When You Take Away (Dear Senators)

I am well aware that Trump-the-Traitor wants Kavanaugh confirmed because of Kavanaugh’s position on the upcoming Gamble case in October (the outcome of which could assure Trump & cronies that those presidential pardons he desperately wants to issue don’t come with a side of state prosecution).

However…that is not how the narrative is being framed, and it is not this aspect I find most disturbing about Kavanaugh’s likely full-Senate confirmation right now.

Brett Kavanaugh, as a SCOTUS justice, may well be instrumental in overturning Roe v. Wade. Within the next few years, we could find ourselves living in a country where abortion is never legal — not for rape survivors, and maybe not even in cases of medical necessity.

It is horrifyingly not outside the realm of imagination that a heavily-right-leaning SCOTUS could, in effect, also criminalize miscarriage. (In 2003, when I miscarried my first pregnancy a week before Christmas, I was shocked to learn that it was medically termed a “spontaneous abortion.” The law might not discriminate.)

A lot of people (especially men, but some conservative women as well) genuinely don’t seem to understand why women are SO FREAKING ANGRY about potentially losing their right to have a legal, clean, safe abortion. It stems so far beyond the FACT that women will still have abortions — they just won’t be regulated. It goes beyond the FACT that women will die from these back-room “coat hanger abortions” if they have no safe way to terminate a pregnancy they cannot carry.

These reasons are MORE THAN ENOUGH to deny Kavanaugh the promotion he wants…but there’s more.

Every time a man violates a woman’s body, every time a man violates a woman’s privacy and safety — rape, assault, stalking, etc. — he is telling her that not even her physical SELF belongs to her, not really, not anymore.

When Republicans endorse or vote for a known sexual predator, they are reinforcing that message to everyone who has ever survived that kind of trauma. Your body can be used by men to their own ends anytime, anywhere, and those men will not face consequences.

“But it would ruin his life,” they sometimes cry about prosecution or jail time for a “fine upstanding citizen” who also just happens to be a rapist.

What about her life?

When Republicans confirm Kavanaugh (which, short of a salient FBI discovery, probably will happen), they will be telling every female constituent that their stories, their traumas, their bodies will never matter.

If Roe v. Wade is then overturned, the government will be sending the message that I don’t wholly own my body or what happens to me. My physical SELF does not belong to me, but to men. And if I can be compelled to not have an abortion, why stop there? What other controls on women might a far-right SCOTUS manage to invoke?

We haven’t had the right to vote for a century yet. Will we make it that far? Will we still have access to contraceptives, whether we are married or not, in ten years? What else could the government compel me to do (or not do) as it relates to my physical care and well-being?

If I don’t have physical autonomy in medical decision-making, then I don’t have physical autonomy at all — not really, not anymore.

And if my physical self does not wholly belong to me, does it matter what else I have or what I accomplish in my life? Does it really? I ask, because it feels like men still hold all of the cards. If women’s bodies can be medically manipulated-or-not according to the court’s leanings du jour, then do we not exist in our current state — careers, what-have-you — at men’s convenience, solely by their good graces? In that light, women live in a permanent state of limbo, knowing that men could at any time curb our life choices.

How long until it’s inconvenient to have female lawyers and judges, so stuffed-shirt old white men in government just forbid it as a career option?

We are at the edge of a very slippery slope, one with disastrous repercussions for generations to come.

I’ve been screaming on social media, begging for the GOP to please not strip away my rights — and those of my daughters, and those of descendants whose names we do not yet know. I will keep screaming and keep fighting…but I have a question.

Why the hell are we having to plead with a bunch of men to let us hold onto rights that should be considered settled law, rights that shouldn’t have had to BE enumerated in law to be obvious and upheld in the first place?

It makes me angry — and I have been so very many shades of angry lately — that we must appeal to men in power, men who cannot understand, to try to keep this dangerous nomination from moving forward.

Senators, my sexual assault was real. I was 7 years old. He never faced consequences because the first person I told didn’t believe me…so I stopped talking about it. For more than twenty years.

Senators, I walk faster down the sidewalk if an unknown man is behind me. I use the pretend-to-be-on-a-phone-call trick, the keys-between-the-fingers trick…I try to stay vigilant at all times, because in our rape culture, men do what they want and get away with it. That is not a lesson I want my daughters to learn, but it is the reality I and every other survivor must live with every day. It is just reality.

Far too often, women aren’t safe, and there is no justice in the justice system. Now, women may not be safe from the justice system. The legislative branch must not allow this to happen.

Senators, I would not presume to tell you what you could and could not do with your body — and you would probably find the idea ludicrous. (That is privilege right there. Penis privilege.) Likewise, after working through my trauma — which feels like it happened all over again this week, by the way, so thanks for that — my body is mine.

(At least for a little while yet.)