Your Foot is Still on My Neck

“I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” –Sarah Grimké, women’s suffrage advocate and abolitionist (as quoted by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg)

This has been a rough week. The massive injustice carried out today (and throughout this disgustingly incomplete and partisan process) has had me on edge. All of the paper cuts women receive daily to their well-being, all of the “little” injustices perpetuated by a system and a culture that consistently devalue us, have stood out in bold, highlighted by the sham this confirmation process has become under a corrupt Senate (I’m looking at you, Grassley, McConnell, Flake, et al).

You want power. I want justice.

The micro-aggressions toward women even at the grocery store are staggering: the pink tax, the magazines in the checkout aisle blaring women’s supposed shortcomings: “her secret shame,” “this celebrity got fat,” “this one couldn’t keep her man,” “lose 15 lbs by next weekend,” etc., the cashier handing my husband the receipt even if I’m the only one who spoke to said cashier throughout the transaction and I’m the one who paid…

We’ve had two realtors now, in two different states, who would rather work with my husband even though I was the primary contact listed on all forms and was accessible much more often. Just this week, the roofer who came out to fix the porch roof asked, “Is your husband home?” and wanted to talk to him instead of me, explaining what he was going to do and what it would cost. When he realized I’d be paying him, the roofer decided to let me in on all of that “boys’ talk” after all.

None of this includes the physical micro-aggressions women deal with on a near-daily basis and don’t even speak of most of the time — the ‘accidental’ hand on my rear in an elevator or the arm that slo-o-owly brushes across my chest as a man passes me in a hallway…and the comments. Dear Gods, the comments. “You’d be so pretty if you just lost some weight/smiled more/did your hair differently.” “Have you ever thought of whitening your teeth?” “Are you sure you should be eating that?”

Each of these is a deposit in a bank of slow-burning rage. Magma.

Well, my account is overflowing, so I am making a withdrawal, turning anger into action — I may well be running for public office before my 40th birthday.

I believe that every human being has equal worth and is equally worthy of having their needs met.

I believe it’s our collective shame that ANY child ever goes hungry in this country.

I believe every schoolchild should receive free breakfast and lunch. We have the wealth to make this happen. (Some districts already provide this.) I believe you cannot learn well when you are hungry.

I believe that if you have to hit a child to ensure their compliance, you’re doing it wrong. I believe that if you have to use fear to ensure anyone’s compliance with anything, you’re doing it wrong.

I believe police officers should not have to worry about being shot — and I believe that police officers should not use lethal force of any kind on unarmed citizens. Our policemen and policewomen deserve respect — and they deserve to be swiftly held accountable when things go wrong. I believe if LEOs do not have the public’s trust, they cannot do their jobs, and without adequate accountability, they cannot have the public’s trust.

I believe that a woman is as worthy of life, respect, and happiness as a man. I believe that a woman is as capable and as intelligent as a man. I believe our systems of education and politics do not reflect these truths. It is a man’s world.

I believe that a black man is as worthy of life, respect, and happiness as a white man. I believe that a black person is as capable and as intelligent as a white person. I believe our systems of education and politics do not reflect these truths. It is a white man’s world.

I believe that politicians — male or female, POC or white — have NO business legislating my body. I believe men would quickly feel the same if, for instance, the GOP moved to ban male masturbation because the sperm wasted could/should have been used for procreation.

I believe that our faiths may dictate the lives we lead as individuals and that our practice (or not) should be unimpeded, but that these faiths and our practice of them may not impose those strictures upon anyone else. To that end, I believe that religion and politics are currently far too intermingled and must be carefully separated in any application of law and justice.

I believe that a Christian, a Muslim, a Wiccan, and an Atheist have equal rights and equal value before the law — and where this does not hold true in practice, it should be rectified with haste.

I believe that heterosexual and same-sex relationships are equally valid. I believe that LGBTQIA+ Americans need more protection to ensure fair and equal treatment in all areas of their lives.

I believe that a trans woman is as wholly a woman as I am. I believe that a trans man is as much a man as any other man.

I believe that non-binary individuals are equal in worth and value to any other human being.

I believe our culture is far too obsessed with sex and gender norms. I believe that you are the only one who can address your identity with authenticity and truth.

I believe that working parents and stay-at-home parents are all doing hard and amazing work for their families.

I believe in net neutrality. I believe internet accessibility and service would quickly improve with more competition.

I believe that abstinence-only education fails our youth abominably. I believe condoms and contraception should be freely accessible for anyone, without a side dose of shame.

I believe that the school-to-prison pipeline is real. I believe for-profit private prisons should not exist and neither should cash bail systems. All of this disproportionately punishes minorities and low-income citizens, often catastrophically snowballing.

I believe that small towns and rural areas deserve the same access to educational resources that big cities have, and that the shortcomings there must be addressed (including broadband accessibility).

I believe that the arts — music, art, drama, etc. — are as critical to a well-rounded education as math, reading, writing, science, and social studies are.

I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. I believe every person deserves timely and appropriate treatment, as well as routine preventative care.

I believe no one should ever have to choose between medicine and food. I believe no one should have to go bankrupt (or sell a Nobel Prize!) to receive lifesaving treatment.

I believe there is so very much that’s admirable about who we are as a populace — but I also believe we have a lot of work to do to ensure that everyone gets the chance to live as the most fully realized, healthiest, happiest version of themselves.

Your foot is still on my neck — each of you, Senators, each one of you who denies assault survivors the simple dignity of believing our stories, each of you who does not treat women as equals in autonomy, each of you who has sold your integrity for whatever flavor of power you prefer.

Your foot is on my neck. I will remove it, and I will not apologize if I break your toes in the process.