By: Rachel Brooks, Field Organizer
It might be unusual for me, a woman who is childless by choice, to host a parents’ brunch with a goal of learning how the reproductive movement can be more supportive to parents and families. But as I’ve grown in the movement, and grow older generally, many of the people I care about and work with have become parents.
It concerns me what happens to our comrades in the movement as they enter this new chapter in their lives. As Tennessee geared up to fight Amendment One this year, I didn’t see as many familiar faces at meetings, phone banking nights and outreach events. Sexual and reproductive health rights and freedom includes being able to parent children in healthy, supportive environments. But as a movement are we practicing what we preach? Are we taking into consideration what is it like to be a parent and be an active and engaged member of this community?
During the brunch I gathered with six moms with their daughters to discuss their experiences before they became parents, how things have changed for them after becoming mothers, and what the movement could do to support them as they continue to fight for the resources, rights, and respect we all deserve.
I wasn’t surprised to hear that many people had struggled to remain connected to the reproductive movement after becoming parents, as ironic as that sounds. Meetings rarely offer childcare and are often held in spaces that are not child-friendly. Also, events are often held at hours that are impossible for parents to attend, with or without their children. We’re simply not thinking comprehensively about how to be inclusive.
There also emerged a discussion of conflicting cultures within our movement. “There’s an implicit bias against women who chose to be mothers, especially those with lots of kids,” I heard. It’s true that as a movement we rely heavily on people without children or those without dependents living at home to do the work on the ground, but have we created a culture that ignores the needs of the parents in our lives? How can we addresses these issues and be a more conscientious and inclusive movement? After all, a parent’s place is in the movement, too.