I knew the vote was coming up. I'm on the email list for NARAL, for Planned Parenthood, for NOW, and several others. The emails piled up in my inbox this past few days, warning me, offering letters to cosign and phone numbers for my representatives. And the emails piled up in my inbox this morning, letting me know it had happened exactly as we feared. (Twitter told me first, mind you; it usually does. As I told a friend of mine the other day, follow the right people on Twitter and you'll never have to watch the news again. But I digress.)
I watched videos this morning, in my Google Reader, of various Democrat Representatives speaking out, vehemently, forcefully, eloquently against this travesty. I watched Rep. Speier's moving admission that she herself had needed an abortion. And I knew that this issue wouldn't be one that I could open in a separate tab and promise myself I'd get to it later, tomorrow or the next day or whenever, as I so often do. I had to write about it, now, today.
I was angry, at first. This post was going to be a scathing diatribe on the stultifying level of fuckery contained in this latest round of "How Can We Screw Women This Time?". But now, as I'm sitting down to write this, I'm just...tired.
I am tired of living in a world that does not value my personhood, but values my uterus and what it can do for others.
I am tired of living in a world where my right to choose whether or not I bear children, and when and how to do so or not do so, is not supported. Is, in fact, a hotly contested issue as to whether I should have that right at all.
I am tired of living in a world where, should I become pregnant, the fetus inside me is considered, by a very angry, loud minority, to have more rights to my body than I, myself, do. I, who have lived in this flesh for 25 years. Who have used this body's hands to create, to write, to connect, to work. Who have used this body's voice to speak out, to help persuade, change minds, change lives. I, who have 25 years of feelings, memories, pain, love, life in this body...can be, may be, and to far too many people, should be considered subordinate to the fetus who happens to take root inside me.
I don't cry. I'm not a crier. (I have years of negative association between crying and femininity and femininity and weakness, therefore crying and weakness, that taught me how to tightly control my emotions in order to be taken seriously, so that it can actually be impossible for me to let myself cry when I need to and want to, but that's a topic for another time. I share this now, only to give you a context for what I am saying.)
But as I am sitting here, feeling this latest salvo in the Republican's War on Women hit me like a physical blow, there are tears quietly slipping down my face, and my throat hurts from choking back sobs so I can keep writing.
I don't understand them. I have never really understood them. Intellectually, I can rationalize it. Either with benefit of the doubt - they genuinely believe that abortion is murder, and given that belief, are doing the best they can to combat a terrible evil - or without - they do not like women having the freedom to be sexual without consequences, they believe that women who get abortions are irresponsible sluts, and they are using rhetoric of "teh baybeez!" to cloak their virulent misogyny. But it still floors me sometimes, how much they truly must hate us. Us, of course, being women/pregnancy-having people*. It cannot be anything less than searing hatred. Or perhaps, searing indifference. Which is almost worse; hate is at least something you feel for people. Indifference is what you feel for things. And gods help me, but I'm fairly sure the viciously anti-choice forces in this country see us more as the latter than the former.
I am just so, so, so tired of fighting. It never stops. It never ends. We suffered the Bush regime (I start with that because it was the start of my paying-attention-to-politics era; there was plenty of suffering and fighting before that, to be sure). And then we threw it into gear and got a Democrat elected for President, swept away both houses of Congress in the bargain. Obama was the Promised One, come riding from Heaven itself on a shining unicorn to bring peace to the land, and he had a veto-proof majority in Congress to help him do it.
But even then, the struggle didn't end! It dropped into a lower gear, but progress was still achingly slow and we had to fight tooth and nail for every inch. Our dear leader compromised us away, piece by piece, as the so-called "Tea Party" rose, and their childish tantrums took over the news.
And now, having gained their power by beating a constant drum of Jobs! and the Economy! and Businesses! and Low Taxes!, they show their true colors by immediately turning a laser focus toward declaring their war on, well...everyone. Everyone who isn't a rich, thin, straight, Christian, able-bodied, cis, neurotypical white man, anyway. They want to cut funding for pretty much every program which serves anyone who genuinely needs the help, while pitching a fit anytime someone suggests cutting corporate welfare down a tiny bit.
But it's specifically their War on Women that is getting the focus right now. H.R. 3. H.R. 358. Defunding Planned Parenthood, defunding Title X entirely, reinstating the Global Gag Rule, expanding so-called "conscience rights" for providers to pick and choose what healthcare they'll provide to whom. And where I know I should be angry - and make no mistake, under everything, I am angry - instead I just feel the crushing despair of a lifetime spent swimming upstream against this tide of hate and/or indifference.** How do we even begin to fight this? The people who hate us are the ones in power. How do you make a difference against that? Against the flow of money that keeps them in power? Against the obvious profitability of declaring war against the less-privileged, in hundred thousand ways subtle and not? We are only individuals struggling to move against this overwhelming force, and where they can walk away at any time, we can never leave our posts for an instant, lest we be overrun and pushed back just a little bit further. To quote a favorite novel, about an unwanted royal daughter facing multiple assassination attempts: "The odds were against me. To stay alive, I had to succeed every single time, where they only had to succeed once." Like her, our success simply keeps the status quo. Their successes, on the other hand, change things.
How can we ever make headway, given this? When our definition of "success" is "We stopped them from implementing [some horrible, anti-woman, autonomy-eroding law]!"...how can we ever regain the ground we've lost? We are so thoroughly on the defensive that there isn't time, money, or energy to try to retake lost ground. We have our hands full just trying not to lose more. I don't know how to fix it. I just know I am incredibly tired and demoralized from this struggle right now.
So I'm sorry. I have no caustic commentary today, no righteous rant to offer. Maybe another day. Today, I'm just too tired.
*I do not want to conflate the two, as they are largely but not entirely overlapping groups. However, the kinds of people I'm talking about certainly do consider the two synonymous, so I use the slash to indicate both their conflation and my unwillingness to perpetuate it.
**I realize this probably comes off as so much privileged whining to many people, since although I am a woman, I am also white, cis, able-bodied, and queer-but-het-partnered, making "woman" my only major axis of oppression. I'm sorry. I do know there are others who have it worse than I do. I do not, in any way, want to minimize or co-opt that. I apologize if this comes off as so much "white women's tears". This is the only truth I live, however, and I believe there is still value in speaking it.