Tag Archives: activism

OPINION: Why are the bodies of Black and Brown women still up for political debate?

By Johannah Coichy

This past month, Planned Parenthood, a reproductive health care service provider, formally announced its decision to forgo Title X funding. According to NPR, this decision was in response to the Trump Administration’s gag rule, which refuses to allot federal aid to organizations that provide abortion counseling. As a federal grant program whose sole purpose is to fund nationwide family planning and reproductive health care services, Title X gives roughly $260 million to reproductive healthcare clinics all over the US. One of the program’s main beneficiaries? You guessed it, Planned Parenthood.

While Planned Parenthood’s refusal to accept Title X funding grants them favorable publicity for being an organization that is unwavering in their advocacy for comprehensive abortion counseling as a necessary component to reproductive health care, their decision to refuse funding ultimately hurts the communities they so ardently claim to help: low-income Black and Brown women.

My issue with this debate is a rocky one: as a Black woman who is a staunch pro-choice feminist, I am forced to reconcile the fact that the United States has a painful history of monopolizing and politicizing Black bodies, particularly female ones. The overt defunding of Planned Parenthood via Title X is a race issue, as much as it is an issue of public health, and of gender.

In other words: it’s 2019, and my Black, female, body is still political real estate. 

I’m particularly frustrated that after already receiving disparate care as is, that Black and Brown women continue to suffer at the hands of lawmakers and corporate officials willing to barter and gamble with the health of those already underserved and underrepresented.

It has always been difficult to admit my frustration and dissonance surrounding this present issue of reproductive health care in America. I strongly believe that everyone regardless of socio-economic status, background and/or gender identity has a right to comprehensive reproductive health care, including but not limited to: the prescription of birth control, physical examinations, STD testing, and abortion procedures. I also admire Planned Parenthood as an inherently political institution, and their willingness to stand firm on their beliefs at any cost. PP’s diligence is admirable, but the cost (?) not so much.

While newly inaugurated Planned Parenthood president, Alexis McGill Johnson has made it clear that clinics will continue to operate as before, using fundraising and emergency funds to continue to serve patients, she has also publicly recognized that low-income, Black and Brown, particularly those in rural areas, will suffer the most as a result. Planned Parenthood patients can expect longer wait times, appointment delays, and having to travel long distances just to find care.

What’s worse is the intricate technicalities of both Title X policy and the demands of family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood. Title X has never, I repeat NEVER funded abortion procedures. And according to a 2013-14 annual report from Planned Parenthood, abortion services make up only 3% of the services they provide. The technicality is that Planned Parenthood at this point is advocating for the funding of abortion counseling, rather than the abortions themselves.

So let me ask you this:

Can Planned Parenthood justify the outright refusal of Title X funds on these numbers alone? In the same vein—is the fight against conservative legislators and the Trump Administration worth the long-term collateral of patients who in the meantime are facing significant impediments to the care they not only need, but deserve?

No. Right?

My conundrum is this:

Planned Parenthood as a political force? Bad ass.

Planned Parenthood as a progressive medical institution? Idk fam.

For me there has to be some sort of balance. And it seems as if Planned Parenthood has, very publicly, chosen the overarching politics over the patients themselves. Such has been done countless times throughout history, especially policy concerning Black and Brown individuals. As the legacy of our predominantly white, male political institutions seem to suggest, the U.S has a history of politicizing Black bodies, and overtly leaving marginalized groups out of the conversations that concern them most.

I’m no doctor, and I am no lawmaker, but I can see the impact of this decision, and I say enough is enough. And I while I currently have very wavering faith in our government and political institutions, I am calling on progressive agencies like Planned Parenthood to be intentional in their practice. Choose patients. Period.


Resources on Planned Parenthood, Title X, and what “Defunding” means

https://time.com/5655500/planned-parenthood-title-x-funding/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2019/08/19/planned-parenthood-withdraws-us-family-planning-funding/2055302001/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/08/12/for-planned-parenthood-abortion-stats-3-percent-and-94-percent-are-both-misleading/

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/19/health/planned-parenthood-title-x.html

 

Featured image by Simone Noronha for NBC News

Sexual Assault: A Global Issue Part 2

By Kelsie Merrick

In this election, sexual assault has grown to become a controversial topic with allegations coming from all sides. Whether it’s women saying Donald Trump has sexually assaulted them or Hillary Clinton has covered up rape cases. We’ve heard them all, and people and parties from both sides agree with these women or disagree with these women. However, it does not matter if you agree or disagree with any of these allegations because what we should all agree on is that this is an issue that needs to be fixed, not just in the United States but worldwide. The United Nations has been an avid supporter of reducing the violence against women for years. In 1993, the UN General Assembly created the “Declaration for the Elimination of Violence against Women” to provide a framework on how to act against this crisis. However, it’s been over 20 years since that declaration and “1 in 3 women still experience physical or sexual violence.” If that statistic doesn’t sicken you, just know “around 120 million girls worldwide, that’s 1 in 10, have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts” during their lives. The most common perpetrators of these sexual assaults are former husbands, partners or boyfriends.

We can talk about sexual assault all we want, but that won’t change anything. We need action.

 

What Can We Do To End This Violence?

Stand together in protest against our government until they implement better laws like in Argentina. Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) is a movement of women’s rights advocates that began in June of last year. They are fighting against femicide, a crime involving the violent and deliberate killing of a woman, because, in Argentina, a woman is killed every 30 hours. On Wednesday, October 19th there was a mass demonstration held for every woman that has been killed in the past five years, but mainly for a 16-year-old girl by the name of Lucia Perez who was abducted then drugged, raped repeatedly, and sodomized with an ‘unspecified object’ so violently that she eventually bled out from her internal injuries. The United States needs to join the Ni Una Menos movement, and hopefully, together change will occur. In the US, every 109 seconds an American becomes a victim of sexual assault. Every 8 minutes, a child becomes a victim of sexual assault. Think about those numbers for a second. Think about your mother, sister, brother, father, niece, or nephew. In 109 seconds, they could be a victim. Sexual assault happens too frequently for us to not do anything about it.

We need to encourage victims to speak out against the violence done to them and with this, we need to encourage society to not shame them. According to a study by RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, 20% of victims do not report sexual assault out of fear of retaliation and 13% don’t report because they believe the police wouldn’t do anything to help. Often when a victim speaks out about assault we hear the excuses of “you were drinking too much” or “you shouldn’t have worn such revealing clothing.” What we should be hearing is “we are here to help you” or “they will not get away with this.”

On top of that, we need to start holding offenders accountable. Out of every 1,000 rapists, only 344 are reported to police. However, from that 344 only six rapists will be incarcerated. Six. Imagine being a victim and knowing these statistics. It’s understandable for them to think nothing will happen. Combine the lack of punishment and victims not reporting, 994 perpetrators walk free. 944 people have gotten away with a disgusting crime. 994 people are able to assault another innocent person.

I was raised learning that we should respect each other and to live by the “golden rule” that you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Especially being taught from an older generation that believed men were supposed to treat women respectfully and protect them. Many women from the Feminist Movement will take offense to that statement now because we as women can take care of ourselves and protect ourselves, but honestly, only to a certain extent. When you’re a young girl or are intoxicated, willingly or unwillingly, you are not able to protect yourself against a man that is two or three times your size. Together, every country, every nation, every man and women and innocent child needs to come together so that people don’t get away with these vile and torturous crimes and that they serve the correct sentences.

Breaking News: October 16th now Janelle Monáe Day!

Breaking News: October 16th has been declared Janelle Monáe Day by the Boston City Council! They chose to honor Electric Lady #1 for speaking up for the oppressed. Great to see a fellow feminist get such deserved recognition! Learn more about her here.

Pakistani Feminist poised to become youngest Nobel Peace laureate ever

Read this article! It’s referring to an interview with Malala Yousafzai and Jon Stewart. Malala is a famous Pakistani woman who advocates for women’s rights, specifically rights to education. In the past, she was subject to assassination by the Taliban – it’s an amazing story. Check out her response to being threatened by them:

http://www.businessinsider.com/malala-yousafzai-left-jon-stewart-speechless-2013-10 

We were throwin…

We were throwing this rager at my friend’s house last week. There was this hot chick there dancing super slutty. As the night went on she got worse and worse and guys were giving her shots left and right. Later on I decided to try my luck and take her up to a bed room. At this point she was shit faced and I only had a couple of beers. We got to the room, shut the door, and she threw herself onto the bed. This was my chance. She sprawled out over the covers, mumbling words I couldn’t understand. I knew she wouldn’t remember any of this the next morning, so with a half grin on my face I did what any guy would do…I sat her up to make sure she puked, gave her some water, and tucked that bitch in and said good night. Sexual assault is not cool.

Finally! A meme we can get behind. Thanks, BU Confessor #2904, even if you did steal this from Reddit somewhere.

Terms You Should Know #1: Street Harassment

Here is a definition of Street Harassment, courtesy of StopStreetHarassment.org:

Unwelcome words and actions by unknown persons in public places which are motivated by gender and invade a person’s physical and emotional space in a disrespectful, creepy, startling, scary, or insulting way.

There are various definitions of street harassment, but all of them specify that street harassment occurs in public, between people who do not know each other, and is a physical or emotional intrusion.  The harasser usually makes reference to the victim’s appearance or gender.

Why this term it is relevant:

According to a nationally-representative poll,

87 percent of American women have experienced street harassment, and over one half of these women have experienced “extreme” harassment including being touched, grabbed, rubbed, brushed or followed by a strange man on the street or other public place.

Street harassment is not a compliment.  It is, in fact, harassment, and should be treated as such.  Let’s lower the numbers!

See Hollaback, The Everyday Sexism Project, and Can I Get a Smile? to start.

NPR highlights the story of an artist inviting social change

Sick of street harassment in her neighborhood, Tatayana Fazlalizadeh has been plastering an important message around the city of Brooklyn:  Stop harassing women on the streets.  We don’t want it.  It is offensive.  We are not obligated to give men our time or attention

Some men, of course, still don’t believe street harassment is an issue.

Anthony Williams, a featured interviewee, believes street harassment is what he is “supposed” to do.  It is his right to try to “acquire” an attractive woman he sees.  He can say what he pleases to her in hopes of her reciprocation.

These are the men Tatayana Fazlalizadeh is targeting with her socially conscious art.


Interestingly though, one of the most upvoted comments on this article, by a man, asserts that all men are not like Anthony Williams.  But Tatayana isn’t targeting the “good guys” out there.  So why is such a comment relevant?

Of course, not all men think they are supposed to harass women about their appearances.  And not all men believe women are objects to be acquired.

To those men who wouldn’t think of partaking in street harassment, we sincerely appreciate it.  We are glad that you are disgusted that others of your gender would be so inconsiderate and offensive. But this article isn’t directed at you.

Men shouldn’t feel the need to rally in defense of their gender when issues such as street harassment arise.  Those who do so make this mistake are diverting attention from the issue at hand.

It is easy to dismiss a social concern by claiming that it isn’t ubiquitous enough to merit the attention of the general population.  But the facts are that street harassment is incredibly prevalent all over the world.

So no, not ALL men harass women on the street, but a great many do.  Progress occurs when the “good guys” stop worrying about defending themselves and commit to reprimanding the guy who shouts “nice tits” at a girl walking down the street.

The original article