Dear FemU: A Feminist Newsletter (Edition #1)
Happy Women’s History Month! Welcome to our first newsletter! Here, you will find a snapshot of Tarana Burke's new initiative “We, As Ourselves,” a political update of women’s rights, and a short bio of our feminist of the month, Angela Davis.
*note: We have decided to move questions to our next newsletter to center current events and feminist achievements as it is Women’s History Month, but please continue to ask at this form: link
“We, As Ourselves”
Tarana Burke, founder of the “Me Too” movement, recently started an initiative to focus on Black survivors of sexual violence called “We, As Ourselves.” This effort is a national campaign to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual violence against Black survivors, and is led by a collaboration between three organizations: the “Me Too” movement, the National Women’s Law Center, and the TIME’S UP Foundation. The campaign’s website at weasourselves.org provides resources for healing, education, and a pledge people can sign to give support and show solidarity with Black survivors. In an interview with Associated Press, Burke described several plans for the future including a five-part event series and a “week of action” for Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.
Women’s Rights and Politics
With a new administration comes new hope for women’s rights. The Biden administration has promised to center women’s rights and undo many of Trump’s executive and legislative acts. Some upcoming things to look out for include the Violence Against Women Act (the VAWA), abortion restriction, title IX, etc.
The VAWA funds programs like Transitional Housing Grants, Grants to Encourage Arrest and Enforce Protection Orders, Court Training and Improvement Grant, Research on Violence Against Native American Women, National Tribal Sex Offender Registry, as well as creating and maintaining the Office on Violence Against Women. The VAWA was enacted by Bill Clinton and co-sponsored by Joe Biden in 1994. It has been renewed multiple times with growing resistance as new protections have been added and extended to LGBTQIA+ women. In 2018, the Act expired during the government shut down. Despite a new and improved VAWA bill passing in the House, after introduction from Hon. Karen Bass (CA-37) and Hon. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), a companion bill has not been reauthorized in the Senate. President Biden has promised to make the reauthorization of the VAWA one of his top 100 day priorities, and with a new Senate, there is hope that the bill will be renewed soon. Calling senators and pressuring them to pass the VAWA is just one way to help. We must also hold Biden accountable for his promises.
Biden has rescinded the “global gag rule” which forbade the use of U.S. funds to support family planning and abortions in foreign non-governmental organizations. Additionally, Biden has nominated Xavier Becerra to run the Department of Health and Human Services. Xavier Becerra aims to repeal restrictions on reproductive health care that were imposed by the Trump administration like the restriction of mifepristone. The decision to ban mail delivery of mifepristone was upheld by the Supreme Court last month. Becerra will face challenges from Senate Republicans in confirmation hearings, and, if nominated, will face a predominantly Republican-appointed Supreme Court.
While governors like South Carolina’s Henry McMaster are attempting to restrict nearly all abortions, which ahs resulted in lawsuits from Planned Parenthood, others like New Mexico’s Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham are signing bills that would repeal abortion bans.
In other news, Biden has announced the Gender Policy Council, which aims to ensure that all policy-makers consider the impact made on women when considering new policies. Under the Biden Administration, the Gender Policy Council hopes to have greater agency than previous Councils. Hilary Clinton described the Council as a “crucial first step” towards representing women’s rights in politics.
Feminist of the Month: Angela Davis
Our Feminist of the Month for March (Women’s History Month) is Angela Davis. In our joint meeting on intersectional feminism with BSU last semester,we talked about some of Davis’s accomplishments; but, in case you missed that meeting or are looking to learn more, here are some important highlights of her life. Political activist, philosopher, Davis was born in 1944 and was raised in Alabama where she experienced racism and sexism firsthand. Two of the major groups she joined throughout her life are the Black Panthers and the Che-Lumumba Club, an all-black branch of the Communist Party. Some of her most vocal activism has focused on opposing the Vietnam War, the prison-industrial complex, and American racism and sexism. She is also a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. In her work against the prison-industrial complex (the PIC), Davis founded Critical Resistance, a grassroots organization that works to abolish the PIC. Currently, she is a professor in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies Departments at UC Santa Cruz. If you’re interested in reading some of Angela Davis’s works (we hope you do!), here are a few of her notable books: Are Prisons Obsolete?, Women, Culture, and Politics, Women, Race, and Class, Abolition Democracy, and more.
Further Reading and Sources