I've never been attracted to books set in a world in which women have been stripped of their reproductive rights and function mainly as breeders. After all, I live in a very real society in which women's rights over their bodies are constantlybeingeroded. The right to family seems to not apply to those who are poor, of color and/or incarcerated. So why escape to a world in which all of these injustices have been magnified?
The cover of Dan Well's Partialsdepicts the back of a dark-haired girl of ambivalent skin color looking out over a wasteland. Nothing in the summary indicates that there are people of color in the book. To the jaded reader, Partials might very well be yet another book in which people of color have not survived the apocalypse. I wouldn't have picked up Partials for this blog series on race and gender in dystopia had my twelve-year-old daughter not read and recommended it, letting me know that the main character is <gasp> a girl of color. And she's not the only girl of color who's survived dystopia.
But recently, rhetoric has taken the issue even further. Current public education campaigns imply that we have a civic duty to tell women when they should get pregnant and reinforce the idea that pregnant women's bodies are public property.
Last night's episode of Call the Midwife veered away from the familiar topics of abortion and birth control and provided a reminder of something that often gets lost in policy discussions about reproductive health: In so many ways, these issues have to do with love. Reproductive health is about sexual relationships, the emotional turmoil of motherhood, and the promise of the future. It's about the relationship women have to themselves, their spouses, and their families of origin. It has to do with economics, education, gender norms, and heteronormativity.
We know how the current Republicans party feels about abortion and free contraception. But what about the myriad of other reproductive health issues? Here are three questions for Republicans about women's health that don't have to do with preventing or terminating pregnancy.
If the "Women's Health and Safety Act," which defines pregnancy as beginning two weeks prior to conception, didn't freak you out four months ago, maybe this news will: On Thursday, Arizona Governor (and on-the-record Douchebag) Jan Brewer signed the bill. Stay douche-y, Brewer!
When I talk about women's choices regarding children, pregnancy, and childbirth, someone usually asks about the men. Last month, I interviewed half a dozen men of varying ages, backgrounds, and life experience about why they never want to have children. A number of them had considered getting (or had already gotten) a vasectomy. The number one reason? It's easier (from a surgical/recovery standpoint) and cheaper than any option women have.
A fairly obvious question that I haven't addressed during this series is whether women have the right to be sterile. It seems like sort of an obvious one (if not with just one obvious answer) until you consider how we frame other discussions about women's health.
Do you think women know that non-invasive procedures like Essure are an option? Do you think childfree women have the same trouble securing any form of permanent birth control, no matter which type they want? Have you encountered resistance from medical professionals about sterilization options?