Feminism often gets mixed reviews when in comes to the general public. When movement intersects with other movements opinions can get even more complicated. One such movement that divides feminists in terms of opinion is the Pro-Life movement. Some argue that this movement intrinsically contradicts the goals of the feminist movement. However, Feminists for Life, a Pro-Life argues that Pro-Choice feminism contradicts the larger movement. This project will analyze how Feminists for Life use technology to spread their message.
The root text for this project will be the Feminists for Life main website. The website looks very inviting. It uses bright text colors as well as several diverse photo. All photo feature smiling people.
The upper right hand corner provides you with the options menu. The menus include :Home, About Us, News, Herstory, Resources, Shop, and a button to donate to the organization. The three menus that I will explore are About Us, Herstory, and Resources.
The About Us page itself contains information about Feminists for Life's mission and history. The order in which the information shows on the page could be changed. You first see our vision. This has a little introduction than a bulleted list of exactly what they want to see. There is a short Organizational Description. This overall could be lengthened and moved to before the our vision section. to have a bit of background before jumping into what the organization envisions for society. I also explored the FAQ page. Some of the question were extensively answered. When asked about their view on abstinence/chastity/birth control/family planning I felt the answer of we don't deal with preconception issues was a cop out. Also this makes the organization seem a bit naive as their goal of making a more equitable society for women in terms of motherhood should include a conversation about this and is some ways they should have a stance that is nuanced.
Next I dealt with a few pages under the herstory menu. The feminist foremothers page has links to a bunch of articles about early and some second wave feminists. These bios come in different form. They could be more comprehensive in some ways. These articles quite easily have the point of proving the early feminists were pro-life, so it doesn't feel like an objective biography. These biographies need objectivity presenting life stories and making these women proponents of pro-life which at the time may not have been a big issue. The Women Who Mourn page contains stories of women who regret abortions. These stories often have in common that the women feel they did not get enough information or help. Well, all these stories are true, in some ways having them posted on the internet feels a breach of privacy despite having permission from the agency Rachel's Vineyard to print them.
In terms of the resources menu the main page I will analyze will be the pro-woman answers to pro-choice questions. One I believe this page title alienates those who are pro-choice who I would assume the organization in some capacity wants to reach. It makes these other pro-choice feminists feel like they are utterly wrong in their thoughts and thinking and aren't for women at all. The other glaring issue with this page lies in the fact that all the links contain the President of the Organization's answers to the questions. Though the answers tend to be some what nuanced, it still stands that only having the president's answers limits the scope of answers as she is only one person. The other members of the organization may agree with these answers but may state them differently and it would be advantageous to get a different perspective. The website contains a wealth of information however, as I am sure they would argue abortion disproportionately affects the poor, which add irony to this resource as many poorer or rural communities have less access to the internet. The first entry in the resource menu which is titled "For People in Need" links directly to the Women Deserve Better website.
Feminists for Life started an initiative called Women Deserve Better . According to the website's about page, It's a "compilation of practical resources and inspirational stories from women and men who have faces challenging issues and are willing to share their unique perspectives". The website mostly contains articles with advice about subjects like how to talk to professors about a pregnancy, rights a working parent or parent going to school, fathers, and child care. All these article umbrella subjects or targeted subjects fall under four larger categories of Work, Learn, Live, and Love. The articles are decently quick reads. Some have more information in them than others. I found from reading several articles that when the article consisted of a bulleted list there was minimal to no additional information the red text does operate as hyperlinks to other sources, however, having so little information in these articles hurts their effectiveness substantially. It limits what you can really learn from the article such as the article "7 Reasons Why Dads Are So Important" which takes the bulleted list format. While know these reasons are important you need to know the evidence and reasoning behind them to fully understand their importance. This gives both potential mothers and fathers the ability to try to work out how to make the father present (albeit that he is a decent person) in the child's life. However, in other articles this method works such as the one under Learn called "Class Selection: 5 Tips for Finding Balance" Here they list the tip and then a short to the point description of it. This makes it easy to implement the tips that the article suggests.
The longer paragraph form articles in my opinion contain the most useful information for the most part. One of the most effective articles that used this format of pure paragraphing I found under the Menu work and the section of taking maternity leave. The article title was "4 Tips on Taking Maternity Leave for Business Owners". Each tip functioned as a subheading while the paragraph explained each tip more in depth. Especially under the second tip "Delegate Authority" I found it effective that they gave an opinion about what they thought was best (giving many people different tasks) but also acknowledged that the other avenue (giving one person all your responsibility for a time) works under certain circumstances. These articles obviously require that you have some level of understanding of alphabetic text and are educated on how to read. Those in poor or rural communities may not be able to get the internet access required to access these articles and webpage. This prevents them from reaching those who likely are their target audience. This makes their advocacy a little less effective. Feminists for Life also have an extensive social media presence. The first platform I will analyze is Instagram.
From looking at Feminists for Life's Instagram, I see that their posts have a common thread. Most of the post seem to be screen captures of quotes by early feminists. These quotes definitely portray these feminists as pro-life. This particular post, pictured to the left, has a link to the Feminists for Life website. Then it continues on in the caption talking about his centennial celebration of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Some other posts are screen captures of articles that have links in the caption. These captions often contain either a quote from the screen captured article, a description of it, or a combination of both. These post seems to mostly target those who are already part of the movement. Within the comment section for the posts I perused, I did notice that it didn't appear the Feminists for Life responded to comments regardless of whether they support the pro-life movement or pro-choice movement. I feel like these posts aim to start a conversation, but not to see Feminists for Life engage in the conversation that they begun seems counter productive. It would seem that the organization would want to engage in the comments with those on both sides of the issue. So, the lack of engagement seems like a poor move on the part of Feminists for Life. Regardless, of whether those on the opposite side of the issue change their minds, if Feminists for Life did engage in the comments, at least maybe it would allow others to see how their organization is for women, when so many would say it is not. Also, I think it would be better to show more varied posts. I would like to see posts of real time events the organization holds or talks that their members give. This would be a good way to encourage the boots on the ground vibe I feel that they want to achieve. I did notice that a few posts did talk about the current pandemic and women's issues related to it, but this is a variation that will not last forever. Though presumably the account is public, people whom do not choose to follow will not see these posts. Additionally, not everyone has instagram so this limits the numbers that can be reached here. Those without smartphones or a computer may be unable to access this platform which limits the scope of its effectiveness. Overall, Instagram seems to serve as a way to expand the base, but could use more variation and engagement. Another social media platform that Feminists for Life utilize is Facebook.
Feminists for Life facebook page has over 51,000 followers. This platform appears to have more diverse posts than instagram does. Though, the majority still seem to article links or stock photo. There are pictures from events, I mostly believe they are from the March for Life (the biggest pro-life protest annually). I do notice that on Facebook some of the shared articles vary more widely than the ones found on instagram. You do see one about or related to abortion, but one article that was linked to talked about how in some places the easter bunny and tooth fairy were deemed essential jobs during the current pandemic. Another talked about a good samaritan returning a "deployment doll' to a little girl." This shows how they care for children after birth, a common critique of the pro-life movement. One article that they linked to was one about an African American woman shamed for having a large family which by the picture was four kids with one on the way. The comments on this post seemed to wholly support the mother from the article addressing issues with the points brought up in the article. I noticed from pursuing the comments sections of multiple posts that Feminists for Life appear to be more active in Facebook comment sections than in Instagram's. Most of their comments were answers to questions or praising comments of others. One that particularly interested me was the longest on I saw. It was on a post about an article talking about the revised ERA (Equal Rights Amendment). It responded to two comments really, one asking about where to find the text of the proposed amendment and the other a link to the source. The bulk of the comment explained how organizations such as NARAL/Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood have said they support this amendment because it would codify the right to abortion in the constitution. In addition they provide a link to NARAl/Pro-Choice America's website with NARAL/Pro-Choice America's statement about the ERA and their support for it. This added credibility to their argument. This engagement shows that the organization is informed on the issue and wants to spread information. I did however, notice that mostly it appeared that these responses were only to those who appeared to agree, this may not be particularly their fault. The one thing with facebook it tends to be a platform for millennials though the subsequent generation may have one. As it I believe they want to reach younger people, Facebook may not be the best platform for that . However, millennials may engage on it and since they are the age group who may be seriously considering parenthood this platform helps those women and men have access to resources and information. Though, due to the need for a connection, those in rural and poor communities may not be able to access this.
To finish off, I will analyze Feminists for Life's use of YouTube. Overall, the Feminists for Life YouTube channel has 393 subscribers. This might make one think that not many people see these videos, but the oldest video has over 20,000 views. The video featured to the left, presents the answer to the question and hashtag #WhyWeMarch. This hashtag used by another pro-life organization, The March For Life, asks people who attend the event why they do it. The video appears to parrot arguments from the website. Though, not necessarily bad, it gets a little bit redundant and gives less credibility to those arguments. Also such a short explanation though to the point leaves much to desired as an in depth reason. Also, overall it seems that their most recent videos are just advertisements to visit the websites. This may encourage clicks on these other platforms, but makes for a video the can easily be clicked off of on YouTube. They seem not to have a consistent upload schedule. The earliest videos appear to occur fairly close together, but then suddenly there is a three year gap between postings. This does not encourage viewers to subscribe limiting the spread of their message. Also, while earlier videos do show live recordings speeches where the presenter can be seen, it seems later videos are mostly recordings with screen captures of photos of the people. There are a few News clips all for EWTN, which makes me wonder if they are ever interviewed by mainstream sources such as NBC or CNN. This platform can reach those of all ages. Though it would be nice to see more updated content from event put on by the organization or speeches by organization members. As with the rest, it may be harder for those in rural and poor areas may not be able to access this due to lack of internet connection or ability to obtain smart phones, tablets, or computers.
Overall, Feminists for Life excels at displaying their message use technological platforms. At times, lack of variation of content, engagement in comment sections, and updated content hinder the scope of effectiveness of their advocacy. Poorer communities may have less access than those of more financial means for the devices necessary to access the internet. In many ways, these platforms prove there is a way to be pro-life and feminist. #womendeservebetter