UPDATE, 6/17, 11:57am:
Check out my next blog post for information on solidarity events taking place in NYC – and hopefully elsewhere – Monday night.
How many times does a woman need to say “No” before the person she’s speaking to takes her seriously?
Last night, I started seeing internet chatter about Reps. Byrum and Brown of Michigan, who were barred from speaking on the house floor due to speaking out of turn. Both are women, and the debate they were barred from speaking in was one on yet another anti-abortion-access bill: HB5711, which Speaker Bolger (@SpeakerBolger on twitter, if you’d like to let him know your thoughts) described via tweet as protecting “women from dangerous practices/unsafe facilities for abortions, requires proper handling of child’s remains.”
The quote that started #Vaginagate? Essentially, “I’m glad you’re so interested in my vagina, Mr. Speaker, but No Means No.”
Sexual Violence: Not A Joke
While I agree with tweeters who say that joking about sexual violence doesn’t help advance equality for women, this doesn’t play as a joke to me – nor does it play as an inaccurate analogy.
In recent months, multiple states have passed laws which prevent women from fully exercising control over our biological processes. Rape is not the only form of sexual violence. Intimidation, badgering and barraging us with bills that call into question our right to determine the treatment of our own bodies are also forms of sexual violence.
How many times do we have to say “No” before lawmakers respect us enough to listen – and stop wasting everyone’s time and money with these debates?
While @SpeakerBolger may have gotten a response that was not as respectful as he wished, neither is his or his party’s commitment to making women spend time and energy repeatedly defending access to our hoo-hahs respectful.
A Sustained Attack On Women’s Mental & Physical Health
From Planned Parenthood bombings to excommunicated nuns to legislative manipulation, I feel like a battering ram is being used against the women of this country. Stop it, every person without a vagina who thinks they have a say in what happens to mine. Stop it, every person with a vagina that isn’t mine. Stop making me repeat myself. Stop making me spend my time and energy fending off this degrading mental and ideological abuse.
It’s not moral or ethical to batter another person with the same question over and over and over in different phrasings, breaking them down to the point of exhaustion – then act against their oft-expressed wishes the moment they can no longer defend themselves. That’s not the behavior of someone who should be making laws. It’s the behavior of a spoiled child.
But that’s what’s going on with women and our bodies and these bills and laws. (And with a number of other civil liberty issues: PIPA/SOPA/CISPA, anyone?)
So what can we do about it?
Late last night, I tweeted the author of The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler, and asked a question: would she be willing to support a round-the-clock reading of her play outside the Michigan State Legislature?
This morning, she tweeted me back.
BREAKING EDIT: 7:23PM EST
“@EveEnsler has just tweeted the following:
Vaginas Take Back Michigan Capitol. I’m be there w Sen Reps activists & thousands to perform Vagina Mono on steps @ 6pm. COME SAY THE WORD”
If you can’t be in Michigan, be online and vocal. 6pm Monday night.
Just had an email from @EveEnsler’s team; things are getting crazy and this is getting huge. I will be in NYC promoting the hell out of it any which way I can.
UPDATE: 9:01PM (every hour on the hour?)
Interest is being expressed in a New York based solidarity event Monday night. Please let me know if you’d be interested in participating; leave a comment or tweet me at @girl_onthego.
Check out the hash tags #ConnectTheLeft and #WarOnWomen for access to broader conversations on this issue.
UPDATE: 6/16/2012, 6:51pm
If you’re in Michigan and planning to go to this event, please let me know either here or on Twitter.
Event page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/268583796582574/
I’ve just set up a paper.li twice-daily paper which will update using a search for #VaginaBlogs and #VaginaGate – so again, make sure you use the hash tag when you post on Twitter – you might see your story on paper.li! http://paper.li/girl_onthego/1339985196#
Planning your own action? Drop me a line and I’ll retweet/publicize as best I can. Check back for details as the NYC #Solidarity event takes shape.