“Make Love, Not Babies” ♦️ Roe v. Wade Anniversary

Today is the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade! As I read through the tweets of people discussing the reasons they are grateful, I’m surprised by the lack of acknowledgement of what choice did for love and relationships.

We’re so used to having reproductive rights that we forget the most revolutionary part of choice.

Making love now involves you and your lover. You don’t have to live in a marriage where you fear becoming pregnant every…single…time you’re together.

We don’t have to live in a world where sex is only for the purpose of making babies and once we’re finished having children, we sleep in a different bedroom from our spouse for the remainder of our lives.

Life before the 1960s and 70s meant there was no birth control. There was no choice.

Now, making love can be about love. About desire. About connection. With the power of choice, sex is not solely for the purpose of procreating.

When I watch movies that were filmed before 1973, I see the layers of fear involving love making even between people truly in love. I realize the lack of intimacy freedom that existed. A freedom that today, we take for granted.

Period movies and historical shows filmed today have everyone rolling around with everyone and it’s completely unrealistic — but then again, we live in a world today with so much freedom, we assume it always existed on some level. We can’t really fathom any longer how different romantic relationships were before choice.

Unfortunately most of the defenses for choice today revolve around catastrophic pregnancy situations, not freedom and autonomy.

I am grateful for the freedom to exist without fear, to want any children I might have because they were not forced upon me, and to know above all else that I too, was wanted. I wasn’t a consequence, I was a gift. 🎈


Happy 44th Anniversary Roe vs. Wade!

Paradise
Virginia NOW
communicationsvp@vanow.org
Communications Director ♦️ Webmistress

Reproductive Justice is Social Justice

Congressional GOP to bring a vote on a 20-Week Abortion Ban,
this Thursday (Jan 22), the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Please read, and contact your representative.

We know Senator Hyde of the Hyde Amendment was just comfortable the knowledge that his restriction on federal funding for abortion in Medicaid would mostly affect poor women and poor women of color. He knew darn well he couldn’t stop rich women from exerting control over their own bodies, their reproductive, creative, and working lives.

And since then, we have seen reduction after cut in services, programs, and education that would support women who are raising children. On top of this, an average pay gap (77/100) that results in millions of missing dollars in women’s incomes over their lifetimes (affecting not only base income, but 410(k) contributions, and Social Security benefits as well), decades of flat salaries and income for all American workers, and an increasing slide of available jobs into the never-enough of minimum wage work.

Now, our fresh new conservative Congress wants to use the
anniversary of Roe v. Wade to introduce a 20-week abortion ban.

As readers of this blog likely know, such a prohibition would make a timely abortion nearly impossible for huge numbers of women — for reasons too many to rehearse her but which include the often delayed manner in which women discover they’re pregnant, the many difficulties in accessing care in many states (TRAP regulations, lack of facilities, ….) — the whole point of this legislation is to make the deadline so short and the path to exercising one’s own conscience so difficult that women who don’t want a (another) child will wind up having one anyway. Many of us have seen the statistical maps. Women of all kinds who live in GOP controlled states and counties have less access to health care, and specifically to reproductive health care — resulting, more direly, in increased mortality rates for women and mothers. This disadvantage increases as those counties get either poorer or more ethnically mixed, thanks to the confluence of forces I describe above.

So, this 20-week ban effectively doubles-down
on the Hyde Amendment’s nefarious effects.

Of course, these anti-choice citizens and politicians are not pro-child. They are not organizing en masse to adopt or otherwise care for these children. The child is not the point. Controlling/punishing the woman is. Katha Pollitt’s Pro does a marvelous job elaborating the evidence of this ultimate goal. (Please buy it through one of these fine independent or feminist bookstores.)

So, we have a political and economic climate that is hostile to women’s freedom and pursuit of happiness on a number of levels. It’s even a climate that makes raising healthy, educated, productive citizens really damn hard. Expand the concept of reproductive justice to include creating conditions that support women who want to be mothers — no matter their race or class — and we find ourselves at an intersection vital to social justice generally.

Women of color have understood and organized their reproductive justice activism around this intersection for a long time now. They gone in this direction partly because their relationship to a white-dominated state complicates the history of reproduction for women of color in some horrifying ways all of which result (still) in denying women control over their own fates and the well-being of their children. (The link I offer here is a gentle version of this history.) We’re still sterilizing women against their will in prisons in the US, we’re still taking Native American children from their families for the flimsiest of reasons.

I suggest we bring this fuller and
more nuanced understanding of choice and justice
to the women of the Congressional GOP and their colleagues.

Congresswoman Renee Elmers (R-NC), and a small cohort of GOP women, are rebelling against this ban on the grounds that it’s a bad PR move and will (further) alienate young women (all women) from the GOP.

I suggest that we both support Rep. Elmers, and educate her more broadly on the many dimensions of reproductive justice. These bans create only harm. They have no positive effect on the society, the economy, or the people directly affected by them. Even the “science” used to justify them is largely a sack of lies made out of false concern and overt racism and hatred of the disadvantaged.

To share this broader perspective with Rep. Elmers or your own representatives, please use this directory. It leads you to their websites, all their social media, their official emails — the whole kit and caboodle.

On this MLK Day, when we are remembering our lost warriors for social justice and still dreaming of the future in the beloved community, let’s make sure that women — all women — are free to help build that community, that polity, whether by being mothers, or by contributing their talents, energy, and intellect in a myriad of other — and vital — ways.

For women!
Dr. Simone Roberts
Web Editor / Historian / ERA Coordinator
Virginia NOW

:: Sources/Organizations in this Article ::

Amplify Your Voice
Black Women’s Health Initiative
Congressional Directory
Rep. Renee Elmers (R-NC)

Fund Abortion Now
MS. Magazine

RH Reality Check
Think Progress
Trust Black Women
The Washington Post

Happy GoTopless Day!

   What is GoTopless.org?

A U.S.-based organization who claim that women have the same constitutional right that men have to go bare-chested in public.   “As long as men are allowed to be topless in public, women should have the same constitutional right. Or else, men should have to wear something to hide their chests.”

 

There is an annual National Go-Topless Day held intentionally on August 26th, or on the Sunday closest to Women’s Equality Day.   In our society, men and women are supposed to have equal rights.  But women are commonly arrested, fined and humiliated for daring to go topless in public, a freedom men have had for decades.  It is patriarchy that makes women’s bodies taboo and makes women’s bodies need to be covered and controlled.  In the US, if we want to be in a culture that is better for women, we need to get over the exposure of women’s body being only sexual instead of allowing her to exist freely.  You cannot counter the “sexualized woman” by simply covering her up.

 

Women are taught from an early age that our bodies and our breasts are more taboo than a man’s – that a man mowing the lawn bare-chested in the extreme summer heat is acceptable.  A woman performing the same action would be borderline scandalous.

 

To protest this unconstitutional discrimination, GoTopless.org holds National Go-Topless Day events in cities nationwide. Thousands of women will be baring their chests that day in the name of equal rights, and we hope you’ll be there too!

 

On August 26, 1920, following a 72-year struggle, the U.S. Constitution was amended to grant women the right to vote. And in 1970, as an ongoing reminder of women’s equality, Congress declared August 26 Women’s Equality Day. But even in the 21st century, women need to stand up and demand that equality in fact – not just in words.

 

This Women’s Equality Day, celebrate and love your body!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love & Revolution!

Paradise Kendra
Communications VP
Virginia NOW
(*) (*) (*) (*) (*)

 

BeautifulWoman

Celebrating ‘V-Day’ – February 14th, 2014!

VaginaMonologues“The clitoris is pure in purpose. It is the only organ in the body designed purely for pleasure.”  — Eve Ensler

Dance, celebrate, and rejoice on V-Day (Vagina Day) AKA Valentine’s Day!  Take the day for you and celebrate your vagina, in any way you want.

VaginaMonologues-Unleash
MY SHORT SKIRT
*** 
My short skirt
is not an invitation
a provocation
an indication
that I want it
or give it
or that I hook.
***
My short skirt
is not begging for it
it does not want you
to rip it off me
or pull it up or down.
***
My short skirt
is not a legal reason
for raping me
although it has been before
it will not hold up
in the new court.
***
My short skirt, believe it or not,
has nothing to do with you.
***
My short skirt
is about discovering
the power of my calves
about cool autumn air travelling
up my inner thighs
about allowing everything I see
or pass or feel to live inside.
***
My short skirt is not proof
that I am stupid
or undecided
or a malleable little girl.
***
My short skirt is my defiance.
I will not let you make me afraid.
My short skirt is not showing off,
this is who I am
before you made me cover it
or tone it down.
Get used to it.
Love Your Body
***
My short skirt is happiness.
I can feel myself on the ground.
I am here. I am hot.
My short skirt is a liberation
flag in the women’s army.
I declare these streets, any streets,
my vagina’s country.
***
Vagina Monologues
My short skirt
is turquoise water with swimming colored fish
a summer festival in the starry dark
a bird calling
a train arriving in a foreign town.
My short shirt is a wild spin
a full breath
a tango dip.
My short skirt is
initiation, appreciation, excitation.
But mainly my short skirt
and everything under it
is mine, mine, mine.

VaginaMonologues

“No wonder male religious leaders so often say that humans were born in sin—because we were born to female creatures. Only by obeying the rules of the patriarchy can we be reborn through men. No wonder priests and ministers in skirts sprinkle imitation birth fluid over our heads, give us new names, and promise rebirth into everlasting life.” — Gloria Steinem

“The heart is capable of sacrifice. So is the vagina. The heart is able to forgive and repair. It can change it’s shape to let us in. It can expand to let us out. So can the vagina. It can ache for us and stretch for us, die for us and bleed and bleed us into this difficult, wondrous world. So can the vagina. I was there in the room. I remember.”  — Eve Ensler

*** If you haven’t read Eve’s Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, check it out on Virginia NOW’s Read section.  Also see and follow Virginia NOW’s on Shelfari.

Love Your Body,

Paradise Kendra
Communications VP
Virginia NOW

Virginia Is For Lovers, Ken.

Virginia NOW affirms the established right of privacy in any consensual adult relationship without government interference at any level, of any branch, or by any officer. We refuse to return to discriminatory “anti-sodomy” laws of the past concerning so-called “vice” in order to mollify the cultural anxiety of misinformed ultraconservatives.

Virginia NOW asserts that the state and federal governments have no business in our bedrooms, our consenting adult relationships, our reproductive choices, nor in the gender combination or marital status under which we engage in sex or love. A sexually healthy and enjoyable future is part of a progressive agenda. Virginia is, after all, for lovers!

As a leading organization working for women’s rights and equality for all, Virginia NOW opposes Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s misguided campaign to restore Virginia’s regressive “crimes against nature” law.

We demand better protections for our children from sexual predators, and we demand to remain free to engage in consenting adult relationships without the interference of the state. These are not contradictory demands.

Cuccinelli’s actions in this and other cases indicate that he will pursue his personal agenda regardless of its impact on Virginians and regardless of court rulings, legislative process, or even common sense. As he did in forcing the adoption of hospital-level standards for health and abortion clinics, in fighting health care reform, in opposing non-discrimination policies at state colleges and universities and adoption, and in harassing a professor researching climate change, Cuccinelli is using the office of attorney general to impose his will.

Such demagoguery and aggression are not meaningful politics or policy. The private lives of consenting adults are not up for regulation, and certainly should not become collateral damage in the revisionist efforts currently pursued by the Republican candidate for governor.

Virginia NOW calls on all candidates from both parties in statewide and local elections to oppose Cuccinelli’s attempts to reinstate Virginia’s regressive “crimes against nature” law. Virginia NOW calls on voters to support candidates who will work on job creation and healthcare for all and on issues of equality and justice, rather than intrusions into our bedrooms and private lives.

Voter Registration  

DonateVANOWPAC Donate to Virginia NOW

                              

 ###

Background

Note:  Not all Virginia NOW members are lawyers or legal experts, however:

Virginia NOW finds that the context of the Attorney General’s current appeal to the Supreme Court to reinstate Virginia’s “anti-sodomy” laws helps to bring his larger intentions into sharp focus. Like many ultraconservatives, he seems to think the cultural modernity of the 20th and 21st centuries is a problem to be solved by a kind of counter-reformation.

In April 2013, Virginia’s anti-sodomy / crimes against nature law was struck down. The full range of normal adult sexual behavior has only been decriminalized in VA since this past spring—and that includes “lascivious cohabitation.” The state’s attorney general is currently seeking a stay of this 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling by the Supreme Court.

Our Attorney General wants the “crimes against nature” law back in place in order prosecute a 47-year-old man who solicited a teenager for oral sex. But, Supreme Court cases are rarely limited to the one act that sets them in motion. Virginia laws on sex and consent are complicated, and they seem to allow minors over the age of 15 to consent to sex with minors of a similar age, but they do not allow consent between teens and adults (as well they should not.)

Cuccinelli is using a statutory rape case to reinstate laws that he’s been told three times Virginia’s courts would rather not have on the books. He’s launching a website in support of the crimes against nature laws under the guise of protecting Virginia’s children from predators.

We need better laws against child rape and the sexual abuse of children, which he did not fight for as Attorney General. His lack of oversight allowed this 47-year-old to violate a minor and suffer rather light consequences. We also need our personal liberty. Neither is optional, and they do not contradict each other.

“Crimes against nature laws” have historically been used to harass and jail LGBTQIA citizens; and have been considered unconstitutional by many since the Lawrence v. Texas SCOTUS decision in 2003. (Again, the authors are not constitutional lawyers.)

The freedom to live in one’s gender expression, to transition into one’s true gender, to love the person one’s heart is set on, to cohabitate, to live alone, to abstain from love or sex, or to enjoy sex for the sheer fun of it all have not one thing to do with punishing sexual predators who violate the bodily and spiritual integrity of Virginian adults or children.

There’s a worrying context here. Attorney General Cuccinelli is well known for his culturally conservative views—his arguments from Natural Law doctrine, for instance:

In 2009, Cuccinelli told the Virginian-Pilot that “homosexual acts” are wrong. ”They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law-based country, it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that. … They don’t comport with natural law. I happen to think that it represents (to put it politely; I need my thesaurus to be polite) behavior that is not healthy to an individual and in aggregate is not healthy to society,” he said. – The Huffington Post

He loosely references the doctrine in the amicus brief he co-authored in support of Prop 8 in which he also argues that same-sex marriage opens a slippery slope to polygamy—despite the painfully obvious logical and historical weakness of slippery slope arguments.  The SCOTUS did not agree with Mr. Cuccinelli concerning Prop 8, and went right on to overturn DOMA. Never mind that in that case of Mother Nature v. Natural Law, Mother Nature prevails. Turns out Natural Law isn’t all that natural.

But, the Attorney General follows often equally specious argumentative lines in his (more successful) sieges on women’s reproductive care via crushing regulation on health care and abortion clinics, his patent refusal to allow the Department of Juvenile Justice and the state’s universities to adopt non-discrimination policies for LGBTQIA youth, and his barring of the Board of Social Services from protecting:

Virginians seeking to adopt or foster children, and children eligible for adoption or foster care, from discrimination by licensed child placing agencies based on race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability and family status. – The ACLU

That is, such agencies are allowed to refuse adoption on these, ahem, “grounds.”

Given this record of behavior, Virginia NOW thinks Cuccinelli is running a cultural agenda based on his own faith and moral compass and not on the shared interests and rights of all Virginians. He’s wasting the Commonwealth’s tax dollars on a petition to the Supreme Court that seems to be going nowhere fast given recent rulings. And, according the same ACLU article just cited, he doesn’t seem to understand the boundaries of the power of his office. It seems that the only force that can impede the culture warrior in is the power of an election.

In the United States, we do not rule from religious doctrine, but from reason and with a bias toward the expansion of civil and personal liberties. We seek to protect our citizens from violation and damage, but not from pursuits of happiness that harm none—whether lascivious or not.

Ken Cuccinelli clearly does not hold to this long and honorable tradition.

Virginia NOW calls on all candidates from both parties in statewide and local elections to oppose Cuccinelli’s attempts to reinstate Virginia’s regressive “crimes against nature” law.  Virginia NOW encourages voters to support candidates who talk about jobs, healthcare for all, equality and justice, rather than intrusions into our bedrooms and private lives.