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31 January 2016

No Más Bebés Premieres on Independent Lens

No Más Bebés tells the story of a little-known but landmark event in reproductive justice, when a small group of Mexican immigrant women sued county doctors, the state, and the U.S. government after they were sterilized while giving birth at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the late 1960s and early 1970s.



This moving (seriously, have tissues at hand!) documentary about the human rights abuses inflicted on Latinas in the 1960s and 1970s will have you up in arms. My friend and colleague, Elena R. Gutiérrez did a lot of the research work to help put together this puzzle. In a blog post about the film she says:
“No Más Bebés” also shows that socially grounded attitudes relating to ethnicity and gender can play a role in the provision of reproductive health care services; a message that is important for us to hear today. In my own research I show that the abusive practices that occurred at LACMC were not only shaped by debates on population control, but also by concerns about increased immigration from Mexico and the stereotype that Mexican women gave birth to too many children. Through tracing newspaper articles, organizational records and scholarly research in Fertile Matters: The Politics of Mexican-origin Women’s Reproduction, I show how these “stereotypes” about Mexican immigrant women being hyper-fertile and “having too many children” are deeply-rooted beliefs that are part and parcel of institutionalized racism and were perpetuated by the media, social science, and immigration control activists throughout the 20th century carrying into the 21st century. Beyond representations of the perpetually “pregnant pilgrim” who came to the United States purposefully to have children born on US soil so that that they could become American citizens (an idea perpetuated in both Mexican news media and popular culture), “hyperfertility” as a social construct became significantly entrenched in academia, and has thus gained legitimacy in both scholarly research and policy response. I argue that this context and the general public perception that Latina women are significantly more “fertile” than women of other races and ethnicities influenced medical practitioners’ behaviors.
Elena R. Gutierrez is an Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She is also co-author of Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice, which will be reprinted by Haymarket Press in April and director of the Reproductive Justice Virtual Library.

This is an important film to view and discuss. I do not want you to just watch it, think and stop there. No. This film calls for action. It demands it. I saw a sneak preview of No Mas Bebes about a year ago and was floored. And I know much of the history already. What makes this such a powerful film is that you hear from the women who were robbed of future children. They were robbed of that decision to even have future children. You hear from their families. It is just, gah...

At the moment we are in the midst of the 2016 Presidential campaign. We have candidates who are railing against anchor babies, wanting to use religious tests on refugees and then those who are calling for the end of the Hyde Amendment in order to increase women's access to reproductive services. All of these moments are connected because the government wants to say who is welcome not just in the USA, but who is welcome to reproduce and parent. Too often the feminist movement is seen as just about abortion, but an intersectional feminist movement is concerned about parenting as well.

On top of this political conversation is the recent worry over the Zika virus. A health issue that is worth of concern over who is getting pregnant, the governments that are calling for women to hold off on getting pregnant and failing to give them access to the tools (birth control and abortion) to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. 

This film premieres on February 1st on your loca PBS station. Watch it, tweet it, share it, discuss it. It's that important and not just to Latinas around the world.


26 January 2016

Review: Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon


When we last discussed this book I wasn't done with it. I finished it and loved it. In many ways her tale is depressing. She gives us a fair number of peeks behind the grunge curtain. Her observations of the music industry is certainly depressing. But how her story unfolds makes you want to turn the page and know more.

At one point, Gordon muses about women's sexuality being used in music, particularly Madonna and her own use of her sexuality. In the end she seems ok with women using their sexuality on stage as part of their act. For herself, Gordon grew into this comfort and ends up stating that "In the middle of the state, where I stand as bass player of Sonic Young, the music comes at me from all directions. The most heightened state of being female is watching people watch you....being a girl in Sonic Youth makes me forget about being a girl. I like being in a weak position and making it strong."She seemed to be talking herself into moving into the main attraction of the group for promoters.

But it was Gordon's dissection of the failure of having an egalitarian parenting situation with her ex-husband, Moore, that it kinda freaked me out. It went all the way to essentialism-ville. I'm sure this says more about me than her, but it was something that I noted.

Otherwise, this is an excellent and snarky look back at the rise of not just a band, but an entire music genre.

Please purchase your own copy of Girl in a Band from Powells or Indiebound and support this site. 

Disclaimer: I received a review copy from a publicist.  

24 January 2016

EVENT: Love Her, Love Her Not at Women & Children First

http://www.womenandchildrenfirst.com/book/9781631528064
Please join LHLHN's editor Joanne Cronrath Bamberger as she moderates a reading and discussion with myself and Emily Zanotti Skyles on Wednesday, January 27th at 7:30 pm.

I am so excited and nervous to finally be reading at my favorite bookstore. I hope we have a great and respectful conversation about our love or not of Hillary Clinton.

No purchase required for the event, but we hope you will purchase from Women & Children First.

22 January 2016

Review: South Texas Experience: Love Letters by Noemi Martinez

Noemi Martinez is an old school zinester who was also part of the first wave of feminist bloggers. She is also someone who never traded in her zines for a purely digital format. In South Texas Experience: Love Letters Martinez takes us for an emotional peek into her life. Illustrated by photos her son took, it is a beautiful ode to a part of the country that normally only gets negative media mentions, if ever thought of at all. This zine is a lovely addition to anyone's zine or poetry collection.

I purchased a copy myself. It was well worth it. You should find out yourself!

19 January 2016

Sesame Street in Chicago this weekend

As many of us know, Sesame Street has moved to HBO for its first run episodes. To mark this occasion there's a road show and it is coming to Chicago. And we're all invited!

Join Elmo and friends to the Chicago Children’s Museum, on Saturday, January 24th

03 January 2016

#365FeministSelfie in 2016

Were you wondering if #365FeministSelfie was still a thing? It is!

Yup, we've kicked off our third year of selfies, fun and feminism. Feel free to jump over to our blog to read up on the project and the spin off hash tag.

It may be January 3rd, but as a social media friend's kid said to the idea of New Year's Resolutions, "You can always start a new year every day!" So start your year of selfies any day you want. We'll be here for you.

Disclaimer

This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces


Veronica's favorite books »
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