Letting the terrorists win

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted. Frankly, I’m overwhelmed.

Every day, every paper, every broadcast, every news site, brings a new and upsetting wrinkle to the “debate” over women’s health and reproductive rights. And yes, that’s “debate” in scare quotes: this isn’t a debate, it’s a temper tantrum. It’s is the farthest thing from a reasoned push-pull of wits that I’ve seen since I worked at a preschool. The lies are getting bigger, the screams louder, the talkers themselves more brazen and unapologetic. The extreme fringe–people who would hesitate to condemn outright acts of violence against women and those who care for them–are the ones driving the discussion. The fate of women across the country is being used as a distraction, a sop thrown to the wingnuts.

I am not a sop to be thrown. And I’m so, so tired of this.

My jaw is sore from gritting my teeth. I find myself wanting to curl my knees to my chest, protectively over my uterus, and just go blank. I’m sick of screaming to myself, the same disconsolate wordless wail. It would be so much easier to stop thinking about all of this, to convince myself quietly that the good guys will win in the end, to retreat back into my daily business and not let all of this mishagas get to me so damn much.

But I’m afraid that if I do that, the terrorists will win.

There is a real, bone-deep fear among feminists of my mother’s generation that women my age and younger are unaware of the hardship of before. I’ve had many boomer-aged women–and a couple of men–tell me that they are afraid of watching hard-fought victories erode, as the freedoms my peers enjoy are chipped away bit by bit. I’ve never known a world where a woman’s body was policed as heavily as it used to be, or as lawmakers are trying to make it again. I am privileged; I am healthy. It would be so easy to take all of that for granted.

But this reopening of a discussion that should have been forever closed is a reminder that we can’t take these things for granted. I can’t expect that I will have access to the birth control that keeps me healthy and independent, unless I put my foot down and demand access. It’s an unfortunate truth–it should not be like this–but as long as misogyny and religious extremism are given any sort of political credence, I feel like I have to stand watch.

Otherwise, the lies and the fearmongering and the acts of terrorism that we turn a blind eye to will continue. I don’t know what I can do to stem the tide, other than think and argue and write myself in circles. But I know I can’t afford to let the terrorists win.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Letting the terrorists win

  1. People tend to react to problems after they become awful, rather than ahead of time, unfortunately. On the upside, it looks like there are enough awful anti-women bills going on state by state that those elsewhere know what’s coming if they’re not careful.

  2. Veronika

    I woke up today to be faced with this in the news:
    http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/325705/20120409/scott-walker-recall-abortion-abstinence-sex-ed.htm

    … which made me simply go “What the FUCK, America?! What the hell happened to all men and women being created equal?!”. I’ve been more than a bit busy with things and not blogged recently either, but I wanted to drop you a line and mention that you are not alone in the horrified staring at the news.

    I left USA in the beginning of Bush years fearing exactly this. But I am still sorry for the country I used to like, and the people in it. What the fuck happened to being the leaders of the free world?

    • Honestly, it’s two things: the right-wing fringe has been given increasing legitimacy in mainstream media and politics, and it’s an election year. I really hope this is just a nasty fever that will break after the Republican nominee is in the bag. But it feels too risky to pin my hopes on that.

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