If you follow Texas reproductive justice activists online, chances are you've heard of Stop Patriarchy and their Abortion Freedom Ride.
Stop Patriarchy appears to have similar goals to those of the grassroots reproductive justice movement in Texas: to bring attention to the devastating cuts to abortion access resulting from the omnibus abortion bill that passed last summer.
So, why are vocal advocates for reproductive justice in Texas and across the country speaking out against them, and asking them to just stay home?
More on the criticisms of Stop Patriarchy below the jump. For a group ostensibly invested in supporting access to reproductive healthcare in Texas, Stop Patriachy's lack of collaboration with local activists and reproductive justice organizations seems, at the least, suspect. What's more, when Texans expressed their concerns to the group over social media, Stop Patriarchy had little to no interest.
It would seem that Stop Patriarchy is guilty of a mistake many activists have made in an attempt to address inequality. Instead of listening to those directly impacted and engaged in the struggle and finding out how best to offer support, Stop Patriarchy is placing all of their focus on their own idea of what Texans need.
A great example of where this kind of well-meaning but disconnected activism has failed before is in the movement to end Female Genital Cutting. White western feminists recognized a real issue – the cutting of female genitals as a cultural ritual – and went about ending it the only way they knew how. Though their hearts were in the right place, they completely lacked any understanding of how best to address this deeply personal right of passage and it's deep roots in everything from marriage contracts to the economic stability of elderly women.
The most successful work to end this practice, the most extreme examples of which leave women at the risk of horrific complications from intercourse and childbirth, happened when Western feminists allowed community organizers to lead. Stop Patriarchy sees a real problem in the attack on reproductive healthcare access in Texas, but their complete disinterest in engaging with local organizations or listening to the concerns of Texans already engaged in this struggle makes it clear that they are more invested in their own goals than helping Texans.
This, combined with their fundraising efforts and complete lack of transparency in regards to what happens to the funds they raise, has caused many Texan activists to publicly sign on to a statement of opposition to the group's Abortion Freedom Ride. As author Andrea Grimes explains,
We ask those who want to support the cause of reproductive justice in Texas to contribute their time and their money to local, goal-oriented groups that have trustworthy track records providing resources and services to Texans, rather than donating to a one-off bus tour, with no clear goals or outcomes, conducted by a handful of out-of-state protestors.
This group and their action may not even gain enough traction to have an impact on the conversation around reproductive health in Texas remains to be seen, but their complete refusal to engage with local activists or acknowledge the damage they could cause with their selfish focus speaks for itself.