Behold the squabbling activists

June 24, 2010 § 4 Comments

You might have heard about the Reproductive Health Act. In fact, I hope you have, because I’ve been writing about it incessantly since the beginning of this blog. It’s an awesome and necessary bill that I, personally, me, this person right here who is in high school and not a paid lobbyist, have been invested in for the past two years.

The bill will update New York State’s abortion law for the first time since Roe. It will remove abortion from the criminal code, where the right to choose is stated as an exception to homicide, and put it into the public health code where it belongs. Perhaps most importantly, the bill will permit late-term abortions not only if a woman’s life is in danger, but also in cases where her health is threatened. When the RHA is passed, New York’s women will no longer have to rely on federal legislation to protect our fundamental right to choose; no matter what happens on the national level, our rights will be covered.

People have been talking about the RHA a lot recently because the state legislative session is likely to end soon, as soon as the state budget is passed. (Once the session ends, the senators won’t come back to work until January.) Though the budget is top priority, the senators have been discussing and passing other legislation in the meantime, so it’s not unfeasible that the RHA might be introduced before the end of the session.

There’s another layer of complexity with this bill: different advocacy groups have different ideas about the most effective lobbying methods. Some groups, like NARAL Pro-Choice New York (which — full disclosure — I volunteer with and love), are calling for the bill to be introduced as soon as possible, even if it doesn’t get passed during this session. The idea behind this is that pro-choice organizations and voters will know where their representatives stand on choice issues, and hold accountable those who say they are pro-choice but vote otherwise. This is especially important because this fall is election season. Other groups, most notably Family Planning Advocates of New York State, would rather wait to introduce the bill until it is very likely to pass.

Interesting, yes! Very political, slightly exhausting, undeniably nuanced.

Nuance! It is great. Here is something that is not nuanced: the title of Nicholas Confessore’s New York Times City Room blog post on this issue.

Abortion Rights Supporters Squabble Over Bill.

Squabble.

Squabble.

Here, if you are wondering, is a reliable dictionary definition of that heinous word, squabble: “to engage in a disagreeable argument, usually over a trivial matter.” Fascinating! Because do you know what is not, in fact, a “trivial matter”? WOMEN’S AUTONOMY AND CONTROL OVER OUR OWN BODIES. And do you know who, in fact, might agree with me? MORE THAN HALF THE POPULATION OF THIS FINE STATE.

Fuck this shit.

The media loves to focus on “squabbling” women because it is so easy! It is so fucking easy to get a reader’s attention by writing “Hey! Look at these silly catfighting ladies!” instead of delving into complex political issues. That’s lazy journalism, and entrenched sexism. It’s part of a larger social pattern of framing conflicts between women as desperate and catty, while positioning male conflicts as stoic and totes serious. It’s part of a widespread attempt to delegitimize women’s extremely legitimate political frustrations.

I find this article absolutely hilarious. Because do you know who is actually squabbling? The fucking State Senate! You know, the people who we pay to get important shit done, like, you know, the budget for the entire state of New York. And who we rely on to keep their shit together, not, you know, act like “feuding junior high schoolers.” Have people forgotten about that outrageous, embarrassing, and illegal COUP that happened last June? I remember. I can’t forget.

New York’s women have waited long enough for the Reproductive Health Act. We’re not squabbling. We’re demanding what we deserve.

§ 4 Responses to Behold the squabbling activists

  • J.R. Haldeman says:

    Miranda,

    I want to let you know that I have been a long time follower of this blog, and commend your work. I think that your close reading of the title of Mr. Confessore’s article only further illuminates why WomensGlib is such an important part of feminism in 2010.

    This said, I want to pose a challenge to your most recent post. Again, while I think it’s important to look at how newspapers like The New York Times spin women’s issues, the larger issue that this post glosses over is the fact that progressive women’s groups in New York State cannot find a common ground to push this bill through the New York State Senate. You express your frustration at the irresponsibility of the New York State government, yet it is clear that especially in this election year lawmakers will yield to a strong, united, message from women’s groups. This is nuance, yes, but it is the political nuance that will push this bill through the New York State Senate and improve the lives of women in New York. In future posts, I would like to see WomensGlib take a stronger political stance on issues like this, instead of only focusing on the sociological implications of the portrayal of the issue in the media.

    Again, I want to commend you on all your work on this blog. I look forward to reading your future posts.

    Sincerely,
    J.R. Haldeman
    Washington D.C.

    • mirandanyc says:

      Hi — thanks for the kind words and the comment! I understand your point. To clarify: I agree with NARAL Pro-Choice New York’s argument that a vote now is useful even if the RHA does not pass, because it gives constituents and advocacy groups information with which to assess our representatives. (And because I suspect part of the reason that the RHA has yet to be introduced is not only that lawmakers don’t consider it important, but also because they want to vote differently than their constituents want them to and fear political repercussions come election season.) NARAL, for example, publishes a pro-choice voter guide each election season and endorses candidates as pro-, mixed-, or anti-choice.

      So I do have a strong political stance in this case, but for this post I didn’t want to analyze which option might be more prudent. I don’t think Family Planning Advocates are a bad or wrong organization because of this issue; I don’t see this political nuance as a case of right or wrong. What was most interesting to me was the patronizing tone of the media coverage of this issue, as I wrote about.

  • […] Cross-posted at Women’s Glib. […]

  • […] ways, unfortunately, is true, because we don’t hold equitable financial, or corporate, or political power — and then we don’t let women have […]

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