I was told not to write this. I was told not to “pick a fight.” I was told to be more patient and kind. I was told not to alienate potential allies. I was told how to feel and what to say.
I’m done with that.
I was done with that on November 9, 2016, and I’m even more done with that now.
I have had legitimate arguments with numerous cis/straight/white men who deny their privilege. Who tell me to calm down. Who tell me this is not a big deal. Who tell me that there is nothing I (or they) can do anyway.
Stop telling me what to do. Stop telling me what to feel. Stop telling me that there is nothing to be done as my rights get stripped away.
It is really great for you that everything feels fine, that you can turn everything down to a faint white hum and go about your day, that you can pick and choose which issues to care about and which to ignore. I can’t. Because I know that even if I’m not a specific target, other people are, and there’s nothing “faint” or “hum-like” about that.
I’m not the typical person who needs an abortion. That’s irrelevant. Because this is not about me, personally. Just because it isn’t about me (personally) doesn’t mean I can (or should) ignore it. Just because it’s isn’t about me (personally) doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do anything or feel anything about it.
What you don’t seem to understand is that even if you (personally) are lucky enough not to need an abortion (because you’re a man, because you’re married, because you know it will never happen, because you can afford to have a zillion kids), this is not about you. This is not about abortion. This is not even about health care options.
This is about violence toward women.
This is about women being told over and over that they don’t matter. This is about women being told that they cannot make a decision that will affect every aspect of their lives. This is about women being told that their rapists deserves to have their babies. This is about women being told that their health is worth less than a tiny clump of cells. This is about women being told that their heartbeats don’t matter. This is about women being told what to think and what to say and what to do with their bodies — and just how little those bodies matter.
It’s not a coincidence that violence against women is on the rise. It is not a coincidence that the Violence Against Women Act — which was designed to protect victims of domestic crimes and to reduce the stigma associated with domestic abuse, to fund shelters for abused women — expired in February 2019. It’s not a coincidence that the Senate refuses to vote on the issue, and that House Republicans have tried to chip away at its funding since the Act was passed in 1994.
Women are being traumatized every single day. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. 1 in 4 women experience severe intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking. 1 in 3 women has been physically assaulted by an intimate partner. On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls to domestic violence hotlines across the United States.
I don’t care if you haven’t been abused. I don’t even care if you don’t know anyone who has been abused. The whole point of privilege is that you get to turn this noise and fear and fury down to a faint white hum. The whole point of privilege is that you get to be annoyed by my noise and fear and fury. The whole point of privilege is that you think you have the right to tell me what to do and what to say.
I am not a vessel for your sperm. I am not a vessel for your frustration. I am not here for your confusion. I am not going to explain to you why any of this is important. I’m not going to explain to you why this matters. I’m not going to explain to you why I am allowed to be angry and afraid.
If you don’t get it, that is precisely the problem.
FIFTEEN states currently say women don’t matter. FIFTEEN states say that someone else knows better what we should do with our lives and our bodies.
Yes, I know that there are women intensely involved in this movement to strip us of our rights. Yes, I know that you might be perfectly nice and not involved in this movement. But by choosing not to fight? By telling me to be quiet? By telling me that this is not a big deal, and that I should calm down, by telling me how to feel, you become my enemy, just as much as those women.
I’m done being nice. I’m done being calm. I’m done being kind and patient. I’m done explaining to you why my body matters, why this is a serious issue, why violence against women is terrifying even if I, specifically, am not bruised by it at this very moment. Guess what? I have been. I know people who have been. And it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to realize how many people are suffering at this very moment, even if you have them turned down to a faint white hum.
This is not about you. This is about everyone else.