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This Fucking Planet: Bei Bei Shuai

30 March 2012

In keeping with my personal tradition of being on hiatus forever and maybe posting links once in a while instead of actually writing, here are links.

Bei Bei Shuai, who was charged with murder after attempting suicide while pregnant, has now been in prison for a full year and may be facing a life sentence.  I won’t get into the details of the story as I’m no law expert and it can be read about elsewhere, but there are a number of issues at play here.  There is, of course, the ongoing war on women–particularly the effort to outlaw our ownership of our own bodies, which seems to be getting worse every time I look at the internet.  (Don’t miss the paragraph at the first link that mentions charging pregnant women with “giving ‘drugs’ to ‘minors'” for taking OTC headache medicine.)  There is the fact that Bei Bei Shuai is an immigrant woman of color living in a society that codes people of color and immigrants (most post-colonial, post-indigenous-genocide immigrants, anyway) as automatically suspect.  There is this society’s massive ignorance about mental illness and unconscionable treatment of people suffering with it.  (I can’t recall ever having seen an accurate assessment or portrayal of suicidal depression by someone who has never had it, but people with no lived experience and poor investigation at best are often the ones who decide how to punish others “when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.”)  There are probably a dozen other issues involved in this society’s horrifying treatment of Bei Bei Shuai that people familiar with the case could easily point out.

Of course I hope that she’s freed, that all charges against her are dropped, that she gets any help she needs if she wants it.  This individual’s life is absolutely important.  But hers is also one among millions of lives facing ruin because this society loathes women’s autonomy, and particularly loathes women who have the audacity to make decisions and do things while not-healthy, not-white, and not-rich.  As all of us who work toward social justice know, there’s more to freeing Bei Bei Shuai and people like her than letting them out of prison.

 

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