As tensions have continued to rise in the Congressional debates on birth control coverage, public attention has increasingly turned to a certain question: What’s wrong with this picture?
Between Congress’ recent attempt to bar a female law student from speaking on behalf of women’s health and its increasingly outrageous proposals to limit women’s rights to choose, the American public is becoming rapidly appalled by what our nation’s leaders have to say about reproductive health and rights. We are realizing that in matters affecting half of our nation’s population, we cannot entrust the discussion to a handful of voices from an old boy club. We are finding increasingly innovative ways to add our own voices to these critical conversations.
Today’s young voters are often said to comprise a generation of political apathy. Responses to political activity through social media are often (albeit incorrectly) judged as quick, emotional reactions rather than reasoned, thoughtful participation. However, in the wake of this birth control debacle and the larger conversations surrounding women’s health in America, youth voter activism through social media has mounted a clear and compelling challenge to this assumption.
Take, for example, the timeline of this month’s Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood dispute. On Tuesday, January 31, Planned Parenthood announced thatthe Komen Foundation planned to withdraw future grant support of their organization. By that Friday, Komen representatives stumbled through an apology, a reversal of the decision, and a public embarrassment wrought almost entirely by the torrent of Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr activity against the organization.
While young voters may not be involved in traditional ways in political conversations, in an era when we take in most of our information through the dynamic, real-time conversations we engage in through the Internet, we are clearly showing our power through a new kind of participation in the democratic political process. We recognize how little sense it makes to confine discussion on reproductive choice to a group of Congressional voices and, we are capitalizing on the most effective, most immediate medium to make our voices heard.