Mondays: New but with more teeth
ARTWORK BY CHANEL MILLER
I have started and re-started four times. My words are hot to the touch and poorly sized. I’ll just start (again) here: The feeling. It’s new but familiar, with a lot more teeth. I don’t know what to call it. This will be clumsy.
It reminds me of how I felt in 2016 when almost half of the people in this country – including many people I love -- found “grab them by the pussy” an acceptable presidential sentiment...and Christian, no less. I felt debased, dehumanized, and discounted. I felt as if the world had gone completely sideways.
I wonder if this is how those with disabilities felt when that same half of our population said it’s fine to mock a man with arthrogryposis. Or maybe how alert children called mean names on the playground felt when they watched the grown-ups in charge say name-calling and insults are respectable and then join in.
Maybe it’s something akin to how someone in the LGBTQ+ community might feel when the churches who rejected them for how and who they loved with sincerity and commitment then declared someone with 25+ sexual assault allegations (including rape) and three marriages as a true champion of Jesus, a real warrior of God.
Or maybe it’s how people in Africa felt when nearly half of our country nodded in agreement when a man in orange make-up and a porn-star combover called their countries “shitholes”.
I don’t know what these feelings are. What do we call them? I’m a writer, and I don’t have the words. Sometimes it feels like rage, but sometimes it feels worse.
I think about a conversation I had with a gay man back in 2009. He and his now-husband had been together for 25 years at the time. He said that watching the debates about same-sex marriage were traumatic. Diminishing. He could not bear to watch people debate whether or not his steady and committed love for and partnership with this man was real and valid.
I wonder if what I feel is like that.
Fisher had two baseball games Sunday. I took a walk past the softball fields in between. Girls lined the field, their hair in braids. I cried. I was born in 1974. Roe v. Wade passed in 1973. I have never known a world without it. But they will. The Supreme Court (But if we’re going to get down to it: The wealthy Evangelical Right who purchased it) just told these strong, powerful girls that their bodies do not belong to them and that they have nothing to offer the world but their wombs. Whether they choose to or not, their bodies will be forced to carry unnamed bundles of nerves that are valued above their own spoken dreams and desires.
… Unless, of course, they’re raped in a parking lot. Hey, ladies, don’t worry: if you’re abused violently enough, the state may offer abortion as restitution. Depends on the state, though. Depends on how provocatively you were dressed. Depends on how much dark money your local evangelical power holders have siphoned into the system. Depends on how many people you’ve already slept with. Depends on if you knew the guy. Depends on who knows the judge. Depends on how fast his swim times are.
(I hope they do not miscarry and get charged with involuntary manslaughter.)
Other states will say your rape is God’s will. They will wish you well on your unwanted pregnancy journey and the birth of your unwanted child. They will feel charitable to offer you counseling, free maternity clothes, and rides to adoption agencies. They won’t ask if you have insurance for maternity leave. They forget that sometimes giving birth rips you a new asshole, and that takes time to heal. Don’t talk to them about post-partum depression. That’s a personal problem. You just need to smile more.
Next up: The Constitution: What “We the people…” meant in 1791 when white colonists still owned slaves; each slave was considered 3/5 of a person; and women had no rights.