I shouldn’t have gone to the bar. My Friday nights are about a nice pot of oolong and a little Jane Austen, not drinking with 24-year-old work friends. But they can be a real kick in the pants, as my mother would say. So I went.
All of them were late except for Zach, who’s always early because he likes to get a jump on the drinking. Zach gets the highest evals whenever the Dept. of Ed comes to count our beans, and word is it’s because of that young dood flirtiness that lady bean-counters go nuts for. Why can’t the DOE hire more dykes?
As Zach and I sat with our drinks (club soda for me because alcohol allergy) , our friend Sharee called me to say she’d had to park a mile away.
“Be careful,” I said. “Because I bet you’re walking in four-inch heels.”
“I’m all good!” she chirped. “I have a gun!”
We hung up. “She wasn’t kidding,” Zach said. “You know she’s a serious Republican, right?”
I knew. On paper, Sharee and I should despise each other — she’s hyper-armed, hyper-femme with rich parents and a Mitt Romney sticker on her car — but we enjoy hanging out as long as we don’t discuss anything substantive. She may not like the idea of gay marriage, but she’s always excited to look at wedding gowns online with me.
“She’s young,” I reminded Zach.
“She’s 24!” he said. “And you know I’m an anarcho-Communist.”
“The age of reason is 26,” I replied, because it’s true.
Sharee’s problem is that she has no problems. She’s never been turned away from a doctor’s office because she didn’t have insurance; never taken an ice-cold shower because the heat got cut off; never had to choose between food and medicine; never waited in line at the Social Security Office; never suffered any of the million stinging privations and humiliations of living a real adult life without parents to fall back on. She’s earned almost nothing for herself, yet opposes any sort of social contract because somehow she knows; she just knows, she’s never going to be weak enough to need it. She doesn’t feel vulnerable, even though she’s a young woman (of color!) who makes less than $35,000 a year as a public employee. She’s smart, she’s educated. And yet.
I’ve read Right-Wing Women. I get it. But some days, it’s all I can do not to say, “Romney sticker, huh? Hey, Sharee…do you have a pussy? Go ahead and check! I’ll wait.”
I said as much to Zach, who got irritated.
“The mistake people make,” he mansplained, “and I’m not saying you’re the only one — but the mistake some people make is, they think women only care about birth control and abortion. Women are full human beings, right? They care about EVERYTHING! Taxes, the economy, education, what-HAVE-you.”
Then Sharee showed up, all smiles and concealed weaponry, so we let it drop. I’m left with a gristly question: Am I wrong to think contraception and abortion laws SHOULD be vitally important to all women? Does this belief serve to narrow/marginalize women’s status, or is it true that without reproductive freedom, everything else is moot because a woman who can’t control the means of her own reproduction is not free?
I don’t know what I’m trying to say. Maybe I shouldn’t care. I’m never going to need the Pill again. I don’t see young straight women fighting for my right to marry. But Friday night, I felt sad and old. Because it just felt like we’ve lost.
*I’m aware that this post is more of a beginning instead of my usual narrative arc. It feels like I left something on the stove. Please hold for Part 2.
OK, here it is:
Part 1 of this post left me feeling cold and void and dumb as a box of rocks. It didn’t say what I wanted to say because I couldn’t translate what I wanted to say from Feels to Standard Modern English. So I asked my lovely online friend Moira if I we could spin and spiral together in Q-and-A format. Moira is an exited erstwhile member of transcult/sex-poz-landia who blogs at http://redressalert.tumblr.com. Here’s a partial transcript of our IM:
P: Frustrated by post. WTF am I trying to even saaaaaaaay.
M: It was a beginning…I thought the most developed part was the bit about how your friend doesn’t see herself as ever needing a social safety net. The implications of that are huge. More to explore there.
P: OK! What else what else.
M: The other place I’d expand is responding to Zach’s reversal. Love that he’s an anarcho-commie, btw. That is perfect and hilarious.
P: YOU CAN’T BE ANARCHO-COMMIE IT MAKES NO SENSE. It’s probably some lefty-dood thing where he gets to have sex with ALL the laydeez. And OMG he totally reversed me. Vulcan mind trick. How he do that?!
M: He implied that your argument diminished the humanity of women and reduces us to our reproductive capability. In fact. the only thing that *does* that is the social control over reproduction. Which you’re arguing AGAINST!
P: I feel so dumb.
M: No, that’s part of it! You’re not dumb. It’s designed to make you flub and stutter. It’s a mindfuck.
P: I did stutter! I never stutter! Like, all of a sudden, I was on the defensive.
M: Yup. It’s like judo. Uses your own strength against you.
P: And yet I was the only non-drunk person at the table.
(Redacted: Here is where we talked about drinking a little).
P: What’s your take on young conservative women?
M: Preliminarily: It’s in some ways a mirror image of 3rd wavers. Very I-ndividual solutions. Your friend carries a gun so she’s “all good.” It’s a fallacy.
P: SHE is all good. Not WE.
M: Exactly. And it isn’t even true for her, as a supposed island. She’s (a) more likely to be assaulted by someone she trusts, and (b) can be overpowered and have her weapon used against her, just to name 2 things. That model is, “He’ll have to go find someone else to rape, instead of me.” And that’s when it works how it’s supposed to!
P: This is so what was in my feels. WHY COULDN’T I PUT THIS IN WURDS.
M: None of us are islands. It’s not a weakness, I grew up going to (redacted place of worship) every week — singing the same prayers, Alone, I don’t know the words. In a group, I know them all.
I’m so glad to know Moira. Go check her out!