any sentence that designates the sole position for the critic of patriarchy. For such position has been fractured ever since Sojourner Truth said “Ain’t I a woman too?” There is though a feminist subject-position, the one Fraser is lamenting, which has sat very comfortably in the seat of the self-determined, emancipated subject. That position, of course, is that which she identifies as a contributor to neoliberalism. But that is no surprise, for both her feminism and neoliberalism share the same liberal core that Black and Third World feminists have identified and exposed since very early in the trajectory of feminisms.
The work of A.Y. Davis, Audre Lorde, Himani Bannerji, Avtar Brah, Selma James, Maria Mies, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Silvia Federici, Dorothy Roberts and scores of others, have shattered the limited and exclusionary nature of the conceptual frameworks developed by White feminists in the English speaking world. These scholars and activists have created frameworks of analysis that simultaneously surmount a challenge to and provide a dramatic corrective to both Black Marxist and anti-colonial theory that failed fundamentally to theorise gender and sexuality, and Marxist and socialist feminist thought that continues to fail, in many ways, to account for race, histories of colonisation, and the structural inequities between the so-called developed and developing nation states. And yes, Mies, Federici, and James are white, but Black and Third World Marxist feminisms aspire to political solidarity across the colour line.
The scholars we speak of have consistently developed critiques of capitalist forms of property, exchange, paid and unpaid labour, along with culturally embedded and structural forms of patriarchal violence. Let’s take the example of rape and violence against women. In the path-breakingWomen Race and Class, A.Y. Davis argued forcefully that many of the most contemporary and pressing political struggles facing black women are rooted in the particular types of oppression suffered under slavery. Rape and sexual violence are faced by women of all classes, races and sexualities, as Davis noted, but have a different valence for black men and women. The myth of the black rapist and of the violent hypersexual black male caused scores of lynchings during the antebellum era in America. This persistent racist myth provides explanatory value for the contemporary overrepresentation of black men in prisons convicted of rape, and led to the reluctance on the part of African-American women to become involved in early feminist activism against rape that was focused on law enforcement and the judicial system (Davis, 1984). The expropriation of black labour rooted in the logics of slavery repeats itself in the expropriation of convict labour in the post-slavery era, and today, in the unfree labour endemic in the prison industrial complex. (Davis, 2005)…”
The right’s war on pregnant women – Katie McDonough at Salon
“…“The arguments being used to support the recriminalization of abortion not only have implications for the reproductive rights of women who want to continue their pregnancy to term,” Lynn Paltrow, executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, told Salon. “The impact will be — the impact has already been — to deny pregnant women their very personhood. What’s at stake is not just reproductive rights, but virtually every right we associate with constitutional personhood.”
The available data on punitive state actions against pregnant women more than bears this out.
According to research compiled by NAPW, between 1973 and 2005, there have been 413 documented cases in which a woman’s pregnancy was a necessary factor in criminal charges brought against her by the state. In these cases and the 200 others that have been documented since 2005, women have been deprived of due process, the right to legal counsel, freedom of movement and other basic constitutional protections simply because they were pregnant.
“What we found in our research is that most of these actions were not authorized by any state law, but based on prosecutors using post-Roe antiabortion regulation to argue that any reference to ‘child’ in a child endangerment statute should include fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses,” Paltrow said.
A recent New York Times story highlighted the case of Alicia Beltran, a pregnant woman in Wisconsin who was ordered by a judge to spend 78 days in a treatment facility or face incarceration because her doctor accused her of endangering her fetus through suspected drug use. Beltran, brought to the court in shackles, didn’t have a lawyer during the proceedings — but her fetus did.
Across the country, hundreds of women like Beltran have been arbitrarily detained and forced to undergo invasive medical treatments because they were alleged to have used even trace amounts of a controlled substance. And like Beltran, many are low-income women who don’t have the financial resources or access to healthcare necessary to get treatment. It bears mentioning, then, that Beltran’s home state of Wisconsin is one of several to reject the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, provisions of which would make treatment more accessible to women who are currently left with little choice but to go without such care…”
Mannequins Give Shape to a Venezuelan Fantasy – William Neuman at The New York Times
“…“I have lots of clients that come here and say, ‘I want to look like that mannequin,’ ” Ms. Molina said. “I tell them, ‘O.K., then get an operation.’ ”
As in many countries, there are dangers to the obsession. Over the last two years, the local news media has reported several cases in which women died after receiving faulty injections meant to firm up their buttocks, often in unlicensed clinics.
The jump in sales provided by the large-busted mannequins allowed Ms. Corro and Mr. Álvarez to build a new workshop this year, where they are made by hand in a surprisingly low-tech process.
Dozens of partly finished mannequins stood in neat rows, like silent robots with overblown chests, taking the exaggerated female aesthetic that predominates here and pushing it to its furthest limits.
On a recent day, about a dozen people were at work. Some applied a thin coating of a brown pasty resin and fiberglass strips inside molds, left it to dry and then pried out the artificial torsos, arms, and the fronts and backs of plastic bodies. Others glued the mannequin parts together, spray-painted them or set finished mannequins ready for delivery in the back of a pickup truck, with the words “Jesus is my peace” written in large letters on the windshield.
Yucca and corn grew in small farm patches nearby. From a house across the street, the face of Mr. Chávez peered out from a poster left over from last year’s election. It seemed to peep over the wall at the inflated female forms inside the workshop.
Ms. Corro, the co-owner, explained the changes in the mannequins over just a few years: bigger breasts, bigger buttocks, svelte waists. Until recently, “the mannequins were natural, just like the women were natural,” she said. “The transformation has been both of the woman and of the mannequin.”…”
From the Facebook Page of One Million Vaginas