Javacia Bowser: 'It's time for desperation to become motivation' –

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By Javacia Bowser, of Birmingham

I will not stand for your desperation.

That’s the statement feminist blogger Courtney E. Martin’s mother said to her when, in 2004, she told her mom she’d been dreaming of standing on the steps of the White House and setting herself on fire. Courtney was incensed about wealth disparity, xenophobia, and sex trafficking. But when she shared this dark fantasy of self-destructive protest, her mother would have none of that. “You are smarter, more creative and more resilient than that,” she said.

I will not stand for your desperation.

That’s the statement I repeat to myself often. Many women in Alabama feel desperate right now because Governor Kay Ivey has signed legislation that makes performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases. But, I was wrestling with feelings of desperation about the state of women in Alabama long before this.

Alabama has the third highest rate of women in poverty in the United States. More than 31 percent of women-headed households in Central Alabama live in poverty. That means a single mom raising two kids on an income of less than $22,000 is not uncommon. But it is unacceptable.

Lawmakers looking to challenge Roe v. Wade claim to care about the “sanctity of life” yet many of them do little to change the conditions that can make life so hard to live. I am tempted to let my fury for the hypocrites on the Hill overwhelm me, but I am smarter, more creative and more resilient than that. You are, too.

So let’s get to work. And let us not forget that true reproductive justice is about much more than abortion rights. Yes, we women should have autonomy over our bodies and the right to not have children. But all women should also be able to parent the children they do have in safe and sustainable communities. Choice is crucial, but so is access; access to contraception, health care, child care, education, jobs, housing, and more.

Let’s stop metaphorically setting ourselves on fire on social media, and let’s get to work. Let’s volunteer with or donate to organizations that collectively push programs and policies that support all aspects of a woman’s well-being.

It’s time for desperation to become motivation.

Javacia Harris Bowser is a writer, educator, and entrepreneur based in Birmingham, Alabama, and the founder and president of See Jane Write, a membership organization and website for women who write and blog.

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