What It Means

There are people in this world that whole-heartedly believe anti-choice legislation empowers women. That those laws show confidence that all women, no matter their willingness or lack there of, have the strength to be mothers. But really, the only thing those kinds of laws do is restrict. The language used in them might as well say, “Never fear, ye feeble-minded womenfolk! We know what’s best for you and the only way we can show that is by limiting your decision making!” In essence, these laws do not trust women.
You see, women are still working against the stereotype that we are flighty, overly emotional flakes and that change our minds more than we change our socks. Apparently, this also means that our decisions hold less weight, that our choices needed to be monitored because our feelings are so easily altered. We just don’t know what we want, you know? And we need to be gently prodded in the “right” direction.
Fortunately for my sisters and me, there are people who choose to think outside that tired trope. People like Dr. George Tiller who embodied what it meant to trust women until the day he was murdered in his own place of worship. It takes courage to show that trust, to advocate for female voices that others would intend to stifle. For some, trusting women is such a frightening concept that they would seek to harm the professionals who provide basic, legal healthcare service to those of us that need it most.
This battle of trust is not only being fought in terms of reproductive justice, but also in terms of how we react to sexual violence in our culture. When a victim or survivor of sexual assault is brave enough to come to you with her story, one of (and possibly) the most important things you can do is to trust and believe her. Too often women come forward to share these most painful of memories and they are met with “Are you sure?” Instead of people respecting what they have to say, personal sexual history and manner of dress become the indicators of truthfulness. If we want to end violence against women, we must trust victims and survivors and incorporate them into the process of prevention.
I’m writing this today because it’s the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. It’s kind of like another Thanksgiving, in my eyes. I’m thankful for the privileges I have in my life and the right to have ownership of my body. Thankful that people still see how reproductive healthcare needs improvement and that it is not just a “women’s issue”. Endlessly thankful that I have friends and loved ones in my life that I know whatever big decisions I am forced to make, they will trust me.


3 thoughts on “What It Means

  1. Emily says:

    This was amazing. Beautiful. I loved the connection with victim/survivors.

  2. jen apoian says:

    well put! your summation of how women and our choices are infantilized is frighteningly dead on. i’m thankful for roe v. wade because it’s dejure legislation that proves (among more obvious things) that some people do trust women. some people don’t feel the need to own our bodies and restrict our choices. so despite the rape culture we live in, there are still a myriad of glimmers to which we can look.

    beautiful entry!

  3. Jared James says:

    A lot of SCOTUS scholars think Justice Blackmun was chosen to write that decision because he tended to take a really long time to gather his thoughts. (the fact he’d been General Counsel to the Mayo Clinic for some years prior to his appointment to the Supremes probably had something to do with it as well)

    Speaking as a male, I’m grateful for Roe as well, because it means my wife/lover has one less thing to worry about: if we should conceive a child that is somehow defective, or we are simply up against a wall and have to put off, she hasn’t had her mind made up for her by someone who has never met her, has never considered our circumstances, and likely doesn’t give a fuck about her.

    It’s not just about political liberty (it is, but not just) it’s about economic liberty as well; affording a child is tough. Being shackled to someone else’s demand that you be a baby-carrying machine is not just infantilizing to women, it’s dehumanizing. Arguably, it violates the liberty interests protected by the 13th Amendment prohibiting forced servitude.

    In sum, I like to celebrate the day, too, as a second independence day, specially for women.

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