radicals within the pro-choice movement
I am a feminist. I am also a radical. Though I believe that these two ideologies complement each other, I see vast discrepancies arising between their practical applications. The place where this incongruity is most obvious is within the pro-choice movement. As a radical, I find it uncomfortable to align myself with the leading liberal pro-choice organizations. As a feminist, I feel left out and I feel silenced.
The leading pro-choice organizations have come to resemble hierarchal, bureaucratic corporations. Grassroots activism has been replaced by top-down, American-style democracies in which only a small number of well-educated, well-paid “representatives” are hired to speak on behalf of everyone. Entire segments of the population-namely racial, ethnic and gender minorities-have been ignored by these organizations for years and are included only upon recommendations of public relations teams (note the late addition of two organizations run by women of color to the sponsor list for the March for Women’s Lives this April). However, culpability does not lie with the pro-choice community or the radical community alone-both movements have spent decades isolating themselves and have effectively broken down a once powerful alliance.
Yet, as radicals we stand committed to an ideology, of whatever form, which shapes our identities as well as our actions. Because of this, we, as a movement and as individuals, face a constant unspoken struggle between owning our politics and actually living them. In a society that stands so far from the various Utopian visions we may hold, it is difficult-and arguably dangerous-to altogether avoid reformist action. As feminists, we must meet this realization with nothing less than complete solidarity. This is a call to action directed at the radical community who must now open its eyes to a new reality in which women’s autonomy is under attack.
There was a time in America’s history when self-identifying radicals fought tirelessly to end government occupation of the womb-they succeeded. Many of us owe them our lives; all of us owe them our respect. But now, after spending 30 years ignorantly blanketed by the comfort of having the law on our side, the radical community gradually forgot that others see the freedom we consider a human right as a “privilege.”
We are closer than ever before to arriving at the day when the United States government will strip away women’s right to access safe abortion services-a right so essential that its nonexistence has become almost unfathomable. At this pivotal time in history, the radical community must rise up. We must rise up against a tyrannical government that threatens to penetrate women’s bodies with its laws, and we must rise up above our reservations with the liberal organizations that lead the pro-choice movement. The late term abortion ban that was recently signed into law is the biggest blow to reproductive autonomy that many of us have experienced in our lifetimes. Government imperialism into women’s bodies is a radical issue and requires radical action. We believe that this struggle will be won through solidarity and action; for this reason, we are calling for a radical contingent within a liberal march.
A Call to Action
On Sunday April 25, 2004, tens of thousands of feminists will converge in Washington, D.C., for the end-all-be-all of pro-choice marches. “The March for Women’s Lives” has been organized collaboratively over the past year by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Feminist Majority Foundation, the National Organization for Women, and NARAL Pro-choice America.
We are calling for a mobile black/purple/pink noise bloc concentrated on radical cheerleading within this larger march. Because the bloc will be mobile, radical cheering will take a slightly different form than most squads are used to; we envision it as being vocally based, thus allowing anyone to join in. This struggle is time sensitive; we dare not lay dormant any longer and risk the overturn of Roe v. Wade before the end of Bush’s term. Therefore, we must pool all available resources and face the government in solidarity. Join us!
For more information go to www.radicalcheer.org, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright Off Our Backs, Inc. Mar/Apr 2004
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