Welcome to my weekly Q&A feature. (Scroll down to find the Q&A.)
If this is your first time here, welcome. I spend a fair amount of time speaking at events and conferences. At the end of my presentations, I leave space for audience members to ask questions — tough questions, brave questions, you name it. The level of candor and curiosity always inspires me, and I want to share that sentiment with you. Each week I pick one question that I believe others would find most instructive and publish my response to it here.
The purpose of this weekly tradition is transparency and inclusion.
- Transparency: a behind-the-scenes look at my day-to-day.
- Inclusion: bringing others along on the journey.
Abortion Rights And The 2022 Midterms
I’m a fellow gender rights advocate and eager first time voter. I strive to find the middle ground and see the pros and cons of each side. That said, how much importance should we place on abortion access for the 2022 midterm elections?
Curious about something? Ask your question here for a chance to have it answered in an upcoming edition of Brave Souls®.
Congrats on being a first-time voter and exercising your democratic rights! Our political system depends not only on your voting, but also on your ability to recognize the validity (and limitations) of all sides of an argument.
As we approach the 2022 midterms, 42% of Americans say that abortion is an “extremely important” factor influencing their vote. Abortion currently ranks higher in extreme importance than immigration, taxes, relations with Russia, and climate change.
The high valence that the US electorate — perhaps yourself included — is placing on abortion reflects the world around us. These rankings will one day become historical artifacts of the 2022 zeitgeist. That said, attention is finite. It’s zero-sum.
When monumental events happen — like the overturning of Roe V. Wade, the media will capture these events. Then the stories they publish will capture our attention. And then we will channel that attention into our behaviors, actions, and voting intentions.
Abortion Isn’t The Issue — This Is
We need to practice intellectual curiosity and think critically about how to channel our attention most effectively. How can we channel our energy around the overturn of Roe V. Wade to create the conditions we want?
Safeguarding abortion access matters because it guarantees people the right to bodily autonomy. And bodily autonomy matters because it represents one of the three fundamental rights:
- The right to vote
- The right to own property
- The right to choose.
The right to choose means you have the freedom (i.e. no barrier to entry) to make decisions (i.e. choose) that are in your best interest financially, emotionally, socially, and physically.
What Does The “Right To Choose” Mean For Gender Equity?
Does your gender determine the opportunities, rights, and responsibilities afforded to you in the Land of Opportunity? This is the litmus test for gender equity.
When you can say “no,” my gender does NOT determine the opportunities afforded to me, then we know we’ve achieved gender equity.
And ultimately that’s what we are driving towards in protecting the right to bodily autonomy vis-a-vis abortion access. So how can you use your vote to create a country that is truly opportunistic for all genders? Where everyone can step into a life the size of their dreams regardless of their gender?
Why Gender Mainstreaming Matters
You can support and socialize gender mainstreaming. Gender mainstreaming tells us to think about how abortion fits into the bigger picture instead of thinking of it as a one-off issue. Gender mainstreaming horizontally integrates gender equity into all policy issues.
When we gender mainstream, we apply the gender lens to issues such as gun control, Social Security, healthcare, and foreign policy. Instead of assuming these policies are gender neutral or on the periphery, we disaggregate the data by gender (and ideally race, ethnicity, and age too) to see how they impact different cohorts differently.
Gender mainstreaming is an intuitive and effective mechanism to integrate the experiences of all genders in policy ideation, creation, and implementation.
TL:DR: Yes, bodily autonomy matters. This is a foundational right. And, gender equity is about far more than the right to choose.
P.S. If you’d like a gender mainstreaming toolkit, you’re in luck. This 2022 Gender Equity Voting Guide takes 15 election issues and puts them through the intersectional gender equity lens.