Don’t have a uterus of your own? If you’re a male member of Congress, 55-year-old Susan Santos may be knitting you one.
The Lakewood resident delivered a knitted uterus to U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s, D-Colo., district office last week and is in the process of sending another to U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo. Along with two other women who helped organize the group, Santos has been knitting uteruses to make a point: If we knit you a uterus, will you stay out of ours?
Government Free VJJ originated when another Coloradan, Donna Druchunas began a conversation with Annie Modesitt on Twitter about her disappointment in the national and state legislations for women’s rights. Santos got involved when she saw an article about Arizona state Rep. Terri Proud’s request to make a law that would mandate a woman watch an abortion before it is performed.
“The fact they tried to make their point through terrorizing people, it’s appalling,” said Santos. Government Free VJJ does not align itself with any political party, and does not claim to be for abortion rights or anti-abortion. On its website, it states its against government regulation of women’s bodies for the purpose of making personal and moral decisions.
Santos said she has always been part of the feminist movement, only because she believes in having the same rights as males.
“There seems to me a backlash against the word ‘feminist.’ All it means is I want the same judgment,” said Santos. “I’m not sure how that can be objectionable, but it seems to be.”
Government Free VJJ is not just sending uteruses to those who have voted for bills against reproductive rights. Both Bennet and Udall voted against an amendment that would have given employers the right to deny birth control insurance based on religious or moral objections.
“Sometimes, its more of a ‘thanks for supporting us’ kind of thing,” she explained.
Santos guesses about 80 to 100 uteruses have been sent to congressmen. When someone knits a gift for their congressman, they fill a form on the spreadsheet in order to keep a tally. Santos said knitting uteruses is a way to empower people and make them feel if they are part of the legislative process.
“It has to be done with a little bit of humor,” Santos said. She said those trying to change the laws have been using scare tactics to get their point across. “We take this innocent ball of yarn, shape it into something and say ‘have yours, leave mine alone.’ Really, the concept behind this is pretty damn important.”
Santos is currently working with Druchunas on a book about the history of knitting.
Kelcie Pegher is an intern for The Durango Herald and a student at American University in Washington, D.C. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.