By Julie Gorham
There has been a LOT of legislation on reproductive health lately. A lot. And some of it is not on reproductive health so much as reproductive ridiculousness. Like five men sitting in a room to talk about women’s bodies: seriously?
Unfortunately, yes. Seriously. And the response has ranged from famously unabashed verbal abuse and lewd suggestions from a certain radio presenter, to Ohio Senator Nina Turner’s “Viagra Bill,” mandating men to speak with a sex therapist and get cardiac testing before being prescribed Viagra. Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and Saturday Night Live have all mocked the current governmental obsession with uteri, and Facebook is spattered with daily musings about it.
Here’s the thing: the legislation is, in fact, happening. Five men sat in a room talking about women’s health policy. And at the Women in the World summit in New York this weekend, Liberian activist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee asked, “Where are all the angry American women?” I had the good fortune of being there, and I wanted to scream, “Here! Right here!” But I stopped myself. Because really, how angry am I behaving?
Sure, I’m pissed, but I’m acting more incredulous than anything. My Facebook posts haven’t been calls to action, but news clips and parodies, and “likes” of those posted by others.
I am a senior political science major at Bryn Mawr College–I feel like I should be DOING something. But what? What can I do?
Whenever I think about organizing a march, a protest–anything–I think of my thesis, my classes, my job applications, my student loans and the extraordinary lack of time that I have right now, and I think, “Impossible. I just don’t have the capacity.”
The thing is, does anybody have the capacity at the moment? Does anybody have the time for these things? Most people I know have raised their eyebrows when they find out about this legislation. Some engage in a long dialogue, but eventually, the sentiment is, “This is just one of those radical political fads–it’ll blow over.”
Will it, though?
In recent years we have seen elected politicians seek to overturn Roe v. Wade. People in power have been placing zygotes at the top of their agenda–above education, even. Recently Pennsylvania’s Senate and House passed a bill that requires abortion clinics to meet ambulatory and hospital standards: standards that are not required by birthing clinics. They say it’s to ensure women’s health. Uh-huh.
Laws are passing, laws that deal with governmental control over women’s bodies, and what are we doing? That’s what Gbowee questioned last week, and the question has been ringing in my head ever since: “Where are all the angry American women?”
But for all my questioning, I still don’t know. What can be done? What will make a difference? Marches seem to do very little these days. Pressuring advertising agencies makes a difference for commercial enterprises, but none of my emails to Corbett seem to change his mind. Yet, Gbowee is spot on; if all of us keep sitting still and watching in amazement as bill, after crazy bill gets introduced, we’re going to wake up someday soon and realize that our bodies are no longer our own.
This article is all I can think to do right now. I don’t have any genius ideas, but I’m in a community of bright and engaging people: I am ready to get angry with you.