Body (of) Knowledge: Radical Politics and Gendered Reproductive Care

Women's reproductive health has been a site of oppression and resistance for millenia. In the last 300 years,forces as diverse as the industrial revolution, the scientific method, big Pharma, colonialism, feminism and the Internet have all forced humanity to confront the relationship between individual bodies, freedom, and political action. Drawing from sources as varied as medical manuals, history books, zines and anarchist publications, she will examine how Western radical movements (and some non-Western radical movements) have dealt with autonomy, gender and reproductive health, and how those perspectives have changed over time. Finally, she will use her background in a women's health work to both applaud and critique the radical women's reproductive health movement in the United States, presenting concrete ways for all activists to be better stewards of their bodies, the planet, and one another. A rough outline of her presentation is as follows: 1) Reproductive Health, pre-1500 --Midwifery, sorcery, abortion as presented in a) Medical texts: dangerous and wrong b) Zines and radical feminist literature: "natural," essential, direct action by women for women 2) Health as Profession, Health as Law --Shifting focus to UK, Italy, and then to US reproductive policy --Industrial capital and the transition from midwifery to "gynecology" and "obstetrics" a) History of science, testing of "gynecological" procedures on slaves, the poor, black women and men, medicine as a tool of oppression --Comstock Laws, laws against interracial marriage or procreation b) Emma Goldman/other early anarchist theory on the links between reproductive control and personal autonomy 3) Theory to Practice: Contemporary Thought on Reproductive Health --Feminism and Body-Knowledge a) Zines and medical texts with different perspectives on what is safe and healthy, current differences between reproductive medical care for women and men, absence of queer issues in reproductive health care --Autonomy and "The Pill" a) Contraceptives for women as a tool for both liberation and repression; the new role of big Pharma in reproductive health dialogue. b) Conflict between queer and trans issues and essentialism in radical health theory --Radicalizing Reproductive Health Discourses a) Menstrual calendars as a tool for heterosexual partners b) Body education for activists: beyond "watching the other video" in health class c) Queer and transgender reproductive health d) Critique of radical discourse on reproductive health: The pill CAN be dangerous, but there is no "psychic birth control" e) Beyond Euphemism: speaking Penis to Power Free male and female/ latex and non-latex condoms and info, DIY dental dams, menstrual calendars, Planned Parenthood discounts and discussion about alternatives to tampons will be provided. She may offer free HIV testing.

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Katie McAuley