whackanarwhal

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Dear America: We need to talk.

with 4 comments

Dear America,

I’ve been doing some thinking, and I’m a little concerned about where this relationship is headed. I’m not saying that I want to break up; I’d suggest some time apart, but I’ve spent ample time away from you and I don’t think that’s really fixed anything (those brief feelings of elation inspired by being back in the only land that understands the joy of cold pizza for breakfast notwithstanding). In short: we need to talk, and I need you to listen to me, because I’m serious.

America, sometimes I can’t figure you out anymore. I just don’t know what you’re thinking sometimes. Ninety-nine percent of your women have been on birth control at some point in their lives, and yet we have serious presidential candidates endorsing its eradication and movements aimed to defund its providers, the places women turn to when they don’t have anywhere else. When your congress convenes a panel to discuss the religious implications of mandatory insurance coverage of birth control, women are deemed unfit to participate. The one woman who is eventually allowed to testify discusses its health benefits and is branded a slut by one of the country’s most controversial commentators, which isn’t necessarily a surprise – but the aforementioned presidential candidates condemn his choice of words, not his sentiment. God forbid a woman who actually wanted access to birth control in order to enjoy a healthy sexual relationship with her chosen partner(s) be allowed to speak. Women are barely allowed to suggest that they take the Pill for ovarian cysts, let alone indicate that actually want to have non-procreative sex ever.

America, your maternal death rate has doubled in the last 20 years. Statistically speaking, I actually had a better chance of surviving childbirth in the era of hot pants than I do now. In thirty-six states, if I am in prison, I can legally be shackled to a hospital bed during childbirth, apparently for fear that I’ll run away midway through labor. There’s a slight chance that you’d actually be chaining me to the bed in order to shame me for having sex and being a criminal, but that might be too radical an idea for you to accept.

America, a lawmaker in Georgia has suggested that women should be forced to carry stillborn infants to term, because that’s what pigs and cows do in the barnyard. America, I think you can understand why I resent being compared to livestock, and I think you should also consider that pigs and cows spend quite amount of time standing in their own shit before they’re eventually slaughtered. In short, I don’t aspire to be a cow or a pig, and I’m a little disturbed by the implication that I should.

America, even though studies have shown that sex education in schools delays sexual activity in students and makes them more likely to have safer sex when they eventually do get down to it, many of your politicians say that sex education should be taken out of schools entirely. The thought is that parents can teach their children better than the state. Which makes me wonder if the Georgia lawmaker is a parent, because if so, he probably tells his kids that they go into heat a span before foaling season. (This…is not true. Fyi.)

America, in Oklahoma (and soon possibly Kansas and Arizona), if I or the fetus I carry show indications of complications that could possibly cause me to consider aborting the pregnancy for whatever reason, my doctor can choose not to tell me. Women could die because a doctor didn’t tell her something that could have saved her life, America. I think you understand why I might be uncomfortable with that. The doctor gets to choose if I get the information that might allow me to make the choice to continue the pregnancy and to prepare (medically, financially, emotionally) for the baby. Apparently my doctor is qualified to be my pastor/priest, family/friends, and counselor/therapist (not to mention spouse/partner) without my consent; that’s a decision I would prefer to discuss with them. They know me, my abilities, my finances – my life. My doctor, as a rule, doesn’t. My doctor has to look a chart to remember my name.

America, in Arizona, a proposed bill could make it legal for employers to fire women who use their employer-provided health care to pay for birth control. (The bill’s original text allowed employers to fire women for purchasing birth control at all.) No comment on if they’ll be checking male employee’s wallets for condoms or firing them for having vasectomies. America, it’s like men aren’t involved in heterosexual sex at all! Or rather, that they can’t be shamed for it.

America, in multiple states, if I should for whatever reason require an abortion, lawmakers want to require doctors to rape me with an eight to ten-inch ultrasound wand beforehand and show me the image. And then describe to me the image. Apparently, what with the lack of comprehensive sex ed in schools (barnyards don’t often come with sonograms, after all), lawmakers are very concerned that I don’t know what a fetus looks like. Their concern is touching, but it’s also horrifically invasive, emotionally rending, not likely to change my decision, and also none of their damn business.

America, if I’m not supposed to have access to good sex ed, if  I don’t have ready access to birth control, if I don’t know that my doctor is telling me the truth about my health, if I have a pretty high likelihood of dying in childbirth, if there’s not a hell of a lot of guarantee that  I’ll get my job back afterward (and that I can be fired for using a breast pump at work even if I am)…

America, I think you can see where I’m going with this.

America, I have some pretty great capabilities. I can do some pretty great stuff. All of your women are full to the brim with amazing potential! There is so much that we can do, and America, I know sometimes you get tired of us yammering at you to keep out of our ladyparts. Believe me, we’re tired of yammering at you to keep out of our ladyparts. And that’s one of the things that sucks about this! We can be way, way more than potential babymakers. Babymaking is awesome! But limiting us only to that kind of sucks. America, I’m so much more than a uterus with attached entrails. Please stop trying to reduce me to that.

America, I have some friends who have been in some pretty skeevy relationships. Sometimes they feel like they don’t matter as much as they used to. Sometimes they feel controlled, like their choices just keep diminishing. Sometimes they feel unsafe. America, I don’t know that I feel too safe here anymore. It’s like you view me as something to use, rather than as a collaborative partner. You and me could do great things, America. We’ve had some great moments, and I’ve really enjoyed those. But America, if this doesn’t get better real soon, I think we might have to consider some alternatives.

I hope you want this as much as I do. Stay in touch, and take care of yourself.

Best,

me

It’s been radio silent around here for a while; I’ve been trying to process my reactions to various headlines (mostly unsuccessfully) and this is the result. I’m pretty sure someone’s going to tell me that I’m being hysterical (which is funny, because wandering uteruses!), and obviously this isn’t happening everywhere across America; we’re not in the Republic of Gilead. But the rhetoric is growing, and bills that I believed were going to die unceramoniously years ago (I’m looking at you, Oklahoma) haven’t, and have in fact spawned similar bills in other states. Comments that would have been political suicide…aren’t. The war on women’s health is incredibly out of touch with the actual lives and wants of American men and women, and yet increasingly it feels like that doesn’t matter anymore. Forgive me for being angry. It’s better than being scared.

Also, I apparently shouldn’t listen to Allen Ginsberg on repeat during road trips anymore.

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Written by whackanarwhal

March 16, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Wow!

    John Songy

    March 16, 2012 at 7:38 pm

  2. “Forgive me for being angry, it’s better than being scared.”

    Yes. This. Always.

    Love,
    Georgie

    georginasand

    March 25, 2012 at 10:37 pm

  3. As an Okie I find this LAMBASTING OF MY STATE (sigh) sadly, well deserved. I would like to apologize for all the ill we bring on ourselves and others, Arizona’s immigration bill is a “perfected” OK HB 1804. Please know we are not all like Kern, Inhofe, and Reynolds.

    Sincerest apologies,

    An Okie with values… that support equality and freedom.

    Ryan C.

    March 26, 2012 at 11:59 pm

  4. I tried to write America a “Dear John” letter a few months ago. I cried until I got a headache and had to stop and call my sister until I calmed down. I don’t think I’m ready yet.

    But I will be.

    Thanks for this, C.

    Karissa

    March 27, 2012 at 12:43 am


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