January 27, 2005

taking it personally

The Well-Timed Period, an excellent and expert blog about reproductive health, recently wrote a long, furious post about Bush's conversation with the leaders of the pro-life march. It reminded me of Kameron Hurley's post about a country without Roe. Reading Kameron's post was what made me consider the possibility of losing Roe in a serious way, and it made me incredibly depressed. Reading both of these posts, it's clear that Kameron and Ema are both really, really personally angry about this, and I feel like every time I read stuff like that there's this voice coming in over my shoulder saying, "Hey, it's politics, don't take it personally. Don't be an angry feminist." I hear that voice a lot: when I'm the only person talking about gender issues at my job, when I get pissed off because some kind of mainstream media obviously thinks I don't exist,1 when I'm talking about social services being cut.

Of course I fucking take it personally. It's my life these jerks are talking about controlling. That picture of the patriarchy at work? They're deciding what I can and can't do with my body. They're making my medical decisions for me. And they've never even met me. They don't know anything about my life, but because I'm a woman I get no say in my own reproductive health. And make no mistake, the anti-abortion movement is about controlling women's bodies. When the same people are working to outlaw abortion, prevent access to over-the-counter emergency contraception, prevent access to routine contraception, encourage marriage for its own sake, promote the idea that women are naturally better caregivers, stop anything that addresses sexism, prevent access to sex ed, make sex ed about gender roles.... I mean, it's not hard to see the pattern here. Being able to have sex without risking pregnancy, being able to make a living without a man, being a legal person were big changes in the social order and women's lives, and these people want to go back to how it was before. And that's my life. That's my life they want to wreck, my body they want to commandeer, my sexuality they want to control.

How the hell can I not take it personally? How the hell can any of us not take it personally? And then when we do, we get told we're being too emotional. It's an implicit argument against feminism, because feminism gets associated with angry women, who are simultaneously too feminine (too emotional) and not feminine enough (loud and outspoken). The hell with that. We're not going back.

They're brave words, of course, but we may not have much of a choice. We may lose every legal battle, and see the US government slowly tighten into something pretty close to actual fascism. We may lose Roe. We may not have time to worry about Roe because we 'll be too busy with total environmental collapse. And thinking about those things a couple days ago made me despair. Because as far as I can tell, there is nothing I can do about it.

I don't feel that despair as strongly now. It's only a little because Amelia told me encouraging things about judicial respect for precedent and how things aren't that bad, yet. It's mostly because I thought about it, and yeah, there's not much I can do to affect national politics right now. But I thought about it, and we'll fight. There will be battles to fight and ways I can fight them. I'd rather not have to, but if push comes to shove I'll be there. Taking it personally, even when it's not about me.

1. Cosmo and magazines like it do this all the goddamn time.

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