The Reproductive Rights Movement Essay

795 words - 3 pages

Much has been gained in the struggle for equality as a result of the Reproductive Rights Movement, and as we continue to fight our battles there is a great deal we have to look back and learn from. I believe that of these lessons, the biggest key to the success of a movement is based greatly on how inclusive it is. This message of inclusion is one that both Jennifer Nelson and Elizabeth Martinez expressed in their articles. Nelson used examples of the Black Panthers, YLP, CARASA, NMNG, and CESA to name a few who strived to make this lesson a policy. Since systems of oppression are interlocking it would be impossible, or at least unsuccessful to focus only on one oppression. I love the way Martinez put it the best when she wrote, " In other words, feminism must be anti-racist (since vast numbers of women suffer racism) and anti-racism must be feminist (since half of those suffering racism are women)," (Martinez, 183).The Black Panthers found this to be true within their group, although it was basically inevitable, since power within the group shifted toward women leadership. In the beginning the " Black Panthers rejected all forms of reproductive control as genocidal for blacks," (Nelson, 102). This made sense since there was the racist thought that low income black women with children should get abortions while white women are to be discouraged from them . It was not until Elaine Brown took over the Black Panthers that feminism really began to be integrated into Black Panther politics. This was an important step in making the Black Panthers more inclusive to women of color, because they were being recognized for their struggles with racism as well as sexism. I think that the opposition that the women of the Black Panther movement faced from male authority figures before Brown took leadership may have discouraged any earlier forms of feminist activism, especially since the women's liberation movement had a very negative association to the Panthers since it was a predominantly white, middle-class oriented movement. In many ways, the women of the Black Panthers had to focus on different issues than this mainstream movement who made abortion and birth control their first priority.Similarly, the Young Lords Party of New York integrated feminism into their politics through woman leadership. They too, distinguished themselves from mainstream...

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