Women’s History Month Is Here!!!

Hello there, Virginia! For Women’s History Month, I want to offer you a whole bouquet of rich sources. Why so much at once, you ask? Well, because I’m going to stay busy with women’s futures for the rest of March. I’m going to keep on with the Virginia ERA Network project, and guide our members on writing to Congress to lift that pernicious deadline and to write letters to the editors of our great local newspapers. We need to remind women that they have more at stake than they know.

First, our very own Virginia NOW Foremothers Oral History Project. You can view the videos on our You Tube channel. You can read about the project on its webpage in our site. It’s still very rough, and there’s loads of other archival material I’m going to organize and present one of these days, when I carve out more time for it. There are some real gems in here, and there’s more raw video coming soon.

Second, you know the Turning Point Suffragists Memorial Project, right? Well, check in with them regularly. They’re doing amazing work, coming ever closer to publicly memorializing the sacrifices these foremothers made for the vote. They have some spiffy new social media rocking on Facebook and WordPress.

But, that’s our local work and a history populated largely by one kind of feminist. In honor of our Young Feminists Conference, April 10-12 in Richmond, and the more complex kind of feminism embraced by many in Generation X and the Millennials, the third and fourth waves of feminism, I want to guide you to some other organizations doing a great job celebrating women’s history.

Though these sources are more than anyone can take in quickly, they are but a hint at the scope of women’s history in the US and in our cultures of origin. I invite you to begin here and explore as far your mind and time will take you. Don’t worry, there’s no quiz. Consider this an invitation to great community and solidarity.

Asian American/Pacific Islander women also have recorded their rich history. A number of good sources are in this Daily Kos article for 2012, Women of Color in Women’s History: Asian and Asian Pacific Americans, and in this historical text some of which can be read on Google Books (but which you should buy) Women in Asia: Restoring Women to History. And again, because it is our art, our stories, that keep us connected and strong for the work of change, I direct you to Vona Voices and Asian American Writers Workshop where you’ll discover and rediscover AAPI voices vital to us all.

Madame Noire has run a great profile series on African American women who don’t get much recognition, but deserve it. About.com has a well curated collection of articles on African American Women’s History, and National Women’s History Month offers a great overview of the trouble and triumph of black women in US history. An excellent source for discovering, or reading new work by African American writers is Cave Canem — go, read. I also recommend the African American Literature and Culture Society, and BlackWriters.org.

Of Jewish women in American history, there is a very thorough compendium at the Jewish Virtual Library, and the amazing Jewish Women’s Archive. Brandies and Feminist Press are cooperating to publish a series of contemporary Jewish American women writers, their work is breathtaking!!

Latina Magazine is running a great personality piece featuring 40 Latina Women Who Changed the World. Ms. Blog is taking a more historical perspective with their 5 Fascinating Latinas for Women’s History Month article. For those who want dig deeper, Powerful Latinas offers a great reading list on Latina and Chicana history. Thinking more currently, Latino Rebels is running several great features on women this month. And because our communities live more vibrantly by our arts, Lettras Latinas is always connecting us with great contemporary writing.

Gay Star News offers 11 inspiring LGBT women of history, and HuffPost ran a portraits piece in 2012 on Famous Women Who Loved Women. Among many issues facing the LGBTQIA community is the current rash of murders of trans women of color. I encourage each of you to find a way, no matter what it is, to honor all women and our history by finding a way to bring awareness to this issue, and pressure for better education and protections. It happens that this year we are experience violence against these women with greater intensity than previously. We must seize this moment. The women of this community are also fine writers. AutoStraddle recently published a list of 10 novels and memoirs by and about Black lesbian, bisexual and queer women. I would also direct you to both Sibling Rivalry Press and Lambda Literary for more great writing from LGBTQIA women.

Again, Daily Kos’ Women of Color in Women’s History series in 2012 offers terrific portraits of Native Women in our history, and Ms. Blog’s 10 Things You Should Know about Native American Women is a quick and essential read. The Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains is a good place to get familiar with contemporary issues facing Native women, as are NAWHERC and IndianLaw.org. The Open Education Database offers a list of 20 Native women authors we all deserve to know. I also recommend the poetry anthology Sing, edited by Allison Hedge-Coke, which contains poems by indigenous women through out the Americas, many in their original languages and in translation.

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

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