Wednesday, January 25, 2012

An F-Word List

In honor of my support for the protection of women's reproductive rights, health and family planning, here's a little list celebrating a few of my favorite "f-words." In no particular order:

Girl Scouts - Dedicated to the empowerment of girls, the Girl Scout Movement is an incredible organization. It promotes individual accomplishments, as well as working together to generate positive change in the world. I grew up a Girl Scout, and I am now an adult member of the Girl Scout Movement (At this point I donate money rather than time to the cause - someday I would like to actually participate more actively.). I recall fondly the camp songs, cleaning the Fair Grounds (I lived in a rural area) every summer, hiking for miles at day camp, trying new things (like rappelling), making crafts and earning badges. In fact, most of the girls I still keep in touch with from my childhood were Girl Scouts with me once upon a time. According the Girl Scouts' official website, 2/3 of the female members of Congress were Girl Scouts, and the Girl Scout Movement does have an important advocacy component. It supports pro-girl policies, such as healthy media images, anti-bullying legislation, physical fitness, the development of financial literacy skills, civil rights/diversity, etc. And, eek!, I can't forget the Girl Scout Cookies!

I'd love to know your thoughts on this book.

Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and The Future by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards - The authors touch upon topics as varied as The Spice Girls and NOW. The book received mixed reviews, but it excited me. Despite its faults, it is a good introduction written by younger women who explain feminism, with its complexities and contradictions, in a way I can relate to. Baumgardner and Richards say of reproductive rights: "It is not feminism's goal to control any woman's fertility, only to free each woman to control her own."

UNFPA (The United Nations Population Fund) -  UNFPA works around the world to protect women's reproductive health and rights, reduce maternal mortality rates, give women access to tools for family planning, etc. 

I still have all my Sassy Magazines!!
Sassy Magazine -  God Bless Sassy Magazine! It truly helped shape me into the woman I am. Filled with Doc Martens, endless plaid, flowy prairie skirts, and brave and rad girls, this magazine truly inspired me as a pre- and early teen. Not only did it acquaint me with Bikini Kill, but it also published firsthand accounts of activism and introduced me to the word feminist.

At left: Hannah Wilke, S.O.S. Starification Object Series, 1974, Black-and-white photograph. At right: Panel 2 of July 26, 1992/February 19, 1992 #4 from INTRA-VENUS series, 1992-93, Chromagenic supergloss print with overlaminate, 71 1/2 in. x 47 1/2 in. each, Edition of 3. Check out these pieces and more here.

Performance Art/Body Art - So much tremendous artwork has been made by female artists who employ their own bodies and physical actions. It has influenced my own work and the way I think about art, for sure. Some examples of artists who are associated with Body Art or Performance Art are Hannah Wilke, Ana Mendieta, Carolee Schneeman, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Yoko Ono, and Orlan. Needless to say, there are MANY more amazing artists who happen to be women.

Planned Parenthood - This organization provides affordable primary and reproductive healthcare. It educates people on healthy sexuality and family planning, and it advocates for  policies that support reproductive and sexual health and the spread of education and information.

A powerful song. Who woulda thunk it would end up on Rock Band 2?

Riot Grrrls - I feel like my own interest in blogging must have stemmed, in part, from the DIY ethos of the Riot Grrrl movement. These grrrls took on the whole world, and they killed.

Male Feminists - Yes, they exist, and thankfully so. Men make up half the world's population, and women certainly can't expect to gain and/or keep their rights without the support of like-minded men.

Birth Control - I had to add it. It has protected many a sister, and it has given women the freedom to express their sexuality as never before in human history.

Susan B. Anthony, who died in 1906, 14 years before women won the right to vote in the United States.

Susan B. Anthony - I use Susan B. as the figurehead, but there are so many women (such as Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Angelina and Sarah Grimke, Sojourner Truth, etc.) who worked their booties off without seeing the fruits of their labor in their own lifetimes. They worked for the women of the future. Because of that, I believe we should honor and remember those who came before us, and work hard with our contemporaries to make things better for those who come after us. My fear is of becoming complacent. It has taken generations to win the rights we possess today. Even if we can't always relate to our foremothers, let's not ever forget it was not so long ago that married women gained legal access to the Pill and an even shorter amount of time since single ladies gained legal access. Women in my generation cannot even imagine a world without the Pill or the legal right to a safe abortion. Let's not even mention the right to vote and, ahem, the right to open a credit card account without your husband's permission.

Other Women - I LOVE WOMEN! I LOVE BEING A WOMAN! I know women come from a variety of perspectives, and I know some of you women reading this may disagree with part or all of my f-word list. However, I think we all want to live as well as we possibly can. Let's agree to support one another in our endeavors, even if we disagree.

In my world, feminism is not a dirty word, and I am still waiting for the ratification of The Equal Rights Amendment. How about you? What are your favorite f-words? Do you refer to yourself as a feminist?


Alison :)

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