Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

This Time With Feeling! Making the Menstrual-Reproductive Justice Connection

December 24th, 2012 by Chris Bobel

Rejection stings.

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.

Ouch.

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?

 

Do You Trust Women?

January 23rd, 2012 by Chris Bobel

Do you see the connections between menstrual health awareness and reproductive justice?

At re: Cycling, we sure do, because being critical of how menstruation is regarded (and managed)—from menarche forward—is one way we loosen the social control of women’s bodies.

My body, my choice, my whole life long.

And that’s exactly what reproductive justice is about—fighting for everyone’s access to affordable, quality reproductive health care of their choosing. That’s a fight to get behind, not the stupid “War on Women” advanced by certain presidential hopefuls (Hello Rick Santorum).

We are excited about this creative campaign organized by The Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign, a coalition of 42 national and local organizations (the Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights (BACORR), Catholics for Choice, NARAL-ProChoice California, Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific, and SisterSong/Trust Black Women.

The campaign takes aim at “extremist politicians elected with a mandate to fix the current economic crisis instead chose to divert the public’s attention with policy battles about these private decisions.”

So why are our legislators and presidential candidates hell-bent on denying access to basic health care services –including contraception and abortion?

Really, why do we let them get away with this?

In San Francisco, The Trust Women/ Silver Ribbon campaign is literally taking the message of reproductive justice to the streets by flying banners—colorful, clear and decisive—all over the city. The banners are more than a defensive operation in the battle against women’s autonomy; they seek to end the offensive by reminding us that most Americans are, after all, pro-choice.

The banners read:

  • Her Decision, Her Health
  • U.S. Out of My Uterus
  • Fix the Economy, Support My Autonomy
  • Reproductive Rights are Human Rights
  • San Francisco is Pro-Choice

That’s all very good, you might say, but I don’t live in San Francisco.

During Trust Women Week, January 20-27, the campaign is staging a Virtual March (with  MoveOn)—a time for reproductive justice supporters to express their support online.

So go here and take action.  Let’s end the War on Women.

Readers should note that statements published in re: Cycling are those of individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Society as a whole.