Can we ever stop talking about anti-choice feminism?

Looks like the answer is no!  The discussion that Palin sparked when she identified as a feminist has really created chaos all over the blogosphere and media in general.  I just read another article, this time on FOX news written by Marjorie Dannenfeiser (the president of the Susan B. Anthony List) called “A Victory for Pro-Life Women In Politics.” I am not sure what victory she is referring to, but she does spend quite some time misrepresenting pro-choice feminism. If you want to read the article and tell her what your thoughts are, click here! I wrote a comment in response as well, however, the author only allowed one of the comments to go through.

As a pro-choice feminist, I feel I must bring up another side of this issue. FIrst, “pro-life feminism” is something that is widely debated within the feminist community: some believe it can work and others don’t. Personally, I think being a feminist is about recognizing the systems of inequality that exist within our society and understanding why some women may need to have abortions. If it is not the right time for that individual to start a family, they should not have to. They may make this decision for whatever reason (fear of abusive partner, desire to continue education or work, lack of financial stability, etc.). Regardless, this is a personal decision that no one should be able to make except the specific individual.

Second, you say that low class women and women of color are more reluctant to have an abortion but you do not mention how and why they are more likely to have an abortion.  We still live in a white supremacist society where people of color are constantly being discriminated against.  Take the criminal justice system for example, where the majority of prisoners are men of color in prison for nonviolent offenses.  One in three African American men are currently in prison, on parole, or on probation, which leaves many women without their partners that could help them raise a family.  Also, if a low class woman were to have a child, she would not be able to access the resources she needs to provide for the child.  Bringing a child into the world is a huge responsibility and there are many things to consider before making this choice.  Financial stability is one key factor and many people do not feel comfortable starting a family if they know they will not be able to support them. 

You also mention that women report feeling pressured to not have children in order to keep their position at work.  Mothers in the workplaces unfortunately are not treated in the same way that men and/or women without children are treated.  First, maternal leave is three months, unpaid.  A woman would need to return to the workplace immediately following her pregnancy and not have time to spend bonding with her child.  She would also need to find somewhere to leave her child while at work which would be very expensive.  Next, when a mother and a woman who is not a mother are applying for the same job, employers almost always hire the woman without children because the mother is seen as more likely to take time off and prioritize her family.  Being a mother decreases job opportunities.  Also, woman in the workplace still make 78 cents to the dollar (on average, holding constant for all variables) to what men make.  Sexism is still very prevalent in the workplace and women have to recognize this when making decisions in their lives.  Until the institution of the workplace undergoes reform, this is going to continue happening.

Lastly, I think it is crucial to clarify the meaning of feminism.  It is the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes (you can find this definition in any dictionary).  Every person has the right to define feminism as they so choose, but feminism at its core is about equality for all people, regardless of gender, sex, class, race, religion, etc.  In order to claim the feminist identity, you need to respect people and treat them equally.  There are many issues that all feminists do not agree on (ex. sex work and trafficking) and that is okay because it allows us as feminists to educate each other on new perspectives.

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