Taken for Granted or Left Out (To Katha Pollitt)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Wed Jun 3 10:20:41 PDT 1998

Katha wrote:
>I must say the results were not encouraging: it
>seemed to me the pro-choicers got little out of it: they ended up
>working on the anti-choice agenda (abstinence-only sex ed, promoting
>adoption), but the anti-choicers didn't give an inch: they didn't for
>example, agree to push contraception or have honest sex ed.
> Committed anti-choicers tend to be quite inflexible. They really think
>it's murder, and this belief is connected to others, also deeply held,
>about women and sex and parental authority. It may make sense to
>dialogue with them, if only to defuse the potential for the harrassment
>and violence some of them like to commit--maybe they'll be less likely
>to burn down the clinic or scream at the clinic doctors' children etc.
>But we really should do them the honor of allowing that they are just as
>committed ideologically as we are.
> I think it makes more sense to concentrate on mobilizing the vast
>majority of people who already favor choice at least somewhat but don't
>do anything about it, not to mention the women whose bodies are the
>object of all this attention -- NARAL for example is doing great things
>with highschool students here in NYC. No movement ever wins all hearts
>-- and I think it is so curious that people on this list are so
>preoccupied with winning over militiamen, anti-choicers, fundamentalists
>-- the LEAST Likely candidates for our politics.

That's because pro-choicers, people of color, queers, and so on are _taken for granted_ as ready-made progressives or _dismissed_ as 'middle-class' (contradictory as these two thoughts may seem) in the thoughts of many lbo-talkers. That's why there is no discussion about how to talk + appeal to the working-class people who fall into one or more of the above categories. The only thing that lbo-talkers have to say about us is that 'identity politics,' whose political economy they do have yet to theorize, is BAD. No productive + constructive discussion. Worse, in some of their minds, we are to be totally _left out_, since our presence is perceived to be alienating for the 'majority' that exists only in their dreams. (Shades of the 'silent majority' discourse here?)

And when what is thought of as 'women's issues,' 'black issues,' 'queer issues,' etc. do show up in their minds, they are there only as 'bargaining chips,' to be used in the process of 'dialogue' only to be compromised away. Hell, we are compromised away even before the onset of 'dialogue,' judging by what most lbo-talkers say here!

And anti-imperialism is definitely no-no. It might not play well in Peoria! (It played well in Columbus, OH, though, largely because of a coalition _we_ built--activists from women's groups, peace & justice groups, Arab-Americans, people of color, anti-racist anarchist youths, Greens, and so on. Those who disagree with us are free to try and persuade fundamentalists, militia men, anti-choicers, etc. to join us. They are very very welcome as long as they oppose American Imperialism. Go ahead. Make my day.)


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