Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Ain't this a bookstore?

Asimov writes about the decadent deterioration of a great civilization with the wisdom to realize that most of those in the middle of the decline don't know that anything has changed. They have no point of comparison, so they don't know that their society in the present is any different from its past versions.

As neighborhoods yield to suburban lockdowns and community gathering places become havens for individuals to isolate and consume (money, time, opiates, etc.), how many of us even know what we are missing?

The Women and Children First Bookstore on Clark in Chicago is a relic of sorts from a time when a trip to the bookstore was a place to nurture one's soul rather than one's insecurities and desires to consume. Rather than stocking materials that will sell, the store stocks a wide array of works by and for women, children's books of all kids and works of gay and lesbian fiction and non. Beyond that, they have various presentations by authors and others, which are far more "teach-in" than "book promotions".

Tonight, the store hosted a Power Point presentation on the struggle for women's access to health care. It was given by the Chicago Women's Liberation Union, an organization that did much to fight for gender equality in the Chicago area for a decade starting in the late 60's.

The impact of the presentation was amplified by the detail in their accounts of the time and the prescense of dozens of former members in the audience. In all, I would estimate between 100-200 people in audience for the event.

As Liz and I watched, it really made the current mainstream perceptions of feminism feel utterly absurd. It's only been several decades since physicians regularly sterilized women for being poor and colored. Only recently have many women had access to information about their own bodies and health.

And sorry, it wasn't these "reasonable" folks who mock feminism who made it happen. In most cases, it was radical, crazy, feminist women educating each other and performing procedures on each other that shook our society into positive change.

Nor is it a permanent shift. Even as we speak, more and more American women and children (and men) are losing access to adequate health care. The gain made in terms of health education have been eroded to the point that students can no longer get information about their own health or where to seek knowledge from their school environment.

Finally, there is the spectre of the abortion issue. However you feel about the morality of abortion, access should not be the issue. The reason why radical groups push for an increase in access to abortions is not because they take joy in the act. It is because a drop in access means that poor women will lose access to the same medical procedures that rich women have access to. So if you believe women should have to support the little parasites they (not alone mind you) conceived through delivery, that's a different battle. Greater access means equal opportunity. We're supposed to like that in this country, right?

Anyway, if you get a minute, check out the CWLU homepage. It documents an important part in the struggle for equality in our nation's history and present.

2 Comments:

Blogger Ironcheffie said...

As a medical student, I'm sick and tired of medical knowledge. Especially if it's going to be on an exam.

7:07 AM  
Blogger Cattygurl said...

I'm glad that there are still women and men out there that *care* and *support* the right of medical access to everyone- whether it be access to information or access to procedures. We are currently seeing a decline in access to information about abortions and birth control (because yes- those things affect men as much as women). Instead, we're being inundated with mis-information on the topic. We are living in times where for many, (myself included currently), seeing a doctor means worrying about how many meals you'll have to skip to pay for it.
I *heart* this wonderful post, I appreciate the concern for others, and kudos for giving a shoutout to an incredible group still struggling and marching forward in the name of justice and progress.

9:25 PM  

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