Her Choice: Facts, Freedom & Justice

A Solo Show by Maya Rosado

About the exhibition:

Living in a society constantly at-war over women’s rights, Maya Rosado questions the stigma around reproductive health and the extent to which women have the freedom to decide what to do with their bodies. While exploring the many components of reproductive health through its history and the stories of four unique women, Maya highlights how women take back ownership of their reproductive rights. The portraits, interviews, and artifacts in Maya’s solo show “Her Choice: Facts, Freedom and Justice” display how both she and these women are constantly fighting and aspiring to normalize the subject. Their portraits and personal objects not only represent who these women are, both within and beyond their reproductive health, but also offer a historical timeline of contraceptives and sterilization in the United States of America.

The theme of reproductive rights is important to Maya because she feels that – with politics being an impediment that regulates what women can or cannot do – women’s bodies are often treated as if they are not theirs to care for. With this show, Maya hopes to not only inform and engage our community about the history of abuse to women’s rights but to spark a conversation about ways women can control their reproductive rights.

About the artist:

Seventeen-year-old Maya Rosado was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and will start her senior year at Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez High School in the fall of 2019. Maya’s passion for photography began when she first received a camera at the age of 10 and flourished when she joined Las Fotos Project in 2015. She enjoys photographing her community— both the people and the environment— and uses the power of photography to bring awareness to significant issues she feels lack the attention of society.

 

Maya is inspired by the most ambitious, hard-working, and talented people around her including her friends and family, and especially the community at Las Fotos Project. At Las Fotos Project, there are so many artistic girls and mentors skilled in photography, editing, business, event organizing and so much more. Their expertise is what truly moves Maya to aspire to be like them and pursue photography as a creative outlet or as a profession. With the support of her mentors, Miriam, Carolina, and Jess, and the inspiration of the incredible subjects, the process of creating and building Maya’s solo show has been both challenging and beautiful.



Dr. Jennings-Nunez
Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OBGYN)

 

Dr. Jennings-Nunez is an obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN) at the White Memorial Medical Center. She describes her experience of over 10 years working in this medical profession as “really wonderful, because [her team is] working with patients that [they] understand because [they’re] women,” as well as empowering because, “the field used to be mostly [composed of] men, but it has changed,” thus showing how the medical field is evolving towards equality.

 

Dr. Jennings has a strong belief in birth control contraception because it has allowed women to exercise more control over their lives. In more recent years, women have been able to plan and decide if and how many children they want to have. However, not all women have access to birth control, which is one of the issues that Dr. Jennings highlighted in her interview. Due to the cost of birth control, women may not have the means to afford it, especially since not all insurance plans cover the expense.

 

As if the lack of accessibility to birth control wasn’t enough, Dr. Jennings describes the shame and discouragement many women, especially teen girls, experience when seeking some type of birth control because of the stigma it holds. Some women tend to be discreet about their use of contraception because they do not want to feel judged by others because of the shame that exists in society.

 

This judgment about contraception usage has also led to many women feeling guilty about their sexuality. Dr. Jennings acknowledges that women have different reasons as to why they are embarrassed about asking for birth control. One of the reasons she believes and has come across is that many women continue to think of it as a secret and something that shouldn’t be talked about. A way to fight this issue is to simply “. . . make it more accessible,” to those who seek it and “it should just be a normal part of life.” If people are more open about contraception, it would allow its discussion to be normalized.


Emily Grijalva
Restorative Justice Coordinator

 

Emily Grijalva is a new Restorative Justice Coordinator at Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez High School but is not new to the education field as she has been an educator for over 10 years. Emily shares that it has been challenging to take on a leadership role in her position as a Restorative Justice Coordinator, as “coordinators and administrators are often positions in education that are dominated by men.” This can make the job intimidating, but she has taken it upon herself to be assertive.

 

Emily believes that birth control shouldn’t be a debatable topic in politics because it is a part of a lot of women’s lives and serves more than one use, ranging from family planning, regulating hormonal imbalances, and relieving specific reproductive health problems. Although Emily is an advocate for birth control and feels strongly about all women having access to it, she didn’t know what birth control was growing up.

 

Being raised in a religious household where sex and sexuality were not spoken of, she was never educated about sex and at that point birth control was just as irrelevant. When Emily got pregnant as a teenager, it was unplanned and her experience as a teen mom was very difficult. In need of education and guidance about sex, she decided to go to Planned Parenthood, where she was able to get a lot of information and access to birth control. This allowed Emily to manage her personal life, work, and school, all while being safe and having control of the future. While she reached out for support from Planned Parenthood, Emily explains how challenging it was due to the shame she felt, which she realized was caused by how “our sexuality has been compartmentalized to motherhood,” further expressing that our bodies are thought of as only meant for bearing children, therefore premarital sex without the intention of having children is frowned upon in many cultures.

 

Emily believes that the best way to overcome the stigma about sexuality and reproductive health is by normalizing it, “through education and starting really early on.” In 2016 the California Healthy Youth Act was passed which requires schools to teach youth sex education. The requirement calls for comprehensive sex education for all students in seventh grade through twelfth grade, as well as HIV and STI prevention education. In terms of these sex education programs, Emily shared that they are not prioritized; this is one of the main reasons why she is extremely passionate and dedicated to her work. When students are educated about these topics, it is easier for them to create a support system for themselves and begin to shed away the stigma about sexuality and reproductive health.


Mayán Alvarado Goldberg
Student at Marshall High School

 

Mayán Alvarado Goldberg is a teenage girl who will begin her senior year at John Marshall High School in the fall of 2019. She has completed three semesters at Las Fotos Project, and some of the programs she has participated in were the “Maya Womxn in LA” exhibit and the CEO program. Mayán is an advocate for birth control because ever since she first got on the pill, she has noticed, and disapproves of, the stigma around birth control and sexual health.

 

Mayán recalls an experience during school when she was taking her prescription and one of her male classmates immediately reacted in shock accusing her of “having sex all the time”; she felt judged and knew it was wrong. Mayán explains that in these types of situations, “people are just so uneducated and continues by stating, “it’s difficult because you want to be able to educate them but sometimes they are not open to it.” Mayán believes that having a safe space to discuss such topics are important to begin to stray away from the stereotypes surrounding reproductive health. She believes that talking more about it is the key to normalizing the subject so that it is no longer a taboo. It’s also important that reproductive health is discussed so that teens know how to take care of themselves.

 

Mayán personally feels very lucky to have a clinic at her school that provides students with free birth control, IUD implants, STD testing, and a safe space to communicate anything related to reproductive health, but this is not the case for the majority of teens who attend a public school. Even if not all teenage girls are open to the idea of birth control if they need it or want it, she thinks that “it should definitely be an option for anyone no matter what.”

 

As a young girl who takes birth control, Mayán feels empowered because she has control over her body — it makes her feel connected to her body. Having this control while using birth control is a freedom that unfortunately not all women can experience due to inaccessibility, financial burdens or fear of being shamed by others.


Berenice Dimas
Doula and a Community Herbalist

Berenice Dimas is a Doula and a Community Herbalist, with a previous career as a high school teacher. After five years of teaching in the high school system, she moved on to become an herbalist for an herbal school in Northern California. She then moved back home to LA where she started her own business, Hood Herbalism, which bridges her two passions: herbs and education.

 

Berenice hosts workshops where she educates and teaches people about healing through herbs. She believes that everyone should make their own choices when it comes to their bodies, especially within women’s reproductive health. It is not only important to her that people have control over their bodies, but she also believes people should be educated and learn about what they’re putting in their bodies.

 

As a college student, Berenice came across a health problem with her menstrual cycle and her doctor recommended birth control; as it is usually recommended to many women who have menstrual issues. However, she chose not to take birth control because she was concerned about the way her body would react to the medication. She knew there were options to help treat her issue more naturally through the medicine of herbalism like our ancestors. Berenice began researching the plants that benefit reproductive health and found that there were numerous plants and remedies to support reproductive health which have allowed her to care for herself. Two herbs that she uses in the form of tea are Ruda (Rue Plant), which helps to relieve cramps or Yarrow herb to initiate a menstrual cycle when it is abnormal or delayed. The Yarrow herb is also known to heal and treat infections such as a UTI.

 

As a Doula, Berenice’s focus is to support families with their birth plans. Her job also consists of offering resources, answering questions and educating families about all their options for labor. Berenice supports the mother and her family during the prenatal stages, the pregnancy, and postpartum. In her work, she must allow the family to choose exactly what they want to do after first giving her professional suggestions depending on each case. Berenice sees her work as a natural alternative for people and families who may not want to opt for a “typical” Western Medicine way.


This show was made possible thanks to the support of: Weingart Foundation, California Community Foundation, Ahmanson Foundation, Annenberg Foundation, Horace Goldsmith Foundation, Dwight Stuart Youth Fund, Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, Vernon CommUNITY Fund, City of LA Dept. of Cultural Affairs, Edward A & Ai O Shay Family Foundation, Yerba Buena Fund, NALAC