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I’ve been thinking this morning about the total ban on abortion in Nicaragua which I blogged about yesterday, about the way it’s generally being blogged and reported, and I’m wondering how clear it is to how many progressive people what has actually happened to women in that country, and how very likely it is that something similar will happen in the U.S., as Ann Bartow at Feminist Law Professors has also suggested.

The story of Ortega’s rise to prominence once again in Nicaragua is complicated, possibly, for those unfamiliar with the story behind the Sandinistas, the Contras, and Ortega.  I remember the 70s and 80s very well, remember who the good guys, from a progressive perspective, were, and who the bad guys were (read:  all the guys the White House and Republicans supported).  So it doesn’t take much for me to seevery quickly and clearly what has happened there.  I think it would be less clear for someone who had not lived through those years.

I am writing this post in the hopes that all women, and all who are truly our allies, will seriously consider what has happened in Nicaragua so far as the total ban on therapeutic abortion and all the ways it might be a portent of things to come for all of the world’s women.  When men — be they left, right, centrist, conservative, liberal, progressive, Green, socialist, communist, Marxist, capitalist, libertarian, fascist,  religious, fundie, atheist, you name it — see an opportunity to ascend to power, and all it will cost them is to throw a few women and our issues under a truck, I guarantee you, that’s what men will do.   That’s exactly what they will do.   Conservative men and liberal men, religious men and nonreligious, will forge alliances every time it benefits them, if the only cost is women and our issues.  We might have fought beside them all the live-long day, might have been in the trenches with them, might have given all of our lives in dedication to struggles they have led, and in return, we will find that all along, for example, as Ortega did, they were incesting their daughter.  We will find them converting to conservative religion (too many names to count, but including Ortega).  We will find them hooking up with pornographers.  We will find them betraying us.

What other reasons are there for the fact that after 40-plus years of feminism in the United States,  women are losing, losing, losing ground — just basic, basic freedoms and liberties — every day?  What other reason can you cite for the rolling back of therapeutic abortion rights in Nicaragua, rights women there have had since 1891, lost now in large part because a “leftist” man bailed and hooked up with the Vatican?

If, as women, we do not put women’s issues first, we will lose all of the rights that we have, one by one, I guarantee you, we will lose them all.  We will wake up one day, having given all of our energies to some male-led, worthy-sounding cause, to find we have no reproductive rights, we cannot get birth control, we don’t dare to report we have be raped,  we lose everything when we attempt to divorce, we cannot present as we want, live as we want in the world, we have lost it all.




19 thoughts on “Alliances

  1. Sad but true.

    You know, there is not a movement that does not rely on the tireless work of women. Even anti-choice movements, are only possible due to women doing the free tedious work: women make fliers, women make the phone calls, women do all the support work and get little credit.

    I agree, when we fight for economic, civil, political rights, in the end we get nothing if we don’t first insist that women and children get our share of the spoils. Otherwise all our work will go to making the male leaders more powerful. When they say bringing up special rights is divisive, that we need to show solidarity for the sake of the movement, know that the movement is shit. If our demands for women’s and children’s interests are overlooked, all our work is lost anyway, so compliance is futile.

    Posted by saltyC | November 2, 2006, 2:57 pm
  2. ***If, as women, we do not put women’s issues first, we will lose all of the rights that we have, one by one, I guarantee you, we will lose them all.***

    No words have ever been truer than these. And, if things continue to go in that direction, we will eventually lose the rights to education, to learning to read even, to vote, to work outside the home, earn and control our own money, property rights, custody rights – it goes on and on, you name it.

    Posted by Branjor | November 2, 2006, 3:51 pm
  3. One of the things that troubles me is the oft seen rift amongst feminists and their allies over the influence of Western feminists on countries and cultures that are dissimilar to ours. While we are battling over the cultural property and beliefs of other countries, the men of those countries are taking huge cues from how Western men are treating us. And they seem to be emboldened. They see how Western women are stretched thin regarding issues of birth control, abortion, rape conviction, etc., and then they make the very logical leap that “their” women don’t even have the the social and political clout that Western women have, and viola!, those men make the social and political changes that we, as Western women, only barely keep our male politicians etc., from making. They feed off of our vulnerability, and make other women pay the price.

    Posted by Q Grrl | November 2, 2006, 3:58 pm
  4. I’m with you Heart. I do see all the hard-fought rights being eroded away, little by little. I think it is happening in the UK as well.

    It could still, as Branjor says, eventuate into total lack of rights and freedoms in all areas of life.

    I’m worried. Very worried.

    Posted by stormcloud | November 3, 2006, 12:52 am
  5. I love you women. You keep me sane.

    I just cannot stand seeing feminist women throwing good energy, moment after moment, year after year, after male bad, you know? It doesn’t take but a cursory look through recent history to understand all the ways men right, left, center or undeclared, have used, abused and abandoned women. Feminist women have written it and written it and re-written it, recorded it, memorialized it, and it gets ignored and erased, and a new generation of women throws good energy after male bad, and along the way the men they support keep assaulting, keep raping, keep incesting, keep stalking, keep abusing women, betraying women. And the women keep ignoring all of that.

    It depresses me. What happened in Nicaragua? That is what needs shouted from the housetops, analyzed up one side and down the other, picked apart, picked to death. To be fair, lots of people have read that post. But it depresses me that whereas thousands and thousands of people will follow and comment on Ampgate or Burqua-gate or Bitch|Lab going off on Ann Bartow for no reason that I can discern or arguments between the radfems and belledame, Anti-Princess and Amber, not so many thousands will take the time to read and understand what happened in Nicaragua, and what that means for Nicaraguan women, what that means for all women, and even fewer will comment.

    You women commented and commented well, may your amazon tribes increase.



    Posted by Heart | November 3, 2006, 5:47 am
  6. Just wanted to share this article…feel free to delete this comment if you like…


    Posted by breatheinspirit | November 3, 2006, 3:44 pm
  7. Admittedly, I did not comment on the Nicaraguan thread. I certainly read it, and felt the outrage. The main reason I don’t comment on that and similar threads is because I am so horrified that words just seem inadequate, plus I see the connection of the gradual erosion of rights in the West, but feel it inappropriate to mention it on those threads because it shifts the focus away from what those women are going through. It does break my heart. Hence, do not take my silence as apathy, it’s not. Perhaps it is also the realisation that the abuse and control over women is such a massive out-of-control problem, that sometimes I feel overwhelmed.

    Ampgate was a good example of modern day fuckery (as has happened in the past to 2nd wavers), and certainly exposed the Handmaidens of the Patriarchy that call themselves ‘feminists’ (they should have a disclaimer along the lines of “any resemblance to feminism is purely co-incidental”).

    Posted by stormcloud | November 3, 2006, 4:38 pm
  8. Hey stormcloud, I definitely didn’t mean to make anybody feel bad about not commenting or about not reading! Sorry to come across like that. I was more just grumbling about the way these internecine feuds we have in the blogosphere seem to command more interest at times than events that are staggeringly important in so many ways, like what happened in Nicaragua.

    It’s true what you say about Ampgate– that really wasn’t an instance of internecine feuding. It was a pretty spectacular example of the way supposedly feminist men sell us out and worthy of discussion for that reason.


    Posted by womensspace | November 3, 2006, 4:50 pm
  9. Thank you Heart, for this and a lot of other posts as well. There are a lot of things women have to somehow, some way, do for ourselves, because that is the only way they will get done. You help energize me and remind me what is important.

    Posted by Ann Bartow | November 3, 2006, 5:13 pm
  10. Heart, you didn’t come across all school m’am or anything, and I certainly didn’t take offence. But I did have to put my *hand up* for not commenting, and didn’t feel praiseworthy.

    I too get a bit disheartened when I look at the stats on my blog, the ‘most popular’ stuff is rarely what I view the ‘most important’.

    *grin* now come to think of it, you’ve never commented on my blog! *wink*

    Posted by stormcloud | November 3, 2006, 6:10 pm
  11. thank you for this post, heart. i absolutely agree with you (as i do on most things 🙂 but i don’t always comment because i can’t find proper words to convey my grief/horror/outrage/etc. please know, though, that your words are read and reflected on and that you inspire many, many of us.

    xoxo, jared

    Posted by ms. jared | November 3, 2006, 6:17 pm
  12. ***I see the connection of the gradual erosion of rights in the West, but feel it inappropriate to mention it on those threads because it shifts the focus away from what those women are going through.***

    I don’t think it necessarily has to “take the focus away” from what is happening in Nicaragua. Putting Nicaraguan women’s struggles in the context of what is happening to women worldwide, including in the US, shows that those problems are *large*, that they are not merely an aberration. Everything is connected to everything else. When women in one place win, ALL women are in a stronger position to eventually win their own particular struggle, and when they lose, ALL are in a weaker position. ONE way (only one, there are others) that we can help women worldwide is to win our own particular struggle here.

    Oh, and one minor point – Nicaragua is just as “West” as the US is, it’s just a little more south!

    Posted by Branjor | November 3, 2006, 6:49 pm
  13. “Nicaragua is just as “West” as the US is, it’s just a little more south!”

    I perhaps should have said, 1st world or something. I was lazily referring to the usual US/UK/Aus/Euro thing.

    Posted by stormcloud | November 3, 2006, 7:38 pm
  14. Ortega has been a hero for the left since the Sandinista revolution, partly because US governments have done just about everything imaginable to fight him. I say just about because AFAIK that has not included making a stink about his incest. Administration officials currently have been threatening to cut off aid to Nicaragua if Ortega wins the election. This is another case when the enemy of my enemy is not my friend.

    Posted by Aletha | November 4, 2006, 5:17 am
  15. I’ve been silent for a while too, feeling overwhelmed and not very articulate, but I’m here reading every day because I have to, because heart and all of you brilliant women here keep ME sane.

    Posted by Melissa | November 4, 2006, 7:25 am


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