A couple weeks ago, I received the following ‘thanks, but no’ to a proposal I sent to a reproductive justice conference,
Dear Chris Bobel,
Thank you for submitting your proposal, “How Menstruation Matters to the Reproductive Justice Movement”…..Our staff has spent the last few months evaluating proposals and building an initial workshop list. We were inspired by the volume of quality proposals that we received. All of them helped us in the planning process.
At this time, however, we are not accepting your proposal for the 2013 conference.
As I typically do, I immediately headed to the deep dark brooding place of self-recrimination. That’s where I go. But as I set afoot on this well-worn path to my special ugly place, I did something I don’t usually do; I paused, lifted my head and looked around.
As I did, I wondered, if just maybe, the rejection was not the result of the deficits in my proposal, but rather, a reflection of the broken link between menstrual awareness and the broader movement for embodied autonomy.
In other words, maybe the rejection was not as much about me (and my failings) but more about the world around me, and ITS (meaning OUR) failings as a culture to see how a certain bodily reality is part of a larger whole. Maybe the fact that a team of progressive reproductive justice activists and scholars saying NO THANKS to an opportunity to make the essential linkages between the menstrual cycle across the lifespan and reproductive justice is an indication that WE still have SO MUCH WORK TO DO to help people see this crucial connection.
I know I am not alone in feeling like the spotted elephant on the Island of Misfit Toys (seasonal reference: DONE!). Sister menstrual warrior Laura Wershler recently wrote the following when I this blog post-in-progress:
Caring about menstruation and the menstrual cycle makes me almost a freak in the pro-choice world. I get ignored or criticized a lot because people don’t want to ask or answer some of the questions I keep trying to pose about choice around non-hormonal contraceptive methods.
So what’s a freak to do? We could stamp our feet and curse those who don’t see what’s pretty obvious to us, but that won’t raise the awareness.
This is on us.
Yes. Rejection stings, but maybe this time, I can take something away far more productive than the usual self-flagellation. Maybe this time, I can take it in as a clarion call, a motivation for a deeper commitment to help others make the menstrual connection, to, spread the #menstruationmatters message (thanks again Laura Wershler).
This means more conference proposals (and a thicker skin for more rejections). More writing. More blogging. More teaching. More radio interviews. More everything.
Who’s with me?