Guest Post: Government Free VJJ

Guest Post: Government Free VJJ

Donna Druchunas is an awesome former contributor to Skepchick and current uber-crafter. She emailed me a few days ago to tell me about an amazing initiative she helped launch, in which crafty women's rights activists were knitting up plush wombs to send to the male representatives who so desperately want to get their hands on one. I asked her to write up a guest post on the subject, and she kindly agreed. Without further ado:

Where-oh-where Have Women's Rights Gone?

Down the tubes. Or at least that's how it's looking to me. Just a few days ago, Rebecca wrote, "It was a full year ago that I began telling skeptic and secular audiences about the Religious Right’s War on Women, and I’m sad to say that all those awful bills I listed are actually passing." Unfortunately, many women–myself included–didn't dream that the clock could be turned back so quickly on the rights we'd won over the past decades. The recent news has been a rude awakening for me. (I should have known better, because I was an evangelical Christian during the 1980s when the Religious Right was forming, but even back then, I didn't believe the budding Conservative Christian political forces would succeed in their goals.)

The same stories Rebecca covered in her article, Women Deserve Full & Accurate Info Except When They Don't, have been stirring up a beehive of activity on Twitter lately as well. About a week ago, a conversation started amongst knitters and crocheters. At first we were just whining about the awful stories in the news. Somehow it came around to me saying, "maybe if we send male politicians a uterus of their own, they will leave ours alone." My friend, knitwear designer, Annie Modesitt, came up with the catchy mantra, "Government Free V-JJ," and it stuck. We were familiar with several patterns for hand-made "lady parts" that had been published over the past few years, so we started a group on Facebook and on Ravelry.com (a social media site for knitters and crocheters), and invited our friends to join. Before we knew it the project had snowballed.

Although many, probably most, of our members are pro-choice Democrats, I don't see the project as being tied to any one political party. Because of my background, I have many friends are pro-life and feel that abortion is wrong. But that does not mean they all want that the government to be in charge of women's reproductive health or decisions about pregnancy and birth control, or even abortion.

Look at it this way: If you vote to make abortion illegal, that gives the government power over women’s bodies and decisions about having children. So if you’re against abortion you are happy. But if the government has that power, then in the future, when a different party is in power, maybe they will decide that we need more population control and require you to have an abortion if you already have a child and get pregnant, in a China-like law.

The decision of what to do with our bodies and families is personal. If we let the government have power over this, we are giving up our rights as human beings, as individuals with freedom. We can be sure the government will take advanage of whatever power we give them, but not in the way we intend that power to be used. Keeping government out of the bedroom is not about being a Democrat or a Republican. It is not about being pro-choice or pro-life. It's not about being a Christian or a Skeptic. It is about freedom for all. And isn't that what America is supposed to be about?

As my friend Susan Santos recently wrote:

Clara Bell Duvall died in 1929 after trying to abort her sixth pregnancy, using a knitting needle. In a strange kind of irony, knitters and crocheters are banding together to tell their government representatives that THEY are in charge of their own bodies and that they will no longer tolerate being kept out of decisions regarding their health. It’s not a pro-life or a pro-choice debate. It’s about taking back the rights they should never have been denied in the first place. We want to tell our representatives: "Enjoy your knitted uterus—now leave ours alone!"

Government Free V-JJ started with knitters and crocheters, but we don't care if you make a papier-mâché model, sew a fleece softie, or draw a picture. If you aren't crafty enough to make your own lady-part, we are gathering a group of volunteer knitters and crocheters who are willing to make surrogate V-JJs and uteri for those who don't knit but want to join in.

I hope you'll join us! Find out how you can participate at governmentfreevjj.com or follow @govtfreevjj and the #govtfreevjj hashtag on Twitter.

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Donna Druchunas escaped a corporate cubicle to honor her passions for knitting, world travel, research, and writing. She is the author of six knitting books including Arctic Lace, Successful Lace Knitting, Kitty Knits, and Ethnic Knitting Exploration: Lithuania, Iceland, and Ireland. Donna has just finished writing a book about knitting in Lithuania. She lives in Colorado with her husband, mother, and three cats who all help her test the usability and comfort of her finished knitted items.

Knitted womb pic copyright 2012 MK Carroll. Used with permission.

Avatar of Rebecca Watson
Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org and appears on the weekly Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

10 Comments

  1. Avatar of cthandhs

    ohhhh I do embroidery, I bet I can find or make a good pattern.

    • Avatar of writerdd

      Fabulous! If you come up with an embroidery pattern, please let us know so we can link to it from our website! We've just added a sewing pattern.
      Donna

  2. Avatar of James Fox

    Way to go Donna! But where are the teeth?

    • Avatar of writerdd

      Some people have decorated theirs with faces and teeth and other interesting embellishments. There are no rules! :-)

  3. Avatar of nikoel

    This is a thing of beauty and this movement should feel good about itself. Also, I sew and happen to own a good deal of fleece (purchased before I realized it was really bad for the environment).  

    • Avatar of writerdd

      Oooh, sew some V-JJ plushies!

      • Avatar of nikoel

        I think I might just have to!  We've got more than a few anti-choice politicians in WA.  
        Also, I really need to upload some kind of picture already. 

  4. Avatar of nikoel

    Oh, Rebecca – The governmentfreevjj.com link goes to a Skepchick 404 page.  

  5. Avatar of Sarah Sherman

    Ah, Susan's my mother! She mentioned a project she was doing but I had no idea it was on this scale. Way cool.  I've yet to meet Donna, though. 

    • Avatar of writerdd

      Hi Sarah, why didn't we meet when Neil Degrasse Tyson was speaking in Boulder? Hmmm.

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