Recently in Question 2: 2/9-2/11 Category

Direct Engagement , Choice

There are many ways to define the word "choice". Everyone has more than one choice, actually there are many choices.
My definition of "choice" is the opportunity that everyone should have in his or her life. It depend on the circumstance. This is the feminist debate class and someone ask me why did I choose this class instead of the other classes?? I would say "this is my choice".
Not only women but also men have limits in their choices. In this class, we are studying feminism and everyone argues that women have the right to make their reproductive right.
It is true in some circumstance but not always. If a woman choose to get married, should she deliver a child to her husband?? I think marriage means nothing if the couple does not have any child. It is the same as someone who chose to join to the army national guard. After his choice, he has to go to Iraq or Afghanistan. He could not say that he had the right to choose not to go to the war. He could not blame to either Bush or Obama because it is his duty.
I tried to understand the article "Killing the Black Body" by Dorothy Roberts
I think that she tried to get readers' attention on black women feminism and their reproductive right. Since there are so many issue are going on in her article such as liberal and conservative, civil right, government policy ,welfare, feminism and reproductive right. I think that she tried to mention the saturation that black women faced not only racism issue but also the gander issue such as reproductive right.
Her article keeps calling me back to the days that Martin Luther King fought for the civil right. Did he also work on the feminist issue beside civil right. If he did where did he stand for birth control and reproductive right for women ???

Direct Engagement 2...

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Choice is the opportunity to select between more than one option pertaining to ones life. Sometimes the best choice is to chose nothing at all. I think that the right to choose is one of the most fundamental right for feminists, along with being given the opportunity to chose for oneself. You can give someone a right to chose, but still suppress them by limiting what they have to chose from. I think that the fundamental right of "choice" makes this individual "right" prominent in all other "rights". Choice liberates oppression, and again as I stated that opportunity is critical as well. If one doesn't have the same opportunities as everyone else in society, I would think of it as more direction...hence a small form of oppression, rather then a choice. Choice relates to all facets of society, religion, food, hobbies, tradition, holidays, culture, birth control, politics, just as it relates to all aspects of a feminist such as work, reproductive rights, dress, sex, partners, relationships, etc. I believe this is the single most value that has benefited the feminist movement the greatest. I cant help but to recollect reading "Killing the Black Body" by Dorothy Roberts of how a large number of women were given hysterectomies without their consent. I was outraged by reading that this actually happened. This is such an inhumane way to treat an individual and I totally disagree with it. This is what I explained, they were giving the choice to have sex and have a baby (and in one specific case a young woman was given a hysterectomy because she was promiscuous), but they were not given the choice when they went in to have the baby delivered and were forced to have a hysterectomy or be discharged from the hospital. This is a case where the oppression was the women not being given the same choice as everyone else. However, I do think that some choices should not be allowed, such as the mandatory castration of sex offenders. I would be for that to this day in my strong opinion. However, my whole point is that it is alright to regulate some choices as a society to protect people from themselves, just don't do it based on the reasoning of their sex, religion, race, etc. Then it becomes oppression. (sorry it was late, the due date on the sheet said the 9th and despite the class conversation it completely skipped my mind).

The Meaning of Liberty

This article raised some excellent issues in the difference between liberty and equality. I don't think there are many people who could argue with Roberts distinction between the two. Most definitely our society has prized our individual freedoms, and our right to not be dictated to by the government as one of its highest values, but this does not mean that everyone has the same access and opportunities to really have what would qualify as freedom.
I looked into several issues that Roberts mentioned to discover examples of government coercion of Black women concerning their reproductive rights, and found a website that mentions cases from the past 15-20 years. Many of these examples may no longer be current, but it is shocking that all of them have happened so recently. http://academic.udayton.edu/health/05bioethics/98ludwig.htm#Walker
Here is a recap of examples I found: The government has provided unlimited funding for Norplant, while restricted funding through Medicaid for its removal. The government, through the Dept. of Human Services, has mandated offering birth control to women who have used state and federal subsidy programs during their pregnancies, and also to families applying for aid. The government has limited welfare for families who have more children while receiving aid, unless the pregnancy was a result of failed birth control. And finally, judges have coerced women to use Norplant as a condition for probation or to receive a reduced sentence.
The issues that Roberts raises are justified and important, procreation is a human right. However, I still questioned her stance on child abusers and women giving birth to children while addicted to crack. Most definitely it is necessary to address the social conditions that perpetuate these situations rather than simply penalize these women, but as someone with an adopted brother who suffers from Fetal-Alcohol-Syndrome, I know firsthand the damage that these choices can do to the child, and the family of the child. Where is the balance between the woman's reproductive right, and the future of the child she brings into the world? I am not talking about children with disabilities. I view FAS as something different because its cause is directly related to a repeated decision on the part of the mother to put her child at risk. I see the point that Roberts is making that no matter what a woman does, reproduction is a human right that cannot be dictated by the government. I am absolutely against any distinction made of the basis of race or conditions perpetuated by policies that are racist and uninterested in equality, but are there any limits, and should there be limits when one human right directly violates the human rights of another? Who gets to trump?

Direct Engagment

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Choice is the fundamental right of the feminist movement. Choice encompasses all feminist issues, the choice to marry, the choice to work or stay home, and the most known choice, reproductive rights. It is, perhaps, the most controversial issue in our nation today. The mere mention of the word 'abortion' conjures strong reactions among almost anyone you meet. Fundamental issues of any movement change. They change to reflect the pressing concerns of the time. In the early 20th century, suffrage was the cornerstone of the feminist movement, it was the essential issue. In the 1960s, it was challenging social gender norms and liberating women.

Dorothy Roberts argues that the contraceptive movement and reproductive rights are products born out of racism. She asserts that these are merely another means to oppress blacks in America. It is understandable, why blacks may distrust the establishment after centuries of oppression and betrayal, but reproductive rights are about liberation, regardless of color. At the end of the day, it is the choice of women to use contraception or have an abortion.

Deciding who gets a vote or a say on the topic of abortion is a hotly debated issue. It should not be an issue. Women are and should be the masters of their bodies. Reproductive rights are the fundamental issue, because it is essential for the liberation of women. Education and literature concerning reproductive rights should be freely distributed, so when the occasion arises, women are prepared to make the choice that best suits their life.


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I don't think I could describe what choice is better than Allison Crews in her article "And So I chose." The last paragraph explains what being pro-choice means to her, and I couldn't agree more. I think choice is the most fundamental right for feminists. Without choice our only option is to submit to the white supremacist capitalist patriarchal system that tells us what we should do with our bodies, our choices, our lives. I think there are other rights that feminists need to work for, but nothing is more important than our right to choose. First and foremost, if women cannot choose what to do in their private lives, then how are women supposed to fight for other rights in the public sphere? I do not think there should be any limits to our ability to choose. Like Crew listed for almost a full page, there are really no limits to the decisions we can make. I liked when Loretta Ross said, "Despite government and moralistic pronouncements, women perceive their reproductive decisions as private... Even when the law, the church, or their partners oppose their decisions, they tend to make the decision... for themselves." No matter the limits that are set by the governments or the church, women always have the ability to take matters into their own hands. Each woman individually should always be in control of setting limits or no limits for herself.

What bothered me the most while reading these articles was all the talk about family planning as means to control population growth and to also hinder crime rates in neighborhoods of color. I find it disturbing how some think forced sterilization and contraceptive use will in turn eradicate crime rates. Instead of spending all this money on "controlling the population," I feel that this money could be better spent getting to the real root of the problem, and that problem is not the existence of that race. Perhaps if the government could provide better sexual education programs, better education in general, a better welfare policy and a livable minimum wage, these would help reduce crime, while at the same time empowering not only women and people of color, but the whole population.
I apologize for the rant.

Choosing Motherhood...

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Dorothy Roberts focuses on the intersections of racial inequality and reproductive rights in chapter 7: The Meaning of Liberty. Here she proposes that liberty not only be viewed as a negative right protecting us from governmental harm, but that liberty should instead extend beyond this and serve to address social inequalities.

What is of primary concern is not just having the right to choose, but having access to the necessary resources in which to make an informed choice. Restrictions on welfare benefits in regards to procreation encourage temporary or permanent sterilization and in effect certain women "are penalized because the combination of their poverty, race, and marital status is seen to make them unworthy of procreating" (305). So the issue of choice here is not just whether or not women have access and means to birth control and/or abortion but also if they will be supported in motherhood and if they will valued in society.

The reproductive rights debate in this country seems to be always centered on the right of women to decide to have an abortion or to use birth control methods. To think of reproductive rights in terms of the right to motherhood is an all together different concept. I was not aware of the fact that often women on welfare are essentially coerced into preventing pregnancy and will not receive more benefits with more births. That a woman potentially has this to weigh in regards to her decisions of becoming a mother echoes of involuntary sterilization.

Direct Engagement

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For a woman, the choice to get pregnant, go through with a pregnancy, or put up a child for adoption is quite a weighty decision. While I fully believe that every woman should have the right to choose exactly how to carry out her reproductive life, I also agree with Crews that this right includes the right to have all the facts. Knowledge about reproduction should be made public and easily accessible for everyone, and I also think it should be taught in schools. Women should have the right of choice, but this right comes with a responsibility to know the facts and the impact of whatever choice is made.
When it comes to the choice the article "On Language" discusses on how women choose to balance their family life and their career, I also believe women need to be well informed early on in order to make the best decision for themselves. In my generation many girls have been raised to believe we can "have it all" when it comes to family and work. However, there are sacrifices in the home a woman must make if she chooses to be a career woman, such as putting children into day care. A woman must decide if she is willing to make such sacrifices in order to maintain her career before having children because once she makes the choice to start a family, there is no turning back.

Direct Engagement

| 4 Comments

I've always taken the idea of choice for granted. In today's consumer culture, there are millions of different stores, restaurants, sizes, styles, and heck, even brands of bottled water to choose from.
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But it is apparent that the same cannot be said about matters involving reproductive rights. Crews outlines very effectively how quickly "choice" can turn into others forcing their opinions onto you, no matter towards which side they may lean. However, Crews also hits home how important it is to have choices, and not only choices, but also adequate information and resources to learn and carry out certain choices. Her description at the end of the essay about which rights a woman should have really encapsulates the meaning of choice for me.

The only problem I had with her points was the part about the right to "deliver alone in our home, catching our babies with our own hands." I think this is definitely a limit for me in the right to choose. I believe that home births without a properly trained physician standing by are reckless. It's one thing to risk your own life, but to risk the life of the child that you have chosen to keep and care for (or give up to adoption for someone else to care for) is an entirely different matter.

I also think that while reproductive rights is an incredibly important topic, there are more fundamental ones for feminists. In "Kililng the Black Body," Roberts expounds on the concept of the word "liberty," explaining that liberty should stretch across all races and cultures. While she is directing her statements toward issues of reproductive rights, I think she hits upon a very poignant issue. Having the liberty to control your own body is a very important right, but there is an underlying issue that is more basic and essential - the acceptance of the entirety of humanity. It is impossible to move forward with instilling the ideas of reproductive rights into society if they lend themselves to further entrenching racism into society.

Also, since we're on the topic of things involving or potentially involving babies, I thought I'd share:
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Direct Engagement

Choice...

what a complicated, multi-faceted, and politicized word. When I hear the word "choice", reproductive rights immediately pop into my head. But after reading the article "On Language" from Bitchfest, choice becomes so much more complex. Jervis and Zeisler explain how choice has become to mean not merely a decision, but a decision that has been "swayed by underlying socioeconomic forces", such as the decision to work or stay home.

Bringing the topic back to choice, the word is indeed most strongly correlated and associated with abortion rights, which is probably why that issue first came to my mind; but over the years, "choice" has been highly politicized and has had an "uneasy relationship" with the ideology of feminism.

The way the meaning of choice becomes politicized boils down to negative and positive connotations; "choice" avoids addressing the word abortion, it is open to personal interpretation, and can therefore "unite" different political parties.

The politicization of the word can be attributed to its weakness, though. By leaving the definition open, it led religious leaders, boyfriends, and parents to think they were "rightful participants in making the abortion choice". The word choice should stay in the realm of reproductive rights to preserve its feminist meaning and importance.

I believe that the right to choose is the most fundamental right for feminists. Without having control of our own bodies, the power shift is enormous and equality is non-existent. By coming up with a concise, feministic, non-politicized definition for "choice" the issue of reproductive rights will become more clear; maybe the right to choose will not be seen as a dividing factor, but as a necessity to equalize society.

Direct Engagement Question 2

hp_naral_logo.gifWhat is choice? Is the right to choose the most fundamental right for feminists? Are there other rights that are just as important? Should there be limits to our ability to "choose"? Who gets to decide those limits? Focus your direct engagement on how some or all (Roberts, Ross, Sayce/Perkins, Crews, Bitchfest) enage with these questions.

Note: You do not have to answer all of these questions or use all of the readings. This direct engagement is for Group D. Groups A and B will be commenting. Members of Group C must post their "this is a feminist issue because..." examples.

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