Ruth Dawson, Resident Blogger (’12, Emory University School of Law)
These days, it seems that there is a list for everything: 29 Ways to Love Being 29, 10 Ways to Prevent Yourself from Alien Abduction, Top 5 Trite New Year’s Resolutions, etc. etc. At the risk of sounding preachy, here are 5 reproductive justice-related resolutions that I have adopted for 2014.
- Be sex positive – It sounds so easy in theory. But sometimes when one is faced with a friend or younger sibling and sexuality, the “ick factor” takes over. Breathe deeply and feel emboldened by the thought that you may be the only person your little brother can talk to about such things.
- Examine and reevaluate your privilege – In social justice spaces, it is crucial that folks commit to evaluating and dismantling their own privilege, which can be based on race, class, gender, and various other identities. It can be difficult to focus on these structural concerns while caught up in exciting work. But our movement cannot truly achieve our aims without such rigorous self-reflection and holding ourselves accountable.
- Raise your voice – I often find myself horrified by news articles these days: people denied their rights, or stripped of agency and subjugated to an employer’s or hospital’s religious directives. This is the year to write a blog post or Op-Ed in the local paper, and raise your RJ voice.
- Practice what you preach – Women’s health folks know the importance of preventive care and of prioritizing one’s health. But we don’t always schedule the tests, screenings, and health care into our own schedules as we advocate others to do. 2014 is the year to lead by example.
- Be kind to yourself – At the same time, advocates have to be kind to themselves in the same way they are to others. Often, I find that it is advocates who are hardest on themselves. I have a friends who is a safe sex advocate, and when she contracted an STI, self-imposed a layer of shame upon an already tough situation. While RJ advocates hold themselves up to a high standard, it’s important to leave some flexibility, some room to be kind and gentle to oneself.
Happy New Year, all!