Tell Your Stories And Be Heard

So many people here at the Senate. So many people watching. So proud of Senator Wendy Davis who is amazing as hell. Proud to be a Texan today, these past few days, an

She read so many stories-truthful, heartwrenching, tearful, pointed, smart, honest, compassionate, angry and forceful. She cried during several, hearing about women who had wanted pregnancies with severe complications who had to endure such pain, and were limited in their choices to make decisions about their own bodies.

Meanwhile, members of the Senate, Republicans, snickered and looked bored, in a display that can’t but lead people to wonder if they are human at all. As my good friend Amy wondered, is it all a game to them? I suspect it is.

I submitted my testimony and it was overwhelming and inspiring to hear it read, aloud, during this filibuster, part of a permanent record of protest against these horrifying bills, a bill my mother would have taken to the streets over. I’m proud I was able to do this for her, her mother, my children. .

Here it is:

Hi, my name is Julie Gillis and I am an Austin resident and a Texas Native, Dawnna Dukes is my representative and Kirk Watson is my Senator.

My mother was born in 1928, and her childhood was marked by the Great Depression, WW2 and FDR’s policies that helped America come back from economic devastation.

She also witnessed massive social change in the 60’s social justice movements she was adamantly for, but also The Pill. Prior to the pill people did indeed have sex. Lots of it, to hear her tell it. Back then, unmarried women couldn’t get the pill on their own, and even married women had to get clearance from the husband so the doctor would prescribe it.

She was overjoyed at the pill and abortion rights, because she recognized that women’s bodies belonged to them, and access to reproductive services meant freedom.

She’s had Alzheimer’s the last 10 years and so she’s been shielded from the backlash on women. She’d have been horrified to see the chipping away at Planned Parenthood, sex education in the schools and the influence of the religious right on reproductive rights. She’d also have tied that chipping away directly to the desire to have a permanent poverty class, a kind of economic slavery class and destruction of our economic saftey. She’d have been ashamed of our elected officials for allowing this to happen. Hell for encouraging it.

She would have said that people who are poor and kept from education wind up being desperate. They take bad jobs because that’s all there is, they find themselves trapped in marriages or pregnancies, the poverty class keeps itself locked in because there aren’t policies in place to help.

That being said, she like me, would probably want to see abortion rates drop. Abstinence only doesn’t work, because we’ve got eleventy billion people on the planet. People like sex.

Sex is a good thing. It’s such a good thing that I help produce a story telling series about it, smart, funny, risky stories about the human condition and sexuality

If you want to reduce abortions, take my advice and follow these three steps:

1) Teach everyone about how their bodies work. Comprehensive age appropriate sex ed is a moral issue and a human right.

Education is power, don’t deny people education

2) Offer many varieties of easily accessible, low cost birth control options. Don’t chip away at Planned Parenthood, make sure there are more!

Access is power, don’t deny people access

3) Make sure a social safety net is in place filled with unions, worker’s rights, fair wages, fair and ethical bank practices, health services, state funded day care services, insurance and more so that those finding themselves pregnant who want to proceed with the pregnancy have resources.

Resources are power, don’t deny people resources

I fully expect all of those points to be rebutted with anti choice tropes about loving babies and loving women, what a strange kind of love.

A strange love to refuse to teach people about sex and put myths of purity on young girls.

A strange love to force women to keep babies inside them that are wanted but dying and causing trauma for the mother.

A strange love to ask rape victims to have a vaginal probe inserted inside them against their will.

That’s not love. That’s sickness. But then, it’s not about love is it. It’s about economics and a perpetual poverty class and about keeping power from those that have the right to it.

Do the right thing for Texas women. We won’t back down.

The hours go on and the shenanigans continue. Even if we run out the clock, Perry may still call a second special session, but guess what? This level of hate and oppression cannot stand in a democracy and we won’t let it. We’ll be there. And we’ll vote. And we’ll run for office and we will win.

Our stories won’t let it stand. The stories today, they are power and I could not be more proud to bear witness to them, to support those who tell them, to create and provide space for them.

Tell your stories and be heard, be seen. Do not EVER feel shame about sex, about love, about who you are. Shame keeps us hidden in the dark and these people? They can’t handle the light.

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