[Gregory] Boots, Again | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Gregory] Boots, Again

Yesterday afternoon I got in my car and immediately wished I hadn't quit smoking five months ago. I had nothing easy and obvious to soothe the hand gestures and curse words that typically characterize me in high dudgeon. I ended up just sitting in the car curled over the steering wheel, sweating and furiously typing on my phone.

I was at the Capitol, and I couldn't leave. I wanted to put the car in drive and maneuver straight into the largest glass of wine I've ever seen. But, for some reason, I just couldn't drive away. A few hours before, I had watched the House pass a bill that I knew would cause low-income Mississippi women to lose access to health care.

I almost felt like it was a battlefield, that I had dead soldiers I couldn't leave behind. Eventually, I did drive. I made it home, where my beleaguered husband went silent at my answer to "How was your day?" He knows when I say things like, "I fit the criteria for an inpatient admission," it means one of two things: I'm either homicidal or suicidal.

"Suicidal?" He asked.


He breathed a sigh of relief and went into the kitchen to pour me a glass of wine. I am nothing if not chock full of hyperbole on most days. That day it was mixed with a whole lot of sad and a whole lot of tired.

About a year ago, I wrote a column that will probably get lumped with this one because I mention "putting on my boots" and "getting ready to march" in both of them (don't say I didn't give you fair warning). But I find myself on the other side of that year knowing that I am different for it. I am a little more whole. I am a little less naïve. And I suffer a lot less nonsense.

This past year, lobbying against Initiative 26 started eating up any life I had outside of work. Every weekend for months there seemed to be something we needed to do to get out the word. Then we voted. Then we won. It was awesome.

But I cannot say that I was not angry at the people who forced me to take time away from my life, and my family, to keep rights afforded to me in the U.S. Constitution. And that anger carried forward. As I talked to The Women, I began to notice that they were all still pissed, too.

They were also vigilant.

These women are pretty awesome. I can't thank Initiative 26 enough for the women it caused to cross my path. They are amazing—smart, strong, educated, loving, independent women (and a few men, too!). I count them as my friends now. And right now we are all angry. Angry that The Men on High Street decided they weren't going to listen to us—their constituents. And more so, angry at the entire tone the country has taken toward women in general. Because, unlike some, I know that anti-woman rhetoric actually increases the odds that my daughter will be raped in her lifetime.

I grew up in a world that had a place for women—beside the men. Even in the Mississippi Delta in the 1980s, things were not as strange and backward as they are now. I was told that I could do and be anything I wanted. I was taught to love other people. I was taught to take care of people who had less than me. I was taught to be kind to people. I was taught to treat other people the way I want to be treated. And I was told that being a girl was good—that I could do anything a man could do—anything. I was also taught to stick up for myself and handle my own business.

I don't come from weak stock. And I like to think I was raised a lot like other Mississippi kids.

Today, the Mississippi Legislature is discussing several bills that are germane to women in this state retaining access to reproductive health care. Lawmakers introduced 32 bills this session that deal with regulating or restricting women's reproductive health care. Yes, 32. The number of bills introduced concerning denying men their constitutional rights? None. The number of bills about one of their "highest priorities" this session, charter schools? Six.
And, yet, people keep saying women aren't under attack.

Legislators are not talking about the economy—unless we count unconstitutional immigration bills. They sure aren't talking about jobs—unless its restrictions to unemployment (in a state where the unemployment rate is higher than 10 percent). In short, I'm going to make the charge that they aren't listening to us at all.

I think it's time to finally pull out the boots, ladies. Because I am just done. I am done with people wanting to put probes in vaginas and men not allowing women a seat at the table and mothers being prosecuted for accidents and the elevation of embryos above flesh-and-blood humans. I am done.

On Thursday, March 29, I will be putting those boots back on. And then I'm going to wear them as I march to the Capitol so they can see that I mean what I say. I'm bringing The Women with me. And I want you to join us. Bring your boots.

Mississippi W.A.R. (Women Are Representing) will march from Smith Park to the State Capitol in silent protest (signs welcome) starting at 9 a.m. on March 29. Come join other Mississippi women—and women across the nation—as we tell our Legislature to represent all of us. Visit http://www.facebook.com/groups/WOWMS.

Legacy Comments

"Because, unlike some, I know that anti-woman rhetoric actually increases the odds that my daughter will be raped in her lifetime." So sad......so true. This is a great column, my friend!


The women (and some men) of Mississippi are letting Phil Bryant have it on his Facebook page. If it wasn't so serious it would be funny! https://www.facebook.com/im4phil


true Rico true!

Laurie Bertram Roberts2012-03-22T13:28:15-06:00

Wonderful writeup. I am cheering for your Mississippi gals from over in similarly-sideways Alabama!

Melissa Davis2012-03-22T13:30:02-06:00

Yeah uh the hyperbole may be more than insensitive to those of us who have lost friends in combat good luck with your cause ask them how imposing morality is a principle of limited government and let's leave the Soldiering to the soldiers

Jared Johnston2012-03-22T18:17:55-06:00

I admit, I know nothing of the 32 bills, but how are they affecting women's reproductive rights/health care?


Jared, I don't think anyone meant to be insensitive to actual soldiers. Surely, we are allowed to say that someone is "putting on their marching boots" or "soldiering on" without that being disrespectful to members of the military.

Brian C Johnson2012-03-23T14:22:12-06:00

the 32 bills of which there are 4 left are trying to close down the last abortion clinic left in the state. That is not the only thing these bills do HB1196 known as the "heartbeat bill" makes abortions illegal after 6 weeks. Not only does it do that but in order to assess if there is a heartbeat women will have to undergo a state mandated ultrasound. the only way to detect a heartbeat this early and get a clear picture is by doing a trans vaginal ultrasound. This procedure involves a ten inch probe being inserted into an women's vagina against her will and without her doctor's advice. That is called rape. In addition to that this bill contains personhood language declaring that life begins at fertilization of an egg. It is sneaky and it has long range implications. They know it is unconstitutional and have said so publicly (chairman Mims) they do not care. They're goal is to challenge Roe, period. Did I mention there is no real exemption for rape and incest and those exempts are subject to "proof". Because every women who has been raped wants to keep retelling her story so she can have an abortion.

Laurie Bertram Roberts2012-03-23T17:01:38-06:00

I don't see how aborting babies is part of "reproductive rights". There is roughly a 50% chance that the baby being killed is a girl... who is fighting for her reproductive rights? It really is not my desire to be combative, but how is it your (or my) right to kill someone because they weren't planned? It isn't our right to kill because of race, why is it ok to kill someone based on age?


PSM--I'll not get into an abortion debate concerning this column. Just know I've had a million of them and I've won each and every one. ;-) Also, you say you aren't being contentious but the two statements you just made are very well known forced-birth propaganda. So, I'll say good day to you and you don't have to worry about marching. Jared--While I get your point, I feel its germaine to state that IF because actual war exists, we cannot use similes concerning it, then we might as well look for the death of both creative non-fiction and fiction.

Lori G2012-03-26T15:50:36-06:00

PSM reproductive right include all of reproductive health services which whether you like it or not includes abortion. Also embryos are NOT babies that's why they aren't called babies. My nine year old gets it he says saying an embryo is a baby is like saying cake batter is a cake even though its not baked or frosted.

Laurie Bertram Roberts2012-03-26T17:43:24-06:00

Hi Lori... That's fine, as long as you don't count this as a win ;-). I really did say what I said to discuss the differences in our beliefs, but if you don't want to, that's fine. I respect your decision. I really wasn't trying to "pick a fight" or anything. I have very strong beliefs here. However, as with all my beliefs, I do enjoy getting folks views on subjects (whether anyone changes their views or not) when we can all be civil.


PSM--I actually thank you for that comment. I'm glad that you have strong beliefs. I admire passion in anyone. What I would implore you to look at is actual statistics concerning abortion and how those numbers are reduced. Outlawing or restricting access to reproductive healthcare in any way can actualy INCREASE the rates of abortion in any given country. Check countries which have outlawed abortion. They have worse health and poverty outcomes for all their women and children. The only two things that are research-based and proven to reduce the actual abortion rate are easy access to contraception and comprehensive sex education. Two things that we do not have in this state. So, when someone chooses to be "forced birth" (which I use as pro-life is not the correct term. Pro-life would support all life--even born life), I know that they actually do not have the information needed to make a logical decision about abortion or reproductive care. I heard the propaganda statements that you've made (common forced-birth arguments) and I assessed that you actually do not have any concrete knowledge of science and facts regarding birth statistics or women's public health. Furthermore, your statement that you have "strong feelings" concerning this lets me know that your argument is not rational. It is irrationally based on "feelings" that probably don't have a whit to do with actually reducing abortion or caring for women and their unborn children. The religious or moral argument against abortion is fallacious. Because, in order to actually reduce them, you have to do the exact opposite of what forced-birthers preach: INCREASE access to healthcare for women. Do you see how that cognitive dissonance just doesn't work out? There isn't a moral argument in it for me. This isn't about judgement of "good" versus "evil". This is about public health policy and what we've learned as a civilization. The anti-choice movement actually takes that "learning" and DISCOUNTS it in a way that harms health outcomes we've been fighting to improve for decades. In the name of moral outrage, doing the exact opposite of the thing that they purport to want. In short, being forced birth and the arguments you put forth make no sense. They have no scientific validity and, when it comes down to it, they do nothing but harm women (who end up seeking illegal healthcare) and push forward a contentious moral debate that allows women to be called "sluts", "whores" and "murderers". The type of arguments you raised actually HARM women and children. They do not promote a culture of life. They promote a culture of judgement and opression. The abortion argument is nothing but an attempt to control women. If one can control the birthing process, women can be controlled. Unfortunately, I fear, that most of you who may have good intentions have been sold a bill of goods. I am in no way "pro-abortion" or a cold and heartless person. On the other hand, I work with families in poverty every day. Life includes hard choices. Life for women includes rape and incest. Life for women includes sexual abuse which causes sexual acting out in the adolescent years and impulse control issues that can lead to unwanted pregnancies--all because of a crime a man committed ten years previously. Sometimes, women who are pregnant just do not want to be pregnant anymore. And, unfortunately, history has born out time and time again that these women will FIND a way to "not be pregnant"--even if it means taking their own life. So, I choose to save them. To love them. To not judge them. I choose to try to understand them. And science tells us that if we want to reduce abortions, that is what we ultimately need to do. (And that's all I have to say about that.)

Lori G2012-03-27T09:25:18-06:00

Amen, Lori, Amen: The only two things that are research-based and proven to reduce the actual abortion rate are easy access to contraception and comprehensive sex education. Two things that we do not have in this state. This is the truth that anti-abortion people do not seem to want to understand: That you, and I, and others with our research-based views are actually trying to reduce abortion. It makes a whole lot more sense than denying access to birth control and good sex education, and then bashing the women who do end up pregnant as a result (while often ignoring the male role in it). That sure does sound like setting women up for failure and then bashing them for what people don't want them to know: how to reduce abortion and unwanted pregnancies. IF the people who want to deny sex education actually meant that they just don't want people having sex at all (and for many birth-control opponents, even in marriage unless they're willing to have a houseful of kids), then they would focus their wrath and lectures and speeches as much on men as they do women. But they don't. What does that tell us? They don't mean it. It's a way to set women up for failure and then blame us for it.


Hi Lori... could you provide the links to some of those studies? I don't want to comment on those until I've read them and I haven't. Again, not being combative, just asking. Following the reasoning that we have less abortions because they are legal, seems we should allow drunk driving, drugs, etc?? That logic doesn't line up in my head. Laurie, when do you consider a baby a person? Honestly, I'm not sure, but I suspect my thoughts of when they are a person is much earlier than yours. I'm certainly not opposed to easy access to contraception (PREVENT pregnancy, not end it). As I said, I'm not 100% sold on when life begins, but I am convinced if it has a heart beat, it is a person. I'm torn on sex-education, though. I don't want public schools doing that. It is our jobs as parents to do that in a manner that lines up with our beliefs and convictions at the appropriate time and in the appropriate environment. However, I also know that not all parents are going to do that. Donna, I'm a man and I admit my gender is a large part of this issue. If men would be men and treat women the way they deserve to be treated, this issue would go away. Sadly, we have a lot of men running around not doing that and a lot of women running around seeking those idiots approval however they can get it.


PSM--The problem is basing opinions on things that "sound right". Just because things "sound right", or have been repeated to you ad nauseum, does not mean they are true. The logic doesn't need to line up in your head. It's true whether your head believes it or not (that's the cool thing about science). Roe V Wade decided when a baby was a baby--legally. This happens at viability and is seen as a dynamic and changing length of time. I believe Roe's original text places it around 24-26 weeks. As science catches up, that is actually shortened. Abortions after that are illegal--except in the case of life of the mother. In fact, most abortions after 20 weeks are illegal in this country already. Those inflammatory fetus billboards show late term abortions around 28-32 weeks which aren't even legal and were probably conducted because the fetus was already dead. There's a lot of erroeneous information to wade through in the abortion debate. Read this website which collects non-partisan/unbiased data concerning birth and abortion statistics. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_IAW.html You will find that abortion rates are higher in developing worlds with no access to contraception where abortion is illegal. Those two things actually create a culture that causes MORE unwanted pregnancies--hence higher abortions. Remember when I told you a pregnant woman who doesn't want to be pregnant will find a way? Then I want you to look at the numbers of women availing themselves of "unsafe" abortions in these countries where it is illegal (Africa being a main one). Africa has a much higher abortion rate than American and those women access unsafe abortions at an astronomical rate and suffer permanent injury and death related to them. Is THAT what we are wanting to import to this country? Where we HAVE a workable public health system? Juxtapose those countries with the Northern European countries (Sweden, Finland, Norway) who have EXTREMELY LOW abortion rates but also provide extensive comprehensive sex education through the government AS WELL as very easily accessible contraception--that is government funded as well. While I respect people's right to religious beliefs, they are due no ground in public health policy. I, personally, don't want my daughter to grow up in a country that is as hostile to women as African (not that MS is actually much better--notice we have the LEAST access to reproductive healthcare in the COUNTRY and we are rated LAST for healthy outcomes for women and children--Are you getting the point yet? :) http://www.ivillage.com/best-worst-states-for-women-ky-wv-ar-ok-ms/8-a-436881 ) Your gender is a large part of this issue. It is very easy for a man to talk about pregnancy, child birth and mothering and never truly understand what that means for a woman. What those compromises mean for her education, her ability to feed herself and her children, and the way in which she gets trapped into social situations which are abusive. CHOOSING to be a mother is a big deal for a woman--it limits her education opportunities, limits her ability to be a wage earner and limits basically all opportunities that lead to more economic security (in this country and other countries--it is a universal rule) I refuse to get into a "its a baby" debate. Because, to me, that is part of the moral argument and this data really has no bearing on whether or not an aborted fetus is a "baby". "Baby" is an emotionally charged word that you've been taught to use as a Pro-lifer. Just as you've been taught to use the phrases "Abortion for birth control" with no real idea if that phrase is even true--if you can discern what it actually means as ALL abortion is technically a form of "birth control". And you are right about sex education. I work with adolescents in poverty who have not one damn clue how they got pregnant. But now their opportunities are limited for life. At what point do we as a society acknowledge that while we would LIKE for sex education to be taught in the home, it most definitely is NOT. So, instead of wishing and hoping for something that is obviously not going to happen, we instead come together and decide to educate our women and girls in a way that keeps them safe, not pregnant when they don't want to be, and gives them a good shot at growing up to be wage earners that can contribute to the two income family required by this country? I'll post some other studies as I have time (Guttmacher is a lot to chew on at one time--peruse the entire website). If you want change, we must do something different. And one reason that abortion rates have stayed pretty constant in this country for decades is because we've never done the things required to actually reduce them. And I ask you to think about that while you read/listen to literature from the Pro-Life side. Because they do misrepresent themselves. Abortions do not cause breast cancer, you have the same possibility of complications in a pregnancy after and abortion as you do if you never had one. Then they will state that Planned Parenthood does everything it can to perpetuate abortion so they keep making money. When really, if they studied and understood science at all, they would understand that PP reduces the amount of abortions in America by at least 200,000 each year due to giving out contraception. So why does the Pro-Life contingent continue to perpetuate that what they do reduces abortions (even though science says it does not) and that PP perpetuates abortions? MONEY. LOTS OF MONEY. Pro-Lifers and Pro-Choicers pour MILLIONS of dollars into campaigns. Which is why you find that politicians are always very vocally one way before they get elected...but nothing quite changes after they get elected. I know that's a lot of information. And most of the time--to people just coming into this debate with the bits and pieces of information that are handed out by biased and interested groups--its blows their minds. Sit with it. Read some statistics...draw conclusions. But the only one that I see? Reducing the abortion rate means we keep it safe and legal. It means we educate our children about sex and their bodies and that we provide them with easy access to contraception.

Lori G2012-03-28T11:34:31-06:00

There is a reason why there is a viability standard in Roe that is all I will say about that I am sorry a six week embryo is NOT a person if it is let it live out side my body.

Laurie Bertram Roberts2012-03-28T12:04:55-06:00

Lori G, I just saw your article today. I wish that it could be read around the world. Thanks for your tact and talent in dealing with such a sensitive issue. When you think that you are at the end of your rope, just take a day off of the "Battle Field" - I will polish and put new soles on your "Boots". Count me in as a participant in the fight against folks who are mounting a "War on Women's Rights".


Thanks Jess! I appreciate that a lot. Still no peep from PSM? Wondering if I ran him off or just blew his mind. :-)

Lori G2012-03-31T07:53:04-06:00

Valid enough but the simile is abused now if you have actually worn combat boots abuse away if not well youre welcome go ahead sweetheart tell them how hard you got it.

Jared Johnston2012-03-31T08:19:58-06:00

Sorry to disappoint, this has been a week of 10 hour days at work and a couple family commitments... just haven't had a chance to read what you posted earlier. On the agenda for the coming week.


Hi, I just wanted to drop by and tell you that I think your article was great, and could not have come at a better time. I have no doubt that it greatly contributed to the success of the march in Jackson last week. Thank you, for putting yourself out there like that. :)

Jennifer R. James2012-04-01T04:26:28-06:00

Jared, First, it would really help your posts make sense if you would use some sort of punctuation. It's hard to understand what you've even trying to say, as they are. So help us out here. Secondly, you go after Lori for using combat boots as a simile; technically it's a metaphor although "like a battlefield" is more of a simile. Either way, I'm sure you realize the whole point of using a simile or a metaphor is not to be literal to make a point, but to choose something that helps make her point—if she was actually wearing combat boots and marching in a battle, it wouldn't be either device. Here's the definition of metaphor from Grammar.com; you can find many similar ones: A figure of speech in which an implicit comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have something in common. The definition of simile from Dictionary.com: a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared, as in “she is like a rose.” 2.an instance of such a figure of speech or a use of words exemplifying it. And Grammar.com: A figure of speech in which two fundamentally unlike things are explicitly compared, usually in a phrase introduced by like or as. Ironically, you accuse her of something literal: that she hasn't marched in a battle in combat boots so she shouldn't use that phrase. Using that logic and with your first name, I'm also going to assume that you have not been pregnant, nor have you been at risk of being pregnant. So following your logic, you shouldn't be participating in this conversation. I'm not saying that's the case; I'm pointing out that your "simile" argument doesn't serve you on multiple levels. Thus, the point is you have belabored something that doesn't make sense here enough, so please add something to the actual discussion or move on. And if you do choose to continue commenting, please take time to include some basic punctuation and split your thoughts into sentences that make sense. Thanks much.


Donna--Thanks because I didn't know where else to go with that. Lawd. Bless his heart! And I was very careful in using simile because of the "like a battlefield" comparison. BECAUSE I HAD TO LOOK IT UP TO MAKE SURE! :P For the life of me I couldn't remember which one actually included the word "like"....

Lori G2012-04-02T09:13:04-06:00

Easy way to remember: simiLe -- therefore, Like. I have all sorts of those tricks in my head. You really ought to hear the one I use to help people know the difference between lie and lay (and lay and laid). Yes, something like that. My college students loved it.; -)


Hi Lori... Had a chance to look over the link you sent. It is very interesting. Three quick things here, The statistics are a lot to digest, but don't seem to equate that legalized abortion lowers abortion. It seems that easy, effective contraception and education does that. I'm with you... that is needed worldwide. Another thing that I take issue with is that because I'm a male, I don't have the say-so/opinion as anyone else. My wife and I have two wonderful kids and I've been fortunate enough to be there with her and our kids through the good and bad (6 years of post-pardam (spelling???) depression, struggles nursing, etc). We've gotten through it. We are also blessed enough for us to be a one-income family, she is a stay-at-home Mom, a job I'm very appreciative of. I firmly believe if you asked my wife, she'd tell you I have as deep of concern for issues that affect her and our daughters as anyone. Lastly, it seems that besides minimizing my views because of my gender, you seem to imply that I think that all women need to be forced to become pregnant and deal with having a baby. I firmly believe that a woman has the right to say "no" (which should be the ultimate birth control) or to safe, effective contraception. I (and before you start, my wife as well) believe life starts much earlier than you so we both believe when a woman decides she doesn't want to be pregnant any more, she is killing an innocent person. Do I want women doing this in back alleys and dark rooms? Absolutely not. My stance is, though, let's prevent the pregnancy in the first place. If it isn't prevented, let's find that child a home where it will be loved. If the woman doesn't want the child, she shouldn't be burdened with it... there are millions of folks that will provide a loving home for the child. I'll also head off what I see coming... In the event the mother's life is at stake, yes, I believe that mother should have the right to terminate that pregnancy. If one person has a high probability of dying, the mother is the best person to make that decision, the father the second and the government WAY down that list. In all honesty, I struggle with my views on abortion in a rape scenario. Now... you can begin your male/pro-life bashing.


Another thing that I take issue with is that because I'm a male, I don't have the say-so/opinion as anyone else. My wife and I have two wonderful kids and I've been fortunate enough to be there with her and our kids through the good and bad (6 years of post-pardam (spelling???) depression, struggles nursing, etc). We've gotten through it. We are also blessed enough for us to be a one-income family, she is a stay-at-home Mom, a job I'm very appreciative of. I firmly believe if you asked my wife, she'd tell you I have as deep of concern for issues that affect her and our daughters as anyone. Loathe as I am to comment on an abortion thread (which I believe strongly is a women's health issue and I like to leave it at that) I would point out that your family offers some fairly ideal circumstances for child-rearing, which is fantastic. But, respectfully, I don't see why that would qualify you to tell other women what they can and can't do with their bodies. You might consider what life would be like for a mother who doesn't have those advantages and still has to deal with the "postpartum depression, nursing problems" that you and your wife did, but has to add to it the need to go to a job, pay the bills, gas the car and get the oil changed, cut the lawn, etc, all without a supportive partner who can be there with her "through the good and bad." In other words, while the mother's whose pregnancy you'd legislate to full term is carrying, bearing and (perhaps) raising that child -- whether from a rape, or abusive relationship, or contraception failure, or lack of knowledge of contraception, or just a damn mistake -- she might not have the same support system that your wife has in your family. At what point does *that* become a part of the moral calculus? (Oh, and PSM, from what I've seen above, you're being disagreed with, not bashed. Let's not confuse the two.)

Todd Stauffer2012-04-06T13:52:12-06:00

Todd, I said I struggle with the rape scenario, so let's leave that out. An abusive relationship? Depends on what you mean, that could very well be rape. People make mistakes... that is part of life. When you make mistakes, there are consequences to deal with. Can I go bungee jumping to have the protective cable break and say I don't want broken bones any more? No. When you choose to do something that involves risk, you should be aware of the risks (education) and the consequences of those risks. If it remains easy to terminate a life/pregnancy the risks are lowered. That is where it becomes part of my "moral calculus". If someone understands the risks of the behavior they are engaging in, then if the protection doesn't work, well it doesn't work and they need to be ready to take the consequences. We didn't want kids, my first born is one of those consequences of, shall we say, preventive measures not working properly. I am not speaking of "you should/you must...", I'm speaking of "we did and ..." BTW, it didn't come out well in the post, buy my bashing comment was meant as a fairly tongue-in-cheek remark.


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