Grantee/Partner News

The Moment I Became a Feminist

April 1, 2011

– Article from Compton Foundation Board Member, Terry Tempest Williams, written for The Progressive, April 2011 issue –

Mothers stand
at the kitchen sink
pondering something
they never tell

—Anne Carson

Last week, I was a guest at a meeting of abortion providers in the Intermountain West, where the first rule of business on the agenda was the rule of no disclosure: absolutely no identification of those who were in attendance. The level of concern for both their safety and their capacity to continue their vital work as health care providers for women—be it as a doctor, a nurse, or a volunteer— was stirring. As a writer, out of respect, I put away my pencil and notebook and listened. As a human being, I was grateful for their courage and commitment to do what fewer and fewer individuals want to do: honor a woman’s right to choose whether or not she will give birth to a child.

Image by Wesley Allsbrook

Image by Wesley Allsbrook

What I heard that night will not be shared. But what I felt as a woman is what I wish to say: The defunding of Planned Parenthood by the House of Representatives on February 18 cuts into the fabric of basic human rights and the dignity of each of us to follow the path of our own destiny.

As women, we are quiet about our personal lives, especially when it comes to sex. We are quiet because there is a history of abuse and violence and harm committed to those who tell the truth of their lives. Marriages are shattered. Families are broken. Judgments are rendered. The woman stands alone. Our stories live underground. I think of the poet Muriel Rukeyser, who asked this question: “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.”

The world is splitting open.

On October 16, 1916, Margaret Sanger opened the first family planning and birth control center on 46 Amboy Street in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn. Nine days later, it was raided by police. Sanger, the leader of the modern-day birth control movement, spent thirty days in prison. She would be arrested seven more times in her eighty-seven years of living for speaking out on behalf of a woman’s right to birth control and the privacy of her own body. Continue reading at The Progressive >

Comments are closed.