[Chick] Hands Off My ‘You Know' | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Chick] Hands Off My ‘You Know'

As Eve Ensler, author of "The Vagina Monologues," would say, I come from "down there" people. Actually, I come from "you know" people. That was our whispered code for vagina, penis, uterus, buttocks and even pregnancy. When I was young, I did not know, but who was I to ask my mother? I'm still not sure she knows.

"The Vagina Monologues" answered many of my questions, albeit a decade or so late, and her creation of "V-Day," dedicated to ending violence against women, speaks to me. It is very hard as a child to describe why you are sad, scared or feeling violated when you have nothing more than the words, "You know." Sadly, I believe many of us who grew up in this southern-Victorian culture did suffer physical, emotional or mental abuse, but we were powerless to control or even speak about it. As a child, I prayed for unspeakable acts to befall the perpetrators. I had nothing else.

Addressing the vagina in the third person, Ensler stumbled upon a way for women to describe the beauty and pain of womanhood. Thanks to her, I don't have to mince words in describing how the Mississippi Senate's attempts to control women's "you knows" make me feel. A line from the play—"My vagina is angry"—speaks loud and clear.

Senate Bill 2795, which would ban abortion except when the mother's life is in danger or in cases of rape or incest, is laden down with talk about women's rights. The bill declares its intent to protect the "health and rights of women," and says that "the state will be responsible for the medical and educational needs of any child born to a citizen of the state."

Pardon me if my vagina and uterus laugh at such promises from our Senate, whose members denounce the "socialism" of caring for women and children in need while they also denounce the "sin" of abortion. My vagina is angry about the lies told in abstinence-only education, and my uterus is angry about the lies legislators tell to pretend that they care about women facing unplanned pregnancy.

A little over a decade ago, I awoke at 3 a.m. realizing I had just missed a menstrual cycle. In that same month, I had accepted a full scholarship to the university of my choice, secured roommates and set goals to serve on student government. Unlike most of my friends, my college education had not been a priority for my family, so I also worked two jobs to save money for the upcoming year. For the first time in my life, I was learning to value myself beyond being a good southern girl going to Ole Miss to catch a husband.

In that moment, I lost all hope: I was going to be just like they always thought I would be—barefoot and pregnant, watching soap operas and swimming in regrets.

The next afternoon, I pulled up to a pay phone and called Sav-a-Life. At the pregnancy choices center, I was shown horrific and angry videos of abortion. They said that I would live in regret. They said that I would be sterile for life. They implied that I would go straight to hell if I had an abortion.

I went to my best friend in tears, and she called the center. She told them I had not even begun to consider my options, but they treated me like cattle, just to win a "no abortion for her" prize.

I slowly revealed my secret to others. One friend had gone to Memphis for an abortion when she was in high school, and she knew that I would need a sonogram. She remembered "We Didn't Start the Fire" was playing in the waiting room. I lost friends that summer, and I learned who my true friends were.

Yet, before my denial evolved into acceptance, I realized the pregnancy had already surpassed the first trimester, meaning my decision was made for me. I met with my parents to tell them "you know." My mother worried about my emotional well-being; my father first put his head in his hands, then all but got the shotgun ready. I knew what they expected of me, and I talked my then-boyfriend into marrying me so we could do what was "right." When we told his parents, his mother asked me if I got pregnant on purpose. I assured her this was not a trap. I had simply missed a pill while suffering from a stomach virus.

My Monkey turns 10 today. He's healthy, intelligent, compassionate and more energetic than most adults can handle. Pro-lifers would count my story as a win, and I couldn't disagree without making some think that I am a bitter, hateful mother. To the contrary, I'm a better mother than I've ever known. Monkey never gets a "you know" to any question. I foresee a future for him beyond starting a family. He knows he can talk to me about anything, and he does not have to depend on a "center" or misinformed friends when he has questions or troubles.

My uterus is angry and recognizes a trap at the state capitol, where some want us to sign a certificate of live birth when delivering a stillborn child. My uterus knows that an abortion is not any more dangerous than pregnancy and childbirth. My uterus knows that abortion does not create feelings of depression or shame any more than post-partum depression does.

I felt depressed while scheduling classes during my third trimester by desk size, and I felt shamed by my department head, who frowned upon me for being young, pregnant and worse, pregnant in public. I lived in fear that my water would break during the class with all the frat boys, the ones who bragged about sexual conquests every Monday. No one recited those risks to me when I decided to carry my baby to term. Should the state have intervened on my behalf, warning me of the health risks of giving birth?

My uterus does not appreciate the Legislature's treatment of vulnerable women. I say that before we lie to women in crisis situations, before we make their futures seem any more hopeless and confusing than they already are, let's fight the stigma attached to unwed mothers. Let's empower our young women to make good choices, with all the information they need, and let's take a good look at what really harms women's health, since the state wants to create a bill as our "protectors." It makes no sense to celebrate a decline in abortions while our infant mortality rate skyrockets and the health of our women declines. You know?

Previous Comments

ID
74480
Comment

There will be a rally at the capital next week. Hope Tom has the info for us.

Author
emilyb
Date
2007-02-07T18:09:22-06:00
ID
74481
Comment

Good job, Em. Too chicken to say more.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-07T18:11:53-06:00
ID
74482
Comment

I submitted THIS and your chicken? Suck it up and say more Ray. I'm already in trouble with the American Family Association I'm sure.

Author
emilyb
Date
2007-02-07T18:21:56-06:00
ID
74483
Comment

Emily, thanks so much for this. Folks, I was at the Capitol this afternoon and saw it pass with only 5 nay votes. (Some of you may have seen me on WLBT.) Our best hope is that this dangerous and nonsensical bill gets defeated in the House. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-02-07T18:29:13-06:00
ID
74484
Comment

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Anyone who can, please make it to the Capitol next Tuesday sometime between 8am and 6pm and help protest this legislation. Also, please phone your representative letting him or her know how you feel about the issue. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-02-07T18:30:45-06:00
ID
74485
Comment

Yep. Call your rep. There's too many, much important things, like, say, Katrina clean-up and such, to be handled for this bill. You seriously have to read it to know how chiding the tone is towards women. Makes me sick.

Author
emilyb
Date
2007-02-07T18:59:19-06:00
ID
74486
Comment

Amen. What was really depressing was seeing them vote this in, then applaud themselves and go to recess. If the bill does not result in Roe being overturned, then it's a waste of taxpayer dollars. If the bill somehow results in Roe being overturned (which I don't believe will happen), then it all it does it create a black-market misoprostol-induced abortion industry like what exists in Latin America. Just what we need, huh: Violation of women's rights, deadly illegal abortions, and a new illegal drug industry to boot. No thanks. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-02-07T19:26:11-06:00
ID
74487
Comment

Tom, what were the "health risks" cited on the floor today? And where did they get the info?

Author
emilyb
Date
2007-02-07T19:31:01-06:00
ID
74488
Comment

One thing worth noting: I honestly had trouble understanding what a few senators were saying. The sound system in the Capitol is not wonderful, and some of the bill's sponsors are extremely rural whites who take Southern drawl to a new level. So I might have missed something. However... There was no real debate, and no explication of what these risks to women's health were supposed to be. I would say that within 10-15 minutes, it was all over. The only person I heard bring up health risks was arguing against the bill. The line used by the bill's sponsors was that it was a bill intended to "prevent people from profiting from abortions." In other words, they don't mind if a woman terminates her pregnancy; they just don't want her to have any medical supervision if she does. Either they do not know of the Latin American black market misoprostol industry, or they don't care, or both. My suspicion is both. Some of my fellow activists and I have been known to refer to these kinds of bills as Maternal Suicide Acts. Abortion, under SB 2795, is just fine--as long as some of the women who have them have to die in the process. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-02-07T19:45:29-06:00
ID
74489
Comment

And this is what the other side DOES NOT GET about the abortion debate. Let's put moral issues aside for a moment--because I think the woman's moral right to choose is the most fundamental reason to support abortion rights, but let's throw abstract debate out the window and just look at the raw, indisputable facts: Fetuses, whatever their other status, are part of a woman's body. You can't stop a woman from cutting off her own arm or her own leg or damaging her own brain or committing suicide or eating in an unhealthy way or contracting STDs or shooting heroin. You cannot stop a woman from destroying parts of her own body. Prior restraint is impossible. All you can do is: 1) Punish a woman for destroying parts of her own body, or 2) Punish others for seeing to it that she doesn't die from her decision to destroy parts of her own body. By punishing doctors for performing abortions, ALL these legislatures EVER do is make abortion a non-medical industry, usually a black market non-medical industry. The only net effect, in the age of multiple black market abortifacients, is that the woman suffers for her decision to have an abortion. Period. In the final analysis, that's all these damn laws mean. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-02-07T19:52:18-06:00
ID
74490
Comment

Thank you Emily, again, for your honesty on this extremely important issue. I forgot how hot this debate is here, after being in Texas for 8 years, and I want to again help to defend women's right to choice. I will be at the Capitol on Tuesday. Is something organized for that rally?

Author
jdegroote
Date
2007-02-08T09:12:00-06:00
ID
74491
Comment

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you "The Hoohaa Chronicles" complements of uptight Florida folks. And Fark.com

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-02-08T11:42:30-06:00
ID
74492
Comment

OMG. FARK. Love it. MF calls it her mopsy. I do not care for Hoohaa.

Author
emilyb
Date
2007-02-08T13:03:08-06:00
ID
74493
Comment

Ok. Emily. You asked for it. You had better take a seat. Put on your seatbelts. Put your children to sleep. You women will hate me for it. It'll blow your minds. Here it is - I'm not telling any woman what to do with her body! I'm out.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-08T13:32:11-06:00
ID
74494
Comment

jde, there's definitely something organized for that rally--all day, all the way to 6pm. When you show up, we should be pretty easy to spot. I hope you can make it! Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-02-08T14:39:14-06:00
ID
74495
Comment

Emily writes: I do not care for Hoohaa. Isn't that Al Pacino's catchphrase? Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-02-08T14:39:52-06:00
ID
74496
Comment

Hey y'all. I've invited this chick to join our discussion. http://realchoice.blogspot.com/2007/02/moonbat-alert.html She stumbled upon my personal blog, and I just wanted to let her know that all the "moonbats" are here in case she needs more info. Ahhhh.....I remember why this piece was so hard for me. And scary.

Author
emilyb
Date
2007-02-08T18:22:02-06:00
ID
74497
Comment

You did great, Emily. I'm proud of you, and we should all be! Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-02-08T19:52:09-06:00
ID
74498
Comment

Vigina is back! Here's the FARK user submitted headline: 'Vagina' returns to marquee- 'vajayjay,' 'bajingo,' and 'tee-tee' are waiting on standby I love this country!

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-02-09T02:18:52-06:00
ID
74499
Comment

It's late, the neighbors dog won't stop barking! Vagina is back! Sorry...

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-02-09T02:20:36-06:00
ID
74500
Comment

Out of context quote for the day: "It's late, the neighbors dog won't stop barking! Vagina is back!" Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-02-09T05:02:36-06:00
ID
74501
Comment

Even things that scare you still need to be written. Brilliant, Emily and thank you! Hands off my vagina and my uterus and also my overies, you toothless wonders in our legislature!! Think we can get them to pass a bill making all males obtain either a vasectomy or castration? Take away their golf clubs? Outlaw hunting, fishing, BigMudTires and 4-wheelers? Nooooo? Oh my goodness, their tiny little egos would be far too fragile for that.

Author
ShopGirl
Date
2007-02-09T10:54:13-06:00
ID
74502
Comment

If any of y'all are free, we're still meeting up at the capitol today... 10a-4p is the best time. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-02-13T09:58:10-06:00
ID
74503
Comment

The event today was FANTASTIC--a huge success by any standard. We pretty much OWNED the first-floor rotunda. Now if the legislation will just stay off the House floor... Photos to follow soon! Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-02-14T05:12:37-06:00
ID
74504
Comment

Here are those photos. I'm the nose and goatee hidden behind the upper right "JUSTICE FOR WOMEN" sign in the group shot; I was cutting up with some other folks and didn't realize the camera was about to go off, though if you look closely you'll see that one of the other activists was about to get my attention. :o) Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-02-14T14:58:50-06:00

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