reproductive rights

Join the Fight for Reproductive Justice!

Like many of you, I am enraged and overwhelmed by the recent abortion bans. The politicians who have proposed and passed these bills are certainly not pro-life; if they were, they would instead be passing bills to increase access to prenatal care, to address the horrific fact that women of color in the United States are 2 to 6 times more likely to die from complications of pregnancy than white women, and to allot more money for social services for new parents, such as paid parental leave, affordable childcare, lactation support, and postpartum doulas.

In fact, these recent bills, with inclusions like limiting birth control options and mandating scientifically impossible surgeries, aren’t even focused on ending abortion. If that were the true motive here, we would instead be seeing legislation that addresses the root cause of abortion: unwanted pregnancy. But addressing this root cause would require acknowledging the fact that pregnancy happens only when a man’s semen is ejaculated into a woman’s body. Women can’t get pregnant from their own orgasms. Women can’t even get pregnant from having intercourse with men. Women can only get pregnant from men ejaculating inside of them. But how dare I suggest the passing of any kind of law that would regulate a penis?

So no, the intention is not to support life nor end abortion. The intention – which is being shouted loudly and clearly and with pride – is to control women, especially women of color, and to overturn Roe v Wade. It feels like a war has been waged on us.

kyhealthjusticeBut now is not the time to give in to anxiety and hopelessness. There are fierce people on the ground across these key states taking huge risks to fight back and do the work. We must support them. Here are some organizations and clinics to consider donating to or volunteering for:

  • NARAL – nationwide but heavily involved in GA, OH, and AL
  • Planned Parenthood – providing essential health services to women at low costs across the country, plus here’s a link to their “Get Involved” page which recommends other great actions to take
  • NYAAF – based in NY but helps women across the US find access to providers
  • National Network of Abortion Funds – nationwide, provides funding for abortions and transportation to offices and clinics
  • Women’s Health West Virginia – one of the few, maybe the only, women’s clinic in WV that provides abortion services
  • KY Health Justice Network – developed by women and people of color, providing support, education and outreach to Kentuckians to build reproductive justice, and includes services geared towards transpeople
  • Arc Southeast – provides support (financial assistance, lodging, travel) to those in need of reproductive care of all types, in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee

Another great way to fight back is to support progressive women running for office in the middle and southern states. You can donate and volunteer for campaigns even from the other side of the world. Here are some names to keep up with as they run for reelection or office for the first time:

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  • Stacey Abrams (GA; pictured) – narrowly (and suspiciously) lost the election for GA governor, she’s amazing and definitely one to follow, the best way to keep up with her right now is on Twitter
  • Kelsey Coots (KY) – ran for KY State Auditor but lost the primary, we are now awaiting her next move
  • Lauren Underwood (IL) – recently elected to US House of Reps, let’s keep her there
  • Amy McGrath (KY) – not running right now but narrowly lost in 2018 and is expected to run for something in 2020 (maybe a McConnell opponent??)
  • Brigid Kelly (OH) – current representative in Ohio’s state house, let’s keep her there

Also stay tuned to Emily’s List, a great organization working to get pro-choice, Democratic women into offices across the country.

While there is plenty of work to do, please remember to take care of yourself. For many of us, this war on women is frightening and triggering. But we have to be in it for the long haul, through the 2020 election and beyond, which means pacing ourselves and practicing self care every step along the way.

If reading the news feels like too much, don’t read it. Instead, if you’re financially able, consider setting up a monthly donation to one of the above organizations so that you can contribute regularly to the fight without stressing yourself out. And if you need to check out for a day, a week, a month, do it. But please, come back ready.

 

Photo Credits:
1. Reproductive Justice, taken from Reflections Journal
2. KY Health Justice Network logo
3. Stacey Abrams, by Audra Melton

Huge Thanks for Mutha-ing Up Last Night at Sidewalk!

What an amazing event! Many thanks to our powerhouse performers (Samantha BarrowEmily FlakeLauren WeinsteinJade Sanchez-VenturaWhitney TaylorJessica Phillips Lorenz, and Elizabeth Isadora Gold), Sidewalk Cafe, Meg Lemke of Mutha Magazine, and all of YOU for supporting Planned Parenthood, women’s rights, and the literary arts. We raised over $600! Hell yeah! I’m thrilled to be part of such a talented and inspiring community. We are strong and will only get stronger.

Rag Order

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Let me get this straight. A group of male politicians can sit around an office and talk about uteri all day, then go on national television and tell me what I can and can’t do with my own uterus, but I’m not supposed to talk about my period in public?

Um… no.

To all you men out there who continue to treat periods like some hush-hush taboo topic, I’m gonna give you some facts. Women bleed! Out of our vaginas! Every month for days! And we’re so badass that despite the cramps, bloating, backaches, fatigue, mood swings ,and dozens of other symptoms that accompany this blood, we also continue to do everything else our daily lives require out of us. This is an amazing feat. We should be celebrated!

But instead of supporting us and listening to us and cheering us on, you’re grossed out and therefore we’re supposed to pretend like none of this is happening?

Are you fucking kidding me??

We’re not talking about gallons of blood squirting out of somebody’s severed head in a Quentin Tarantino movie here. And even if we were, DEAL WITH IT. You are a grown man! Do not tell me how much you love playing war video games or watching zombie movies but then can’t deal with me talking about my period.

But in all seriousness, this isn’t about me and my frustration. The worldwide silencing of women is a real problem. Yes, that’s right, this ridiculous taboo surrounding periods equals the silencing of women. And this hurts all of us.

29081016991_b68b082ab3_oExample number one: There are lots of amazing products out there, like Thinx undies (an amazing company, by the way), the DivaCup (pictured left), Instead Softcup, and even regular tampons and pads, that do an excellent job of keeping everything nice and contained. But most women don’t know about all of these products. Why? Because we’re not allowed to talk about them! And even if they do know about them, so many women across the world simply can’t afford them. Journalist Jessica Kane did some math in a 2015 Huffington Post article and, based on research from the American Pregnancy Association, concluded that “the average woman endures some 456 total periods over 38 years, or roughly 2,280 days with her period — 6.25 years of her life.” Using these numbers, Kane calculated how much a typical woman spends on tampons throughout her lifetime of periods and came up with the figure of $1,773. Many women (myself included) also have to wear panty liners with tampons, so using the same figures, that totals another $443, equaling over $2,000 altogether. And this doesn’t include any painkillers, hot water bottles, or birth control.

Many women just don’t have that kind of money. So, let’s role-play for a minute. Imagine that you’re homeless, hungry, and you just got your period. You’re bleeding into a pair of underwear that you know you won’t be able to wash anytime soon, your cramps hurt like hell, you’re starving and craving pizza because yes, hormones really do cause food cravings, and then a stranger gives you $5. Your choices are: 1. Eat but then sit in a puddle of blood while your cramps grow so severe that you can barely walk, 2. Buy tampons but then starve while your cramps grow so severe that you can barely walk, or 3. Buy Advil, sit in a puddle of blood while you wait for it to kick in, and then probably vomit because you can’t take painkillers on an empty stomach. This is a major global issue, but we’re not talking about how to help these women because we aren’t even talking about periods.

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Example number two: Because most men don’t want to hear about periods or see any sign of their existence at all, millions of girls across the world drop out of school every year because they’re afraid of having an accident in front of their male peers. MILLIONS. Can you imagine what this world would be like if millions more people finished high school? All the inventions, new businesses, and scientific discoveries we would see! All the children who would have enough food because both of their parents could work and earn money! All the hospitals that would have more doctors! All the schools that would have more teachers! All the countries that would have more female politicians and thus a more balanced and representative government!

Example number three: Not talking about periods keeps men and women separated in a way that hurts us as individuals and hurts our society. Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui recently said in an interview after losing an Olympic relay race, “It’s because my period came yesterday, so I felt particularly tired… First off, she’s a hero because she broke some serious societal barriers by saying this. Secondly, multiple sources reported that many Chinese people, men and women alike, were shocked to learn that women can swim on their periods, much less that their periods could affect their performance.

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Wait, back up. THIS MEANS THEY DIDN’T KNOW TAMPONS EXISTED. If people can’t talk about tampons, then how can we have serious conversations about birth control, sex education, pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion? How can we come together and fight for women’s rights if women don’t have the right to talk about our everyday experiences? If we’re ever going to truly be equal, then we have to talk openly about one another’s lives, and we have to actually listen to each other. This silencing is a very clear form of oppression, and all of us can do something to change it.

So ladies, don’t let people shame you because you bleed every month. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re dirty or gross. If it weren’t for periods, none of us would exist. Talk about your experiences, educate men about what is actually going on inside of you (you’d be shocked by how many people are clueless about the female anatomy), serve as a role model for other ladies, and ignore anyone who tells you otherwise.

And men, instead of acting like you’re going to vomit at the mention of a pad, use that moment to remind yourself that we women have to go through this and you don’t. Be grateful.

 

Photo credits:

1. “Menstruation Machine, by Sputniko!” by GlobalX / Creative Commons License
2. “Menstruationtasse” / Creative Commons License
3. “Introducing the Menstrual Cup to women’s groups in Meru” by SuSanA Secretariat / Creative Commons License
4. “Fu Yuanhui – Rio Olympic Games – 8/18/16” by Boaz Guttman / Creative Commons License

MUTHA UP for Repro Rights – A Reading/Fundraiser for Planned Parenthood TONIGHT , Fri, Feb 3rd @ Sidewalk Cafe!

Announcing The Brooklyn Players Reading Society’s next event – MUTHA UP for Reproductive Rights, a live reading/fundraiser for Planned Parenthood NYC Action Fund, co-produced with MUTHA Magazine at Sidewalk Cafe in New York City on Friday, February 3rd!

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MUTHA UP for Reproductive Rights
Door charge is $15 (and up!) suggested donation, and here’s your opportunity to kick off that recurring donation you’ve been meaning to do with a literary party. Make your donation right now by clicking here.

Stories and poems and comics – projected on screen for live reading! – by MUTHA Magazine contributors, all about keeping it real with kids and keeping every person’s reproductive rights safe in this unprecedented time in our country. All proceeds go to Planned Parenthood NYC Action Fund!

Line-up on the mic includes: Samantha BarrowEmily Flake, Lauren Weinstein, Jade Sanchez-Ventura, Whit Taylor, Jessica Phillips Lorenz, Elizabeth Isadora Gold, myself, and other special guests. MC’d by MUTHA Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Meg Lemke.

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THE DETAILS:
$15 (and up!) suggested donation for door charge, and here’s your opportunity to kick off that recurring donation you’ve been meaning to do with a literary party.Make your donation right now by clicking here.

WHEN/WHERE:
Friday, February 3rd, 2017
Showtime: 6-9pm
Sidewalk Cafe, 94 Avenue A (Corner of Avenue A and 6th Street)
Food, Drinks, Friends, Stories, Comics, Activism!

Sidewalk has a two-purchase minimum, but this can be satisfied with tea/drinks/etc, and they have super delicious food.

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