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I wrote about the women's march and this comment from ali_highland deserved more of a response. It was about who was and was not joining the march...

Trump is creating many refugees from the Christian right, people willing to step away from the traditions of their community and families and willing to oppose this new regime, even to take to the streets. Instead of being welcomed on this first part of their journey they were rejected. We need their support. They need to feel accepted as they start their journey.


This is a complicated topic... intersectionality, unity and inclusion. So I will try to just get my thoughts out in an open letter.

Dear straight white upper-middle class Christian feminist,

I am writing this letter because I want you to join us. Feminism is for everyone. Feminism needs everyone. I too am an straight white upper-middle class Christian feminist who used to be a pro-life conservative.

Feminists are opinionated. We want to be heard. No one joins this movement to stay quiet. When I started noticing things in my world I wanted to change, I had a lot to say.

In being loud, I was called out a few times for saying things that were ignorant, classist, or racist. At first I was REALLY offended. Don't these feminists want me in their movement? How can they try to tell me to be quiet and listen when the movement itself is about not being quiet?

Then I learned that feminism has had many moments in history that we are not proud of, because we were classist or racist or just totally marginalized other minorities. The women's rights organizations of the past were run by straight white rich women. Why? Because straight white rich people run everything. What do the vast majority of our US presidents have in common? Our CEOs?

When we privileged folks follow tradition and jump up to the top we run the risk of ignoring people on the fringes. No wait let me rephrase... we WILL ignore people on the fringes. We're programmed. We'll tell them to be quiet in the name of "unity" so we can save face, but in doing that we miss stories. Minorities do not go a day without hearing what the privileged have to say, they don't have the luxury of ignoring our voices. But we can and have ignored them.

So there's this idea called intersectional feminism where we are trying to step back and put on our listening ears and ask ourselves what historically underprivileged voices we have missed. Listening is more educational and much more important than, say, telling everyone you know everything and MUST BE HEARD NOW.

Let's talk about reproductive issues. So you want to be a pro-life feminist... have you ever faced an unplanned pregnancy? Has your family ever been unable to support you if life took a turn? Have you ever been without health care? Have you ever been unable to access to birth control? Have you had a pregnancy where your fetus was diagnosed with an inoperable tumor or fatal chromosomal abnormality?

If you answered no to a few of these questions, you have been privileged. You're missing some experiences. I am suggesting that you hear some of those stories from women who've had abortions.

One great way to listen is to just be present. Maybe you can't carry the sign you wanted to carry because you're at odds with some part of our movement... instead of taking your rejected sign and going home, sit back, give us a few marches, do some reading, question yourself.

In your journey you will feel called out sometimes. That's good. It means you're out of your comfort zone. If you're like me, your first reaction might be to try and defend yourself, tell us you KNOW what is right. Ask yourself how you KNOW. You might find that your isolated experiences need to be challenged. I did. I'm still learning, I'm not perfect, but I'm committed to keep listening.

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Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
siglinde99
Feb. 21st, 2017 02:03 am (UTC)
I have a friend who thinks and writes a lot about privilege, especially in terms of race. Sometimes it irritates me because I struggle to recognize it in myself. I find it much easier to understand in terms of women's reproductive rights. Thanks for this.
gilda_elise
Feb. 21st, 2017 12:38 pm (UTC)
It's sort of like people not realizing that when people say "Black Lives Matter,</i> they mean that Black lives matter, too. White lives have always mattered. It irritates the hell out of me when people don't get that.
spacefem
Feb. 21st, 2017 01:27 pm (UTC)
the all houses matter comic is my favorite metaphor on that issue... (there's a house on fire but he's spraying water on all the houses in the neighborhood just to be "fair" since all houses matter.)
sextangles
Feb. 21st, 2017 10:52 pm (UTC)
Listening is more educational and much more important than, say, telling everyone you know everything and MUST BE HEARD NOW. -- so important to understand this.

There was some controversy over the organisation of our city's Women's March last month related to this which was so eye opening. White feminists were angry because gay WOC splintered from their movement and organized a separate march. They should've been listening to the reasons why they chose to do this, rather than yelling about making unnecessary divisions etc. Ugh.

Also thank you for your well articulated defense of reproductive rights. Sometimes, when you're all tangled up in the emotions of it (as I am), it can be hard to articulate some of this. I want to share my abortion experience, as example of the kind of story you speak of.

In 2015, I had an abortion. I was 24, single mother to an almost 2-year-old, barely scraping the rent together from my waitressing job, and I got pregnant by my on-again off-again boyfriend. I knew I couldn't have another baby - it was just too risky because I knew I couldn't rely financially or emotionally on this person, and by myself I was not equipped to cope. Things were already difficult enough with one. In other words, it was the best thing for all three of us - my boyfriend, myself and my existing child - for me to terminate the pregnancy.

Since then I have been able to take a promotion at work, bettering our financial situation and giving me some breathing room to plan for the future, as well as enriching my son's life by being able to sign up for educational activities because we were able to afford them and even take him on his first vacation! He is already on the back foot statistically because of our financial and family situation, and I think a lot of pro-lifers don't really care about kids like him, or are at least completely clueless as to how their stances on a lot of things impact children who already lack access to resources because of class/money. His quality of life would be worse if it weren't for the abortion.
ali_highland
Feb. 22nd, 2017 05:41 am (UTC)

In left leaning circles here in the USA abortion has become a talisman, a shibboleth, if you don't toe the line you can't be on the team.


I have been criticized online for saying that I believe that abortion should be freely available, legal and safe before the point of individual viability but after the point where that child's body can live on its own, independent of the mother it should be available only for cases of medical necessity, that as back home I think those cases should go before a medical ethics board and have bugger all to do with politicians.


I have been told that having that position I can't call myself pro-choice which came as a surprise to me as I believe so strongly in this that I had considered volunteering to stand (kilt and all) between anti-abortion protestors and those walking that horrible gauntlet to access the clinics.


But apparently anything other than triumphant support for unrestricted abortion at any gestation makes me the opposition.


You will find many christian men and women who believe some degree of something similar, that however wrong they personally think abortion to be they know that safe and legal early terminations are a practical neccesity but they can't be on board with elective terminations at 30 weeks, so they are forced by both camps into a false binary choice.


To state a position like that on the left gets us rejected, I have thick Highland skin and can take it and come back for more but for many being forced to choose either unrestricted abortion or no abortion means they will retreat back to the safety of their old tribe.


I was surprised to see this tribalism embodied in the women's march.

illusio
Mar. 15th, 2017 06:16 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting this.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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