Last Saturday, I had one of the best working days of my life when I got to spend an afternoon with the Driftless Area Women’s Network. In the Spring Green Community Library we sat together over donuts talking about how Wisconsin residents can effectively advocate for their reproductive rights.
DAWN is one of many feminist communities that rose from the ashes of the 2016 election. Women around the country were energized by the Clinton campaign, then devastated, then fired up. It was a powder keg – so much passion and no obvious place to put it. The best thing NARAL can do to help is equip these groups with knowledge. That’s why I’ve made education a priority in 2017.
One thing I love about the NARAL community is its diversity. We have octogenarians who are contemporaries of Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, and we have teens just dipping their feet but awake with passion for intersectionality. While it’s fantastic, it makes it hard to plan a lesson. So instead of me standing in front of a PowerPoint (no revolution was won with PowerPoint), we sat around a table and chatted. I made sure people felt comfortable interrupting with comments or questions.
Abortion law can change rapidly from one year to the next, so I tried to bring the group up to speed as best I could in 20 minutes. Everyone was shocked by just how far Wisconsin has slid backwards. Then we focused on what we could do about it.
I made everyone make me two promises:
- Meet with your legislator
- Attend or testify at a committee hearing.
The DAWN group is dedicated to action, and still there was a collective intake of breath when I made this pitch.
“You are an expert in your own experience.” I said. Your legislator might know more about getting a bill passed, but you know more about the life you’ve lived. Tell them your story and they’ll be obliged to listen.”
At the end, we all sat around chatting (the way women do). Women shared their own experiences with abortion, and their own frustration with the direction our state has taken. There were tears. There were hugs.
Some days, I feel like progress is out of my reach. But on days like this progress fills the room.
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