Unmasking Crisis Pregnancy/Pregnancy Resource Centers

Part 2:

Many advocates who are in support of the operation and tactics used by crisis pregnancy centers claim that abortions are a severe threat to a person’s health, so therefore the existence of these centers can only be for the greater good. However, after reading this piece, it is evident that many of the claims these centers make about the negative effects of abortions on cis women’s (though it affects those of other genders too) health are in fact, false. After a nationwide study, there were three large pieces of misinformation that crisis pregnancy centers were giving to their clients consistently. The first of these false claims is that having an abortion will boost their likelihood of developing breast cancer, but this has been disproven by the National Cancer Institute. Secondly, they claim that those who have abortions are likely to experience many different problems with their fertility in the future as a direct result of the abortion. On the contrary, abortions that are performed within a woman’s first trimester of pregnancy do not put her at an increased risk to develop any significant problems with her fertility in the future. Lastly, this organization frequently proclaims that those who have abortions are likely to experience continuous detrimental mental illness that could last throughout their entire lives. Yet no scientific studies have been able to prove that people who have abortions are likely to experience lifelong mental affliction of any sort (Rosen 201-202). All of these false scare tactics make it difficult for people to know which information presented to them is accurate, and can lead to uninformed decisions that they may regret if they ever receive fully comprehensive services. But in a patriarchal and heterosexist culture, it makes sense that these organizations spread such blatant misinformation because the main goal is to control women’s sexuality and bodies, instead of acknowledging the idea that everyone should be given full moral agency over decisions that concern their own psychological and physical health.

One other argument that individuals in favor of crisis pregnancy centers usually use is that they promote good health through abstinence, which they believe is the most effective approach to educate people about sex. In Rosen’s piece, she points out that most centers give out inaccurate information about contraceptives, including condoms and birth control, and urge people not to have sex in order to avoid the necessity of using either. But since young adults are likely to engage in sexual acts anyways, this lack of education and resources puts people at a higher risk of becoming pregnant in the near future, and also increases their likelihood in developing a sexually transmitted disease (202-203). Using a large scope, this lack of access to adequate contraceptives and health information can be frightening, seeing as how it is only increasing the chance of young people contracting diseases and becoming unintentionally pregnant. It’s truly a disservice to young people everywhere, because a person’s innate human worth is substantial enough to warrant that all organizations geared toward reproductive health should have to provide basic resources that allow people to protect themselves from a very real potential harm. If more people were better educated about choices and risks in relation to contraceptives and safe sex through actual credible organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, then it is only logical that issues such as the transmission of diseases and unintended pregnancies would likely occur less and less as time goes on.

The continuous operation of crisis pregnancy centers in the United States, which often use deceit, manipulation, intimidation, and downright misinformation to control folks’ decisions over their own reproductive health, is one of the biggest obstacles in the way to achieving a much better public health initiative which aims to put the reproductive health of all people at the forefront of the cause. The tradition of treating women’s welfare and happiness with no respect or dignity needs to be eradicated in favor of a more feminist mindset that cares about a woman in and of herself, without attributing her value as a person to her decision to bear children or not. Such a progressive idea could have the power to shift a culture to allow everyone the liberty to make their own informed and consensual choices concerning their own bodies and health, giving way to a much more understanding world for all.

 

 

andy-blog-photoRuth Sybil Virginia May is a junior undergraduate student at St. Cloud State University, studying Gender and Women’s Studies, Human Relations, and Film Studies. Ruth is a genderqueer trans woman from a poor, working class background with a passion for feminism, fashion, film, and rad tunes. 

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The Concert of Fiction and Feminism

I always wanted to make a career out of writing but never journalism. Writing things in a way that I had to completely detach myself was never appealing. It never made sense. I see writing as something intrinsically personal, to the person writing and to the person reading. Something that always seemed exempt from that level of importance is fiction.

The stories that have any semblance of meaning are those that are rooted in experience, rooted in the Truth that the author has found for themselves. There’s always a call, especially, for marginalized groups to tell their stories.  The call almost becomes an obligation when your people (be it people of color, of the LGBTQIA+ community, etc.) are all but absent in the sphere of literature. These stories become sources of inspiration, and I never got my hands on a memoir or something that could be comparable to my lived experience until I read The Joy Luck Club my sophomore year of high school. I didn’t feel a strong connection to the stories and even resented them and their depictions of Asian Americans. Of course, my feelings changed with age and understanding. However, from the beginning of my jaunt into literature I found I could always rely on the inspiration in fiction.

Fiction acted as what I call a gateway into the vast world of feminism instead of what some people may seem as escapism from the harsh reality of violence. Harry of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter arguably endured an abusive home life with his aunt and uncle forcing him to cook meals, only giving him the burnt scraps to eat while his cousin relentlessly bullied him. This is the reality that many children face in their daily lives and while reading about how Harry is then whisked away to a magical boarding school may seem like the very definition of escapism, the reader is simultaneously thrust into a world where there is a registry for witches and wizards based on their bloodline and a powerful figure is fighting for the eradication of those who aren’t pureblood. The series is fraught with corrupt politicians, an underground resistance movement, and culminates in a battle for freedom from this oppressive power. These young students take it upon themselves to lead the charge against what they know to be wrong, an example diffused to many children who are now old enough to lead the charge against the oppressive regimes seen in today’s society.

In children’s’ and YA fantasy novels, there is also always a clear celebration of the different. The different, in the world of reality, is a distinction that leads to ridicule and danger. Rick Riordan noticed this in his son who was constantly bullied for his ADHD and Dyslexia. Riordan started to tell his son stories of how this difference was a strength. His famous Percy Jackson and the Olympians series shows those very attributes as the marks of demigods. Heroes. Riordan doesn’t stop there. He has written openly gay, black, latina, Asian, Muslim and, lately, a transgender character. These representations have opened conversations on diversity in YA literature.

Living with ADHD, Dyslexia, and abuse in the home are realities that feed into the lived Truth that is so important to feminist work and feminist writing. The setting of these truths, in a magical boarding school or Greek monster infested Manhattan, do not diminish the effect that they have in empowerment and beginning conversations of the celebration and power of difference. In fact, it puts these discussions in language that act as good introductions to feminist thought and language that may be missing from common discourse.

The validity of fiction as a source of inspiration and feminist thought is on the same level as that of stories that are truer to reality. In childhood and adolescence, they teach moral nuances and often start to help develop an understanding of the surrounding world; its injustices, its diversity, how they interact and how they influence each other. It is fantastical case study with the potential to reach past the pages. The concert of fiction and feminism is the concert of theory and practice.

 

 

thumbnail_147Mariam Bagadion is a second year student at SCSU double majoring in Women’s Studies and English. She has a passion for writing and social justice and thinks the coolest thing in the world is when the two can be combined. In her free time, she writes fiction, watches Netflix, and plays one of the three songs she knows on the ukulele. 

(Feminist) Thoughts on the March

Just after the Women’s March on Washington, Carly Puch (one of our own!) wrote on her own blog about her experience participating in the march.

She brings together a thoughtful perspective on the empowering heart of the march, critiques of its unmistakable whiteness, and what both of those things mean for the kind of work we have, as feminists, ahead of us.

Here’s an excerpt…

There are improvements to be made, and particularly we white feminists can do better but what these marches symbolized was that recognition. More women are mobilized because for many it is the first time their rights are truly being threatened, whether that be attributed to their race, their class, their age or any other factor that has allowed them to turn a blind eye to injustice. Human rights campaigns in this country have been built on the backs of people of color, do not silence them, but listen and learn to those who have been fighting before you.

Continue reading here!

The kind of work we have ahead of us must not be forgotten or ignored: it must be thoughtful. We must strive to love each other, build bridges between those of us with vastly different experiances, and act beyond our fear to achieve things which may seem impossible.

What do you think?  Let us know here on the blog or write us at collectivefeminism@stcloudstate.edu

Familial Ties and the Decision

By: Asmita Koirala

A spine-chilling breeze hums in my ear. Heavy rainfall touches my shoulders and caresses my face; I am sitting on the windowpane of my room that overlooks the balcony. Ever so often I like to sit by myself and think. The rain gives me serenity, and for a few minutes I am transported to a utopia. Sitting in the rain helps me escape all the chaos and inner turmoil that has been engulfing me lately. I have a decision to make. A decision that will determine the path I have to embark on.

My father’s word still echoes in my mind. He trusted me with this. This might probably be the biggest decision I was ever subjected to take in my nineteen years of life. The one that will forever stay with me. He summoned me to his room earlier today and said, “Asmita, you have a decision to make.” For many, this decision might be easy to make, but for me it is tough. Fear of the unknown, and the fact that I might mess things up scares me.

I reminisce all the things I have done with my family, my friends, my siblings here in this very place I call with my whole heart home. It feels like yesterday that I was playing hide and seek with my brothers and that I was screaming at them .My eye falls upon my window pane. The windowpane I call the pane of memories. As I look through the windowpane I see old markings. I look at the different colors I used to draw. Each portrays a story of their own. In red crayon, I drew a ludicrous picture of my brother when he was mad at me. I used green to draw a sad personification to cheer my brothers up when our tutor got on our nerves. I look at the windowpane and I smile; I smile thinking about all the we were and all that we will someday be. Each and every corner of my house holds some sort of beloved memory of us. Us as a family, us as siblings, and us as people slowly trying to morph from naïve childhood days to adulthood.

I recall fighting over something as small as who gets the remote control. I recall smashing my brother’s fingers in the door mistakenly when he tried to get inside the television room .I recall blood dripping down his fingers and the murderous look he gave me .I drown myself in memory lane so deep tears start to stream down my face. It’s bittersweet .I have spent nineteen years of my life in this house; I have grown with my brothers here, I have learned from my parents here, and I have grown emotionally and physically here. I have never known life outside this house and outside the love of my parents. I have never known anything but to be a caring daughter to my parents and a pain to my brothers.

I look at my dog that is now wagging her tail and is trying to get my attention. I remember the circumstances under which she became a part of our home. I was heartbroken when my first dog, Bruno, passed away. I cried a river mourning his death .My brothers and parents made sure I was okay. They were my rock at times when things were tough. As soon as I recovered from Bruno’s death, they got me my new dog, Lucky. Bruno will forever hold a special place in my heart but the void, which he left behind, was gracefully fulfilled by Lucky.

“Asmita your future is in your hands. Either you stay here in Nepal with us and pursue your higher education in the prestigious Kathmandu Management College that you qualified in, or you go to a foreign country, be independent, and enroll in the college that you qualified in to. What will your decision be? Which college will you pick? Where do you want to go?”my father had said.

Coming out of memory lane, I observe my surroundings and see that, in the blink of an eye, the night has been swept away into the dustbin of the past and a new day is upon me. The sun like a great golden disk rises across the sky to greet me. It shines in my hair and glitters in my heart. I see the overcast fog of my clouded mind fading away. The decision now doesn’t seem to be as daunting to take, as it was a few hours before. I steal one last look at my room, my windowpane, and my dog I inhale the sweet air of my country and decide its time. It’s time for me to get out of the bubble of protection my parents have always given me. I decide it’s time to break free and be liberated. I will carry my loved ones with me in my heart, but I decide its time for me to break the mold and embark on the journey of the unknown in a foreign country without anyone to look after me every step of the way.

 

 

A Shift in Gaming

While we enjoy sharing the wonderfully insightful posts you submit to us, we also want to share the love with you! If you have a personal blog, please let us know so we can spread the word and get into even more enlightening conversations on multiple platforms!

With that being said, do you know Jo Benson? She is a member of our blog team, majoring in both Women’s Studies and Rhetoric and Writing, and has a new blog. She’s given us permission to share it with you!

She recently shared a truly great gamer post, talking about the shift in the lore of Magic: the Gathering in regards to women and queer folks.

Here’s an excerpt from her first post…

So, why is it important that these stories exist?

As a queer woman who thoroughly enjoys video games, books, TCG games, and other aspects of “nerd culture” that are thought to be enjoyed mostly by men, “refreshing” barely scratches the surface of what these stories mean to and for me.

When we interact with games and other media, putting on the skin of certain characters or otherwise taking part in fantastical narratives is where most of the fun comes from. We want to see ourselves reflected in these stories. However, the effects of the stories portrayed in games (and media of all kinds) seem shallow when we assume, “It’s just a television show/movie/book, not real life.” That kind of statement ignores the impact of media on culture and people. There’s a reason we don’t want kids to see violent or sexual movies, right? It affects them. Movies, books, and T.V. shows affect everyone on some level – they scare us, inspire us, and often carry messages that translate to our everyday lives.

And here’s the link!

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Jo Benson is a fourth-year undergraduate at St. Cloud State, double majoring in Women’s Studies and Rhetoric. She is a white, cis-gender lesbian passionate about feminism, cats, writing, and Magic: the Gathering.

 

p.s. October is our LGBTQ+ Celebration Month, so begin thinking about posts you’d like to submit and stay tuned for a riveting month celebrating the LGBTQ+ community! All submissions can be emailed to collectivefeminism@stcloudstate.edu

Best,

The Blog Team

 

 

Why Mindfulness?

Do you know Dr. Beth Berila?  She is the director of the Women’s Studies department here at SCSU and teaches a variety of Women’s Studies courses. Her website, the Mindful Semester is an excellent site to find information on yoga, meditation, and mindfulness aimed at helping students balance their busy lives (Dr. Berila is also a yoga instructor and conducts free yoga classes in Atwood on select Mondays from 12-1pm)!

We feel like her website is a great addition to our monthly theme – Learning to Love Ourselves

Here is an excerpt from her article on mindfulness

Mindfulness is a method of cultivating self-awareness and compassion for yourself and others. To be mindful is to be aware of what you are thinking, feeling, and doing.  Rather than moving through life on automatic pilot or multitasking to such an extent that you aren’t fully conscious of everything you are doing, mindfulness is a kind of “metacognition” in which we are aware of what you are thinking. It helps you reflect on what you habitually do, how you respond to challenges, and learn what you need in order to become both more content and more successful at what you do.

Mindfulness is not a goal so much as it is a state of being.  We often spend a great deal of time ruminating on the past (such as the exchange you had with your roommate yesterday) or the future (such as whether you will get into the Nursing major). When we do that, we devote only marginal attention to the present moment.

Take a look at the rest of the article here.

 

Welcome (Back) to the Blog!

We are excited to begin Collective Feminism’s second year of publication in order to continue exploring intersectional feminist thinking and foster action across campus! We are eager for another successful year of public intellectualism, inclusive reflection, and benefiting dialogue for all students, faculty, and staff on campus.

Here are a few thoughts we have about year two:

  • We will be doing monthly themes this year. This month’s theme is Learning How to Love Ourselves and October’s theme is LGBTQ+ Celebration Month. Of course, you are free to write on any topics in the realm of feminism, but we feel the monthly themes will give you a nice idea of important and “hot” topics right now!
  • We have a blog team of four members: Melissa Frank (Publisher), Mara Martinson (Managing Lead Editor), Andy Menne (Outreach Coordinator), and Jo Benson (Content and Community Development Coordinator).

It is our hope that you join us (if you haven’t already) by not only reading the blog but also writing and submitting content to collectivefeminism@stcloudstate.edu. We’re looking forward to diverse content and contributions from you! Your submission(s) will continue to make Collective Feminism a platform where all voices can be heard.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the blog so you can receive emails notifying you when we make new posts!

Enjoy your school year; we look forward to being a part of it!

Best,

The Blog Team

Open Letter to SCSU Community

To the St. Cloud State University campus community:

On March 2, 2016, the Supreme Court will hear Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case that is fundamentally about autonomy, one’s ability to freely determine what is best for their health without interference, and access to the safe, and legal health care that meets individuals’ self-identified needs. This case challenges laws that restrict abortion access under the guise of concern for the health and safety of patients but are truly political ploys to limit the accessibility of abortion care. The outcome of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt affects us all: it will change the realities of abortion access for decades to come: either by finding undue restrictions unlawful, or forcing clinics to shut down, and subsequently, people to seek alternative and unsafe abortion services.

Despite clarity from the Supreme Court that people have a constitutional right to abortion, states continue to pass laws that limit women’s access to abortion care through a variety of tactics, including:

Continue reading

What Does Yoga Have to do with Social Justice?

Have you met Dr. Beth Berila?  She is the director of the Women’s Studies program here on campus, she teaches many Women’s Studies courses, and she is a certified yoga instructor!  (We would also contend that she is a pretty awesome individual!)

Dr. Berila has a website called The Mindful Semester, where she inspires and challenges students to become more mindful of their college experience.  She has graciously offered for us to post from her site, and today we are pleased to bring you some of her ideas!

Continue reading