- Overview of Issue + brief lecture
- Small/Big Group Discussion
- Reminders about assignments/answer questions
- Informal midterm evaluations
- Blog folders AND Informal Writing Folders are due on Nov 8
- I will give you time in class this Thursday and next Tuesday and Thursday to plan with your social media groups. Make sure to use your time wisely.
- Any questions? Announcements?
The theme for today's class is: Reproductive Justice, a "woman's" issue? This week, we will continue to be curious about (and complicate) visions of reproductive rights and justice within feminist movement. Today's focus is on how the language used to describe and frame the issue, can be too narrow and lead to the exclusion of some folks, in this case, trans men, genderqueer folks, people who don't identify/present as women but that need and have abortions (and rely on other aspects of reproductive health too).
One purpose of today's class is to introduce some concepts that you might not be familiar with, concepts coming out of queer and trans theories that strive to deconstruct gender and to challenge the gender binary. Another purpose is to provide us with another way to think about/apply/complicate C Enloe's idea of feminist curiosity and "taking women's lives seriously." Is a feminist curiosity just about taking women's lives seriously? And yet another purpose is to reflect on how language matters and how framing the debate in particular ways shapes who is included/excluded and limits the possible solutions that we can imagine.
DOWNLOAD NOTES FOR CLASS HERE.
1. The failure to include...
"to truly be a trans ally and achieve reproductive justice, we should all stop saying and stop thinking that abortion is a women's issue, since it's not just cis women that have abortions, but also trans men, gender queer people, and many more people who may not fit into the box of 'woman'" (from: http://feministing.com/2011/04/19/behind-the-backlash-whats-so-scary-about-deconstructing-the-gender-binary)
"There are trans men, intersex men, and a whole range of gender non-conforming folks who need access to pregnancy, abortion and birth related health care, to pap smears, to a range of procedures that we talk about in a very gendered way" (from: http://feministing.com/2011/04/21/expanding-abortion-care-and-gender-politics ).
2. ...leads to lack of access...
"Excluding everyone but women from our understanding of the group of people who have abortions is dangerous. It makes the procedure less accessible to people who already fall into the margins around health care access. It makes clinics less accessible, potentially a hostile place to male or masculine presenting folks. It makes health information less accessible because folks don't see themselves reflected in informational materials (from: http://feministing.com/2011/04/21/expanding-abortion-care-and-gender-politics).
from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey
3. ...and the reinforcing of a narrow vision of the problem.
"Because we accept that the debate lives inside the rules of the compulsory gender binary, the forcing of everyone into the boxes male and female. One very small box for people with gendered power: men, one slightly bigger for people to oppress along the lines of gender: women. And way too many of us who fall outside the acceptable rules of either of those boxes because of a whole host of intersecting systems of oppression - race, class, ability, sexuality, etc and gender identity are all reasons we're told we don't fit. This binary gender system is used to consolidate power in a few white cis male hands and to oppress cis women and everyone else. Wanting to keep abortion politics inside the narrow box of cis women, inside patriarchy's acceptable box of gender oppression, ain't the way to liberation - or even good health care" (from: http://feministing.com/2011/04/21/expanding-abortion-care-and-gender-politics)
4. We need to be curious...
"how do we begin to address trans issues, particularly trans reproductive issues, outside of transitioning itself? How do we make prochoice about more than the gender binary? How do we work with language? How do we do direct outreach, how do we make clinics and doctor's offices and family planning centers truly safe spaces? What other questions do you have" (from: http://abortiongang.org/2011/08/transgender-and-choice-can-we-start-a-conversation)?
5. and expand and complicate our understanding of the issue.
"Because my oppression is tied to your oppression. Because reproductive oppression and oppression based on gender isn't just experienced by cisgender women. Because to get at this reality we need an expanded understanding of gender oppression and an expanded politics built on solidarity among all people experiencing oppression through the same and interconnected systems" (from: http://feministing.com/2011/04/21/expanding-abortion-care-and-gender-politics)
the limits and of LANGUAGE
the difficult labor of INCLUSION and SOLIDARITY
RE-FRAMING THE ISSUE beyond "woman/women"
thinking through the meanings of REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE
6. Dean Spade on language and the reinforcing of gender norms
A central endeavor of feminist, queer, and trans activists has been to dismantle the cultural ideologies, social and legal norms that say that certain body parts determine gender identity and gendered social characteristics and roles. We've fought against the idea that the presence of uteruses or ovaries or penises should be understood to determine such things as people's intelligence, proper parental roles, proper physical appearance, proper gender identity, proper labor roles, proper sexual partners and activities, and capacity to make decisions.
to ensure that we aren't reinforcing oppressive gender norms, we should:
- talk about body parts (ovaries, penises, uteruses, vulvas) without assigning those parts a gender
- use internal reproductive organs instead of "women's reproductive organs"
- use "people who menstruate" "people who are pregnant" "people who produce sperm"
- use "not trans" or "non-trans" or "cisgender" rather than biologically male/female
- use "assigned male" or "assigned female" rather than rather than biologically male/female
If we know we're going to be talking about bodies, taking the adjectives "male" and "female" or "masculine" and "feminine" out of our vocabularies for describing body parts or systems can help us avoid alienating or offending the people we are talking to. This may help improve access to whatever we are offering for people who are often alienated from much needed health services.
terms to define:
TRANSGENDER (from Stryker. Transgender History) any and all kinds of variation from gender norms and expectations
CISGENDER (from Transgriot) cisgender means your body and the gender identity housed between your ears is comfortably aligned; opposite of transgender, used to refer to folks whose bodies align with gender identity
GENDER BINARY rigid gender system in which one is either a man or a woman
Want to know more? Check out these RESOURCES:
See after jump for in-class assignment.