The personal is political. I blog about it here and write about it elsewhere. I wear my beliefs on my sleeve, as does my dog, and I proudly pin on a Scarlet A in support of A is For.
I support the reelection of the President, as one probably can tell if they follow me here, on Twitter or Instagram. And I’ve been encouraged by (mostly) civil conversations with those whose politics are very different than my own in the last weeks. A twitter conversation during the first debate went like this:
I believe in opinions that are founded on factual information. I also believe that as the election moves into its final weeks, we will see a lot of intense posts and tweets and we won’t all agree. I’ll continue to speak out about what I believe in. Because, as I said in that tweet, we can’t take for granted what others risk their lives for. This privilege so many take for granted. The right to use our voice. The right to vote.
Tomorrow night is the second of the debates. This time it’s a conversation between the vice presidential candidates, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, and you’ll be sure to find me live tweeting along with much of the country. Listening to the two men who would become second in command. Two men who could potentially become the President.
Two men who’ve used their political influence over the years to create (or attempt to create) legislation that could not differ more when it comes to my rights as someone with a uterus.
One led in the creation of the Violence Against Women Act. The other worked to redefine rape. One whose party platform supports my right to choose what happens to my body. Another who feels such decisions are not mine to make. One upholds the separation of Church and State, while the other has fought to create legislation that blurs such lines completely.
It’s baffling to read that the War on Women is just a distraction from the real issues. My politics aren’t solely about my reproductive rights. I don’t put all my eggs in one basket.
But this war, this war is happening.
I’m horrified that we have to defend that this is taking place. I am watching across all forms of media as women are sharing the details of abuse and assault that they have experienced. Friends and strangers. Things one would probably not share if not for the fact that these attempts to redefine our experiences of sexual assault are attempting to remove the personal, the real-life pain and sorrow that comes with it, in the name of religious and political agendas.
In her seminal work on trauma, Dr. Judith Herman wrote:
It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing… The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering.
The War on Women is following the same MO. Women are faced with having to write, speak and relive their experiences as others attempt to redefine them. There is no pain quite like having to defend your truth. To relive such fear. It’s a unique agony that comes with having to speak out against those who do unspeakable things and bring attention to yourself. But we can’t be silent. And yet, people like Paul Ryan and Todd Akin, and the members of the Republican party who dragged their heels before reauthorizing the VAWA – they want silence. They don’t want to hear it.
They don’t care about details or facts or experiences. They’d rather fabricate stories to fit their fiction.
They want to redefine the control we have over our bodies. They want to bring back silence and shame.
They will not have it. Not without a fight.