Monday, January 22, 2007

Blog for Choice

Driving home today, I was thinking, "geez, I should really blog for choice and be part of the whole thing, but I've written so much about this issue over the last year that I'm kind of out of ideas."

And so I picked up Bean from daycare and took him with me to a Roe v. Wade celebratory dinner presentation - a get-together that we had to leave shortly thereafter because Bean wouldn't stop crawling under the table and through the folding chairs, kneeling a couple of times on the edge of the tablecloth, nearly pulling the whole thing off along with the fancy goblets of ice water.

So...yeah. I took my child, whom I chose to have, to a pro-Choice celebration, and then we didn't have the option of staying because 5-year-olds have trouble sitting still at these things. When Choices Collide.

But I'm so very glad and grateful that having him was a choice - that I got to choose to have a baby, and that I got support to have him, and that I had access to medical care when things looked dicey. And that it was not a pregnancy that I was forced into, or one that I didn't really want, or one that was unduly threatened by environmental toxins (as are those of so many women of color due to environmental racism), and that I didn't spend my pregnancy dodging gunfire and landmines (as do so many women around the world) and that, after the miscarriage and all the scary stuff, Bean made it safely into the world.

Here's to real options for all women. ~clink~

20 comments:

Danielle said...

I know you disagree with me, but it just seems like SUCH an oxy-moron to go to a dinner like that with a child you chose to have- and get to be thankful that you chose to have him. Lol, whatever. There were probably many women there looking at you in disgust.

plain(s)feminist said...

No, the folks there were all men and women I know and have worked with. Many knew me when I was pregnant and they are always happy to meet at coo at my son. I'm really not getting what the problem is here. It's a pro-CHOICE gathering. That means we think women should be able to determine these things for themselves. The local director of Planned Parenthood has four children, fer cryin' out loud.

Trin said...

Danielle,

Being pro-choice means being pro ANY choice.

There are many women who are told they are being irresponsible for gestating.

For example: this article on a pregnant WWD

And for another example that just suddenly appeared in a discussion on a friend's blog:

"Having kids with Down's Syndrome is child abuse"

There are also similar issues faced by women of color, and a very creepy racist "sterilize the poor and brown" history even of the pro-choice movement. For example:

one
two

(That second one is long -- look for "planned parenthood" in the text.)

Kelsey said...

Most of the pro-choice events I go to are very family friendly (and I often go with my family -- my mom, my sister, my in-laws). That's part of fun: getting together with friends around an issue you all believe in.

Maybe it's just this area, but I actually know very few pro-choice women over a certain age who DON'T have children. The leaders of the two pro-choice groups in SD have 9 kids between them!

KeepAskingWhy said...

I agree, being pro-choice is about supporting any choice. In North Dakota, our Planned Parenthood rep is very, very pregnant right now. She did a great job on Monday testifying on all the anti-choice bills we now have pending.

And no, our legislators apparently learned nothing from South Dakota.

Love your site...

Danielle said...

I disagree 100%. I do not believe that pro-choice is "pro-any choice". No hard feelings, though, I know none of you have any clue what I have been through.

Danielle said...

Trin- I have heard of the history of the pro "choice" movement before, and how it was to prevent poor and minority women from having children. There is a lot of hidden racism in feminism, but that's a whole nother can of worms. Margaret Sanger herself was a huge racist, part of a movement to "purify" humanity. I stopped researching the whole thing a long time ago, because it all just disgusted me so much.

Trin said...

"None of us have any clue what you have been through?"

Why in the world do you bring up something as ridiculous as that pro-choice women can't be around kids and then suddenly start with "But I've BEEN THROUGH something!"

So have we.

plain(s)feminist said...

I disagree 100%. I do not believe that pro-choice is "pro-any choice".

Well, put it this way - that's what it means to many of us. That doesn't mean that every single person who calls herself pro-choice will agree, and obviously you've come up against those who don't. But the actions of the movement as a whole have focused on access to and education about sex ed, birth control, and abortion. It has also expanded to focus on issues like prenatal care, poverty, and other issues that affect women's ability to make choices about their reproduction.

I will say that I've been involved in the pro-choice movement in one way or another for twenty years, and in different parts of the country, and I've never encountered a resistance to pregnant women being part of the movement. In fact, women have often brought their kids and husbands to protests (I don't b/c I fear for Bean's safety from the "pro-life" folks).

No hard feelings, though, I know none of you have any clue what I have been through.
No, I really don't. How can I? You haven't told me. You don't have to if you don't want to - I'm not prying. But I don't think *I* did anything to you, yet you seem to be confusing me with other pro-choice feminists who treated you badly and who apparently think quite differently than do I and than do some others here.

There is a lot of hidden racism in feminism, but that's a whole nother can of worms.
Sure - that's why I really like folks like Barbara Smith, Gloria Anzaldua, Andrea Smith, bell hooks - they center race along with gender and other cateogories of difference/oppression in their feminist theory.

plain(s)feminist said...

keepaskingwhy - thanks! And I'm sorry to hear North Dakota is in for it - I haven't been following the bills in other states (I took a break after the election), but now I'll have to get informed.

Danielle said...

I know I didn't *tell* you, I was just pointing out that you don't know, which is why a lot of you seem to think that pro-choice actually means okay with choosing to have a child.
"Not all feminists are like that" doesn't cut it for me. It is not that "i've just come accross" the ones who are what I describe. The feminists movement, in my opinion, started off forcing women to live a certain kind of life (not married, no kids, career only), and only became "about choice" quite recently. Why do you think those "furies" forced those women to give up their child? Where was the "choice" there?
I do understand you not feeling your child is safe when you take him to rallies, because of "pro-lifers". I feel the same way- I do not feel my child (or my husband or myself for that matter) are safe because of some of the feminists in my family who disapprove of my choice. It isn't just conservatives who are violent and hateful. They aren't the only ones who want to force a certain way of life on people. Feminists do, too. They just cover it up with the word, "choice".

Trin said...

"why a lot of you seem to think that pro-choice actually means okay with choosing to have a child."

What?

I'm totally confused now. Are you saying that you're not pro-choice and that other people who are were not okay with your having children? Because I read your post initially as saying that choosing to gestate is disgusting and insulting to you as a pro-choice woman, and that's why I was angry.

I don't think anyone should claim that some women lack the right to gestate, which is what I thought you were saying you believed when you said "pro-choice is not pro- any choice".

But now it looks like you are saying that people around you did not support your choice, not that you believe that other women should be forced not to gestate.

As far as some women thinking abortion is a better choice than carrying to term, if that's what you meant I totally agree with you. Heck, if you look at my recent post on the "choice" issue I go on and on about women with disabilities and how they are pressured not to gestate, as well as how women carrying fetuses with disabilities are called cruel and abusive for choosing to carry to term.

I'm sorry I attacked you -- I thought you were saying that some women do not deserve to be mothers, and that made me see red.

plain(s)feminist said...

which is why a lot of you seem to think that pro-choice actually means okay with choosing to have a child.

We seem to have no common language to talk about this, do we?

Danielle said...

I consider myself *truly* pro-choice, that is, I support any choices a woman wants to make. Not only with reproductive choices, but with career choices, marriage, and so on. I don't believe that being truly pro-choice is very "feminist", either. I think that feminism fought against marriage and childrearing.
I have several feminists in my family who are against choices that are not really "feminist" choices to make, such as getting married and having children. I am currently expecting my first child, and have undergone a lot of harassment from older women in my family (aunts and godmother) regarding my pregnancy. (Threatening phone calls and letters, emails) I tried to stop their harassment by obtaining a restraining order against three of them, and recently found out that one of my aunts is taking me to court to have the restraining order dropped. So now, I have to sort of stand trial against their disapproval of my choices.
It seems like when feminists say, "It's all about choice", it's all lip service. They talk about "choices" on the surface, but when you get down to the serious business of it all, their disapproval of certain choices shows.

plain(s)feminist said...

Danielle,
First of all, it truly sucks that your family members are being so awful. Their behavior is not feminist, it is, as you point out, harassment. And if you are being threatened, then keep a record of all the correspondence and continue taking action.

Given your experiences, I can understand your perspective about those women, though you must have had some other, different experiences with the pro-choice movement and feminism, as well. For example, here you are now, on my blog, meeting pro-choice feminists who are nothing like those people. Those women in your family do not represent feminism. You can choose not to believe me and the twenty years I've spent participating in feminism and pro-choice activism, and you can choose to disregard what I'm telling you about *my* experiences and the people I know. But please don't tell me what my movement is about based on the actions of a bizarre few.

Danielle said...

Thanks, and I am keeping records of everything. Luckily, we have an internet based landline at home, so I was able to just go online and print out all incoming and outgoing calls. Plus, saved all letters and emails- everything in a folder ready to give to the judge.
It's not just the actions of a few that I have learned about feminism from. I started studying feminism on my own several years ago when they started coming down on me about not getting married or having children. I have read feminist theory and other feminist works for myself and seen a lot of contempt for these choices. And yes, I have met and talked to a lot of women who say, "But I consider myself a feminist and I am married" or, "I am a feminist and I am an at home mom." and I just can't help but think that they just don't know. What I have read regarding feminism called marriage slavery and prostitution. Choice didn't come until much, much later.
You should check out Linda Hirshman's new book.

plain(s)feminist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
plain(s)feminist said...

I deleted the above comment b/c I realized it referred to something I wrote but haven't posted. Danielle, the new post is relevant for your last comment. I'll put it up in a sec.

Trin said...

Danielle,

Wow, that's terrible.

My instinct is to say that that's not feminism or "pro-choice-ness" -- that that is cruel controlling people finding a justification in something some feminists said to hurt and control you.

But then I realize that, yes, feminists have said those things. "Utopian" visions (older, usually, from what I've encountered) of "feminist" worlds in which reproduction is divorced from the female body. Discussions of marriage and motherhood as "traps." Discussions of many women's dissatisfaction with staying at home that don't describe it in terms of robbing those women of choices they wanted so much as tbey describe staying at home as completely unfulfilling for anyone.

So yes, I see what you're saying. And yes, I've written my own posts over at my journal where I question the term "choice" for exactly some of the reasons you give for being leery of it yourself.

Because really, it's easy to find the particular camp of feminists whose solution to "that patriarchy problem" demeans and flattens you. I first started reading feminist theory because I'd heard about the sex wars and wanted to know why in the world "those feminist creeps" thought there was something wrong with me for finally accepting myself after years of thinking I was some sort of sick pervert who probably deserved to die. I was convinced for years I couldn't be a feminist, that I must be actively against feminism, because I just didn't believe Dworkin and MacKinnon!

I've discovered that feminism is generally a lot broader than some of the strange tiffs that have taken place within the movement. Bu it's true that those fights are deeply fraught and can be very hurtful, and it's understandable why some women are leery of the labels that some use in hurtful ways even if a lot of women use them in other ways.

plain(s)feminist said...

Thank you, Trin, that's what I wanted to say - feminism is a lot bigger than that. And there are many many pro-choice feminists who support you, Danielle.

And by the way: congratulations on your pregnancy! It's an exciting time.