The first thing I saw on my phone Friday morning was a tweet by Glennon Doyle that began, “Comfort to every human being who feels afraid right now.”
Wondering what was going on in the world, I switched over to the day’s headlines. There it was, staring at me in large block letters:
I suddenly had a strange sense of déjà vu, my mind going back to the night in 2016 when I awoke to the news that Donald Trump had won. I walked through that day as if it were all a dream, unable to wrap my mind around the reality of it.
But how?! How could such a thing actually happen? How was it possible that there were women who helped make it happen?!
Those questions came back last Friday, echoing through the curves and corners of my body as I went through my daily rhythms, unable to believe the reality of the world to which I had awakened.
To add to the surrealness, I realized around mid-morning that I was ovulating. Exhausted and jetlagged from 30 hours of travel a few days prior and a 17-hour time change, I had forgotten where I was in my cycle and failed to use protection during sex the night before—which meant I had to make a trip to the pharmacy to pick up Plan B.
That led to memories of the last time I took Plan B, a few years ago when a condom broke with someone. He was manipulative and controlling to an extreme and threw a tantrum fit of a two-year-old when I casually mentioned that I’d have to go to the pharmacy the following morning.
“Absolutely not,” he said, “I’m the one who gets to decide things like that about our life, not you. And there is no way I would ever allow you to take that pill. If you get pregnant, it’s meant to be. You’re too old to be this irresponsible. Dumb teenagers take Plan B, for f*ck’s sake.”
I was in my 20s at the time. I spent the rest of that night in a thick tangle of anxiety, wondering how I’d manage to sneak off to a pharmacy when daylight came. He was an addict and abusive; it took me a long time to find the strength, courage, and resoluteness to leave, but at no point would I have been willing to bring a baby into such a toxic situation.
Residual emotions from that long ago night churned in my stomach throughout Friday, along with a sense of urgency to get to the pharmacy and take care of myself by doing what I know with absolute certainty is best for my physical and mental health right now: not getting pregnant.
And on top of that was a chaotic swirl of emotions about the headline that punctuated the day. Many of the rights women have in this country were won in alarmingly recent years. We’ve only been allowed to vote since 1920 and open a bank account since the 1960s. The Equal Pay Act wasn’t signed into law until 1963. There were no women on the U.S. Supreme Court until 1960, and no female speakers of the House until 2007.
While the women of my generation were born into many of these rights, the fierce fight of our grandmothers who won them might as well—when looking at the entirety of human history—have happened an hour ago. Women’s rights and matters of equality are still in their infancy, and now they’re being backtracked.
That’s the monstrous, ugly truth that Friday’s headline signified: the backtrack of women’s rights and of a reality where women are afforded the same freedom and sovereignty that men take for granted.
Misogyny is still a societal norm.
The fact that women are equal to men hasn’t yet been ingrained into the cultural psyche, and we can’t afford to lose even an inch of the ground that has been won.
The legislation that marked Friday’s headlines is a tragedy.
It’s not something that we can let quietly become yesterday’s news.
We haven’t yet had the luxury of taking our rights for granted, and we have a responsibility to our ancestors, to ourselves, to our sisters, and to our daughters (or our sisters’ daughters) to continue forward in this fight. A fight for a reality where women are assigned the same value, protection, and rights as men. Where women are seen as sovereign beings who have the legal right to make choices and decisions about their body without outside interference.
Whatever activism looks like for you, do that. There are innumerable ways to take a stand, and all of them are valid. It’s time for the collective feminine to step even more fully into the power and unique gifts that are our birthright.
We took care of this world over from the weary, faltering hands of our grandmothers, and it’s up to us—you and me—to continue to work toward making it a world where women are safe, sovereign, and free.