Standing In The Shower Thinking

Barbara Krugar

Barbara Krugar’s 1989 call to arms

Yesterday Tennesseans approved a state constitutional amendment allowing politicians to regulate and even ban abortion. This morning, I’m struck by a sense of loss.

Of course feminism has suffered a bitter loss. Amendment 1 denies decades of activism and enlightenment. But I also feel a keen personal loss. Yesterday’s voters claimed a part of my body, and a part of my daughters’ too. Here, our bodies have become property of the state, potentially illegal to use as we see fit. How could I not take this personally?

What most shocks me about yesterday’s so-called pro-lifer win is the rhetoric surrounding Amendment 1. Was Tennessee really an “abortion destination?” When a student warned me of this looming vacation trend, I thought she was quoting The Onion. And how, exactly, does banning abortion keep women “safe?”

At best, claims like these pay lip service to sexual myths we’ve already exposed or arguments we’ve already settled. At worst, they’re nonsense.

What’s most frightening is that Tennessee just set a precedent in culturally Neanderthal stone. We’ve regulated women’s bodies. We can do so again. It’s probably cliché to allude to The Handmaid’s Tale here. But still.

I often don’t agree with my antagonizingly pessimistic husband. Whereas he believes that public education serves to keep the populace complacent, I’m an idealist educator. But today, he’s right. We are cockroaches. The miracle of life championed by Amendment 1 and its ilk is empty slogan. Life isn’t a miracle. Life happens. Because horror vacui. Nature abhors a vacuum.

My nature abhors a state that boasts a judgmental gaze on my body. I cringe at the idea of some guy who looks like Freud deciding what I should or should not do with my sexuality. The state assembly-cum-peeping Tom shouldn’t get to peer into my privacy, much less legislate it.

Because I believe differently than many Tennesseans, my arguments will likely be dismissed by many as irreverently leftist. And remember: this is the South. It’s not lady-like to criticize and complain. At least not publicly.

Because I’m educated, I’ll not be taken seriously. See my above nod to Aristotelian philosophy and United Statesian anti-intellectualism. Because I’m angry, I’ll be labeled moody, subject to my hormones. See above state and cultural dismissal of me as little more than my body.

But to those of you who just voted to allow legislators to regulate women’s reproductive systems: don’t call me an atheist commie. You’re trying to look up my skirt not unlike China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission might.





7 thoughts on “Standing In The Shower Thinking

  1. I had some similar thoughts this morning when I read the election results. I have two daughters as well and I feel sick at the thought of their choice and their autonomy being taken from them in this way. I cannot believe this is what 2014 looks like.

    • Virginia,

      Thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone in my feelings this morning!

      And how keen your comment about the year. Perhaps this is why I’m reminded today of Barbara Krugar’s work from the 1980’s. Haven’t we already experienced this backlash?

  2. I, too, am horrified by the backward leap that Tennessee has just made. As I dutifully went to the polls yesterday, I noted in dismay the woman with the “Yes on 1” placard, staring down voters with self-righteous smugness, as if to say, “I have the corner [literally] on morality, and you are going straight to hell if you don’t support this legislation.” How very, very sad that people can’t think further than the pulpits of their churches, which are, I’m sure, occupied solely by men. Let’s hear it for deference to men, again, still.

    Not in my house, not while I live and breathe. They’ll have to pull the reins of control over my life from my cold, dead hands. OK, so a tad melodramatic, but there it is–my personal feminist manifesto. Sad, too, that those are three of the most terrifying words in the world to a majority of Tennesseans.

    • Lanie,

      Thanks for countering this morning’s disappointment and anger with a rallying cry! I’m with you.

      I too wonder at women who voted yes on 1. I suppose it’s a kind of martyrdom to sacrifice yourself – and your fellow women – for a concept? One that is, as you remind us, created by man.

  3. I am shocked at the outcome of this critical issue put to a vote….I am more shocked that the number of people to whom this should matter did NOT outnumber the people who voted yes! Sad reflections…..either you are so correct about the number of women swayed by others, even though their votes would have been known only to themselves, or those who had opinions and agreed that this was a movement that could be stopped dead in its tracks did NOT vote! Either way, it is a sad day for all of us!

  4. Pingback: Recalling The Republic | love and biscuits

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