women’s rights


I don’t think I live in fear and I certainly enjoy random conversations with people of all types, but I definitely assess situations in this manner all the time (even when I’m not alone). I respect the men that I know, but many do not have to even think of this when they’re alone/it’s night/on a bus.

Shapely Prose

Phaedra Starling is the pen name of a romance novelist and licensed private investigator living in small New York City apartment with two large dogs.  She practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu and makes world-class apricot muffins.

Gentlemen. Thank you for reading.

Let me start out by assuring you that I understand you are a good sort of person. You are kind to children and animals. You respect the elderly. You donate to charity. You tell jokes without laughing at your own punchlines. You respect women. You like women. In fact, you would really like to have a mutually respectful and loving sexual relationship with a woman. Unfortunately, you don’t yet know that woman—she isn’t working with you, nor have you been introduced through mutual friends or drawn to the same activities. So you must look further afield to encounter her.

So far, so good. Miss LonelyHearts, your humble instructor, approves. Human connection…

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I fell asleep last night, fitfully, dreaming up a campaign speech I would one day give. President? Congress? Senate? I don’t remember; it likely shifted between them a lot. I remember, I said something like,

“I don’t have the money in my campaign to shower you all with confetti, nor the will to force normal citizens to clean up after me. I never will. I’m here to talk to you about the truth…”

You know, put me on a moral pedestal but not a real one. I used to laugh at the idea – me, in politics? But lately, with the clear shift in this country toward one that is forgetting its past, its purpose, and so much that it means to people: freedom. We are increasingly becoming less free.

I finished reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. If you haven’t heard of it, or read it, let me explain some of the plot idea. It is (for now) a work of complete fiction. In a twisted political move to “protect” women, and the Caucasian race, the US suspends the Constitution and implements a series of laws: women have no political rights whatsoever; they are merely “chalices,” wombs to be used if they are still viable. Abortion: illegal. Anything but the religion (something specifically Christian) deemed okay: illegal. Talking, having opinions out loud, about anything: illegal. They’d take you away in black vans. There was always a war: Angels fighting Quakers, Baptists, Protestants, anyone “else.” Censorship.

Voting? A job? Property? No, that was before.

All those women having jobs: hard to imagine, now, but thousands of them had jobs, millions. It was considered the normal thing. Now it’s like remembering the paper money, when they still had that. My mother kept some of it, pasted into her scrapbook along with the early photos….You had to take those pieces of paper with you when you went shopping, though by the time I was nine or ten most people used plastic cards….I must have used that kind of money myself, a little, before everything went on the Compubank. (1)

I highly recommend you reading it. It’s amazing, detailed, and the writing, just wow. Atwood really brings it alive. One of the more terrifying points is when she gets a chance to explain, a bit. Note this was written in 1986.

I guess that’s how they were able to do it, in the way they did, all at once, without anyone knowing beforehand. If there had still been portable money, it would have been more difficult.

It was after the catastrophe, when they shot the president and machine-gunned the Congress and the army declared a state of emergency. They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time. …

That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets [until they made it illegal for all females to hold a job]. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t even an enemy you could put your finger on. (2)

Okay. So read the book. I won’t write the whole thing out for you. Point being, recent, anti-female laws have been tried, some enacted, and it’s terrifying to think that this book, this work of fiction, could become real. You think I’m kidding; I’m not. These bills, the ones most people are yelling at the male politicians about? Several have been introduced by women. Men: you are not free or exempt from this. If straight men out there want a respectful marriage with a woman, happy, with children – on your own terms – sound the alarm. Help us.

What do you think? Are women still people? What about non-white Americans? Do they count?

Read this. And this.

And another rant, yours truly, March 7: “Recent events make me feel like the 19th Amendment is only in my imagination (and not in history books, and photographs, and the US Constitution, letters, memorabilia, etc). Since when do women, who fought for the right to vote just like any other US citizen, and were granted it relatively recently, not have control of their bodies/governments/lives? Have over 50% of the population suddenly become invisible? No, not invisible, that much is clear. Objects? Non-persons? What is going on?”

I am so angry. Angry we could have let any of this happen. Angry at this trend to conveniently forget that the US was built on freedom, on separation of church and state. Angry that other women are denying women whom they are supposed to represent their full rights as citizens in this country. Enabling doctors to break the Hippocratic Oath and deny women full information about their pregnancy, like this state is trying to do? Thanks, Virginia. And Arizona, again.

After I get to the DMV, and confirm my right to vote (denied, previously, due to their own form), I will draft a letter to my state representatives. Will you do the same?

(1) Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. 1986. New York: Anchor Books, 1998. Print. p. 173.

(2) Atwood, p. 174.