Gloria Steinem Puts Reproductive Rights into Perspective (video)

Gloria Steinem Puts Reproductive Rights into Perspective (video)

(Crystal A. Proxmire, May 13, 2014)

Over 900 people packed the Henry in Dearborn to listen to women’s rights activist Gloria Steinemseed04_galloway talk about her lifelong fight for equality. For 80 years she has experienced patriarchy, and as she spoke to people of all ages at Planned Parenthood’s 20th Annual Luncheon, her message is the same as it was in her twenties and thirties.

“The shortest way I’ve been able to say what it is that we’re after her on this spaceship earth is to understand, as Candlewickshop_May2014we understood for 95% of human history, before patriarchy, before the idea that it was okay to conquer nature, conquer women, before that, that we are linked. We are not ranked. The circle is our paradigm, not the pyramid,” she said.

She put the work of Planned Parenthood into a context more broad than typically thought of for the organization. In Mid and South Michigan, for example, Planned Parenthood has 17 health care facilities that serve over 61,000 patients each year with services like annual exams, breast exams, birth control and education about reproductive health options. For many women, particularly those who are PrideProm Library Friends Aduninsured and low-income, the organization is their only source of medical care.

But beyond the immediate health concerns, the on-going battle for women’s health care is a worldwide issue, tied into issues of classism, racism, and power.

“If you say that half of the human race should be controlled by the other half of the human race, it’s a lie. And it takes a lot of violence to perpetuate a lie like that. We see a lot of violence against female human beings,” Steinem said.

In places where cultures are unequal or at war, the mistreatment of women is tied to their ability to reproduce. “If you think of the news now, what’s happening in Nigeria, and what’s happening with women being stolen, women being sold,” seed01_bridget and kevin deegan krauseshe said. “I want to emphasize how basic reproductive freedom is. …Wherever there is racism it is much worse for women. The history of our own country should tell us that. In the south it was much more restrictive for white women too because the women of the ruling class have to be restricted in order to keep that group ‘pure,”… And is also means that the women of the so-called ‘inferior’ group are exploited. Racism affects all women whether they are restricted or exploited it makes life impossible for all women. That is true of class, of caste in India. That is true of all the birth-based hierarchical divisions, they depend on controlling reproduction.

In the United States, violence against women is demonstrated in domestic violence, including murder. She shared the idea that men, particularly those who are white and economically well-off, have the assumption jennifer sandler bowen reflexologyof superiority ingrained in them from childhood that belittling and abusing women seems like a societal norm. One reaction to having their authority threatened is violence.

Steinem described the strife she sees in America today. “Those folks, through no fault of theirs, were born into a deep belief that this is a white Christian country, and should remain one, are very aware that in about 20 minutes it’s not going to be a majority white country any more. And they are in full backlash. It’s why the same groups are against sex education and contraception, ctechadagainst safe and legal abortion, that are against immigration. They are all the same people because we are on the cusp of becoming a country that is no longer a majority white,” she said. “It’s more interesting to us, right? But it’s very threatening to a whole group of people.”

Among those Steinem mentioned are families in the Quiverfull movement, who seek to have as many children as possible, with their decision tied to religious reasoning and strength in numbers. It also includes those who oppose equality based on gender or sexual orientation.

“I speak on campuses a lot and the kids will say to me, ‘How come the same groups are against lesbians and birth control?’ You have to understand that these groups are deeply against any sexual expression that can’t end in conception,” Steinem said. The division between men and women is greatest when women are kept out of workplace seed11_monte_albertopportunities due to oppression and childbearing, and men too are limited when they are kept under pressure not to be too involved with their family life, she explained.

In a press conference after the luncheon, Steinem spoke about how the internet is changing things, making movements like “Occupy Wall Street,” possible. Yet she also is concerned that the web will go in the same direction as other sources of information. “The web is the biggest change, and I think we don’t know yet what’s going to happen. If the web depends on advertising to the degree that current media depends on advertising, it will be a problem all over again,” she said.

The luncheon helped Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan raise money that will be used, the program stated, to “bridge the gap between what our patients can afford to pay and the cost of their care – so that everyone can receive the health care they need when they need it, not just when they can afford it.” In addition to Steinem’s speech, two women were honored with the Wally Klein Leadership Award: Nancy Goldman and Fern Kepes.

To learn more about Planned Parenthood visit www.PPMSM.org.

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