Words by Alice Stevens

TW: Abortion and rape 

This year for In Review, I want to dedicate a space to an area that is very close to my heart – Contemporary Feminism. My goal is to provide and encourage an engaged, reflective feminist response to current issues/debates. This will include suggesting key resources and literature, a toolkit you may say, to help analyse these issues for further thought in hopes to promote social change. 

Themes will include intersectionality, gender, LGBTQ+ rights, self-love, taboos, inequalities, and of course, the patriarchy! 

So if you’re studying chemistry, business studies, or even maths, you can easily stay in the feminist loop. In September, I will begin my master’s in Gender Studies, and as you can probably tell by now – I believe this is a very important subject for all, especially as a fresher.

As a young adult approaching university, you are in a unique and critical moment in your life – a moment of discovery, development, and even questioning topics that have been prescribed to us through society such as gender, sexuality, and power.

Right now in Texas, one of the most extreme abortion laws since Roe v. Wade 1973 was enacted after the Supreme Court failed to act on a request to block the bill. This bill bans abortions after six weeks – which is way before many people even know they are pregnant. This is essentially six weeks after your last period, so if a cycle is 21-40 days, you have 2 days to realise you’re pregnant and decide if you want an abortion or not – sounds pretty fair right?! This law also makes no exceptions for rape or incest, another abhorrent issue especially when we know 1 in 5 women in the U.S. have been the victim of rape in their lifetime, and 1 in 3 experience rape for the first time between 11-17 years old. (CDC, 2021) It is also completely fine to just not want a child either, a basic human right that must be protected. The bill also awards people who sue abortion providers, rape counselors, family members, etc $10,000 if they win their case, making everybody essentially an attorney general. The frustrating fact is that abortion rates do not drop when such bills are enforced, it only displaces those needing abortions and increases the danger.

Here are a few of my suggested readings I believe everyone should read if they are interested in furthering their knowledge on reproductive rights:

  • Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community edited by Laura Erickson-Schroth.
  • Policing the National Body: Race, Gender and Criminalization in the United States by Jael Siliman and Anannya.
  • Our Bodies, Our Crimes: The Policing of Women’s Reproduction in America by Jeanne Flavin.
  • Contextualising Abortion: A life narrative study of abortion and class by Gillian Love. (A teaching fellow in the Department of Sociology at Sussex!)

Also, I highly recommend taking a trip into town to visit ‘The Feminist Bookshop’ located on Upper North Street. This Independent bookstore is incredibly unique and supports self-identifying females, non-binary writers, and even has a plant-based cafe!

No matter where in the world you live, everyone deserves the ability to decide whether and when to have a child. This bill only disproportionately affects those who already face systemic barriers to healthcare, and is a fundamental breach of basic human rights.

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