The blog is turning one! What does one get a blog on its first anniversary? I think I’ll break open a bottle of birthday cake vodka myself.
After fledging since OK4RJ began in 2009, we relaunched the blog something fierce last October. OK4RJ has a bit of a love affair with the annual Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) reproductive justice conference. CLPP served as the catalyst for OK4RJ. Without the conference, I would not have met some of my closest friends. I would not have found the courage to openly advocate for reproductive justice in my home state. Abortion is rarely discussed openly here. Seriously, if you want to find the red-staters at this Western Massachusetts conference, we’re the ones staring in awe at the “abortion rights” banner displayed so prominently in a public space.
While at CLPP, we noticed that despite being at the front lines of the battle, red states are often not part of the conversation. No doubt this is partly due to geography. But – it’s got to be said y’all – this is also a result of the reproductive rights movement’s abandonment of Middle America. Sure, organizations like the Center for Reproductive Rights challenge our legislation in court, but there’s also an attitude among those on the coasts that red state progressives either don’t exist or are so incompetent that it’s not worth investing money and resources in them. Worse, some have the attitude that those experiencing reproductive oppression in red states should simply move to a friendlier region – the thinking being ‘why would you want to live there anyway?’
Progressives exist here; we’ve got roots here. Many of us can’t afford to move. Many of us don’t want to move. We deserve access to our reproductive rights too.
With this on our minds, we sought to provide a space for Oklahomans to discuss reproductive justice issues as they manifest in our region. We’ve since expanded to neighbor states and have bloggers from Kansas, Missouri, and New Mexico. Here’s what we were up to this year!
Our first series featured student activist perspectives on a highly successful 2010 protest against Justice for All that occurred at the University of Oklahoma. Blogging about activism is kind of our jam. Sandra provided tips for when your activist interests are not NSFSM (Not safe for small talk).
Our feminist theory series featured discussions on liberal, Marxist, transnational, and other types of feminism. In “I’m not a (F)eminist but…”, Pearl followed up with a post on why some people do not associate with feminism at all. Both Jen and Matt explained the reproductive justice framework in “Reproductive Justice 101: Oklahoma edition” and “Reproductive Justice and the Capability Approach.”
We had some serious conversations about racial and geographic identity. In “I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m Okie,” Ricky wrote about growing up queer in Oklahoma and returning years later. Judie discussed the origination of ‘Okie’ as a slur in “Why I Don’t Say Okie.” Marisa sorted through family, gender roles, and racial identity in “I’m a Persian-Mexican Woman, Regardless of What My Family Thinks.”
We covered national and local current events. Arielle critiqued the Occupy Wall Street movement. Melissa praised the community she found at a protest against personhood last March. An exasperated Carly covered Hobby Lobby’s attempts to block the Obamacare contraception mandate on religious grounds. Katie went in on popular women’s blog Jezebel for exploiting feminism. I wrote increduously about an OKC Catholic organization blessing an ultrasound machine before donating it to a crisis pregnancy center.
Molly brought the lols each week in her reproductive justice news round up. Amidst attempts by pro-lifers to appropriate it, she also shared her grandmother’s story, who died in 1962 of complications from an illegal abortion performed by an Oklahoma doctor. Speaking of personal stories, Jessie shared her experience as an egg donor in “The Donor’s Tale or How Do You Like Your Eggs?”
We also had guest posts, including one from Sage on the epidemic of sexual assaults in Indian Country and the federal government’s role in perpetuating it. In “Cissupremacy 101: Here’s one queer transman’s perspective,” Kale reminded us that “if it ain’t your body, you don’t have a say in the identity attached to it.”
Phew! We covered a lot this year. I feel so lucky to work with fellow Oklahomans who are sharp, fearless, and full of heart despite how demoralizing red state reproductive justice organizing can be. I want to give special thanks to Pearl, who has been co-editing with me since January, and Jessie who has recently agreed to serve as an editor. OK4RJ’s Executive Director Sandra wears many hats, including editor and advisor to the blog. Thanks to our readers out there who offer us support and feedback, as well as share us with your friends. You keep us going, so thank you so much.
The tl;dr version of this post: Beyoncé’s “Countdown” a.k.a. the video of the year (If you disagree I will pull a Kanye on you, jsyk). In this feelings metaphor, I am Beyoncé (shhhh…let me have this), bloggers and readers are Jay Z, and the blog is our very own baby Blue Ivy.
Mallory’s editor wrote this bio, and that’s how you know your favorite blog is succeeding: when even the editors have editors.
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Tagsabortion activism anti-choice birth control community building conference contraception Dr. Tiller economic justice feminism feminist theory series fetal personhood gender healthcare heteronormativity intersectionality Justice for All Kansas legislation LGBTQ missouri news Oklahoma Oklahoma legislation personhood pop culture pregnancy public health queer race racism rape culture red state red states reproductive justice self care sex education sexual assault so you want to be an activist student activism take root take root 2013 Texas trans* weekly round up