SisterSong, an Atlanta-based reproductive justice collective, hosted its 2007 National Conference, called “Let’s Talk about Sex,” last weekend in Chicago. The conference drew hundreds of people — black, Latina, Asian and Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, Arab, and indigenously born — who identify as feminists and allies to discuss tangible ways in which women of color can advance the reproductive rights movement by promoting a sex-positive message. Plenary sessions and workshops topics included sexually transmitted diseases and infections, birth control, healing from sexual assault, the intersections between domestic and global reproductive justice, and the role of young people advocating for sexual rights.
Dr. Jocelyn Elders provided the keynote lunch address on Friday, highlighting the hyper-politicizing and the continuous maligning of women’s sexual health issues and needs. Dr. Elders, a longtime advocate of women’s health and reproductive freedom, was appointed US Surgeon General during former President Bill Clinton’s first term in office. She drew a firestorm of criticism after noting that masturbation can add to the health of young people’s sexual lives by reducing their engagement in risky sexual activity. President Clinton then asked for her resignation.
The SisterSong collective was formed in 1997 to educate, support, and further the reproductive rights movement for women of color by women of color advocating for themselves and their lives.