I'm Here to Fuck
Once again, here in Fuck This Place, the hands of our Reproductive Rights Watch point to Fuck This Shit O’Clock. That Fucking Guy has removed the birth control mandate from employer-based insurance, and Those Fucking Assholes just passed H.R. 36, a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks if passed in the Senate.
Ever since January 20, 2017, when we were finally forced to abandon all state-elector-as-savior Jill-Stein-recounted election-result-nullified hope and accept that a serial sexual predator was officially the leader of our fractured land and Trojan Cheeto for a white male supremacist cabal, we’ve known that this was coming. In an unfortunately timely metaphor, we have been trapped on an island, waiting for an approaching hurricane. In this situation, what can we do? Put out a couple of sandbags? Hope that we catch a roll of flaccidly-pitched paper towels from That Fucking Guy’s tiny, effete hands?
Sadly, many of us are hoping to be saved by finding high ground. On social media, and perhaps less so in analog life, we are passionately and eloquently arguing the concept of bodily autonomy with people who think that 58 people being shot to death in 11 minutes is the price of freedom. We are trying to teach the socioeconomic value of contraception to randos our acquaintances went to high school with who don’t know what insurance is. We are arguing issues of morality with people who have been so brainwashed by twisted religious doctrine that they believe that it’s a violation of liberty to force someone to deliver a cake, but not to deliver a rapist’s baby (thank you Mrs. Betty Bowers for that one).
We must stop spending our precious time passionately promulgating the morality of reproductive freedom for anyone but ourselves. The assault on reproductive rights is not about morality. It is not, like its fraternal twin, rape, about sex. It is not, as evidenced by the binders full of “pro-life” men and women who press for anti-reproductive rights legislation and yet obtain and/or pay for abortions and contraceptives themselves, whilst also rolling out the red carpet for mass shootings and ripping access to healthcare away from millions of infants and children in this country, about “life.” It is about power.
I’m gonna tiptoe out on a twig here and say that the aggressive targeting of women isn’t even really about misogyny but rather a cold and simple calculation, as we are merely the opening variables in the formula for power. Get women pregnant young, force them to give birth. Education falls by the wayside. Uneducated people vote GOP. Lack of education leads to limited opportunity and income inequality. Poor people either don’t vote, or, if they’re white, vote GOP. Use religious doctrine to make women feel shame for the sexual choices that led them to this point, impel them to seek religion for redemption and forgiveness. Religious people vote GOP. Associate religion with patriotism, and patriotism with military service. Impoverish families and communities such that military service is the only path toward paying for education. Military people vote GOP. Use the military to fight wars over the preservation and expansion of wealth for the few, and reap profits for the military industrial complex, which is heavily funded by the GOP. Impoverish and oppress families and communities of color such that people are forced to turn to crime to survive. Fill prisons with poor and desperate people of color. Profit from the prisons. Remove poor and desperate people of color from the electorate. Poor and desperate people of color do not vote GOP. Use images of poor and desperate people of color forced to turn to crime for survival to stoke fear of people of color. People who are afraid of people of color vote GOP. Sell guns to people who are afraid of people of color. Gun owners vote GOP. Profit from the gun sales. Profit from the gun lobby. Violently end more lives than abortion ever prevented. Profit from the shootings. Profit from death. Claim to be “pro-life.” “Pro-lifers” vote GOP. Power power power, pow pow pow, pew pew pew.
We cannot fight this power by arguing about morality with the cogs in this machine. We must fight this power with power.
Although the policies being pushed are from an era in which women were disempowered, we are not. We are here, we are us, it is 2017, and we have been living as reproductively autonomous people for far too long to go back. We are not renting our human and civil rights from white male landlords. They are ours, we have won them through our ancestors’ and our own blood, sweat and tears. Our collective power did not fly away on the jet with the Obama family on January 20, 2017. The million dollar question is, how do we use it?
The form of protest that is most often bandied about, usually in a defeated attempt at jest, when reproductive rights are targeted is a Lysistratian sex strike. This is fine, if you’ve been putting out simply as an exchange for resources and rights. I don’t know about y’all, but sex is something I rather enjoy, and Stritch knows they’re taking away every other Stritch-damned pleasure in our lives. I’m here to fuck. And I really don’t think that this form of protest would be effective. I also bristle at the idea that the only power women wield is sexual, when it absolutely is not.
While we’re talking variables and formulas, let’s do some math. The overwhelming majority of Americans support both legal abortion and the contraceptive mandate. (55 percent even favor a mandate that health insurance plans, including Medicaid, cover abortion.) 99% of women use birth control in their lifetimes. TENS OF MILLIONS of women rely on birth control covered by employer-based insurance THAT WE PAY FOR. Without our labor, individual companies and the economy as a whole would collapse immediately. If your employer refuses to include contraceptive coverage in your insurance plan, walk out. If you are at a job interview, ask if the employer-based insurance covers birth control. If it does not, walk out. If you are a man whose female partner relies on employer-based insurance coverage for birth control, and your employer refuses, walk out. All men and women who rely upon birth control covered by employer-based insurance whose employers refuse to cover it, walk out. If you are a person of conscience of any, many or no gender, and you object to women’s bodily autonomy being forcibly violated as an entry variable in the formula for GOP power on the local, national and personal level, REFUSE TO WORK until your employer participates and/or the mandate is reinstated. This shit will change OVERNIGHT. We are the majority. We are this country. We have the power. We must remember this.
Internet outrage is fine (although Facebook’s role in aiding and abetting a fascist coup is causing many of our leading thinkers to jump ship, which I am considering in the way that I am considering quitting cheese) but it is not in and of itself activism. It is for organizing activism. Yell ‘ABORTION IS NORMAL’ at that dude in Mississippi with a confederate flag in an “I Stand” frame as his profile photo only insofar as it helps you articulate your beliefs for yourself, fortifies you for the fight, and, okay, maybe helps you feel un petit peu superior to a brainwashed racist who wants to take away your human rights, which, au fait, you are. Then make your way over to your protest group’s page, and start organizing a labor strike.
Call your senators until your face falls off to tell them to vote no on the 20-week abortion ban. If you haven’t already, get an IUD. And keep on fucking. Fuck That Fucking Guy. And Fuck Those Fucking Assholes.
Amanda Duarte is the creator and host of Dead Darlings, the “Absolute Best Reading Series in NYC” (NY Mag). She is also a regular at comedy and storytelling events throughout the city, an outspoken feminazi cunt on social media and the co-creatrix of the global meme #PussyGrabsBack. As a writer, she has contributed to The New York Times, The New Yorker, Salon, Marie Claire, BuzzFeed, High Times, Huffington Post and Next Magazine, and, with her partner-in-crime Mike Albo, co-created the “Hurt Locker: The Musical” faux-Playbill featured in the recent Broadway production and national tour of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” You can follow her on Twitter at @duarteamanda.