This is the latest in a series of Saturday GINK videos about population and reproduction (or a lack thereof).
The culture war raging in the U.S. over abortion and reproductive rights isn’t confined within our country’s borders — it’s gone global. American Christian conservatives have teamed up with Islamic fundamentalists, the Vatican, and other religious traditionalists around the world to fight efforts to bring contraception, abortion rights, and basic equality to women everywhere.
As Michelle Goldberg puts it in her 2009 book The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World, “All over the planet, conflicts between tradition and modernity are being fought on the terrain of women’s bodies.” It’s one of the best books you’ll read on the evolution of the population movement and the current state of the battle for reproductive rights. Her emphasis is on women’s well-being rather than the health of the environment, with the understanding that the two are inextricably tied up together.
Here’s Goldberg talking about the book last year:
The video cuts out at 10 minutes, but you can watch the rest at pdxjustice.org.
A choice bit from 19:45:
[W]omen’s rights and particularly reproductive rights are really at the heart of development, they’re at the heart of the answer to almost every pressing problem that we’re facing, whether it be environmental devastation or the persistence of global poverty or the AIDS pandemic. You can’t begin to address any of these problems until you address the oppression of women. When you start looking at these issues, you see that all over the world there are forces that are very much desperate to keep women from making any progress because they see, and I think rightly, that changes in women’s status and autonomy and power and earning capability and role within the family, all these things are the ultimate harbingers of modernity, of urbanization, of globalization … [S]o fundamentalists all over the world, whether we’re talking about here or in Afghanistan or in India or in Africa or in South America, in their hatred of the modern world, in their desperate desire to restore some kind of lost paradise that probably never existed …, they see the key to that as restoring women to what they see as their proper place.
[T]he conflation of women’s rights with globalization or Westernization, and the concomitant desire to limit them in the name of national or cultural integrity, is nearly universal. … women’s rights are perhaps the most visible sign of modernity and thus an obvious bête noire for flourishing fundamentalist movements.
Environmentalists don’t talk about population much these days, but they talk about women’s rights even less. As American right-wingers team up with Islamic fundamentalists to push their retrograde agenda, isn’t it about time that the green movement and women’s movement collaborate and push their progressive causes jointly?
Have a video on population or GINK thinking to recommend? Post a link in comments below.
Get Grist in your inbox