This article was co-written by Adriana Maestas and Maegan E. Ortiz.
A basic principle of American democracy is representation. Our country is built on the premise that an elected government represents the way its citizens look, think, and act. It’s an important principle. “When people have the personal experience, when they look like you and talk like you, they are more likely to represent you. They have same cultural experiences or have faced the same situation,” says Jessica González-Rojas, Executive Director National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.
But we all know it doesn’t actually work this way.
In 1948, in a seventh grade classroom in Eugene, Oregon, a teacher dimmed the lights and flipped on 16mm projector. A film called Human Growth began to play and for 20 minutes, a fictional teacher explained the human reproductive system while animated sperm and ovum flickered onscreen.
When it burst onto the small screen last summer, Orange is the New Black quickly catapulted women's incarceration into pop culture consciousness, becoming most-watched of Netflix's series of 2013. As media has been buzzing about the all-at-once release of season two this Friday—speculating on plot development and characters—the real-life Piper Kerman has also been busy.
It makes sense for public health departments to invest in distributing free condoms. But why would a city spend a million dollars a giving out free condoms—then allow police to use those very same condoms as evidence of prostitution? This may sound ridiculous, but this has been the reality in New York City.
Lilly Ledbetter is an icon of the fight for equal pay. In person, she’s a very polite and friendly woman whose Alabama drawl draws audiences through complicated subjects like the politics behind the Paycheck Fairness Act and the realities of gender discrimination on the job.
A Texas protester rallies against the state's recent abortion rights restrictions. Photo by Mirsasha.
Is it possible to advocate for fetuses and babies without advocating for pregnant women?
Such a question might not even have been possible a generation ago. But over the past few decades a trend to treat fetuses as if they exist separately from pregnant women has reverberated throughout our culture and legal system, resulting in all sorts of illogical, surprising, and decidedly unfeminist positions.
A Texan succinctly protests the state's restrictive anti-abortion access laws last year. Photo by Mirsasha (Creative Commons).
Texas has been in the national spotlight for its restrictive new laws that have closed two-thirds of the state’s abortion clinics. But another insidious way the state is trying to control women’s reproductive rights has gotten less attention: local prosecutors locking up pregnant women who test positive for drugs.
American prisons have a dark history of forced sterilization: Louisville residents protested forced sterilizations in 1971. Photo from the Southern Conference Educational Fund via the History News Network.