Volume 21, Number 1
2007 Anti-War Protests
Readers & writers
Left Electoral Campaign
Venezuela Referendum Lessons
Darfur PR Scam?
Homegrown Terrorism Act Factsheet
Center for constitutional rights
Wisconsin books to prisoners
Review: "The Bubble"
Words of Choice
Eleanor J. Bader
We Own The World
Largely About Oil
Trade & Ghana
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Cindy Cooper and "Words of Choice"
Words of Choice doesn’t literally hit readers upside the head to shake some sense into them, but it comes close. Based on Cindy Cooper’s long-running play of the same name, the film demonstrates why women need abortion and other reproductive options. Its goal is clearly agitational, urging stepped-up pro-choice activism.
The beautifully acted production presents 14 fast-moving, well-written skits that focus on a wide range of issues, from vicious attacks against reproductive health centers, to a pregnant teenager’s angst over putting her baby up for adoption. Pre-Roe history is also skillfully woven in—from the days of back alley secrecy, slimy providers, and botched surgeries, to the feminist alternative provided by Chicago’s Jane collective.
The film opens with an excerpt from Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. It then jumps to the contemporary anti-choice movement and zeroes in on the human impact of anti-abortion legislation.
One of the most affecting pieces is “A Father’s Story.” In it, Thomasina Clarke portrays a low-income man whose teenaged daughter was raped following a Fourth of July celebration at the Washington Monument. “As my daughter entered a side street,” Clarke begins, “three men emerged and before my daughter could utter a cry, she was blindfolded, gagged, tied up, and taken to a house where she was kept all night long.”
During her captivity, the teenager was repeatedly violated. The next day, she was taken back to the Monument and left to find her way home. “In a short period of time,” Clarke continues, “my daughter knew she was pregnant. I want to ask Congressman Hyde what he would have done if he had been the father of that girl.” Illinois Congressperson Henry Hyde is responsible for introducing the Amendment that, since 1977, has barred Medicaid from paying for the abortions of most poor women.
Also poignant, “What I Said To Congress,” draws upon the testimony of a woman who had a late term, so-called “partial birth” abortion. “Seven years ago I thought I had a perfect pregnancy,” she says. But after tests revealed that the fetus had a fatal chromosomal disorder, with fluid in his brain, a malformed heart and other untreatable disabilities, she chose to have an abortion. Her dilemma, of course, failed to sway Congress to allow this type of late-term surgery, but the power of her words is undeniable.
But lest you think Words of Choice is unbearably heavy, rest assured that it is not. “SCHIPS,” for one, makes fun of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, and his consistent elevation of fetal life. “Why does a fetus make a better patient that a pregnant women,” he asks? “Among other things, a fetus never asks if it can bring cameras, video recorders or partners into the delivery room.”
Similarly, “You’re On Your Own” uses hip-hop to lampoon the anti-abortion movement’s reverence for pre-born life while ignoring the kids and adults languishing around them:
We’ll stand with you till you’re born
After that you stand alone
The only perfect people are the
unborn and the dead
You got a right to life, but after that, I’m afraid you’re on your own
Another skit, “Taco Bell Launch,” is based on an article that originally ran in the Onion. It’s a hilarious monologue about the Morning After Burrito. Eaten within 36 hours of unprotected intercourse, the spoof presents a $1.99 treat that has consumers singing its praises.
Words of Choice also addresses anti-abortion violence (“To Hell and Back”), the meaning of Roe in everyday life (“My Good Friend Roe”), and the feelings of sadness and guilt that some women experience after terminating a pregnancy (“Kathy/ Parallel Lives”). It’s a potent mix.
Never glib or strident, the film offers a cogent and unapologetic defense of reproductive freedom. While adults will be both moved and angered by Words of Choice, its message is also sure to resonate with high school and college students. A teaching guide accompanies the DVD, making it an excellent educational tool and resource.
Eleanor J. Bader is the co-author of Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism (St. Martin’s Press, 2001) and a contributor to In These Times, Library Journal, the NY Law Journal and the Progressive.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.