Once upon a time, in a land that’s the second lone star to the right and straight on ’til Mexico, a group of Lost Girls rallied around their new leader, Wendy. It sounds like a gender-swapped Peter Pan, but its not – it’s the emergence of a new Democratic force in the Texas state capitol.
Regardless of political leaning, I think everybody has to acknowledge Wendy Davis as a superhero. She stood and spoke on one subject, without going to the bathroom, without leaning against anything, for 11 hours. I can’t do anything for 11 hours, not even sleep!
She made her now famous stand back in July, and by doing so struck a blow for not only the reproductive rights of Texas women, but also for their democratic rights.
Did you know that during the grandiose and operatic abortion law debate male members of the Texas State Senate tried to literally out-shout their female colleagues? As Sen. Leticia Van de Putte put it, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”
The struggle for Wendy Davis and her fellow Texas Amazonians to fully participate in the government the same as their male colleagues shares a cultural problem with the debate over abortion. The Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade made the right to obtain an abortion fundamental, both for the protection of the mother’s health and her bodily sovereignty. It also protected the physician’s ability to freely practice medicine without the undue intervention of the government.
Ultimately, the Supreme Court decided that the decision to have an abortion should be a private affair between patient and physician. They completely rejected the idea of the fetus’ right to life.
What does this have to do with Wendy Davis and her compatriots speaking in the Texas State Senate? It matters because the law preserves a woman’s bodily sovereignty. That includes her voice.
The people who try to take away women’s right to bodily sovereignty will first take away her opportunity to voice her opinion. I hate to tell you, but freedom of speech doesn’t mean squat when others actively and literally drown it out.
Why are the right to my own body and the right to my own beliefs and opinions less because of my sex? Is it because I’m physically weaker than a man of my height and weight? Perhaps because I, and other women, are essentially Other to the current dominant power structure.
What does it say, though, about male legislators that they feel the need to silence an “uppity” woman? Not strong enough to take a challenge?
Female voters will not be cowed and quieted with meaningless platitudes anymore. If members of state or federal legislature propose group-specific laws and then refuse to let members of those groups speak, is that not extremely suspicious?
Women cannot, and should not, permit men to make decisions on their behalf, uninvolved in the process, not even allowed to sit at the table. If we do, we will only continue to live in a world where discrimination and sexual hegemony rule.
I’m not a Lost Girl in the Never-Never-Land. I’m not isolated without direction, searching for a parent to tell me what to do. I am a freethinking, independent person with my own opinions; to tell me my intellectual legitimacy is compromised by my sex is bewildering at best and misogynistic and primeval at worst. Stop asking to get punched.
Wendy Davis is Wonder Woman, not because she refused to let an unfair anti-woman law be passed, but because she refused to be shouted down, bullied into silence, or give in to the physical exhaustion expected of her sex. Now, on the eve of the Texas gubernatorial election, we’ll see if she can pull of the great magic trick of turning Texas from red to a deep, dark blue.