Friday, June 28, 2013
BULLIES - ENOUGH! (Or an Open Letter to Legislators About Women's Reproductive Rights)
This post relates to women's reproductive rights.
I am not trying to change anyone's ideas on abortion and/or birth control.
I'm not looking to debate those ideas with anyone.
But, I am mad as hell about the continuing attempts by legislative bullies to mute and infantilize one-half of our populace based on outmoded ideas of Womanhood.
If this insults you, please read no further. You've been warned.
When I was in grade school, I had the (not uncommon) experience of being subjected to bullying. Yes, I got called names like “oinker”and “thunder thighs” by classmates. Fourth grade was the most instructive time because I began to see and understand the bully. For anonymity sake, I refer herein to my tormentor as “G”.
G chose her victims very carefully. Grade school was so much like a chickenyard, I’m surprised we weren’t all molting feathers. Like an aggressive hen, G sought out the bleeding to attack. Emotional weakness, physical disability, or passing her way on a day when one’s best friends were not around was all it took to set her off. G’s attacks were not full-frontal assaults of flying fists and hair yanking. No, G was a vicious crab, going after her prey in a sideways fashion.After all, even the weak can be dangerous. She would run and whisper to another student and stir the pot. “Did you know her family is X? How disgusting! And, do you know what she said about YOU!” Poke, poke, stab, stab, she would fan the flames of disgust and hate. She would lie, and sneak and slither and turn friend against friend until the war erupted. Like a cartoon rat she would run to a corner and watch with glee as her classmates tore each other apart.
She did it to me, and I ended up in the only honest to gosh fistfight of my life –with a boy. At her goading, we flailed and yelled until Sister Mary I Have A Big Ruler And I Will Use It dragged us by our collars to the office. Sitting on a bench, awaiting our fate, the unthinkable happened – we talked to each other.
We were hoodwinked, played as idiots by someone who wasn’t even going to pay for her deeds. This was not about any“real” thing, but about puffing up G’s sense of power and authority. It was sneaky, it was snaky, and it was as ugly as it gets. We made sure our classmates knew what she did because that’s how to make a bully run.
And this is how I feel about the bullies that have trotted out, and even more shockingly passed, law after law after law limiting women’s rights to reproductive health in this country. Eighty-two percent of states have legal restrictions in place and more are being proposed every day. So, bear with me for a moment here while I tie this all together.
The Cult of True Womanhood dictated a woman’s behavior and placed social boundaries on her life in the 1800’s. A “true” woman was expected to focus always and only on running a home, raising children and (this is important) being obedient. Respectable and proper women were to hold the four key virtues:
1) Piety– religious activities are encouraged (as opposed to say educational or vocational activities), because they kept a woman in her proper sphere (home) and **because religion controls a woman’s longings** (danger, danger!)
2) Purity– virginity is a woman’s true and greatest treasure and must be guarded by her male relatives until her marriage night.
3) Submission- a true woman is submissive and **as obedient as little children because men are women’s superiors by the appointment of God.**
4) Domesticity– woman belongs in the home where she is to create a refuge for a husband and children. Cooking, cleaning, bed-making, sewing, needlework, and tending flowers are ‘feminine activities’. Reading anything beyond religious works is not encouraged (ack, more danger!).
True women were supposed to be soft, delicate, weak, beautiful and wholly dependent on their husband for wealth, status and for most decision-making. A true woman did not concern herself with politics or power because she simply did not have a mind capable of dealing with issues of politics. A true woman could not make decisions for her own well-being because her mind and constitution are inferior.
Fast-forward to today and I know you can recognize that the arguments in favor of restricting women’s reproductive healthcare sit squarely on the Victorian ideas that define What A True Woman Should (Can) Be.
Listen, I don’t care what your beliefs are about birth control or abortion are, BUT women….
I BELIEVE IN YOU!
Seriously. You are not a feather-head. You are not an imbecile. You are not a child.You are not mute. No matter what your work is your “proper sphere” is any darn place you want it to be.
You have a brain (and it is not inferior to a man’s). You can read research and determine what medical procedures are appropriate for you, or not.
You probably have your own spiritual beliefs, and you can ascertain what resonates with those beliefs and what violates them.
You are NOT weak and in need of a custodian to control your thoughts and actions..
Listen, we elect (and pay) our government officials to do many things, and one of the most important is to write and pass laws to protect those who truly cannot speak for themselves –
children, animals, the environment, the economy, the mentally ill, etc.
However, we DO NOT need our legislators to think for and control women. We DO NOT need them to crawl between our legs and post laws on our wombs.We DO NOT need them to clasp chastity belts over our loins. We DO NOT need them to decide what kinds of medical care we can have based on our sex and when we can receive it. We have brains and hearts and ideas and *gasp* can make up our own minds.
There are lots, and I mean lots of things our legislators NEED to be doing to assist the citizenry. Here are a few…
· Employment – people want to work, people need to work (it’s how we pay you after all.. taxes, you remember those, yes?)
· Energy –moving from oil dependence, creation of new energy technologies to create (OMG) jobs, repairing our dilapidated and aged and insufficient electrical grid, etc.
· Fracking – legislators, you DO know that thousands of people can set their garden hose water on fire because of fracking, right???
· Immigration – enough said
· Tax Fairness – offshore accounts, corporations that pay nothing, small businesses that are being driven to their knees, etc.
· The middle class— you remember them, that mythical disappearing unicorn.
· Infrastructure—crumbling levies, crumbling bridges, crumbling highways, crumbling overpasses (ooh ooh .. more jobs here maybe, hmm?), etc.
These issues and many more are the Real Deal, the true problems, and they are big and complicated and messy and there is no simple Sound Bite to Re-election in them. These would be like the direct punch to the face--painful but honest.
But, instead of dealing with real issues, many of our legislators, male and female alike, have chosen to be bullies. Like crazed fowl, they are going after those whom they see as the weak and bruised and bleeding and unwilling to fight back. “Yes, let’s go after those mythical whorish welfare mothers who are having 27 abortions on YOUR dime.” And, while they're at it, they might as well tie the hands, and nether regions of ALL WOMEN… you know ...
for their own good, because all women are weak-minded children and must
be protected. Legislators must think FOR them, for the good of all.
I Call Bullshit!
They would bind the minds and the hearts and the bodies and steal the choices and usurp the very thoughts and options available for your daughters, your sisters, your friends, your partners and your mothers...Your Choices.
And Why? I say because these individuals are not strong enough or smart enough or willing enough to stand up to those who throw piles of money at them and instead perform their actual job.
To them, I say ….
You are spineless, frightened, impotent bullies.
I pull off your mask. I call you into the light.
You will NOT take away MY freedom under the guise of protection.
You will NOT take my voice,
You will NOT have my vote and
You will NOT decide what will or will not happen with MY BODY.
And…I tell you that a filibuster is the least of your worries, and… guess what...
I AM NOT ALONE