For over seven decades, I have lived with ovaries, a uterus, and mammary glands, all of which classify me as a female mammal.
My conundrum: I am a member of the only species of such animals that has been equally feared and favored, reviled, and revered, worshiped, and whipped, beatiﬁed, and burned (at the stake), legislated against (as property, over pregnancy and contraception issues) and lobbied for (voting rights, equitable pay, equal access), suppressed and supported, venerated (the joys of motherhood) and vulnerable (victims of sexual violence), just because I was born with these physical attributes.
Statistically, I represent over one half of the earth’s population of people: a female at birth.
Yet, as a female, my plight, even in the so-called western world, which is full of certain levels of sophistication, scientiﬁc advancements, and well thought out laws, is still threatened by so much current backward thinking.
Much of the maligned thinking is embedded in the culture of the “West”rooted in misapplications of Abrahamic traditions which is undergoing its own revolution of sorts. The most recent split in the Southern Baptist Convention over having women pastors is a case in point.
Living in a male dominated patriarchy, driven by a thousand forms of fear, mixed with myth and sheer ignorance, is laced with loathing of all things female. It has brought us to this place of outrage at the continuing movement to control reproduction.
The latest? Opill: the new FDA approved over-the-counter contraception pill.
At issue? Number one, there is no age limit for obtaining the medication. Secondly, it is still unknown whether insurance will cover some, or all the costs.
Number three: interference with the free market response to this new drug which is potentially a big proﬁt-making commodity for retail stores, e.g., Walmart, Walgreens, et al.
So, before the pill hits the shelves, the forces against it are shaping up, and many of those opposed are other women!
Shades of Anita Bryant and Phyllis Schlafly!
Enter Mom’s for Liberty, a group which pushes a narrowly focused agenda, often described as rightist, and many more of their ilk who are selling the narrative that real women, i.e., “cisgender” women should have a “place” in society. They are disrupters of another kind, unlike Eve, the original disruptor, who has been forever blamed.
They support a platform of narrowing the book selections, anti-LGBTQ+, and eliminating racial subject matters in schools. What’s next?
Many of these women are parents who adhere to the belief that as “mothers’ they know better than anyone else about the health and well-being of the majority! They have taken a page from a ﬁctitious book which promotes the notion that mothers are venerable simply by virtue of having given birth!
This group has artiﬁcially elevated the status of a working womb.
I am speaking from experience: I gave birth to two healthy, intelligent human males who are contributing members of society; they have children of their own. Yet, those biological incidents do not give me any leverage over anyone’s rights to choose how to manage their own health care.
I say to all women who refuse to accept artiﬁcial and arbitrarily assigned roles in our society, who constantly challenge the status quo and who assert their inalienable right to exist, stay focused on what matters most.
Black women at large, have been on the front lines of any struggle for our freedoms, and along with many Black men, have been attacked for bringing matters of life and death to the attention of so-called authorities.
The battle for life-afﬁrming medical treatment for Black women is paramount.
Disparities in medical diagnosis and various forms of maltreatment is the subject of several recent news stories, but it is not news. From the time of enslavement, the bodies of Black women have been experimented on (early forays into gynecological practices), subjected to forms of torture (procedures done with little or no anesthetics), exploited (see the DNA of Henrietta Lacks), and now from sheer neglect (incidents of infant and maternal deaths during childbirth are increasing). Where does it end?
Black women must take control over their bodies. We cannot give ourselves over to the care of biased medical workers and the inattention of society.
Our sororities and other organized social/civic/community associations must form brigades against the injustices still suffered by too many of us.
Can we form such a movement? What is the message? Will the “brothers” support us?
It is a matter of life and death of our bodies and souls.
Our nation depends on having strong, healthy, and autonomous Black citizens, men and women.
And we need to identify and cultivate political advocates to put in ofﬁce. And we must vote, vote, vote!