Of course I’m not pregant–being a gay lady, those events are usually pretty well planned. But, I have been reading about the abortion debates as this article popped up on my Tumblr feed and made me feel like this:
If you didn’t read the article, here’s a quick synopsis:
Two female, democratic lawmakers were banned from speaking on the house floor for remarks they made a day prior.
The lawmakers, Rep. Lisa Brown (West Bloomfield) and Rep. Barb Byrum (Onondaga) of Michigan, were silenced after using appropriate medical terms—vagina, and vasectomy (GASP!)—during their turns on the floor. In a heated dialogue regarding an anti-abortion bill, Brown remarked, “I’m flattered you’re all so concerned about my vagina, but no means no.” While Byrum’s comments were not as incendiary, she spoke out of turn after being continually ignored. Her outburst was described as a “temper tantrum” by Ari Adler, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Jase Bolger (R-Marshall). Which reminds me acutely of an instance in one of my classes in which I rebutted a man’s argument that women are less valuable workers, “Because they take maternity leaves.” As my hand shot into the air, he had the nerve to say (and loudly), “And now the claws come out!” He pigeonholed me in a way that I despise. Would a man have claws? Would a man throw a temper tantrum?
Alder also commented saying that the women were not being silenced for anything regarding gender but rather for their “behavior.” Byrum can’t help feeling otherwise. In a quote pulled from the Huffington post she says, “There have been physical altercations between at least two men on the House floor, and I don’t recall any of them every being banned from speaking. It’s just unacceptable to silence women when we’re talking about women’s reproductive rights.”
Here’s where it might be appropriate to say:
Even Libba Bray (childhood idol and author of A Great and Terrible Beauty) cast her net in 140 characters, saying, “OMG, y’all! I was, like, gonna do some shit today, but then I remembered I have a VAGINA, so I’d better stay home. Bummer. #WombWithoutAView”
I think this whole #WombWithoutAView should be trending. I mean, look at the visibility of women who get abortions, key words: who aren’t defamed by conservative press. But on the flip side, after reading a powerful essay by Aubrey Hirsch on the Rumpus, I wonder about the whole visibility thing. I mean, the feminist portion of the pro-choice movement is pushing for women’s right to control their own bodies. To be seen as individuals with power as to the legislation of their most private selves. It seems that in order to have these things, we must put those private selves on display. We have to use words like vagina in order to express our frustration. When our words are limited, it’s even more difficult to explain how and why we feel what we feel, to legitimize those feelings.
Hirsch talks about being a pioneer in the world of pregnancy, describes how her baby will have her last name, how she doesn’t feel the need to wear a wedding band. But, these actions come with an invasion of privacy.
“At my first doctor’s appointment, the student doctor asking me questions looks at my naked left hand, asks, “Was this planned?” I want to ask him if that’s medically relevant, but the power-imbalance of the doctor’s office robs me of my capability for snark. I answer him, but I can’t help thinking I have given him something I did not need to give away.”
In the same way, women speaking for pro-choice accolades often share their private experiences in order to garner support. In doing this, I feel like we fight the battle in a manner that encourages conversation rather than stifles. We do not need a liaison to ban someone from speaking. And, I feel like this is because we have filled our cause with private truths: moments like Hirsch’s doctor’s visit, Byrum’s perseverance, and Brown’s wit. It is rad that these women are using privacy to fight for privacy. They expose themselves in order to one day have the privacy and confidence in their decisions that men have. As Hirsch said in the closing of her essay,
“If this baby is a girl, I am hopeful that things will be different when it’s her turn. That she will read this essay in thirty years and laugh and say, “Mom, you were so crazy.” Because she will feel so in control of her life, her choices, her body, that she won’t be able to imagine a time when any small modicum of control had to be flexed, hoarded, treasured.”