If I roar, will anyone hear me?
I wrote this post last week after reading the piece by Soraya Chemaly… and then Lori Day posted something so similar on Monday. We’re not alone – even though we feel that way, despite all of the reasons we feel that way. We have to keep telling ourselves, and each other, that – and keep talking, keep discussing, keep explaining…
♦ ◊ ♦
You know, I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time. I don’t even have time to check in with my tweet peeps or read blogs I like or articles that sound interesting. If it’s not this thing I need to write or these statistics I need to run, I don’t have time.
She’s angry. I’M ANGRY. And I am more than angry (and not in the super-ultra-angry sense, but in the other-emotions-in-addition-to-anger sense, you know, those deeply saddened/disheartened/shocked emotions).
As I was reading it, I was struck by two things. And sometimes, when I am struck, I just have to write. So I do. Even when I don’t have the time for it.
First, I remembered the 2004 elections. I was working in Kentucky at the time (yep that is correct). That election was so shocking, so disheartening, so disturbing, so sad not just because of who ended up in the White House, but because I felt that election was won on gay marriage and gay rights (with some abortion thrown in). Or, rather, because peopledidn’t want gay marriage or gay rights.
The idea that I lived in a country that could be so heartless and so bigoted and so awful… it made me so angry and so upset and so sad. I no longer felt I belonged.
Yet, this election year, I was stuck with the feeling that the only silver lining to everything that is happening with women’s
health rights (goddamn it these are my civil human rights, people!) these days is that there is, somewhere in there, evidence that the right -wing crazy people (no not all Republicans, but you can take your party back any. time. now.) have determined gay rights won’t win them this election. Yes, obviously this is no time to give up, and there is plenty of homophobia and horribleness still in the world… but – something has changed in the few short years since 2004.
That is heartening. It truly is.
But now we come to my second point.
If politicians have somehow, at least for now, decided that public homophobia is no longer strong enough in this country to run a presidential campaign on (they’ll leave it to the states)… how did we end up using my body, my sex life, and my very womb as the new battleground? How did we get back here?
How are my politicians actually determining for me that they can put a 6 to 8 inch probe that I don’t need in my vagina without my consent?? How are we debating my health care and reproductive rights without my voice?? How does my choice to have and enjoy sex make me a prostitute and I might as well post the video to YouTube so that horrible little man can watch it?? Why am I being forced to carry a dead fetus in my own body simply because cows and pigs do it??
Cows and pigs, people. Cows and pigs.
And, you know, I could go on. I could go on. That alone is shocking to me. In 2012. It. is. shocking.
But, you know, that’s not the worst part. That’s not what makes me more than angry. It’s not what fundamentally shakes me. It’s the reality that these politicians think they have enough support to pull this crap, now in 20-fucking-12, and we, the American public, have not shut them the fuck down.
It’s that I feel so alone in this. Even thought there are amazing women and men who do care and are not silent, this amazing group I actually feel a part of right here at my internet-endowed fingertips – this brick wall doesn’t seem to go anywhere and my head still seems to find it at very high speeds.
I sometimes write about anomie. It’s one of my favorite words, acquired in college Sociology 101, describing the moral disconnect one can feel between his or her own personal values, and the values and laws thrust upon the individual by society. I am writhing in anomie these days, and it is a very lonely place.
That loneliness is exacerbated by the silent apathy of so many women (and men) who do not understand or approve of why I am screaming my agony through social media. They do not get why I am fighting through the white noise of the internet to cajole my personal and professional networks on Facebook, Twitter and the blogs where I write to broadcast and amplify my voice, just as I do that very same thing for others who are calling out to a variably engaged/indifferent/antagonistic panoply of human beings who either do or don’t care that women have essential human rights. In these moments of screaming, I am wrestling with my loneliness, beating it back, smothering it.
Moreover, it really is much more than just feeling so alone in this, the battle for my very body, my health my life my choices. I believe everything just feels so very hurtful and so very alarming and so very alienating… because of it fundamentally feels deeper.
It’s the feeling that people, even those close to me, dont. fucking. care. Or they don’t care enough. That so many have decided, whether or not they admit it to me or themselves, this isn’t really important. The many excuses they tell me and themselves as to why they believe that. They actually engage the “freedom of religion” argument as if it were even remotely legit or the real reason for any of this crap. They are quick to nitpick and get into details – and, in so doing, literally refuse to see the greater picture. They are fine with pretending this conversation is some political thing when talking about my. basic. rights. and whether or not I’m comparable to farm animals.
Even worse? Those that are quick to shrug their shoulders. To dismiss this outright – with no real excuse. To not engage at all.
In addition, the many who are also perfectly happy to allow the patriarchy to protect them from this. I mean, why are we again discussing birth control and family planning and sexual health as if women are the only ones who do this and men have nothing to say about it?? Why are so many men silent, when they have wives and sisters and daughters and mothers?? Why are we calling all of this “women’s health” when it is so clearly SO MUCH MORE?
And it’s not just in the people out there … but the people RIGHT HERE too. The brick wall in my backyard.
It’s the fundamental intuition that people aren’t engaging because they don’t see this is an issue. Women already have rights, don’t they? You ladies are all up in college and working and don’t see y’all in the kitchen making me a sandwich so what’re you complaining about? Or did you not get that memo?
Because the sexism and misogyny are so ingrained, we don’t even see it anymore.
Women who attempt to address or discuss concerns they have with the men who claim to love them too often get a wave of the hand, and hear “Yeah yeah, women’s rights, it’s important, I know, whatever.”
The men who dismiss these women treat their desire for equality as if it were a hobby or a pet project. But in these moments, men are fundamentally dismissing the women they are speaking with.
So, ya know, it’s not just that this horrific affront to my rights, my body, and my choices is happening to me right now today and will be the forefront of the freakin presidential election this fall (for why??? when we have so many other things to effing deal with!). That alone would be bad enough. But it’s more than that. It’s the reaction, the lack of engagement by people who should be engaged. It’s that we don’t talk about why people are dismissive and apathetic, too. It’s that no one wants to admit, or discuss, or examine in themselves those underlying reasons. Again, I’ll let Yashar Ali explain:
I see one central problem as connected with the men who are fundamentally good, but who pretend as if there is no major gender imbalance. These men, like my friend, when asked if women deserve equality, resoundingly respond “yes.” But when they are put in a position to support the women in their lives or when they are put in a place where they can directly react to discrimination, they lack any sort of action or assertion, or worst yet, they only offer dismissal.
These men may see this dismissal as a matter of opinion–almost as if a political issue is being discussed. But in reality, in that moment, they are committing wholesale dismissal of these women. They are failing to show empathy for the unique experience of all women and for the women in their lives, in particular. They are deciding what is valid based on the lens that feels most comfortable to them: one of male comfort and privilege.
This is why it’s so much more. The dismissal you are not even aware of. The validity you withhold, without even knowing it. The subtlety of all of that – how it undermines and degrades, without being obvious. The power there – and the fact that you probably won’t even discuss it with me, or look for it in yourself.
Don’t shrug your shoulders or roll your eyes – even in jest. Don’t “explain” to me that this is a political issue or a religious issue or a moral issue. Don’t provide statistics as if they offer some kind of rationale for why my feelings are invalid or I’m just being paranoid. Don’t ignore everything I’ve just said because, well, maybe I just think all men hate women, or that men don’t support women ever, or aren’t feminists (because – DUH).
Instead: Listen. Learn. Empathize. Strive to understand. Speak out.
Because we need your help. We need you to listen. We need you to believe us. We need your voice – and we need your compassion, your empathy, and your understanding.
We are your daughters and sisters and wives and mothers and aunts and girlfriends and fuckbuddies and friends, and we are being reduced to 1950s boxes and second-class citizens before your very eyes. Our choices are being questioned and taken away, our bodies are being used as “religious” and “moral” battlegrounds, our privacy invaded, our health care and sexuality taken away. We need you to stop dismissing our voices and our gut [wrenching] feelings, and join us in this fight (YES I WILL USE THAT TERM THANK YOU VERY MUCH).