You’ve got so much going on right now. Careers, finishing up your college degrees and maybe even thinking about a master’s or PHD, dating, mating, friendships and fun – these are all important things.
You should be doing all of them because hell, you’re young and this is one of the most amazing times in your life when you are free and courageous in a way where you don’t even know what the future holds. I can remember doing all sorts of crazy things that now looking back on I think that if I had had any sense, I would have been scared to death but I wasn’t! So go for it and go out hard.
But while you are having fun, figuring out your life and planning your future, don’t forget the politics. You won’t, I’m pretty certain but as your monthly advice giver I want to reiterate how important your voice is to the process of democracy and change.
I want to let you in on what’s been going on in my state over the past week.
Texas, the state I was born in and the place I call home and currently live in was trying to pass some bills basically eliminating any access to reproductive services in the state. There are some dirty tricks going on, and regardless of how you feel about abortion, it’s been an intense past week.
I spent last Sunday with about 1000 of my new best friends for 13 hours at the State Capitol. We all did a little and we all did a lot. There were mass gatherings in the halls as Representatives walked into the chamber, there were seat fillers to keep orange in the gallery. We fetched pizzas, salads, cookies and more (ordered and delivered by people all across the nation), and we tweeted, blogged and gave each other support. I saw people much older than me up all night and so many women and men under 30, young, smart, all using social media and the power of the internet to spread the word and kick ass.
It was damn exciting to see.
Here’s the thing about freedom and democracy. It takes vigilance and dedication. It’s hard work and it takes thousands and thousands of regular people, watching, seeing, calling out, and yes most importantly, voting. It may seem boring but trust me when I say it is an exciting time filled with lots of passion. There are many meet ups, Twitter friending and determination to collaborate online and in real space. This is the stuff, right here.
I myself had an aunt and mother who were kick-ass political feminists and schooled me to get involved. They were born during the Depression and witnessed massive social change in the 60′s and 70′s. One of the things they were adamant about was protecting reproductive rights.
My mother was overjoyed at the bill. She was overjoyed that women were given the right to privacy and abortion, not because she wanted one, but because she recognized that women’s bodies belonged to them and access to reproductive services meant freedom.
She believes that people who are poor and kept from education wind up being desperate. They end up taking bad jobs and find themselves trapped in marriages or pregnancies. In addition, people of colour suffer more than middle class whites and the poverty class keeps itself locked in because there aren’t policies in place to help.
That being said – she like me – would probably want to see abortion rates drop. Abstinence only doesn’t work because we’ve got eleventy billion people on the planet. People like sex. They can’t stop and won’t stop. So let’s make sure the pregnancies don’t get started, right?
Here’s how I see it, and where I put my particular activism:
1) Teach everyone about how their bodies work. Sex education is a human right as far as I’m concerned. We need to know how to: Eat, sleep and stay well. Thus, we also need to know how our parts work. Comprehensive age appropriate sex ed is a moral issue. It is immoral to deny people understanding of their bodies. Making sex ok means better decisions, less impulsive guilt based hookups and healthier relationships. Adults need support as well as youth.
Education is power, don’t deny people education.
2) Offer many varieties of easily accessible, low cost birth control options. Offer them to teens, adults, health centers and even at bars. Research more methods for men to control their fertility and more options for couples to work together. Don’t chip away at Planned Parenthood, make sure there are more!
Access is power, don’t deny people access.
3) Here’s the most radical idea and one I’m sure our Republican friends won’t like. Make sure a social safety net is in place filled with unions, worker’s rights, fair wages, fair and ethical bank practices, health services, state funded day care services, insurance and more so that those finding themselves with unexpected or intended pregnancies, who want to proceed with the pregnancy have resources and safety.
Resources are power, don’t deny people resources.
So that’s me, but if reproductive rights aren’t your passion, find it. Environmental Causes? Go for it. Workers Rights? We need you. Animal protection, Doctor’s Without Borders, Non-GMO Foods, Prison Interventions, Tar Sands, Anti War Activism, Marriage Equality – you name it its there. Go canvas, raise money, tweet, vote, and organize. It’s the most amazing thing you can do, and you’ll meet the best people in your lives doing it.
Take all your amazing creative powerful energy and kick the system’s ass, that’s what I say. And know that I’m doing it too. Still and always.
So what do you want to do? What do you want to change? Let’s talk about it and get something happening.
Your [political] Aunt Julie
You can read more from Julie and her column, Advice From Your Aunt Julie, in our Spring 2013 issue of Flurt! Magazine available through iTunes and Pocketmags in April. Ask Julie questions for her next column at firstname.lastname@example.org