Stand With Wendy

If you get your news from, well, major news outlets, chances are that you have no idea who Wendy Davis is. She is a state senator from Texas who, on Tuesday, spent thirteen hours filibustering a piece of anti-choice legislation. SB5 aims to not only ban abortion after twenty weeks of gestation, but to raise the requirements for clinics where abortions can be performed to such a level that the law would effectively shut down all but a handful of the state’s clinics.

Texas has over twenty-six million residents. This is a big deal for millions of American women. With a Republican majority in the Texas senate and Governor Yosemite Sam Rick Perry unlikely to veto any anti-choice measures, the only way to stop SB5 from being passed was with a filibuster.

Each state has its own specific regulations for its state legislature. On a federal level, filibusters can go wildly off-topic (we have all heard stories of entries from a phone book being read) and can even be performed without anyone actually standing and speaking. In Texas, filibustering means speaking on-topic without sitting, leaning against your podium, or taking a break.

So that is what Wendy Davis did. For thirteen hours. She received three “warnings,” being accused of going off-topic (in once case by discussing Roe v. Wade, because, you know, that’s so unrelated to a bill that restricts a woman’s right to choose?).

She was then prevented from filibustering further, but her allies in the senate then began asking questions on procedure and arguing against Wendy being silenced (to stall for time). When the questions failed, crowds of onlookers began chanting so loudly that the senate was unable to call a vote until after midnight (the deadline).

Now, just to clarify, this was not followed by major news outlets. But this was livestreamed. It was all over Twitter. If you don’t take Twitter news seriously, you should know that it’s not just for gossip or Arab Springs or hearing about earthquakes before everyone else. #StandWithWendy was trending, worldwide, above almost everything else.

While there are millions of wonderful, pro-equality, and tech-savvy baby-boomers in the world, this image best represents my thoughts on the livestream:

This is really, truly important. My dashboard on Tumblr is usually full of fandom images, funny images, and occasionally beautiful people in various stages of undress. Tonight, it was all about Wendy Davis, Texas, and the filibuster—from images or a few words of support to my friend’s wonderful thoughts on the filibuster and how people view Southern politics. Twitter was no different. It was beautiful.

We followed the filibuster, we followed the debate on procedures, we followed the protest as the senate Republicans desperately raced against time.

To the collective outrage of hundreds of thousands of people who were viewing this live (I listened to the livestream for hours, like a radio show, while doing other things), the senate “passed” SB5, though it was after midnight. Which is illegal. And they stamped the official time as 11:59. As some people phrased it, they “mansplained time to a clock.”

As if no one would notice.

It was only while I was already writing this post that the closed-door session announced that, despite their best efforts, they could not get away with “passing” SB5. Because, officially, they were determining if it had been passed, but they were actually determining whether or not they could get away with their time-altering shenanigans (time-travel irritates me in science fiction, so you can imagine that I was not delighted to see it used by politicians to break their own rules—rules that had been so important to them when a female senator was breaking them).

But SB5 failed. Thanks, in large part, to Wendy Davis.

The reaction of the crowd of Texans who had gathered was thunderous applause.

Guys, this was a great example. We’re all excited and nervous about today, when we’ll find out how the SCOTUS has ruled on issues of marriage equality. But it is important that we also remember that tonight was a victory for Texas women. Which means that it was a victory for people.

Finally, this post would not be complete without me adapting a Star Wars quote to this situation:

PS: It is 4AM and “Wendy” and “Texas” are both still trending. Worldwide.

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Review and Interview: Subjectified

photo of subjectified documentary pictures
‘Subjectified’ is a documentary by Melissa Tapper Goldman. According to the statement on their website, this documentary was born out of Goldman’s frustration. Personally, I can agree that most art comes out of a similar place.

Goldman said, “I thought I understood the motivations and pressures regarding young women’s sexuality within the community where I grew up, but I had no clue what sexuality meant for other women around the country. I thought I understood what might make a teenage mother decide to raise a baby, or for a religious person to practice abstinence, but the models in my mind for why girls have sex just didn’t add up to a believable picture. Why do girls have sex? Or why don’t they have sex? Pressure? Libido? Emotional dependence? I realized that I drew many assumptions from examples in media rather than from real life, since few of us ever hear such intimate details from anyone but our closest friends. And even my own experiences come filtered through expectations shaped by stories drawn from external sources including television, movies and magazines.”

To explore this topic, Goldman interviewed nine women from different cultures, upbringings, all ranging from age 19-28. All of these women were asked why they have sex today, what their first experience with sexuality was like, their current sexuality, about sex education in school and what they learned, and finally, about fertility and contraception. A few of the women gave examples of their favorite sexual experience and how they felt and about times where they felt pressured or forced. All of the stories were very similar. All of the women, except the two virgins interviewed, had a time where they had to “talk themselves into” having sex, or felt pressured to have sex. The pressure had varying reasons like “He’ll get it somewhere else”, “He wanted it”, “I did it to shut him up”, etc.

I decided to review this documentary based on a preview I saw. I thought, ‘This documentary would get to the bottom of why women feel this way, why we feel obligated to have sex, why we find our worth in it’. And really, while it scratched the surface of these questions, I didn’t feel that I got any new information from it. I’m a woman, I’ve felt these things—sure, it was comforting to know that everyone has felt this way, too, but we still don’t understand it. I wasn’t given any information about how to combat it, or even about its origins. I guess I felt a little…confused, to be honest.

The documentary is, however, quite interesting. It’s thought-provoking, but still I feel it’s slightly anorexic or worse, maybe even a little watered down. The film, at one hour and forty-nine minutes, I think could benefit from one or two less interviews and maybe a half an hour of background.

In the film, Goldman sits, asking the questions behind the camera, and we never see her or hear her own responses. I would’ve been very interest in her response to this interview. While I enjoyed watching ‘Subjectified’ and felt a little disillusioned with women and their views on sex, I just wanted more. Out of nine women, the nineteen-year-old was the only one I felt had a positive outlook on herself and sex. That’s another angle I would’ve liked Goldman to explore—how this nineteen-year-old is able to say she will not be forced or treated poorly while having sex, but a 28 year old has issues with it….

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Blocked Birth Control

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It happened, “a federal judge temporarily prevented the Obama administration from forcing a Christian publishing company to provide its employees with certain contraceptives under the new health-care law.” Tyndale House Publishers wants to be able to dictate what contraceptives they will and will not cover. Tyndale says it provides its 260 employees with coverage for some contraceptives.
Tyndale got the injunction because they do not want to provide employees with contraceptives that they feel equates with abortion. The contraceptives at the center of this controversy are: Plan B and intrauterine devices.

The problem with saying that these devices are equal to abortion is…well it’s bullshit. An abortion is ending a pregnancy, neither Plan B or IUDs can do this. If a woman is already pregnant Plan B does nothing. Not one single thing. What it does do is prevent ovulation or fertilization of an egg. Sorry, Christian right and “pro-lifers” but the medical definition is still: “pregnancy does not begin until a fertilized egg implants itself into the wall of the uterus”.

Plan B can prevent fertilized eggs from attaching to the uterus…so it prevents pregnancy it does not abort a pregnancy. IUDs work by block sperm like a diaphragm, but to Tyndale this is abortion.

Matthew S. Bowman, a lawyer for Alliance Defending Freedom, which brought the suit on behalf of Tyndale, said in an e-mail that Bible publishers “should be free to do business according to the book that they publish. The Obama administration is not entitled to disregard religious freedom.” To that end Tyndale is not entitled to disregard women’s rights and freedom of choice.

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New Study Finds Birth Control Prevents Pregnancy, I Find I’m Surprised

photo of birth control pictures
During this election there has been a lot of talk about women’s rights and women’s health and very little talk about common sense. According to “The Contraceptive Choice Project”, a new study outlined in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, if women have access to birth control they won’t have an unwanted pregnancy. Shocking, I know—but if a woman doesn’t have an unwanted pregnancy that means she doesn’t have an abortion and it also means that the teen mom rate goes down (sorry MTV).

This study tracked over “9,000 women in St. Louis and gave a range of free birth control options to poor and uninsured women (those at the greatest risk for an unplanned pregnancy) between 2007 and 2011”. These options included implanted forms of birth control and lead to lower abortion rates 4.4 compared to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study. The Obstetrics & Gynecology study also predicted “that one abortion could be prevented for every 79 to 137 women being given free contraception.”

I also get free birth control because I don’t currently have health insurance. For the first time in my life I don’t have health insurance and I’ve found a doctor (read as saint) that looks out for my needs. I need birth control for medical reasons not just sexual protection reasons…yet another issue that the Republican’s overlook. If you take away my right to my birth control, in order to keep me from appearing whorish (cause only whores need contraceptive, since we live in 1922), I will very likely lose my job and my relationship. I have such crippling pain and severe mood swings without this medication that I can’t get out of bed. If I do get out of bed it’s very probably I will be a raving lunatic and no one will be able to stand me. Trust me this has happened, I’ve lost friends because of my period, where were you on that one, Judy Blume?

The point is now there is medical proof that birth control is not sanctioned by the devil, it does not mean you’re a classless two bit hussy, it means you are a grown woman and you are taking your life in your own hands. This shouldn’t be a government issue – this is a health issue that should be discussed between someone with a vagina and someone with a medical degree. Before all the “Planned Parenthood is a government-funded programmers” come at me, no it’s not. It’s partly funded by the government, but it’s mostly funded by donations. It does not spend most of its time doing abortions, either – it spends most of it’s time preventing them and screening women for disease and cancer … yes, please hurry and shut that practice down! What a waste of money preventative care is! Save us from healthcare that will help our women, keep them safe, and keep unwanted pregnancies from happening!

See how silly that last sentence is? See how ridiculous it is to think that anyone has a right to control anyone else’s health? Let’s try something new. Let’s try and make decisions on facts and science not religion, morals, and heresy shall we?

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