One of the major problems with what we call “the second wave women’s movement” was its inability to connect with and organize women of color and poor women. Even now, as Republicans and right-wingers launch yet another barrage against women’s rights which we have dubbed a “War on Women,” too often opposition to that war is framed by many groups on the left as primarily focused on abortion and birth control.
Too often, the leadership and membership of national women’s organizations are not inclusive of those women who will suffer the most—women of color and women who are poor.
One of the things I had to realize as a young community activist in the late 60s and early 70s was that though I was not interested in having children at the time, many women in my community were. In fact, one of the major issues Puerto Rican, Native American women and Black women were confronted with was sterilization, a population control measure which was an extension of the eugenics movement.
The poor have always been stigmatized for having children. How many times have I heard snide remarks about “those people” with “too many children”? How many women of color have been stigmatized as “unwed mothers,” “baby mommas” or “female heads of households”? Having children, or more than two of them, is reserved as a privilege for the upper classes.