I emceed the Roe V Wade 40th anniversary yesterday. I’m always so proud and honored to be able to stand on the steps of our Capitol and speak my truth, while supporting the amazing body of work of others who believe in rights and education and access to reproductive equity for women.
Many of the signs in the crowd said, “Pro Choice: Pro Family” and it struck me that yeah, that’s exactly what pro choice means to me.
To know how one’s body works, reproductively speaking, means that you make better choices about how to use your body. You can either seek or avoid pregnancy. The more your partners know about how their bodies work, the better all that seeking or avoiding works, and the more mutual and consensual pleasure you can have together.
To have access to contraception (which you then use correctly, knowing how it affects your body or your partner’s) means having the ability to control whether pregnancy occurs and helps limit the spread of STDs that might be out there in the world.
To have access to abortion (safe, without barriers like invasive sonograms and waiting periods all of which are designed to make things more difficult, not to educate women) means that women can take better care of their current families or be in a much better educational and financial position to have families later.
Women aren’t just broodmares. Men aren’t just studs. Men and women both need education about their bodies, access to birth control, reproductive control, and the ability to make decisions and communicate about sex.
Sex isn’t the enemy, but it’s sure painted that way. Sex isn’t something that exists outside of us, it’s part of us, just like breathing or digesting or thinking. We need to know how to understand our drives, what they do, why they do what they do and how to take care of them, just as we would any other part of ourselves, to honor, to keep it in the light, instead of a guilty darkness.
It makes no sense to me this system we’ve built, that layers shame all over a natural function of the body. A system that affects people of color and of challenged economic status disproportionately (though the myth of white middle class abortion seeker pervades), keeps women and children in impoverished economic circumstances, and puts mythology in the heads of teens when they should be getting facts.
Teens who grow up to be adults filled with that shame, guilt and mythology and pass similar things on to their kids.
There were several speakers at the rally who were people of faith. One was Reverend Jim Rigby of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, and the other was Faith Action Women In Need (FAWN). I can’t tell you how inspiring it is to see people able to place God (or spirit) in the same context with education, rights and equality. They feel, as do I that it is an absolute ethical and spiritual responsibility that comprehensive sex education to our children and reproductive rights for women are provided and not limited.
I know many disagree, and virulently. It seems that there are very distinct world views about sex and religion, but I can’t make sense of the other one. I have little issues with differing religious and moral stances so long as they stay out of my pants and out of the state.
I was so entirely blessed to be raised by parents who taught me about my body, that I had a school district that provided additional education and that I always had access to multiple forms of birth control. I was, thankfully, able to plan my pregnancies with my partner, raise our children with resources and support. That’s pro family to me. Why should I be so lucky? Why aren’t all women that supported? All should be.
Roe is 40 years old. I imagine there will be another long period of fighting over the rights to medical information and privacy and safe legal abortion. Very long, probably. I’ll work and activate with peace, theater, writing and more help keep Texas truly pro family, pro supportive of life from birth to death, pro health insurance, pro workers rights, pro choice, pro education and pro birth control (for men and for women of course). And pro gay rights, pro reformative justice, pro economic equity, pro leveling playing fields, pro consent and pro respect.
And damn, it, pro sex, sex as healthy expression of pleasure, of communication, of the music of our bodies that has always been played through the rafters of the Universe. Creation is a song of, well, creation, and there is a joy there that I will never stop singing.