I am currently teaching an upper-division undergraduate course on the history of women in the modern United States. Because I’ve been teaching for several years now, and because my courses have almost always included some kind of study of women and gender, I was not surprised when, during the very first class, one of my students raised her hand and began her response to one of my questions with that ubiquitous disclaimer: “I’m not a feminist, but . . .”
So far, 2012 has seen state legislators proposing an unprecedented number of bills aimed at regulating women’s access to various reproductive health services, including mammograms, annual pap smears to detect cervical cancer, contraceptives, and abortion, as well as women’s ability to pay for these services through private and public insurance providers. The underlying assumption in all of this health legislation is that women are unable to make informed, responsible decisions about their bodies unless they are mandated to do so by the state. A parallel implication is that even the physicians treating these women are incapable of making medically appropriate decisions without state interference. Medical professionals finally began fighting back on this political trespassing on their terrain just this week.
Combatting Bigotry: Activist Opportunities with Unite Women
Are you bothered by the nearly 1,000 in anti-woman legislation proposed in the past two years? Are you flabbergasted that the Violence Against Women Act is having trouble passing this session? Are you livid over bigoted comments like abused women should “remember the better times” or LGBT individuals should be put behind “electric fences”? Are discussions over the pill and birth control making you ask “this is 2012, right?!? And not 1960?….” Here is a chance to do something!