Up | February 09, 2013
>> of the show that comes on after this one. melissa harris-perry author of the book "sister citizen." she's also founding director of gender race and politics in the south at tulane university . you get the whole bio, too.
>> i know.
>> and also executive director of jaws of justice and co-director of an advocacy group for the aging and caregivers. great to have you guys here. here's something i found fascinating about the trajectory of feminism as a political force and policy force as a set of concrete policy demands. you have the e.r.a. you have this sort of broad vision in equality in the constitution. you have specific legislative agendas that are happening. you have reproductive choice . the backlash around reproductive so fierce and so defining in our politics and our partisan affiliation, it does seem like it comes to dominate the priorities of what we call feminism in terms of institutional life in america. that's a threshold issue. but it also seems like there's so much time spent fighting rear guard actions in the 21st century to secure roe to fight refight roe. every time there's a nomination. fight it in every state. keep the last abortion clinic open in mississippi , right? it's this constant unsettled battle. that the priorities of institutional vision is focused on securing that that there's less space into forward ecursions into the patriarchy.
>> and this division of reproductive rights gets complicated as soon as we start talking about women beyond a certain class or races right? so when i think about the issue of reproductive rights , for example in mississippi at the moment, it is a fight over that now one little pink building in jackson, some. . where they're using every single policy they can to close where it will be fashionably illegal to close one. but the other thing for mississippi , for women of color and poor women of disabilities was the ability to in fact have children. to not have the state forcibly and coercefully stair liez them. it was not that there was any win in mississippi . it was when mississippi defeated the personhood amendment because it got women who were interested on ivf and other women interested in the right to choose. i guess, we have already lost roe. we're in a pre-roe world where you can get abortions in other states, in other areas. that was true before roe. so we have lost that. and the real question is whether or not we can develop a more expansive definition of what constitution a reproductive rights movement.
>> but it's always been reproductive freedom as a phrase. reproductive always meant the freedom to have children as well as not to have children. the focus, i think, on abortion, was partly because of the more white women were having abortions. you know, the anxiety of the right wing is very high right now because of in 20 minutes we're not going to be a majority white country anymore.
>> right, right.
>> so it's always been the freedom to have as well as not to have. and the actually, the informed consent to sterilization was an issue that came up before abortion.
>> right. i mean, the flip side of the state's interest in controlling reproduction is -- it goes in both directions. depending on the circumstances.
>> and when ruth ginsburg was at the aclu with the women 's right program she was fighting for informed sterilization. and before sterilization.
>> and fanny lou hamer was the great prophet of this because she was willing to come forward and say she had been sterilized against her will with enormous courage.
>> and it's one of the reasons to somehow look like women disagree on this topic because there has been a misunderstanding that reproductive freedom or choice meant that we were against women having children.
>> right, right.
>> or we looked down on women who wanted to have families.
>> right, right.
>> and that's been sort of a real touching point for all of us. i'm so glad that you brought that up. there reproductive freedom entails all of that.
>> but that's an interesting point. i'm curious if you think this. it's like when you say there's a kind of belief that women disagree on that. they've been manipulated into disagreeing. it also seems that women disagree every these issues. they have different politics. it's not just false consness, right?
>> thank goodness.
>> but i would just say, you know, for a lot of women , as the importance of the reproductive rights movement and reproductive freedom is as important as economic freedom and quality, right? i mean, this is like the other part of what i think is a vibrant women 's movement right now. we just see incredible momentum building around some core issues that are related to families, right? whether it's the ability to -- you know, to make sure that women no longer get fired for taking time off to care for their families and their loved ones. you know, if you even look at all female workforces today like domestic workers who care -- these are the women who care for our aging. our elders, our disabled, our children in this country who don't have basic protections like minimum wage and overtime. these are important issues. and, of course, the discrimination of wages. i just lift all of these up because i think for a lot of women today, reproductive freedom is really important but so is freedom from poverty, you know.
>> right. and i want to play the president coming out in favor of domestic workers receive those protections. and sort of talk about the role that women play in the 21st century and the women 's involvement in the workplace and what that workplace looks like might set an genda for