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
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.