Blogging for Choice: A bitch’s wish list

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

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Oh, yays! Today marks the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade – and it’s also the fourth annual Blog for Choice Day!

Over at easyVegan.info, I spent quite a bit of time examining reproductive rights as it relates to animal advocacy, but I fear I only scratched the surface. Volumes can be – have been! – written about the exploitation of women’s and non-human animals’ sexuality separately; methinks we’d need an entire encyclopedia set to fully examine the parallels and intersections between the two together.

For example, I didn’t even touch upon Nestle’s exploitation of new mothers in impoverished nations by convincing them that unaffordable, dairy-based formula is better for their babies than mother’s milk; dairy-based formula, of course, necessarily involves the exploitation of female cows.

Anyhow, this year’s topic is “What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress?” Easy, peasy as (vegan) pie!

I have so many hopes, that it’s hard to choose just one. If forced, I’d have to get vague: Be progressive in words and actions.

But that doesn’t make for a very interesting post, so instead I’ll name my most immediate pro-choice hope for Obama: Repeal the Global Gag Rule. While this is only one of many pro-choice hopes I have for the Obama administration, I would love for it to be the first he enacts – because in so doing, he’ll send a strong, clear, pro-choice message, not just to the nation, but to the world.

Also known as The Mexico City Policy, the Global Gag Rule is a policy which

requires non-governmental organizations to “agree as a condition of their receipt of [U.S.] federal funds” that they will “neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations”. The policy has exceptions for abortions done in response to rape, incest, or life-threatening conditions.

Referrals to abortion providers – indeed, even broaching the subject of abortion – qualifies as “actively promot[ing] abortion.”

(More below the fold…)

Blogging for Choice: Animal Advocacy & Reproductive Rights

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

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Today marks the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade – and it’s also the fourth annual Blog for Choice Day!

This is the first year I’m participating in the blog swarm over here; in years past, I reasoned that reproductive rights were far enough removed from animal advocacy that a pro-choice post on an animal rights blog just wouldn’t make sense. The more I learn about intersecting oppressions, the more I realize how wrong, wrong, wrong I was.

There are many reasons why animal advocates should support a woman’s right to control her own reproductive system*: the environmental consequences of overpopulation and increased resource consumption; empowering women activists, who are overrepresented in the animal advocacy movement; a respect for bodily autonomy; and, perhaps most importantly, the similarities between speciesism and misogyny as expressed through the control of animals’ and women’s reproductive systems.

Much as a the reproductive systems of non-human animals are controlled, manipulated and exploited, anti-choicers seek to do the same to women.

First, let’s consider the ways in which humans manipulate animal reproduction in order to make a buck and satisfy a want (as opposed to a need):

Dairy cows are kept perpetually pregnant, so that they continue to produce milk. Typically, they produce up to 100 pounds of milk a day, or ten times as much as they might under natural conditions. The continued pregnancies and lactation is stressful on the cows’ bodies; common maladies include mastitis, ketosis, laminitis and “Milk Fever” (caused by a calcium deficiency). Once their calves are born, the sons are slaughtered to make beef or veal, while the daughters face the same fate as their mothers. Dairy cows usually live only 3 to 4 years before they, too, become beef; their natural life span is 25 years.

Egg-laying hens are packed into tiny cages, debeaked and forced to lay 250+ eggs per year. Since this is more than they would produce in the wild, their bodies are severely taxed; they may develop osteoporosis, fatty liver syndrome and cage layer fatigue. In order to eke a few extra eggs out of their hens, farmers initiate forced molts – they starve the entire flock simultaneously. Once the birds can no longer produce eggs – when they’re “spent” – they’re made into low-grade “meat” or “recycled” into animal feed. As with the dairy industry, male chicks are of no use to egg factories; consequently, farmers literally dispose of them: they’re stuffed into garbage bags to suffocate, thrown live into wood chippers, and otherwise treated like garbage.

Pigs, who are destined to become pork, don’t fare much better. Breeding sows are continually pregnant, birthing up to 20 piglets per year. During pregnancy, sows are confined to gestation crates; for birth, they’re transferred to farrowing crates. Piglets are taken from their mothers at 2 to 3 weeks of age. They are fattened up for “meat,” while heir mothers are forcibly impregnated again and again.

These are only three examples, taken from the modern animal agriculture industry. Add to this list dogs, cats, rats, ducks – basically any species of animal that humans “use” for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation, etc. is exploited in a similar manner.

Likewise, just as the megatheocorporatocracy exerts control over non-human animals’ sex organs, so too does it try to control women’s sexuality and reproduction. Exerting control over a woman’s reproductive cycle is just the first step in controlling her as a person.

(More below the fold…)

On Roe’s 35th, looking to the next generation.

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

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Get blogging, bitchez!

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with my little sis online while the (seemingly never ending) CNN campaign coverage droned on in the background. At 24, Michelle is only five years younger than this featherhead – but sometimes, the gap seems so much wider.

Though I took some women and gender studies courses while majoring in psychology in college, it was only in the years after graduation that I really discovered and embraced feminism. Not that was an anti-feminist in college, not at all; I just didn’t question, criticize, and examine the patriarchical culture in which I was – am – immersed. Like most women my age, I took hard-earned rights such as reproductive rights and the right to vote for granted, and casually threw around misogynistic terms such as “bitch” and “slut” – and not with the end goal of reclaiming them for the feminist side. Even though I was receptive to my feminist professor’s teachings, it took the internets to introduce me to patriarchy-blaming, I guess. Age and maturity most likely greased the old vagina, too.

Looking at Michelle, I see much of my teenage self in her; just, exaggerated. She’s also studying psych, but she’s veered towards more marketable psych skills – think occupational psychology. She’s never had the benefit of women or gender studies courses – not even a one! – and she’s not exactly politically active, either. In fact, she’s so indifferent to current events – particularly women’s issues – that it’s a little alarming, actually. Even as a little kiddo, I read the local newspaper.

Which brings me back to our conversation. At the time, the election issue de jour was the sexist attacks on Hillary and her subsequent “breakdown”. Half-listening to the coverage in the background, and suddenly a bit curious, I asked Michelle who she planned on voting for in the primaries. She was non-committal; “anyone but Hillary” was her reply. “Why not Hillary?” asked I, knowing full well what her answer would be. “Just don’t like her.” No reason, just a visceral reaction.

Assuming (ok, hoping!) that Michelle’s indecision only extended to the primaries, and that surely (please?) she’d vote Democrat in the national election no matter what, I asked her whether she’d vote for Hillary if she was the Democratic nominee…or if she’d rather vote Republican than support Hillary. “Eh…I’d probably vote for the Republican.”

(More below the fold…)

Blogging for Choice

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

A few weeks ago, NARAL sent out an action alert to their list of subscribers inviting readers to “Share Your Story”:

In honor of the 34th anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade decision, tell us why you are pro-choice.

Maybe you had a poignant experience with friends at your first pro-choice march or rally, a memorable conversation with a close female relative about a woman’s right to privacy, or encountered difficulties firsthand when trying to access abortion care or other reproductive-health service where you live.

Tell us your story by filling out the form below.

My submission was short and sweet: “My body, my choice. End of story.”

It should be the end of the story, anyway. Ideally, the discussion would start and end with “My body, my choice.” No further explanation necessary. And you don’t have to be a hairy-legged, man-hating, fetus-eating feminazi to understand that, if men were the ones carrying The Baybeez! to term, “My body, my choice” would be the end of the logical line.

(Of course, you could also argue that pregnant men would make for matriarchal society, since the time spent incapacitated by pregnancy and saddled with dependents is a large part of what’s held women down, but that a whole nother discussion.)

But they aren’t. And it’s not. And here we are, blogging for choice.

There are dozens of reasons why I’m pro-choice. Some are selfish: I’m not particularly fond of baybeez, and if I were to ever accidentally find myself with child, I’d abort it in a metaphorical heartbeat. Even if I were sterile, though, and the issue of choice didn’t affect me personally, I’d still want that right for other women. It’s a matter of basic human rights: no one, male or female, should be required to surrender their body, in whole or part, to another. So-called “pro-lifers” (who in reality aren’t very “pro-life” at all) would never even consider legislation that forces parents to donate their organs to ailing children; why, then, is it perfectly acceptable to demand that women hand over their bodies to unborn, non-sentient feti?

In one word: misogyny.

It’s all about punishing women who dare to have teh sex. It’s about control; controlling women’s sexuality, regulating their power, usurping their autonomy. About claiming their very bodies. Dehumanizing them and treating them like livestock.

“Pro-life” rhetoric is oftentimes framed in religious terms. Yet, I find such arguments disingenuous at best. “Pro-lifers” are more likely to identify as political conservatives who support the war in Iraq; oppose universal health care; and embrace tax breaks for the rich and disapprove of social programs that help those struggling with poverty, mental illness, unemployment, drug addiction, etc. In other words, in all but the sexual arena, these so-called “pro-life Christians” are quite un-Christlike.

Like religion itself, forced pregnancy is more about controlling women than honoring “God”.

Of course, our Constitution also guarantees the separation of church and state – meaning that religious anti-choice arguments are irrelevant in the “abortion wars”. If your God says that abortion is immoral, that’s fine by me. You have every right to follow your own religious mandates (as long as they don’t harm other living – and by “living”, I mean “born” – beings), just as I have every right to follow my secular humanist mandates. And neither of us has the right to force our own choices on the other.

My body, my choice. End of story.

Blog for Choice Day 2007