|The Providence DSA "General Strike!" posing for a team photo at the Rhode Island Abortion Access Bowl-a-thon.|
By Willie Thompson
The 2016 Abortion bowl-a-thon Campaign to raise funds for women who cannot afford abortions is coming up soon! This event is a great way for DSA chapters to get together, have some fun, network with community groups in your area and raise needed funds to support reproductive justice.
For the last two years, our local DSA chapter in Providence, RI, has put out the call to members and formed a team: Providence DSA General Strike! (pun intended). Spending three hours bowling together on a Saturday afternoon gave members and friends the opportunity to get to know one another a little better and also helped to integrate new members into the chapter. The bowl-a-thon is a great mix of social time and solidarity.
As we were bowling, one of the event organizers made a point to visit our lane to ask us how we heard about the event. She seemed at first to be a bit surprised that a socialist organization would be participating, but we explained that the DSA Feminist Working Group encouraged us to attend. “Intersectionality: love it!” she said, and told us how happy she was that we were there.
Providence DSA member Sean Monahan points to two reasons why it's been good for our chapter:
First, it raises money to help poor women access the same reproductive rights that better off women enjoy, and so it fits our class-conscious socialist feminist politics perfectly. And second, it helps our DSA local get some street cred in the local women's liberation scene (one of our members won the bowling tournament last year!) and, more importantly, focusing on reproductive justice helps bring in women to the local who might feel alienated by gender-blind class politics.
As a fairly new chapter in a small state, it is important that we show activists across the spectrum that DSA is present, active and supporting their struggles.
Many of you may be familiar with similar "thons" to raise money for NGOs or other causes. You may think to yourself: socialists do not generally raise money for “charity” and instead work on structural reforms or changes so that voluntary measures such as fundraising would not be necessary. The reality is that for decades there have been many laws that prohibit state and federal funds from subsidizing the cost of abortions. These laws force women and their families to choose between paying for health services and putting food on the table.
The National Network of Abortion Funds works to get financial assistance to women and families right now, when the laws and politics are stacked against them and when solidarity is needed most. It is this intersection of class, feminism and health care that makes the abortion bowl-a-thon so novel in its approach and so worthy of DSA chapters’ support.
Take action now: click here to see if there is an abortion access bowl-a-thon near you. If there is, organize your chapter, come up with a team name and start raising those funds. If there’s not an event near you, no problem! You can still participate.
In joining, you will find that your chapter will be stronger and your connections to your community will be tighter. If your chapter hasn't yet had the opportunity to have a discussion about socialist feminism and reproductive justice, your participation in the bowl-a-thon is the perfect opportunity to start one up.
So, this spring, lace up your bowling shoes and hit the lanes to fund abortion now!
A member of Providence DSA, Willie Thompson is on DSA’s Social Media Committee.