Talking points: 1

Ariel Dougherty @ Reproductive Justice: Activists, Advocates & Academics
May 29-31 @ RJ: A3 in A2

RED denotes need 4 academic study

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Reproductive Justice is leading the way for a re-invigoration of some of the basic and original founding principles of the early women's liberation movement. I invoke in this short analysis the necessity of expanding our consciousness around the role of communications, information and our own storytelling in our justice framing. We can not control our bodies unless we take full possession as well of the input and output for our minds.


Among our inalienable human rights is our right to information! And to disseminate it as well. Thank you ER! A full comprehension of the constraints of corporate media has severely hampered the success of many of the larger more mainstream women's organizations—hence their messaging; a dilemma for which they are still blinded. Preverbal thinking is, just spin the message some other way, and the story will fly. As we all know at this conference, especially as relates to women's reproductive health, feminization of poverty and women of color visibility, the vast majority of US mainstream media remains in a dark ages, fights us at every step. Just ask Loretta. Some key history. For those of us who were active in the 1970s creating new organizations—esp in media, building vital institutions upon which feminism could grow, we scratched our heads in frustration, and horror, when the newly emergent Ms Foundation created a policy: it would not support media and cultural work. Regrettably almost all women's funds have followed suit. Astraea Foundation is the one exception within the US. With $13,000 hard cash and much sweat equity in Spring 1976 Women Make Movies released the half hour documentary, Healthcaring From Our End of the Speculum. This educational film evolved as a “second” film out of our community based media making workshop in NYC. We believed that giving tools of communication to more diverse women would enrich content. Healthcaring is still actively in distribution today. The film played a critical sustaining role for the organization though some very hard financial times. Fortunately Kristen Fallica at Univ of Piitsburgh is examing this pivotal role of the film in the organization's history. Also, I note, WMM may be among the most self-sustaining organizations of the 2nd Wave. (also worthy of study!) The South Dakota Commission on the Status of Women purchased a print of Healthcarng and traveled around the state screening the film before audiences of women – exactly what we intended. Conservatives, however, were upset about this film; and, in particular, this image, of an older woman wearing an ERA T-shirt. In 1979 when I got wind of this, I tried to enlist fellow filmmaker support to fight it at an independent film conference, but to no avail. Who cared about rural, remote, unimportant SD. Ultimately conservatives had the film removed from the active hands of the SDCSW. Essentially the film was “locked up” in the state library. In 1980 three-term senator, George McGovern lost his bid for reelection. By 1984 the SDCSW was history. During the 1980 presidential election the right-wing think tank Heritage Foundation put out a report written by William Bennett that among other things attacked both the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. The following Spring piles of arts applications at the NEA sat outside the office of the chairman for his scrutiny. Among those were all applications by women's arts organizations. Talk about blanket red-tagging. During this period the NEA was the nation's primary funder of women's media and cultural. For a talk I gave at Sarah Lawrence March 2012 I updated the 1980s data by looking at NEA 2010 funding. While the average dollar amount has risen greatly – not considering inflation – the number of groups supported has dropped to less than a third of those supported in the peak year, 1980. This is an important area for deeper study.... ....and agitation. Look at the NEH. Barely anything feminist can wedge through there. What does that mean for our history, humanity?? When Sistersong joined the planning for what then became the March For Women's Lives, $500,000 had already been allocated for publicity. When a press release was sent out did a story ever run in the
home to Ariel’s docs on media & culture


1974 Ms Fdn Policy: No funds 4
Media or Culture 1976 WmMakeMovies Releases Healthcaring


1976 > SDCSW purchases print HC, conducts, community screenings across state 1979 -- Conservatives have film REMOVED from active use of SDCSW, to State Library 1980 – Sen McGovern looses Senate reelection 1983/4 – SDCSW is abolished


1980 - Heritage Fdn Rpt


2004 – March for Women!s Lives $500K Allocated for PUBLICITY RESEARCH NEEDED Doubt that articles Ariel Dougherty 575-740-5868

reached fully across country VIOLATION of Article 19 – Right to Information

paper (or TV?) in Tuscaloosa or Fargo? You see what I mean about Article 19? Are we getting the information that we need, that we have a right to know? In women of color communities, I know, women went into over-drive getting the word out. But did any of that publicity money filter out for these efforts?? A thorough examination/research of US papers and television coverage of this major women's event needs to be conducted by academics. Understanding better, the real failures of corporate media, will allow us who work on justice issues to better target the limited resources that we do have for communications to the areas / outlets where it will be most effect and achieve the best gains.


50% of PR $$ ! fund women directed media production

Will enable more GJ MEDIA productions to get completed; publicized; distributed 8

In a policy shift, publicity budgets of women's organizations should allocate 50% of their funds towards support and or efforts of independent women-lead media. By strengthening this community of media makers – news outlets, radio, TV, blogs, filmmakers, photographers, etc – stronger more vibrant and diverse feminist voices will emerge. Over time they will become more powerful, thereby INFLUENCING mainstream media with more cogent, and accurate information. If $250,000 of the March for Women Lives PR money had gone to alternative media projects, it is possible that videos like N'Dieye Gray Danavall's Listen Up might be distributed to a much wider audience. This, in turn, could have kept her documenting more RJ activities. WE need to nurture our own and see our voices and visions flourish. There are other examples. The documentation I call for in frame 6 will more than likely point to the need of this POLICY SHIFT. Without such documentation it will probably remain hard for mainstream women's orgs to see the problem and how some of their publicity funds are misappropriated.
From an activist view, we need MORE women directed, gender justice media. Especially when you examine where GJ media is absent, and the flood of restrictive reproductive laws have gone down. Restrictions are happening largely in states where women's voices are limited or non-existent and few mainstream media report on any of these issues with any accuracy, if at all. THIS IS A MOST SERIOUS violation of women's right to information, our right under Article 19 / UDHR. More communications law needs to be brought to bare here.


2012 Election by Counties

Further, if you examine media coverage of women running for office (esp state reps and congressional races) the same pattern, lack of coverage and information follow suit. MEDIA thereby becomes THE CENTRAL LINK in why women's issues are not reaching a broad public dialogue in local communities and how so-called “women's issues” are framed both within local and national public debate. It is feminist media that leads in reporting on reproductive health, and other issues which is why GJ media NEEDS 1) more support; 2) $$ to develop broader infrastructure; 3) greater distribution. Academic study is vital to its longevity.

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Build/ Study/ Be

Radio stations, television channels, communications studies at universities are seldom used by feminist studies students. They should be. Be your most creative, feisty and egalitarian in steps to build these tools. Feminist analysis of MSM is mandatory. Partner with women-lead media groups. Collaborate to build new women!s media in more communities. If we need good healthcare; we NEED good media to broadcast about it!! Assist in building the data that GJ media needs to rock investors, the public, you. Study and document their history; modes of collective work. ARCHIVE their productions!!! All Our Voices a radio show out of DC has aired weekly now for over 20 years—that!s 1040 hours of original content, women of color stories, gems of our collective history that sits on a shelf, unavailable and unknown. Blogs like Crunk Feminist Collective and The Feminist Wire are beacons at the forefront in our evolution for greater gender justice media. It!s super that Melissa Harris Perry has her own show. We need more. Feminist TV can be savvier. We desire field reports; less talking heads. The power of the image rules. We critically NEED to create and study feminist visual theory and aesthetics. Satel I Kona!s task is to impel this process. Part me, part you, goddess combined super-heroine, she is emblematic of all knowledge across time, through space and across all media formats. She aids us to demand communications justice, and to see its necessary, rightful place in broadcasting reproductive justice.

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Ariel Dougherty


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