When it feels like everything should stop

I was out on a walk when a friend texted me to turn on the news. I opened Facebook and saw that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. I stopped, and moved from the sidewalk to the grass and just stood there. I cut my walk short, went home and wept.

As a woman in this country, I am devastated, writing through tears even now. My life has been, in many ways, shaped by the work she did. I can get a bank account or a mortgage without a male co-signer because of her. It is illegal to discriminate against me in employment because of her. It’s also worth noting that she fought for the ability of men to receive tax deductions for being care-takers, which was something previously reserved for women. It was never about man versus woman; it was always about equality.

This loss feels personal for so many. Why now? Why did it have to be now? And the worst part is that we can’t even properly grieve because of what’s at stake and the thing we knew would happen if a Supreme Court seat opened this year. I wish we could just stop for just a minute, but we can’t.

She carried such a weight, and hung on for so long. I am so grateful for her life and her work, and to have existed on this planet at the same time as her.

To say that it feels like we’ve reached a new level of fucked is an understatement. I haven’t felt this way since November 9, 2016. I’m terrified.

Grieve her. Mourn her. Cry. Then get to work. Hell, get to work while you’re crying. Let it fuel you.

Donate. Phone-bank. Text-bank. Tell your Republican Senators what you expect of them (knock-knock Cory Gardner). We have to. We have to for her.

Literally all of us, too.

I’m one of the lucky ones. In my 31 years of life, I have avoided so much of the kinds of abuse that many women I know have experienced. My face of the resting bitch variety, giving me that unapproachable vibe, and spending my thinnest, most attractive, and certainly horniest years surrounded by gay men probably helped me to avoid some of the douchiest of douche-bags.

Still, I’ve been thinking about experiences I’ve had that I’ve laughed off because, well, dudes are creeps. And we’re used to it. I wrote in this blog about a man offering to impregnate me outside a bar. Once, at a bus stop, a man looked me up and down and said, “You look good,” as if I were actually a delicious food item. I posted something witty on Facebook about it and moved on with my day. Guys have grabbed my boobs “accidentally” in bars; a male friend of mine used to tell me that he liked my butt and was constantly grabbing it in public, while he and his friends would check out girls and say, “twice” when they saw something they liked. This meant not only would they fuck her, they’d do it…twice. Lucky her.

It’s part of the female experience, and while it bothers us in the moment, we forget about it and move on.

Every time women we here these things, see them, experience them, it impacts us. It’s a reminder that we are here for the pleasure of men, and they can do anything and say anything without the risk of consequence. It chips away at our spirits, bit by bit. Hopefully, this moment we’re in right now is the start of piecing ourselves back together and reclaiming ourselves as our own. I hope it doesn’t fade.

I know there are good men. I’m with one, and I know a lot of them. I’ve also known a lot of shitty ones- like the former co-worker who used walk around the office talking about women he dated like they were nothing but orifices for him to fill while the other bros in the office laughed about it. He was finally let go after years of complaints by women in the office. There are so many men like that, being egged on by their friends. We have a long way to go to deal with these issues. But at least we are seeing something that resembles accountability.

 

Open Letters to Senator Cory Gardner- round 2

As promised, and with plenty of snark, here is the letter I wrote to Senator Cory Gardner about my experience at Planned Parenthood.

Dear Senator Cory Gardner,

      I’m taking time to write this letter to implore you to please listen to your constituents and protect women’s healthcare, and by that I mean protect Planned Parenthood. First question: Do you have any idea how ridiculous it is that we women have to write letters to a bunch of old men begging them not to make changes that drastically restrict access to healthcare and contraception. That’s mostly a rhetorical question, but the answer is that it’s really bloody ridiculous. (See what I did there? Period joke.)

I did not have health insurance for substantial part of my early twenties because I could not afford it. This was before the Affordable Care Act, of course. I went a very long time without a Pap exam or any kind of routine check-up. I didn’t have great access to contraception either. Sure, condoms are fine, but surely you know that women use birth control to address other health issues. Oh, you didn’t know that? I thought you and your Republican boys club were the experts? Well, I have Endometriosis. It’s mild, thank goodness, but birth control keeps it under control. That way, my whole mid-section doesn’t feel like it’s wrapped in barbed wire when I get my period. I was also diagnosed with P.M.D.D. (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder) at one point in my life. Certain birth control pills help regulate moods, so women don’t contemplate suicide for about 4 days of every month. I’m not saying that to be crass or insensitive; I’m saying it because that’s what I went through.

I don’t know if you know what it’s like to not have health insurance, but it’s basically okay until it’s really really not okay. For a while, things were going fine. I mean, my periods were awful, and my moods were in the dumps, but at least it was regular. That is, until they weren’t. My periods started getting really erratic. I would bleed at random times during the month. And not just a little bit. I was bleeding a lot. My mood swings were so bad that I had to leave work on several occasions. I was young, broke, and scared. My body and my brain were completely betraying me. I called a low-cost clinic in my area, and they couldn’t see me for weeks. Then I called Planned Parenthood. They could see me the next day.

The Planned Parenthood staff was more attentive and caring than any doctor’s office I had ever been to. They listened to my concerns, and offered solutions. I was able to get a routine exam and easy, affordable access to birth control to get my body and mind back on track. When I found myself in a long-term relationship a year or so later, they were there to counsel me when I was thinking about other birth control options.

Let’s be real, Cory. Abstinence is not realistic for twenty-somethings. No matter how hard you believe it, it doesn’t make it so. You fiscal conservatives, don’t want to pay for the kids we don’t want and can’t afford, so you can at least help us out with an IUD and some pills, don’t you think?

I have friends who have been raped. I have friends who have found themselves with an unplanned pregnancy. The local clinics you and your colleagues would rather see money be funneled to couldn’t help me, they couldn’t help my friends, but Planned Parenthood could. Planned Parenthood is not a place that rips babies from the womb and tosses them in the dumpster as you and your Republican friends have brainwashed people to believe. It is a healthcare facility where women have access to routine exams they may otherwise not have access to, and where they can get contraception for whatever reason they need it. It is a safe place where women can be counseled as they make difficult decisions.

I’m sure you’re getting squirmy about that unplanned pregnancy thing. Let’s discuss this. Women do not make decisions like this all willy-nilly like. It’s hard. If you and your Republican pals were actually “pro-life,” you would vote differently on basically everything. I will never believe you’re “pro-life.” You are pro-fetus, and you’re anti-choice. Until your voting record changes, you will not convince me otherwise. If we lived in a country that supported kids after they leave the womb, regardless of the circumstance they’re born into, maybe some women wouldn’t feel like abortion is their only option. No matter a woman’s reason for her decision, it is her’s to make. Your religion has no place in legislation about women’s healthcare.

Final question, Cory: What do you think will happen if you take away a place where women can receive affordable routine exams, contraception, and family planning counseling? The answer isn’t hard. You can get there with common sense. You have that, right? I sure hope so, Cory. The answer should be a problem for someone who says they’re a fiscal conservative.

Please make good choices, so women are able to make choices at all. Your constituents are watching, and we are all waiting for 2020 if you continue to turn your back on us.

Sincerely,

Whitney B.

Not a paid protester

Denver, CO

               P.S. If any of this was too graphic for you, it might be a good indication, that you are not the authority on the female reproductive system or the care of it. Leave it to the ladies. We can handle this.

 

 

Open Letters to Senator Cory Gardner- round 1

I promised a couple of weeks ago that I would post the letter I wrote to Senator Cory Gardner about my experience at Planned Parenthood. Since I have no idea if Cory Gardner reads his letters or if he can read at all (ok fine, I’m sure he can read), I thought I’d make it public.

I think it’s important that women share their stories. It’s important that women know they aren’t alone. This is why I am incredibly grateful that a friend of mine wanted to share her letter here, as well.

Because I’m polite and stuff– guests first. I’ll post mine tomorrow. Please show this the respect it deserves.

To Whom it May Concern,

My name is Rachael, I am 37 years old, and I support Planned Parenthood. When I was 16 years old, I became pregnant. While I felt that I was old enough to have sex, I was not comfortable having a conversation about sex-and I bet my boyfriend at the time was not comfortable buying condoms. I will never forget the day my mother confronted me and asked if I could be pregnant. Up to this point, I was never in trouble; I did well in school and was always home before curfew. I still feel disappointment in myself when I think of my father purchasing a pregnancy test for his 16 year old daughter-20 years later I am still disappointed in myself. I remember sitting in the bathroom as the test turned positive immediately; I sat there the full 15 minutes hoping that it would somehow turn negative-thinking somehow I was not really pregnant. I remember the conversation with my parents when they asked me what I wanted to do. My mother let me know if I choose to have the baby, I would still finish high school-it would not be an option to drop out. My parents will help me raise the child as I finished school, if I choose the option. For me, having the child was not an option. Not only did I want to finish high school, I wanted to go to college. I wanted to do more than my parents did.

Walking into Planned Parenthood I felt that I would be judged. I looked around the waiting room and felt that the others were looking at me and judging me-judging me for being so young and pregnant. I remember watching a video with another young woman and thinking she must be in college. I remember her looking at me with sadness in her eyes and saying,” Well, this doesn’t look so bad”. I remember the procedure and crying the entire time while a worker of Planned Parenthood held my hand through the entire procedure. I ran into that woman months later at the grocery store I worked for and she introduced me to her son who was developmentally disabled. I remember the compassion in her eyes as she talked to me. I will never forget her. I hope she knows how thankful I am to her.

I still feel guilty to this day. There are times that I stop to do the math; today I could have a 19 year old child; I could have a child that is in college. I wonder what my life would have been like if I had given birth. I have to wonder if I would have even gone to college, if I would still be on food stamps now because I am not able to work a high paying job-and I definitely would have been a single mother. The father and I were no longer together when I had the abortion. I wonder if I would have had a daughter, and if she would have gotten pregnant at 16 as I did, and as my mother did. I still hold the regret to this day, and I feel ashamed for what happened.

For many women, the choice to get an abortion is not an easy one. It never crosses our mind that abortions can be an alternative form of birth control. For many, there is a reason why we choose to terminate a pregnancy. After I terminated my pregnancy, I graduated high school, went to college, and have earned two Master’s Degrees. I was able to purchase a condo in just my name, and have a stable job where I get to help people. I am not sure I would be able to accomplish all of this as a single mother.

Unfortunately, there is very little support for young mothers, and for single parents. There is a lot of talk that every child is a wanted child, but Republicans are cutting programs that help children. They are trying to push legislation in which any person on welfare would have to submit to random drug testing. Based on the Republican agenda, not every child is a wanted child.

I am 37 years old and am facing a time where I may lose my right to choose. I am faced with a time where birth control may no longer be affordable to me. I am scared of what the future holds for me, and I wonder if I need to tie my tubes as that may be the only available birth control option under this administration. I no longer feel that my government is working to protect my freedoms. For the first time in 37 years, I feel less than my male counterparts. I understand there are others that are morally opposed to birth control; these individuals feel this goes against God. I respect their beliefs and wish they would respect my beliefs. They do not have to agree with my decisions, nor do they need to make the same decision. But please let me make that decision for myself. Also, trying to shut down Planned Parenthood does not mean abortions with stop. Abortions will still happen, but they will be more dangerous. Women will be putting their life in danger to terminate a pregnancy. Remember, abortions were not legal in the 1950s-but women still had them. By working to shut down Planned Parenthood, women will take dangerous means to terminate their pregnancy. For every woman that dies from an illegal abortion, their blood will be on your hands and God will see this. God will judge you, and will see your sin.

I implore this administration to separate their religious views, and their personal views, from law. Please allow us the right to choose. It is not your place to make the decision, nor is it your place to judge-please let God do that.

I support a woman’s right to choose. Do you?

Sincerely,

Rachael M.

Fuck you very much, November

Hi again.

I’m alive.

Here’s a list of things that happened in November:

-Donald Trump was elected to be our next president. What the actual fuck, America?

-I had a dental deep cleaning the day after the election. They had TVs on the ceiling all conveniently tuned to CNN.

-I put purple “peekaboo highlights” in my hair, which is basically the messiest thing you could possibly do to your hair. That shit leaves purple residue on everything for like 2 weeks. I did it as a way to feel better after the election.

-A friend was in a very difficult situation that I won’t talk about here for the sake of her privacy, but it was incredibly stressful.

-I got sick and lost my voice. I haven’t 100% recovered from that.

-I was dog-sitting for a week, and after a few peaceful days, the dog started trapping one of the cats in the bedroom. He charged at her every time she wanted to come out. I had to carry my cat into the kitchen to eat. I was reminded why I don’t have a dog.

 

Okay, but seriously, let’s talk about the election. I went to bed crying and shaking that night while Harrison tried to comfort me. I flipped the TV off as our new orange tweeter-in-chief was about to give his victory speech. I couldn’t watch it. I barely slept that night, and I felt like I was on the verge of tears for the next several days. I hadn’t felt that kind of grief in a long time.

The night of the election, I was at a local gay bar watching the results come in, and as it appeared things were not going to go the way we all expected it to, the mood became heavy. The future was less certain suddenly. As we sat and watched and occasionally tried to distract ourselves with cigarettes and mixed drinks, a stranger walked up to me and asked if he could give me a hug. He told me that his girlfriend is a trans woman, and he was concerned for her safety. We both started to cry.

That interaction will stay with me forever.

Harrison said a few time in the days that followed that we might not be directly impacted day to day, but then I thought about some things. Will my birth control continue to be covered? I’ve already tried the IUD, and that is a no go for me. What about how I pay my student loans? That could change. My healthcare could start costing more because I have a vagina, so that’s a fun thing to potentially look forward to. Yeah, Obamacare fixed that shit.

And it’s not just about me, obviously. Unfortunately, the stranger who was afraid for his trans girlfriend’s safety had a reason to be. About a week after the election, a trans woman in my neighborhood in Denver woke up to see that her car had been vandalized. I live in the Capitol Hill Neighborhood in Denver. If there’s a “gayborhood” in Denver, this is it, so I was livid when I heard about this. You don’t mess with the LGBT community in this neighborhood. You just don’t.

The problem isn’t with any policies…yet. The problem is that people who hate so ferociously now think they can do so freely and openly. And that damage is already done.

I’m not here to spend all of my time talking about all the things I’m afraid of. I spent a lot of time trying to find the place where I feel powerful, and that is really hard when a man who thinks that all women can afford contraception is about the run the Department of Health and Human Services, and a man who was previously denied a position because he’s too fucking racist could be attorney general.

What can we do to take back our power?

We can put our money where our mouths are. Donate. Donate to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the NRDC, The Trevor Project, or any of the numerous organizations who will stand up for the marginalized. Hey Colorado! Colorado Gives Day is next week, so there’s your chance!

Stand up for people and stand up for yourself. Call people on their bullshit. You do not have to allow hateful language in your space.

March. Protest. Peacefully, of course. It’s your right, and they need to know we are still here.

Listen. Have empathy. Try to understand where other people are coming from. You don’t have to agree, and to reference my previous point, that doesn’t mean not calling people on their bullshit if they a spewing nothing but.

Use facts.

VOTE IN THE MIDTERMS, DAMNIT!

Live loudly. Live proudly.

But mostly, BRING ON DECEMBER because November fucking blew. Enjoy this last full month of the Obamas before we have an actual trash bag for President.

Oh.. and it’s my birthday soon. Muthafuckin 30! Here I come 30s! Maybe my 30s will help me get my shit together a little better than I am currently managing.

 

 

 

For the love of (insert whatever deity you worship here), please vote.

Tomorrow is election day, I am begging with whoever might read this to pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease get off your ass and vote. I’m going to guess that anyone reading a blog by a self-proclaimed feminist who has also written about gay pride and anger over gun violence might share some of the same views that I do.

Here’s the deal- Democrats have been historically lazy in elections. I surmise (at least in recent history) this is because so many people on the other side of the table are driven by bullshit paranoia like that their guns will be taken away, or that all the Muslims will kill us and if they don’t kill us, we’ll have to start living under Sharia Law. None of this is true, of course. And the people who believe this live in a sad world governed by fear. Fear is an incredibly powerful tool, and it’s incredibly effective in getting people to take action like vote for a racist, sexist, xenophobic, misogynistic buffoon who hasn’t coherently outlined a single policy in his entire campaign.

Fear like this is far more powerful than the fear of a Donald Trump presidency because surely he can’t win right? Wrong. He could.

So this year, rather than being governed by facts, logic, and reason, I beg of you, please let this fear of a Donald Trump presidency drive you to get off your couch and get to your polling place. This is absolutely the only time I will suggest letting fear drive you. Please please do not let this man become president.

Need to know where your fucking polling place is? Click here.

vote-for-hillary-clinton-free-vector-409
Duh. I’m supporting Hillary Clinton because I’m not a loon. You should, too.