….and then I swear I am done. No more politics!
Maegan, aka La Mamita Mala, gives her thoughts on the parameters of motherhood:
So what does this Palin parranda of information and analysis mean to mamis of color, Latina mamis like me? Not surprisingly, nada.
Sarah Palin wants to put herself out there as “every woman”. She wants to be seen as “just your average hockey mom”, and other mommies see themselves and their reality reflected through Palin, except, mamis of color, that is.
The talk returns to mommy wars, not mami wars, because the entire conversation excludes Latinas and other moms of color. We are not even soldiers. Even for so called progressive white feminist, the war is fought by them and maybe, if mamis like me are lucky, we’ll reap some benefit. When I was a pregnant teenager, in a Latin American country where abortion was and still is illegal (Chile), there was no opting out of pregnancy or working. Which is why the debate of how Palin could go back to work after having a baby with special needs or how a pregnant unmarried teenage daughter is being used, feels like a sideshow with little significance in reality. The politics of choice is being raised, with the emergence of a woman who is anti-choice, even in cases of rape or incest and with no talk of how for women of color, choice goes beyond an abortion and means the very right to have children (forget 5!) Imaginate if Michelle Obama had five children? Imaginate if one of the Obama children were older and pregnant? Imagine the hate and stereotypes that would be unleashed? Oh wait, I don’t have to imagine, as a single mami of color, I live it. Palin’s large brood isn’t seen as a strain on the system. They are a beautiful portrait of an “American” family making every other family, families like mine, ugly.
Liza, writing at Culture Kitchen, is surveying the room for the voices that are missing:
Let me just come out and say this right off the bat : We need more black and latina feminists on TV tearing into the right wing’s forced pregnancy frame to reproductive rights.
I had the honor again to participate in Melissa Long’s livecasting from the conventions. In the first one at the DNC we barely spoke of women’s issues. Ironically here in St. Paul and with Palin’s nomination the discussion was almost exclusively about her and about women’s rights.
Which is why am being very candid about the need to put more colored feminists into these traditional media settings. Our perspectives on reproductive and women’s rights are not filtered necessarily through the need to curtail our ability to have children as much as having the right to not have the government control our bodies by claiming surrogate ownership.
Which is why it is outrageous to me that someone as young and seemingly intelligent as Amanda Carpenter from Town Hall will go on wailing about how Palin is being vilified for not aborting her Down Syndrome child.
Is she serious?!?!
It is outrageous and completely insulting to me that women like her will frame reproductive rights in terms of abortion when black and latina women like me know that one of the biggest battles we have are the various eugenic efforts in the United States of forced sterilization in communities of color.
Meaning, at times there have been efforts to have colored women abort or just not have any children at all whatsoever.
What is an Amanda Carpenter or even a Sarah Palin going to say about that?
And a while back, I posted an excerpt from Home Girls Make Some Noise: Hip Hop Feminist Anthology where Kimala Price broke down the politics of choice:
From the 1980s to the present, women of color have continued this activist legacy in reproductive rights and justice. In the late 1980s, a group of thirty-five prominent African-American women, including political activists and members of Congress, issued the statement “We Remember.” The statement connected reproductive health with other issues such as economic and social justice issues:
We understand why African American women risked their lives then, and why they seek safe legal abortion now. It’s been a matter of survival. Hunger and homelessness. Inadequate housing and income to properly provide for themselves and their children. Family instability. Rape. Incest. Abuse. Too young, too old, too sick, too tired. Emotional, physical, mental, economic, social – the reason for not carrying a pregnancy to term are endless and varied, personal, urgent and private. And for all these pressing reasons, African American women once again will be among the first forced to risk their lives if abortion is made illegal (African American Women Are for Reproductive Freedom 1999, p. 39)
This re-articulation is in light of the U.S. government’s ugly history of determining who can and cannot be mothers, who has the right to bear and raise children, through coercive policies. In the past, the federal government had sterilization campaigns targeting African America, Puerto Rican, Mexican American and Native American women. Today it uses more insidious ways of accomplishing the same end, such as family cap policies in the “reformed” welfare system in which mothers may lose benefits if the number of children they bear exceeds the limit set by state governments. Thanks to the 1976 Hyde Amendment, which banned federal funding of abortions, most state Medicaid programs will not cover abortions, and women who serve in our nation’s armed forces cannot obtain abortions on military bases or through the military’s health plan. Women in federal prisons and most state prisons don’t have access to abortions as well.
The problem has been that the mainstream reproductive rights movement has not paid that much attention to these and other related issues. Out of their frustration with this, women of color activists are busy building our own movement. […]
Drawing from human rights and social justice principles, women of color activists have re-defined “reproductive rights” into what they now call “reproductive justice.” Reproductive justice is not just about the individualistic right to have an abortion (i.e., the right not to have children) but to include the right to have children and to raise them in healthy and stable families. Accordingly, these activists have broadened reproductive rights and freedom beyond abortion rights, the rights to privacy and “choice” which are normally associated with the movement. In sum, reproductive justice encompasses many other issues such as economic justice, immigration rights, housing rights, and access to health care.
- Two Words: Shut Up. by Jill November 19, 2007
- Palin’s anti-choice legacy by Miranda July 6, 2009
- I think you’re confused as to the meaning of “child support” by Jill June 25, 2009
- Teen pregnancy and abortion up for the first time in a decade. Thanks, abstinence-only education! by Jill January 26, 2010
- Oprah and Teen Pregnancy by Jill January 20, 2007