Storied Lives

[Content Note: Hostility to agency.]

This weekend, after being friends online for a very long time, Jessica Luther (@scatx) and I met in person for the first time. And it was amazing. And we talked about all the things.

Naturally, we talked a lot about abortion rights, and what's happening in Texas. We woke up at 3am so I could drive her to the airport for a 5:30 flight, so she could get back to Texas for the state senate committee hearing on SB1, the anti-choice bill which Senator Wendy Davis tried to filibuster, for which state Republicans have called a special session to pass, in spite of fervent opposition from women and other people with uteri and their allies in the state.

Jess and I only got about three hours of fitful sleep last (thanks to a combination of anxiety and the air conditioning going bust, turning our house into an intolerable hotbox), but, in the moments when I did manage to fall asleep for a few minutes here and there, I dreamed of women standing at a podium, giving testimony about getting abortions, not having access to abortion, why they desperately want to protect abortion access. I dreamed of women telling their stories.

Yesterday, during an appearance on Fox News, Republican Texas Governor and total garbage nightmare Rick Perry said that Wendy Davis should be grateful her mother did not abort her because "[y]ou never know who's going to be considered to be an extraordinary individual." It was a compliment, he explained.

This, after Perry had invoked Davis' own experience as a single mother in order to scold her about how it's "just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters."

Rick Perry doesn't just want ownership of women's bodies; he wants ownership of our lives and stories. (He doesn't even know, or care, that people other than women need access to abortion, too.) He is comprehensively hostile to women's agency, right down to our right to tell our own stories, defined as we want.

Perry has now invoked Wendy Davis' own life, her daughter's life, and her mother's life, auditing their lived experiences and reshape them to his desired form, in service to his own anti-woman agenda.


Rick Perry, these women's lives are not yours. Their bodies are not yours. Their stories are not yours.

Also yesterday, Perry promised to push through the abortion restrictions that are at the center of the protests in Texas. That's what the special session is for, and that's what it will accomplish, to the sounds of women raising their voices and telling their stories in opposition.

And Rick Perry won't fucking listen, because women's stories are only important to him when he can reconfigure them to serve as bars of their oppression.

While Rick Perry pranced around on Fox News, peacocking about how he will advance his anti-choice agenda, Jessica Luther and I told each other stories—about ourselves, about women we have met, about experiences we have shared with people who have the capacity to get pregnant or are pregnant and don't want to be. And we listened to each other's stories, creating a space of knowing and being known. It was a thing friends do. And it felt, by virtue of the obdurate refusal to fucking listen to women practiced by Rick Perry and his hostile cohorts across the nation, like a deeply radical act.

To love and respect and trust women ever is.

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For updates, follow the #SB1 hashtag on Twitter.

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