Meredith Stern

I Can’t Believe I Still Have To Protest This Fucking Shit.

Meredith Stern

I Can’t Believe I Still Have To Protest This Fucking Shit.

Date

2022

Edition Size

10

Media

Silkscreen, Textile, textile sculpture

Binding

Loose pages

$ 600.00

Out of Print


View Collectors

Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

Bucknell University

Claremont Colleges Library

Harvard University, Fine Arts Library

New York University (NYU)

Smith College, Mortimer Rare Book Room

The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)

The University of Iowa (UI)

Tulane University

Wellesley College

20 Years of Reproductive Justice Artwork created by Meredith Stern, with 8 prints, 2 zines, and one printed paper fish sculpture, (5 portfolios are without the fish and cost $600).

1/3 of the sales will be donated to the National Network for Abortion Funds. Please join us in supporting this organization. Their website has many initiatives and interviews with contemporary activists working on reproductive justice issues.

There’s an infamous meme of a white woman holding a sign that says “I can’t believe I still have to protest this fucking shit.” The supreme court overruling of Roe v Wade marks 25 years that I have been creating artwork in the struggle for reproductive justice. When I woke up after the initial leak of the Supreme Court document signaling they were about to reverse Roe, I felt like the woman holding that sign. Thousands of us feel like the woman holding the sign. We have been marching, organizing, changing laws, providing abortion care, escorting people into clinics, supporting family members, and sharing our personal pregnancy stories publicly for decades in the goal of achieving full body autonomy. The struggle for reproductive autonomy started on this land hundreds of years ago when white cis-gender men invaded this land and claimed the voice of god gave them the right to enforce their will on the indigenous communities living here. The white, male colonizers created a government system built on enslavement, genocide, and patriarchy. When they wrote “all men are created equal” they meant white, cis-gender, men. We will be wise to assume the white men in power will continue to center their own self-interest at the expense of our freedom and body autonomy. Many of us have been protesting “this fucking shit” since day 1 of the republic.

I use visual art and written narrative in my role as a socially engaged artist. I believe art has the power to call out injustice, to create shared language and imagery to gather us together, it can spark conversation. Art can amplify unheard stories, it can help humanize an issue, evoke emotion and build empathy. Art allows us to envision a more just world. One of the first images I created on reproductive justice was a screen-print of a uterus with the words “MINE” printed on cotton fabric. I felt it was the most basic way to link one word and one image together to create a succinct message. I printed the image multiple times onto a closed curtain hung in the middle of a room in a gallery with one seam open for people to enter. My artistic vision was to create an installation where people had to decide whether to violate this small, enclosed space which had been labeled as “Mine.” The day of the gallery opening, it was immediately clear that most men readily walked into that curtained space without pause. Twenty-five years later, I have taken this curtain out of its hiding place in the back of a closet, and it is being cut up to be utilized in this portfolio today.

In the last couple of decades, I have been pregnant twice, once by accident and once on purpose. The child whom I love so dearly today would not be alive if I had not had an abortion the first time that I was pregnant. The first time I was pregnant, I was in my early twenties and living in Louisiana which had 24-hour waiting periods and they give anti-abortion propaganda to people who go to get an abortion. I decided instead to get an abortion in New York at a feminist, patient-centered clinic that treated the procedure as a simple, necessary option that many people needed. After having an abortion, I readily told my story and found there was a huge stigma around abortion. Friends would tell me their abortion stories in secret but said they did not tell their stories openly because people would judge them. I realized that we needed a cultural revolution to normalize this common procedure that 1/3 of people with a uterus will have in their lifetime. Sixty-one percent of abortions are obtained by people who already have children.

I spent a few years collecting stories from people who had an abortion and published them into a small press ‘zine called “Mine: An Anthology of Women’s Choices” and “Mine: An Anthology of Reproductive Rights.” Thousands of copies of these zines have been distributed around the country. I’ve made artwork on reproductive justice issues for years as our bodies are in a constant state of attack. This art collection gathers together a few of these posters which depict only a few of the issues we face in our continuous quest to achieve gender equality in this country. Let’s continue to protest this fucking shit together.

Item Descriptions
1. “Mine.” While I was an undergraduate student at Tulane University, I created an installation called “Mine.” It was a curtained space in the middle of a gallery with a photo of a uterus and the word “mine” repeat printed all over it. Inside the curtained space were three ceramic sculptures depicting the three stereotypes of woman as “virgin, mother and whore.” This is a fabric square from that installation. Screen-print on cotton fabric. 10” x 16.” Image created in 1997.
2. “Jane: Feminist Underground Abortion Service.” Over one hundred members performed over eleven thousand abortions in Chicago when abortion was illegal between 1969-1973. This is #8 in the Celebrate People’s History Poster Series curated by Josh MacPhee. Third edition printed at the worker-owned and union Community Printers, Santa Cruz, CA. Offset printed poster. 11” x 17.” Image created in 2001.
3. “Mine: An Anthology of Women’s Choices.” Photocopied Zine. 59 pages. Exact edition size unknown, over 2,500 printed. 7” x 8.5.” Created in 2002.
4. “Mine: An Anthology of Reproductive Rights.” Photocopied Zine. 44 pages. Exact edition size unknown, over 2,000 printed. 7” x 8.5.” Created in 2004.
5. “Roe.” This is a three-dimensional screen-printed, spray paint stenciled, and hand-stamped, printed, and stuffed fish. Initially created in 2006 in the middle of the second Bush Administration, in response to the increased number of anti-abortion laws that were being passed around the country. The fish are a metaphor for folks with a uterus, and these fish have roe (fully ripe eggs) coming out of their stomachs; meant to be a reference to Roe V. Wade. At the time Roe was being gutted by hundreds of laws limiting and restricting abortion access. Once Trump was elected in 2016, I added an additional tag to include the Trump Supreme Court. They have now done what activists have feared for years and reversed Roe v. Wade.
22” x 8” x 2.” Edition of 5. Created between 2006- 2016.
6. Everyone Needs Feminism.” This poster is a tribute to the writing done by bell hooks in her book “Feminism is for Everybody.” Her definition of feminism as “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression” remains the most useful framework for working towards gender equality. This is an offset printed poster version of the collage. The original image was created using linoleum block and woodblock prints, spray paint stencils, and handwritten history notes from my grandmom’s cousin Fannie Simonowsky who lived to be 103. Four-color offset print. Unsigned edition of 1,000. 16” x 21.” Created in 2014.
7. “Hear Me Roar.” This is a print I created for the portfolio project “This is an Emergency!” It is a portfolio on gender and reproductive justice. This image was created in collaboration with Gina Glantz, my mother-in-law who worked as a Democratic campaign manager. The words are from Helen Reddy’s song from 1971 titled “I am Woman.” Signed linoleum block print. 13” x 20”. Created in 2012.
8. “Our Bodies, Our Rights.” We cannot afford to allow the extreme radical right-wing to define the discussion and create the laws around reproductive rights. Since the legalization of abortion and contraceptives, women have had to fight to maintain dignity around our reproductive health. We have faced endless attacks from the right-wing, which have steadily been chipping away our access to health care through passing laws that limit our access to information and services we need. Some of the most destructive measures have been the abstinence-only policies in schools, which has not limited young people from having sex but has meant that teens who are having sex are doing so without having access to contraceptives that will prevent pregnancy and disease. There has also been a huge stigmatization of abortion, which doesn’t decrease the demand for it, but only makes us less healthy in our relationship with our bodies. The original image was a linoleum block print. This is a smaller screen-printed version. Signed, unnumbered. Edition of 100. 16” x 22.” 2014.
9. “Consensual Sex Cats.” This print celebrates collective work towards creating a sex-positive culture where comprehensive sex education is a part of the process in educating our society to engage in healthy and consensual sex. A healthy society is one in which we value honesty, trust, and communication. We also need to trust that if we educate ourselves, we will make healthy decisions regarding our own bodies, and treat other people with respect. Linoleum block print. Signed, unnumbered. Edition size unknown. 11.5” x 12.5.” Created in 2014.
10. “Comprehensive Sex Education.” Comprehensive sex education classes assist us in being confident, able to communicate better in relationships and allow us to make informed decisions about our health. Sex education which teaches a complex understanding of sexuality and a range of gender expressions provides tools for us to be safer in our relationships, confident about our gender identity, and reduces teen pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections. Sex education should also give us tools to take care of our mental health and give us a space to explore our spiritual wellness so we can understand ourselves and have an open mind towards others. The original was a linoleum block, this is a small screen-printed version. Signed, numbered edition of 100. 11” x 8.” Image created in 2018.
11. “Reproductive Justice.” Signed linoleum block print. Edition size unknown. 19” x 25.” Image created in 2018.

Here is a small selection of resources I’ve found useful:

Organizing for Reproductive Justice
Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice. Edited by Jael Silliman, Marlene Gerber Fried, Loretta Ross, Elena R. Gutiérrez.
Policing the National Body: Sex, Race and Criminalization. Edited by Jael Silliman and Anann Bhattacharjee
A Woman’s Book of Choices: Abortion, Menstrual Extraction, RU-486. By Rebecca Chalker and Carol Downer
Color of Violence: The Incite! Anthology.

Historical Books on Abortion
The Abortionist: A Woman Against the Law. By Rickie Solinger
The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service. By Laura Kaplan
The Choices We Made: Twenty-Five Women and Men Speak Out About Abortion. Edited by Angela Bonavoglia
Back Rooms: An Oral History of The Illegal Abortion Era. By Ellen Messer and Kathryn E. May, PSY.D.

Historical Books on Race, Gender, and Class in American Reproductive Healthcare
Killing The Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and The Meaning of Liberty. By Dorothy Roberts
Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and The New Racism. By Patricia Hill Collins
The Horrors of the Half-known Life: Male Attitudes Toward Women and Sexuality in Nineteenth Century America. By G.J. Barker- Benfield

Books on Consent, Gender, Sex, and Sexuality
Learning Good Consent: On Healthy Relationships and Survivor Support. Edited by Cindy Crabb
Sex Is a Funny Word: A Book About Bodies, Feelings, & You. By Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smith
The Everybody Book: The LGBTQ+ Inclusive Guide For Kids about Sex, Gender, Bodies, and Families. By Rachel E. Simon, LCSW
It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, Gender, and Sexual Health. By Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley
What Makes A Baby: A Book For Every Kind of Family and Every Kind of Kid. By Cory Silverberg
Our Bodies, Ourselves. By Boston Women’s Health Book Collective
A New View of a Woman’s Body. By Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Center
How to Stay Out of the Gynecologist’s Office. By The Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Centers
The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex: The Most Complete Sex Guide Ever Written. By Cathy Winks and Anne Semans
Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good. By Adrienne Maree Brown

There are many resources online, here are some. Organizers recommend people get involved in your local communities and organizations in the city you live in.

Reproductive Justice Briefing Book: A Primer on Reproductive Justice and Social Change

Queering Reproductive Justice: A Toolkit. By the LGBTQ Task force

The Chicago Abortion Fund has created a helpful guide called “Abortion Justice Values: How to Talk About Abortion in Your Community.”