Monday, July 1, 2013

To the Ohio Lawmakers...

I wrote half of this post when I woke up at 6:15 this morning, purely because I was so immediately outraged that I had to do something about it.  Are you aware of this?
Are you ANGRY about this?  I'm angry.  I quite angry, actually.  I'm angry, and I'm hurt, and it literally makes me feel sick.  I'm tired of reading things like this.  Here's my list of why:

(1) Because it could have been me.  I could have been the woman who was raped, alone, and seeking an abortion.  Because the last thing I would have needed would have been a white, male legislator telling me what I can or can't do with my body.

(2) Because one day, I want to have a daughter, and I want to raise her such that she knows with unequivocal certainty that her glorious body belongs to her.  Always.  Every inch of it.  I want her to know that every single choice she makes regarding what she does with it, who she shares it with, what medical procedure she has done to it, is her own choice.  Always. 

(3) Because I want to raise a daughter in a culture that does not perpetuate rape.  If that isn't possible, I want to at least be able to teach her that if some asshole boyfriend, or husband, or date, or stranger violates her precious flesh, that the legislators of her state and her nation have her back.  I want her to know that, when she is feeling raw, and vulnerable, and violated, and like every inch of her soul has been stepped on and exposed...I want her to know that at the very least the lawmakers in our country respect her body, her integrity, her autonomy, and her right to choose. 

(4) Because rape crisis centers are vital, and not just for the information they provide about access to abortion and women's right to choose.  When a person is raped -- whether it was yesterday or 20 years ago -- a rape crisis center can provide the absolutely vital therapy that is needed to deal with the crisis.  They provide support like hospital accompaniment and a friendly, supportive face when facing an abuser in court.  They provide education.  Most importantly, these services are free.  Can a survivor seek therapy and other supportive services elsewhere?  Sometimes.  But frankly, it's hard without insurance.  Even with insurance, or with the ability to pay, or with access to low-cost/sliding scale clinics, there is absolutely no assurance that the survivor will get what she needs.  As a savvy student without decent healthcare, I was able to find therapy services when I needed them...but it wasn't helpful.  It wasn't helpful because the therapist I saw, in spite of her website and supposed credentials, was NOT competent in working with young women dealing with trauma.  As a result?  I was further hurt, and traumatized, and I decided to stop going and not to seek help.  It wasn't until I attended therapy at a rape crisis center almost 2 years later that I received the support I so desperately needed.  The people there -- they get it.  There is no judgment, there is no shame, no surprise--just support, and assistance, and kindness.  And now, because a handful of old white men in suits have decided that they know what's best for people with vaginas in the state of Ohio, they want to cut funding.  Because a handful of old white men in suits have decided that they don't want women in crisis to receive education regarding their choices, they want to take that funding away.  I fully believe that one of the best things we can do for people who have been raped is provide them with 6 months of free therapy. 

(5) Because violence against women is perpetuated by the belief that my body is not my own.  If a group of men in an office can sign off on a bill telling me what I can and can't do with my body, then it isn't really such a far jump for the man I'm dating to tell me what I should do with it, is it?  If a bunch of men I will never meet can make a law taking away my right to choose, then is it really unreasonable to believe that my husband or boyfriend will never question my right to say yes, or no, or maybe later, or never do that again?  Is it really unbelievable that, if a group of men makes decisions on matters affecting only women, and regulates our ability to decide what is right and good and appropriate for OUR it REALLY unbelievable that a guy I have just met will not have the implicit sense that touching me when I say stop is wrong? 

(6) Also, Planned Parenthood.  Taking away Planned Parenthood so that women don't get abortions is like shutting down all fitness centers because you want people to be healthy.  It doesn't make any sense.  Build the gyms, people will exercise, people will be healthy (more frequently).  Fund Planned Parenthood, people have access to necessary services and health care, people won't need to seek abortions (as frequently).  Okay, so maybe that analogy isn't quite as smooth as I would like it to be, but you get my point.

(7) "But Autodidact," you say, "this is in Ohio.  You don't live in Ohio."  You're right.  But I used to live in Ohio.  I have friends that I love in Ohio.  And even if this was taking place in Oklahoma or Kansas or Montana, or someplace where neither you nor I have lived, it doesn't matter.  It shouldn't matter.  Violations of autonomy and choice that are occurring anywhere are violations for all of us.  Things won't change until we are ALL experiencing the right to choose and the right to safety, dignity, and autonomy.  Today it's Ohio.  Yesterday it was Texas, tomorrow it's somewhere else.  Unless we stop it.  I don't know how that happens.  The only thing I know how to do is write angry poems and ramble angrily on a blog nobody will read.  But dammit, if that's all I can do, that's what I will do. 

(8) Because people are able to distance themselves and think that things like this aren't personal.  But it is personal.  The more I talk to women about my own experience, the more I hear women say, "me too."  I'm tired of hearing "me too."  I'm tired of saying "me too."  I'm tired of news stories that tell me that things aren't changing.  I'm tired of knowing that I am one of 3 daughters, and I'm tired of trying to educate my sisters louder than society can undo my teaching.  I'm tired of wondering how I will ever be able to raise a daughter in this world.  I'm tired of wondering how we can teach our sons to be different when the position of the men in power doesn't change. 

(9) Because I even have to write this post.  Because I have to wrestle with these words and the ways to explain what is seething inside me, and because some people just won't get it. 

Luckily, there are awesome people like the poet Lauren Zuniga who do.  Her poem, "Personhood," is amazing:  Personhood

(These are both pretty intense poems.  Beautiful, and strong, and powerful, and true, but intense.  Just fair warning).
Also, you can read my friend's post about this issue here: Reticulated Writer

1 comment:

  1. BRAVO! What a great post. Succinct truth. I've felt sick all day. My stomach hurts. I feel violated, and yes, I know that feeling. Violated.

    You should send this to Governor Kasich. It won't change his mind, and he probably won't read it, but he'll see the numbers. (Don't tell him you no longer live in Ohio.)

    Thanks for the shout out. :-)