My Body, Culture and Reproductive Rights
Right now in the United States there is a fight over women’s health that specifcally stems from the Affordable Care Act. While President Obama may have ruffled the feathers of the Catholic Church, who want to see the majority of this go away, even though there are specific problems that are cited. For the last few weeks, I have listened to men. Men give their input, recommendations, what needs to be done and how this situation can be rectified. And, I have seen women get attacked and be left out of this important dialogue that is centered around our bodies.
As I listened to this conversation gone amuck, last weekend, I thought about what was going to happen in a few weeks? Would this just be old news? Yesterday, during my visit with my gynecologist, I lay on my back thinking about this attack on women’s health. As I was waiting for her, I thought about how most of these gynecological procedures were perfected by men. Which interestingly felt like the debate that we were having in the country right now, men leading the way and fight for women? I started to get upset, everywhere that I turned, there was a very important dialogue taking place and men where in the middle of it and there were not enough women in this dialogue. And, yes, this involved our bodies. How dare women not be at the table discussing this issue?
During my appointment, my mind started to relax and float into another world and I remember thinking about Edwidge Danticant and Breath, Eyes, Memory and my family and friends experience growing up in a Haitian household. We all heard about this “test”, where your virginity was checked. I remember at such a young age, thinking that my body, was actually not my own. I remember listening, (okay, I was eaves dropping,) to the adults talk about their kids in this country and how they felt they needed to protect them. Some adults were against it, and talked about the things that rural, backwoods, uneducated people did. And some parents, thought they might have to resort to “that” because of the dangers that were in America. I think somewhere, some parents, forgot that the enemy was not always outside. A few years later, Edwidge Danticat, came out with Breath, Eyes, Memory and I knew I was not crazy.
I remember reading this book and crying, crying for the harm and painful effect that certain traditions had on those that these traditions were thought to protect. As I listened to people chat in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, I looked around and saw people who had access. Access to fertility treatments, routine checkups and emergency procedures with their obstetrician and gynecologist.
As I got dressed and spoke to my doctor, we chatted about having access to care and being in control of our bodies. What did that look like? Feel like? What choices did we have? Yet I thought about the traditions, that my parents (and their friends) threatened their kids with and I thought about the debate occurring in America. There has always been an attack on women’s health. Anyway, that I look at it, I see someone always trying to be in charge or control of my body and my choices. The time has come for us, women and men, to allow, women, to make sound choices for themselves.