From Stop Patriarchy

It's Not That Complicated

August 31, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Austin, Texas Courthouse, August 4

August 8. As we gather outside the Federal Courthouse in Austin, Texas members of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride unfold a banner that reads "Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement." This truth is the foundation on which Stop Patriarchy is built, but what does all that mean? All of those words are rich with subjective interpretation. The words motherhood and enslavement, for example, bring forth powerful imagery and emotion. How do we step back and understand this message? In particular, how do we understand the idea of enslavement in the 21st century?

I asked one of our riders from the midwest, who has spent years as a clinic defender and fighter for reproductive rights, to wrestle with this question. How does she unpack this powerful statement?

"Motherhood is a calling. It is no more suitable for every woman than any other lifetime vocation. When meted out as punishment for sexual expression it is not an act of compassion for a resulting child."

When I posed the question to someone I met at the protest on Monday I was told, "Being forced to have a child means you no longer have control over the direction of your life. In a country that promises freedom, to take that freedom away and force a woman to act against her will, that is enslavement."

Yes the language is emotive but that is a good thing. Sometimes we need a jolt of emotion to propel us to the next level; we need a boost of adrenaline to remind us that we are fighting for something important. The words are strong but the message is not really complex: forced motherhood is female enslavement.

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