A certain Stacey from Baltimore sent a bitch a request for my thoughts on the No Wedding, No Womb! movement.
Okay, Ms. Stacey – you asked for it!
Full disclosure – my parents were married for several years before they had children. They separated when I was around 11 years old and officially divorced when I was in college. So, some of my thoughts on this issue come from that experience – that weddings are easy, marriage is work and what we really need to do is focus on empowering women.
The fantabulous Michel Martin interviewed the woman behind the No Wedding, No Womb! Campaign on a recent edition of her Tell Me More show on NPR. Christelyn Karazin is the founder of the No Wedding No Womb movement – you can listen to the show and read Martin’s interview here.
The “out-of-wedlock” birth rate for black babies is 72 percent. Although many debate the particulars, there is little debate that unplanned pregnancies present challenges to parents, families and communities. And I use the term unplanned pregnancy deliberately, because I believe it is a mistake to approach this issue from a wedding centered or marriage centered perspective. Trust me, divorce has a huge impact on parents, families and communities too…and, with a 50 percent failure rate, this bitch often wonders at the lack of attention people pay to the cost and impact divorce has on society.
Something tells me Impact of Divorce is playing jacks with his cousin Cost and Impact “out-of-wedlock” Birth Rates.
My opinion is that we need to focus on empowering black women…on advocating for and creating a lifelong commitment to sexuality literacy…and on comprehensive sex education, which should include an exploration of self worth and reproductive health.
We need to acknowledge the fact that the same community that stigmatizes women who carry an unplanned pregnancy to term has also failed to embrace and advocate for comprehensive sex education…many of the same people who cut their eyes at a pregnant teen have rejected the call to teach our youth about safer sex and are pretty damned silent when it comes to the issue of sexually transmitted infection rates among black teens.
The old "you play, you pay" is anti-knowledge, clearly does not work and will only continue to get us nowhere fast.
Planning parenthood must…it absolutely must…involve more than a call to wait until someone puts a ring on it.
And the cold reality is that planning parenthood must…absolutely must…involve more than promoting marriage.
Are we listening to young black women?
Catch the knee!
Not thinking about our own experiences, but listening to a generation that has it’s own experiences.
Do we get involved in the lives of black youth…volunteer and support our young sisters…talk openly about sex and pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections or sexual exploitation and abuse?
I’ve been a volunteer with young black women for over six years and I’ve struggled to get grown black women to join me at the grassroots level.
I’ve struggled to recruit my sisters to volunteer at local shelters for teen mothers and teach them about basic household budgeting, reproductive health and prevention, and basic women’s health.
What I like about the No Wedding, No Womb movement is that is calls for a discussion.
Lawd knows we need one.
We need to start talking about sex from a sex positive perspective that empowers women, frames sex as something to be enjoyed and celebrated rather than something to be dispensed as a reward or withheld like a carrot.
We need to address marriage too…because right now that rickety institution is an unstable solution at best.
But on a whole, a bitch supports the call for black women to think about this shit…to talk openly about single parenting and the many challenges facing our communities.
I also hope that this movement includes a discussion about same-sex marriage, because some black women couldn’t get married if they wanted to. And don’t sleep – same-sex couples face many of the same challenges if they become single parents.
I’ll wrap up with this – that black folk discussing the consequences of unprotected sex and/or unplanned pregnancy is a good thing.
I support the dialogue and pledge to actively participate.
Because I’m an activist advocating for the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls.
I believe that will be achieved when women and girls have the economic, social and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality and reproduction for ourselves, our families and our communities in all areas of our lives.
That's reproductive justice…no weddings required.