Text loop, Solidarity network
with Victoria Campbell and others
Platform: What’s App
What do we mean when we talk about women’s “access?” Does having access to reproductive care necessarily mean that women have access to the kinds of decision-making processes that result in arriving at personally salient choices?
SMS jane is a solidarity network that provides women with access to women. Created as a What’sApp group active between 2016-17, the project emerged out of a local solidarity network in Brooklyn, NY that offers empathy and personal support services to girls in trouble.
The text loop functions as a prototype for a social media platform that could potentially provide users with immediate access to a female community. Its first iteration allows us to examine the role of a support network in facilitating a womans access to freedom of choice.
During 2016, Micaela Carolan and I hosted and consulted a handful of friends and acquaintances from a diversity of backgrounds who were facing an unplanned pregnancy. We noticed that despite differences in socioeconomic background, political belief, and relationship to or desire for motherhood, that all of these women experienced similar conflicts and used a similar language to express that conflict. Nearly all of them reasoned through their decision using language such as, “I’m too young,” “I can’t afford it,” “I would have done it eventually anyway,” etc. Nobody in our living room that year felt that she had any more permission to say “I don’t want to,” than she had to say, “this is mine.”
Prior to today, we took issue with the both the political Right’s pro-life agenda as well as its monopoly on motherhood, and noted the ways in which state-administered reproductive care favors an alienation from ones emotions and physicality. With the defunding of Planned Parenthood underway, and even the most basic forms of public healthcare at risk, we sense the need for a community infrastructure.
Even as access to reproductive care varies from state to state, we fear what new forms of soft power will prevent a woman’s freedom of choice. Ones access to care is as dependent on having access to the institutions that facilitate it, as it is on ones access to a sense of personal autonomy.
We are investigating ways in which communities themselves can be tasked with providing the kinds of radical caretaking that make such empowerment possible.