Speak Out at SisterSong!

Controlling Our Communities through Our Bodies

Poetic Speech given at SisterSong Conference Spring 2007
By Cara Page

Former National Director of the Committee on Women Population and the Environment; she is a queer of color artist, organizer, and healing arts practitioner. A recipient of the Rockefeller Foundation Next Generation Leadership Fellowship (2000 – 2001) and awarded for her leadership and contributions as an artist and activist for human rights by the National Center for Human Rights & Education. She is founder of Deeper Waters, a company providing reflective and creative practice as tools for organizing and individual and collective transformation. (deeperwaters@gmail.com)

Blessings Everyone!

I want to give thanks for the land we are standing on and the ancestral burial ground we are most likely standing above. I want to give testimony to those who have lost their bodies and lives in our communities through being commodified, criminalized, sexualized, colonized, and stigmatized.

I dedicate this piece to all of their lives and the lives of the maquiladora workers dying at the borders of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico for profit and drug money wars.

I want to give thanks for our bodies that we are healing, recovering, regenerating and transforming in this work that we do for reproductive justice.

What is our communities relationship to being controlled through our bodies for sex?

For having sex we are criminalized based on who we do it with and how we do it.

For being sexual we are eroticized and objectified.

For some of us getting paid for sex, we are still inappropriately blamed and shamed as committing a crime.

For some of us our bodies are used like artillery, through colonization and war crimes.

And still we are the ones being pathologized…

For even being sexual and having children in our queer bodies, women of color, disabled bodies, trans bodies, immigrant and refugee bodies. Our fertility is targeted as being shameful and unnecessary and we are only seen as breeders instead of parents and families.

For all of us; it is the sum of money, and war, capitalism, slave labor and corruption that we have become commodities of.

By existing in our bodies and loving our erotic selves we are redefining our justice and our power over the sovereignty and the autonomy of our bodies.

We need to be on a need to know basis with our bodies and lives:

Not to rely on state mandates and the medical industrial complex or government to tell us what is wellness and health.

Not to let pass immigrant and refugee law that take over borders and our sovereignty.


The Committee on Women Population and the Environment (CWPE) is mapping our stories to tell the truth of our bodies, and sexual lives being targeted and controlled. In the ‘What You Need to Know about your Birth Control Campaign’ we are seeking to expose and stop coercive reproductive practices, dangerous contraceptives and contemporary uses of sterilization abuse. Please come to us and tell us your stories of being controlled by cumulative adverse effects of birth control.

Help us get out the word about the rampant and disproportionate use of depo provera on young women, poor women, women with disabilities, women of color, and trans people.

Support us in tracking and stopping the distribution of sterilization pills like Progesterex and Quinacrine on immigrant and refugee women.

Help us oppose the state mandates of Gardasil by Merck and campaign paid state legislators.

Join us in critiquing and changing the re-emergence of new hormonal and invasive birth control procedures that still put our lives at risk.

Help us fight for the justice of our bodies and lives. This is not justice when we are, for generations after generations, still exposed to adverse effects and high risk unethical testing. It will only be justice when we are able to hold our bodies, embrace our bodies, love our bodies, own our bodies and be in our bodies present and whole…

Here at this SisterSong conference we are not just talking about sex, sexuality, gender based violence; we are talking about being pushed into using hormonal contraceptives whether your lesbian, gay, gender queer or straight, being involuntarily forced to use birth control that has our hair falling out, stops our sex drive, gives us depression, and paranoia. We are not only talking about sex as a taboo we are fighting for knowing our bodies and knowing our own geographies.

We need to find the compass to map our own territories and borders of our sex, sexuality, gender, and our erotic.

In talking about sex today we are risking our lives here, by redefining our relationship to our bodies and spirits, perhaps even to love, and (in the words of Audre Lorde, a fierce Caribbean Lesbian Poet) defining our erotic as power. When we are able to be sexual voluntarily and consensually we are able to have the freedom of choosing to receive touch and to give it, to receive energy and life and to give it, to possibly even receive love and transform it.

I want to push past the boundaries of sex, and think about transforming our own vision of our erotic selves inside of this reproductive justice movement; our erotic being defined as political, and spiritual. How can we push back against preconceived notions of our bodies as land to be conquered, or borders to be climbed and mounted? Making these our own geographies where we have the power and the choice to resist the notions of state, communal, and intimate violence on our bodies, and to re-imagine ourselves.

How do we take back images and mythologies of who we are?

We are controlled by being told how to love, who to love, who to parent, and who not to parent.

We are told and controlled what to put inside ourselves by state mandates and privatization of food, water, medical care, and technologies.

We are told not to bleed, not to survive, not to live.

We are shamed to not to be sexual in our own right, not to be powerful in our own right, not to be righteous, sexy and self loving in our vision of ourselves.

We are fed views of only being enslaved bodies, or disenfranchised bodies and displaced bodies. Often seeing ourselves as disembodied from our hearts, minds and intellect, voices, bodies, and spirits

We are blamed for being the root cause of environmental degradation and burdening all natural resources; instead of the top 1% of the wealthier population being accused for the amount of resources they waste or the devastation of war, or toxic waste of weapons.

We are falsely accused of ‘over population’ and being ‘unfit breeders’ based on capitalist, racist assumption with imagery often scape goating women of color and poor people as the reason for: abject poverty, and natural disasters like Katrina and the tsunami.

We are targeted for racist fertility control programs instead of the government being defied for wasting our natural resources; bottling up and selling our water back to us, and re-developing our lands to sell it back to us on toxic waste dumps.

Under the guise of national security we are shamed for having children of color. Blamed by the ‘youth bulge’ mythology that purports terrorism is on the rise because of single mother households, and young males being raised on their own in Africa and the Middle East. Instead of looking at terrorist acts of imperialism, and domestic international militarization on communities of color and developing nations; or the systems of trauma and violence manifested in the prison industrial complex, or the impact of Christian fundamentalism, war, and generational eugenics.

We are vilified for addiction through programs such as Project Prevention (other wise known as Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity CRACK) that uses a national media campaign to compare women of color substance users to puppies ‘breeding addicted babies like litters’. They are giving us $300 incentives in exchange for tubal ligations; instead of seeking recovery and support for the livelihood of our communities.

We are stigmatized by not being able to raise babies in queer and transgender households based on myths and stereotypes of sexual perversion and binary gender norms.

We are punished by welfare reform through family caps and medicaid administering high risk birth control causing cumulative adverse effects to poor women, incarcerated women, women with disabilities and women of color’s bodies.

We continue to be controlled by US and international law and policies that mask state control through false pretenses of ‘gender sensitive’ policies to create NEW women’s prisons (Don’t we have enough already?) that insinuate incarcerated women should have the ‘choice’ to be sterilized----- when it was never a choice to begin with.

And we are commodified as new testing grounds for surrogacy, egg donation and scientific research of genetic contraceptive technologies that are market driven and not tested for our safety and well being.

Yet, amidst all of this craziness we have a compass to navigate; and we have and must find places and spaces of healing, recovery and transformation that look like ourselves.

Our erotic is our power…and our sex and sexuality should be in our control.

Our erotic is our power…and our love should be in our control.

Our erotic is our power…and our erotic should be in our control.

Thank You.

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