Be Angry. Be gentle. Fight with Love!

I had the privilege of attending the #WeAreBrave: Women of Color and Reproductive Justice Workshop at the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference (#NYFLC2014) today.

Women of color face disparities that are unique and different from those of other members of the women’s movement. This discussion explored the specific ways in which approaching the intersection of being a woman of color and working in the field of reproductive justice.

Main points addressed:
– Accepting anger that results from injustice as valid.
– Being gentle with those who may not be as inclusive so that they will be more receptive to changing.
– Fighting as necessary for progress.
– Loving as vital, as one of the most important ways to approach those who have room to grow in our movement (everyone).

Moderator:
Edwith Theogene

Panelists:
Samantha Griffin
Shivana Jorawar
Donya Nasser
Amber Phillips

When we talk about RJ, why do we need to focus on the intersection of being a Woman of Color and Reproductive Justice?

Samantha have a brief history of the terms “reproductive justice” and “intersectionality” and the fact that they were created by women of color who began claiming their space in the women’s movement. She made t clear that we must not “allow ourselves to be an afterthought of solidarity”. Amber echoed her thoughts when she said: “I can’t hae a conversation about feminism, without addressing I’m a black woman, or that I grew up poor, because we don’t exist in boxes.” Shivana adds another dimension to the conversation from her perspective as a program director at the National Asian Pacific American Women Forum by discussing the intersection of being a model minority and being excluded from conversations about women of color. Evexplains that “the model minority myth and stereotype and the percieve smallness of our community makes us invisible” and that that makes it vital to discuss our community’s involvement in the reproductive justice movement.

What does bravery in our movement mean?

“Flying in the face of stereotypes” and taking your place [in the conversation of reproductive justice]. -Shivana

“Standing up and saying ‘I matter’ whether I wear a hijab or not” [on standing up for middle eastern women and Muslim women in the face of patriarchal and sometimes, islamophobic people]

“Bravery is talking about things that people are tired of hearing”, it’s important to remember that “the issues for the least of us, whether it’s black women or trans women, is that we can’t start at the basic level of rights”. With these words, Samantha emphasized being brave, ambitious and persistent in our activism.

Advice for Campus Activists

“Find allies” and always remember “our struggles are different, but we all struggle” was the advice of Danya, a student at St. John’s University.

Amber Phillips, who works for Advocates for Youth had an array of advice:
“Apply to leadership development programs”
“Make yor space. Say what needs to be said, even if it’s unpopular.”
“Critique what you love, be critical of yourself, make sure to be inclusive and work on your inclusivity.”

Again, Samantha inspired ambitious activism with the following words:
“Push for what you think you deserve”
“it’s okay to be an agitator”
“Believe you can be the next thig, and bring it!”

Shivana emphasized the need to “call people in, not out” which changed the conversation in the room. Her point about making your feminism inclusive, was that in order to create solidarity among sister in the struggle and all others involved in the reproductive justice movement, was to call people to the cause not call people out for their stigmatizing words and behaviors.

Those words led to a discussion about not assuming people will or will not be supportive of your cause, and the need to acknowledge our allies within the movement, our religious allies, our male allies, allies across generational gaps.

WIN as the Ultimate Sisterhood

Are you a college student? Do you live in DC? Are you Pro Choice? Are you a woman-identifying person who wants to meet like-minded women to befriend and have as mentors?

The Women’s Information Network might be for you!

To find out more about how a Pro-Choice, Democratic, Network for professional women that’s based in DC can help you, as a college student check out my guest post on The WINsight:

Member Submission: WIN the Ultimate Sisterhood

#ratifyERA The Way of the future!

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Today, at 3pm, in the Dirksen Senate Building, a congressional hearing about the Equal Rights Act was hosted by Senator Ben Cardin.

Senator Ben Cardin wrote the S.J 15 amendment which would allow a time extension that would prevent the ERA from expiring. He is a strong advocate for the passing of the ERA. After explaining that 35 of the 38 necessary state-ratifications necessary to pass the ERA, he enthusiastically mentioned that we CAN get it done! When discussing the amendment, he reinforced the fact that this is a human-rights issue, not a “partisan” or a “women’s” issue. He went on to declare: This issue is important to the country and to every family in this country”. As a man who spoke so fervently about the need for the passing of the ERA, it became obvious that when he said “I became a senator to be held accountable for his values” he meant it!

After Senator Cardin’s words, several women including but not limited to: Roberta W. Francis (ERA Task Force Co-Chair), Bettina Hager (ERA Task Force Co-Chair), Elise Gould, Eleanor Smeal (President and Founder of the Feminist Majority Foundation and Publisher of Ms. Magazine)

Why pass the ERA?
The ERA would have tangible impacts on the lives of women:
– Equal pay would ensure more economic stability for women, especially women of color who are disproportionately affected
– If the ACA were to be repealed, women would be charged disproportionately for healthcare

Ratification in the states:
“Women Matter Use Your Power”, a group of women who persistently stayed in Virginia’s Capitol really did impact how the ERA was perceived by the congress people on both sides of the aisle. This anecdote serves as testimony of the impact women can and should have on the passing of the ERA. Everyone needs to stand alongside states such as Arizona, Missouri, Florida, Illinois and Virginia who have brought up the ratification of the ERA in their state legislatures.

Eleanor Smeal:
The President and Founder of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and publisher of Ms. Magazine spoke of her personal involvement in the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment. She warned against all of the “monied interests” that profit from systems in which women are paid less for the same work, and charged more for the same services. As a young, Latina, feminist, I got goosebumps when Eleanor Smeal stated “OUR movement [the feminist movement] is growing” “they [critics of the ERA and feminists] know that the fight for equal rights is not only immensely popular, but it is the way of the future!”

Do you want to get involved or follow up with these issues on twitter?
Tweet your congress people!
Use the hashtags: #ratifyERA #ERAnow and #SJ15 to draw attention to the need for the extending of the time limit for the ERA and the need for the passing of the amendment!>

Do you want to help promote the National Women’s History Museum?

Women are not represented as equal with men in most museums. At times, history has forgotten to remember “HERstory”. Women have contributed to American progress, and the National Women’s History Museum is currently trying to build awareness of the contributions women have made to American History. The National Women’s History Museum is an online museum that promotes education, research and scholarship that aims at honoring the accomplishments of women throughout history.

The museum is currently fighting to pass H.R. 863/ S. 398,a bill in Congress, that would lead to the formation of a commission that would work towards finding the museum a home on or near the National Mall.

Click Here In order to support H.R. 863/ S. 398 and he building of the National Women’s History Museum!

Click Here if you haven’t seen the National Women’s History Museum’s website!

Let’s Talk About Sex Baby!

Let’s talk about sex, baby!
But really, let’s talk about it.

As a freshman in college it’s no surprise that I hear a lot of my friends talking about their sex lives but many of them are still uncomfortable talking to their doctors or parents about birth control- let alone asking their partners to get tested for STIs or starting the “what happens if I get pregnant” conversation with their partners. These conversations are extremely important parts of maintaining ones physical and emotional health while sexually active.

Conversations that should happen:

1. The you should go to the gyno conversation:

Personally, I know a lot of my friends have expressed concern about going to the gynecologist, a doctor that specializes in the female reproductive system. As a general rule, people with female genitalia, who participate in sexual behavior (those who don’t should go as well, but it is of particular importance once an individual is participating in sexual behaviors), should make an appointment with a gynecologist. Why should you go to a gyno? They can teach you how to care of your body and answer any questions you may have regarding your reproductive system. Ask your friends if they’ve gone to the gyno, discuss your experiences and fear and GO!

Verbalize your experiences to try and make the subject less taboo! Still worried? Amy Shaw and Shannon Ridgeway wrote the article “Gyno Visit 101: What Happens When the Doctor Goes Down There?” for Everyday Feminism that explains what can be expected during a visit to the Gyno.

2. The “are we ready to have sex?” conversation:

Yes, it needs to be explicitly discussed. Just because either of you have had sex before doesn’t mean you are ready to have intercourse with each other. A partners willingness to have sex should never be assumed. Not only should sex be discussed in the context of your relationship, whatever it may be, but what it means to each partner should be discussed.

3. The birth control conversation (if pregnancy is a possibility):

This is when you discuss, as partners, your readiness to or desire not to have a baby. At this point the use of or lack of birth control methods comes into play. It is important to explore different birth control possibilities to figure out what works best for you and your partner(s).

For more info on the following forms, follow the links to PlannedParenthood.org

Disclaimer: There are many more forms of birth control, but the only 100% effective form is abstinence, so make sure you make informed, thoughtful risks!

Still curious about what form of birth control is right for you? Use Planned Parenthood’s “My Method” tool to get suggestions that are tailored to your lifestyle and preferences.

4.. The getting tested conversation:

Before having intercourse with a new partner it’s extremely important that if you have any doubt about whether you or a partner has a sexually transmitted infection, that you GET TESTED. Suggesting both parties get tested is usually more effective.

Want to know what services are available in the DC area? Visit this DC, Department of Health page!

5. The “what if we get pregnant?” conversation:

If you and your partner are capable of conceiving as ready to have a baby, discuss the next couple of steps you will take in case you get pregnant. Who will take care of the baby? Will a partner take off to be with the baby? Which partner? Will you breast feed, etc. If you and your partner are capable of conceiving and don’t want a baby… have this conversation.
Discuss your feelings about keeping the baby. Would adoption or abortion be options? Can you afford to give birth (INSERT COST)? Can you afford the legal processes required to give up a child for adoption? Do you have access to/ can you afford an abortion?

Let’s talk about sex baby!
The point of having these conversations is not to scare you or your partner out of having intercourse. It’s important to discuss safe sex and have clear expectations of each other to minimize any pre/post intercourse worry and maximize the trust between you and your partner.

Introducing: Sextivism in the City

As a young, feminist, pro-choice, student in DC I will be exploring conversations that relate to sexual activism on this blog. DC is a place where activism abounds, this will be a place to highlight everyday conversations on sexual activism, events relating to raising sexual health awareness or even the intersection of feminism and sexuality. I will explore these topics as they are inspired by this new chapter in my life; the chapter in which I take on DC as a college girl!