Late Night Question: Will they carry the Torch?Posted: April 26, 2011
I just read an astounding blog on the early fight for reproductive health rights by Eleanor Hinton Hoytt of Black Women’s Health Imperative at RH Reality Check. Hoytt asks a question that I’ve wondered myself recently. Will young women fight so that all US women will have access to reproductive health and not just those with sympathetic parents and partners or money in the bank? I know that Dr. Daughter is in the middle of the fight as an ob/gyn in a public hospital that serves many of Nebraska’s poorest women. She’s in a state that works hard to prevent access to a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion in the first two trimesters and a state that has eliminated access to prenatal care for women who can’t prove citizenship. Youngest daughter and I live in a state with a whacked legislator that wants to criminalize abortion. How can you “murder” something that’s–at best–on life support and marginally human? I worry that my youngest daughter doesn’t see the issue and the attacks by crazed religionists as completely central to any young woman who seeks to self-determine her life. Hoytt’s story reminds me of the early days when women frequently shared how they came to realize that they were feminists and had a huge system to fight just to be recognized as a complete person. But, again, her central thesis is a significant one and worth sharing.
I see the ‘passing of the torch’ as a common cause from a different perspective. I have heard the fears that some of the leaders of my generation have about the current generation. That they lack intensity; they refuse to listen and follow; they don’t have the urgency of NOW; and they have never lived without the power of their own agency or without control of their own body. When I see the young feminist of today, I see that their values are different, creativity is unlimited, and understanding of innovation amazing and astonishing. And, most of all, they have greater access and are most accepting of different races, ethnicities, socio-economic statuses and sexualities – this adds many more angels to the fight.
I’m happy that young feminists of today have had more opportunities to claim ownership of their bodies. I am happy that they don’t know the dark alleys, and I’m pleased that they are blogging, tweeting, and asking me to be their Facebook friend. And for many of them I meet, they want to share their stories with me and hear mine—they ask, what has kept me involved, passionate and angry for the past 30 years. I tell them my story and listen to theirs. But most of all I ask them to believe that they may achieve what I have not in many ways.
I urge my other pre-Roe or “menopausal militia” leaders to recognize the differences in this generation’s struggles, understandings, desires and dreams. I believe that too often we see a different experience or opinion as a sparring point, but now, more than ever, we must see this as a broadening of our cause. Young feminists are not laser-focused on abortion, and that’s okay. Let’s accept their boarder reproductive justice agenda.
I was fortunate enough to become sexually active post-Roe, way post-birth control pills, and at a University that practically wanted to give you all the birth control pills and reproductive health information you could possibly need. Planned Parenthood was accessible and free where I lived. Still, when the religionists started pushing back, I felt the need to take to the streets, to letter writing, and to volunteer as a clinic escort. I sent my two daughters straight to Planned Parenthood when the questions started and the needs were obvious. I’m not getting the reason that any young woman should be complacent right now about the obvious attack on their rights. But right now, I’m seeing a 50/50 shot in my own sample of 2.
It’s not really a constitutional right if we all can’t access that right equally, is it?
So, how do we in the menopausal militia pass the torch? Are there enough young activists out there to pick it up?