Texas, all redneck jokes aside, is a terrific place to live. I've lived in New York, Chicago, and LA, and I've traveled all over the US and found things to love about just about every place I've been, but I have never found a place I want to live more than I want to live in Austin, TX.
Unfortunately, Texas is becoming increasingly less liveable for women, minorities, and poor people, thanks to the vicious war on these folks being waged by the GOP. Texas is the the red-taloned grip of the narrow-minded and hysterical, or the just plain ol' mean and greedy who just adore using ignorance and hysteria to further their own interests. And thus we come to SB 5, an outright bodyblow to the women (especially poor women) in the state of Texas.
Here's what happened. A bunch of rich old white men, fronted by a woman so ignorant she believes rape kits act as contraceptives , passed a bill that will shut down all but 5 abortion clinics in this giant state, and enacted wide-ranging restrictions when we already have some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation. Thanks to these new restrictions, some women (mostly the poorest, who can least afford to take time off their minimum-wage jobs and obtain the necessary transportation) will have to travel hundreds of miles to get health services. Meanwhile, the GOP is spouting platitudes out of one side of its mouth about this bill being about insuring women get the very best health care (if only they can get to it), and gloating out of the other side about shutting down all the abortion clinics.
Thousands of protesters, clad in orange (apparently, the only color t-shirt they could get in bulk on short notice) are jamming the Capitol, staying overnight, supporting the Texas Dems as they prepare to filibuster. I wish I were there to join the protest; but since I'm in nice, liberal, upstate NY at the moment, the best I can do is blog about it and write to my state representative --- who does NOT represent MY interests, BTW. Here's my letter to him:
Dear Mr. Dale,
I have never understood why Republicans, who claim to be anti-big government, are so very determined to control women's bodies. Your support of Jodie Laudenberg --- a woman so ignorant that she doesn't even understand what a rape kit is for, and so repressed she has a hard time using medical terms to describe her own body parts --- is appalling. SB 5 is appalling and is nothing more than an attack on women. It is not your place, nor the place of the GOP, nor the place of the government to make medical decisions for women and their families. It is not your place to force your religious beliefs on the rest of us. No one believes the party lie about this being about better health care for women, not even members of your own party. It is, and always has been, about control. Please consider moving into the 21st century with the rest of us.
An extremely disgusted constituent.
A friend of mine (I totally stole most of these links right out of her post; thanks Elizabeth) turned me on to an excellent blog post by Julie Gillis, who encapsulates thoughts I've had tumbling around in my head for a long time. Gillis writes that she believes that the ultimate goal of the GOP is to create a permanent poverty class. This makes a lot of sense to me. The poor and the ignorant are much easier to control. Now, I am NOT saying that the average conservative is actively seeking this outcome. I believe that your average conservative is a nice person who wants the world to be a better place and happens to strongly disagree with his or her liberal cousins about how to make that happen. But the GOP leadership is a completely different matter.
Look, this is nothing new. At the risk of using a buzzword that will turn some people off --- if such people are still even reading --- this is yet another salvo in the War on Women. But to me, the War on Women is not merely a conservative initiative, though they certainly are among its staunchest advocates. They have just got to get all those dangerous vaginas under control. No, it's not just the GOP. It's cultural, and to address these deep-rooted attitudes, we have got to make big deal, a HUGE deal, out of addressing sexism every time and every place we find it.
We have GOT to stop judging other women on their appearances and call people who make snarky comments about a woman's outfit, figure, hairstyle, face.
We have GOT to make it as unacceptable to catcall and sexually harass as it is to smoke in public places.
We have GOT to teach our kids that there is no such thing as boys' colors and toys and TV shows and clothes and girls' colors and toys and TV shows and clothes. If your male toddler wants to dress all in pink, be a mensch and LET HIM. If your little girl hates Barbies and wants to play with Hotwheels, LET HER. Let your kids be who they are, because they will be amazing.
We have GOT to call every asshole who tries to dismiss a woman's argument complaint with "you're such a bitch" or "you're hysterical" or "you're crazy" or "boys will be boys" or "you put yourself in that situation" or any subset of the aforementioned. (Try asking if it's their misogyny or their stupidity that prevents them from logically arguing their point).
We as women, and you as men who believe that women aren't some sort of substandard human being, have GOT to insist on fair treatment for us and for our sisters. Every single time an injustice occurs. If you see something, say something. And if no one listens, keep saying it until someone does.
We have also GOT to stop setting limits on what men are supposed to be and do. Men are under a lot of pressure, too, and believe it or not, sexism works both ways.
We need to be looking at each other as human beings, not as skin color-gender-sexual preference-economic status-political leanings and so on. Those things are part of who each of us are but they are NOT the whole.
Women's rights are human rights. Say no to rape culture. Say no to slut-shaming and fat-shaming and fashion-shaming. Say no to government control over our medical decisions and our bodies and our personal decisions about how we live our lives. Say no to ANYBODY else trying to force their religious beliefs into law in order to control others.
Say no to SB 5 and other bills like it. Stand up for the women of Texas and the women of the world, because when you do that, you are standing up for the people of the world.
PS --- to the Texas Legislature: