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I had all kinds of fun plans for this week’s Marginalia. Editing up our last bevvy of Pride-themed articles, I thought I might do a whimsical spot on the “Homosexual Agenda” — an informal poll of my queer friends to see what would actually be on this unifying document were it to exist, and what that whole organizing convention would look like, for that matter. (One gay friend opined it would take place in a conference room rife with “gloryholes and tasteful lighting.”)
Alas, the Supreme Court had other plans, taking a fat dump on the last weekend of Pride and officially overturning the constitutional right to an abortion in the United States. And if it weren’t homophobic enough to steal the parade’s moment with that news, we also had Justice Clarence Thomas adding his flabbergasting opinion that the justices didn’t go far enough, and should also overturn the right to contraception and gay marriage. HAPPY PRIDE EVERYONE.
As a straight ally, I committed the cardinal sin of having my rescheduled bachelorette party fall on this weekend (“very homophobic” I was told.) So gathering over the weekend to both celebrate Pride and female friendship while swinging madly between rage and abject sorrow was… interesting.
I will say I was thankful to be around both gay and female friends in what I can only describe as a dystopian and terrifying time. As Justice Thomas made abundantly clear, Roe is only the beginning. This is just the first domino in a long row of hard-fought individual freedoms that are poised to fall. We all need to be there for each other and fight like hell to hold onto what’s left.
The usual “getting smacked in the face with a rubber dick” (something my best friend was extremely fixated on making happen during my bachelorette festivities,) drinking lots of champagne and eating erotic pastries did happen, but with the underscoring of extreme melancholy. (If you didn’t think it was possible to sorrowfully eat a red velvet cupcake topped with a chocolate erection… you don’t live in America.) There was fun and friendship, and Aperol spritzes galore to be sure, but there were also half-drunk monologues about this catastrophe for women, about personal choice, about the fear we all now carry with us, mapped onto our most private biological selves.
There was also karaoke, which provided a space to howl. I’ve felt the urge to scream bubble up in myself on and off over the past few days, with each NPR segment I listen to and each distressing story I read; having a safe space (or private room) in which to release an organized version of that impulse was in many ways healing. I will always treasure my 90s riot grrrl-era angry womyn rock anthems — this weekend, these were especially cathartic for my friends and I. I lost half a lung belting out Four Non-Blondes’ “What’s Up” with them (we all strongly connected to the “scream at the top of my lungs WHAT’S GOING ON” lyric) and enjoyed the wrath of Alanis’ “U Oughta Know” so much I sang it twice, the second time at someone’s birthday gathering, where I terrified half a room of men I didn’t know. Because that’s just sometimes what you need to do.
Another unexpected addition to the weekend was scrambling to make last minute plans to host a family friend from a state where it was now impossible for her to get an abortion, who’s coming to town for a procedure. I am fortunate to live in a state that still respects a woman’s right to physical autonomy, so it’s now become part of my job as a decent human being to try and help those who have the misfortune of living in a red state. (Who knew, they were already color coordinating to match the garb from The Handmaid’s Tale?)
While I’m happy to offer help however I can, I know there are profound limitations to what I and others like me can do as individuals in the grand scheme of our new America. This person we’re hosting is fortunate enough to know my family, have access to our support, and is able to make the trip out here. I’m worried about the women who have two kids and a job they can’t afford to take time away from, who will be thrown into poverty if they have another kid. I’m worried about those who will be forced to take unnecessary risks to make the choice that’s right for them. I’m worried about those with ectopic pregnancies that were never viable in the first place dying because doctors cannot act by law to save them before it’s too late. I am worried for literally anyone who has a uterus in America at this moment. Because it places you in a different class of citizenship, depending on which state you’re in, a class that is at risk.
The Supreme Court has failed us profoundly. It is their job to ensure that we are operating in a just country, even when the majority of its citizens fail to stand for what is right. In the past, the Court stood for progress, giving our society the shove in the right direction when it wasn’t organically moving fast enough, like integrating schools with Brown v. Board of Education or legalizing interracial marriage through Loving v. Virginia. Instead, we are now falling into a nightmare funhouse mirror distortion of what the Supreme Court should do: we are being forced to obey a law of the land dictated by a tyranny of the minority.
Thanks to the skewed representation of the Electoral College and the disaster that is the U.S. Senate, we have a Supreme Court packed with unprecedentedly conservative, biased, and under-qualified justices, and a do-nothing Congress incapable of passing into law the protections we need to defend the rights of those this group would persecute. That means guns for everyone, and reproductive rights for no one. No healthcare, but lots of prayer. Don’t tell me to wear a mask, but do tell me what bathroom I can use and who I can love. Interesting that this demographic is so patriotic about America’s moral superiority over the Taliban: the way they’re forcing religion down our throats and trying to control our women, they’re pretty much creating a whitewashed version of the very same thing on our own soil.
In a surprise to no one, public confidence in the Supreme Court has reached an all-time low: even a majority of Republicans do not approve of their recent ruling. Unfortunately, as Supreme Court appointments are for life, this is not something that can be easily fixed, something most women I know have been trying to warn the rest of the country about for years. We saw this coming since the night Trump was elected in 2016. We’ve been tied to the railroad tracks this whole time, watching a slow-moving freight train edge down the tracks towards us with each new justice appointed — and Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death sealed our fate.
Every Republican I know who told me, “They’ll never overturn Roe,” know this: it gives me absolutely no joy to say “I told you so.” But… I told you so. And now we all live in this country together.
It’s time to snap out of these bullshit partisan political havens and realize the cost we’ve paid. Democracy cannot thrive if one side is holding the other hostage. There is no freedom when you terrorize and control those who do not agree with you. When you force your beliefs on another. When you deny an individual the right to her own choices about her own body.
I hope if this reaches someone in one of the states where your vote counts that you will think about the power you have. In the meantime, I suppose I’ll carry on in the same manner since Fall 2016 and keep screaming into the void… or belting out some karaoke until I figure out what’s going on.
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