I got up this morning and started reading about Texas Senator Wendy Davis. How she spoke for 11 hours to filibuster an anti-abortion bill. (The bill would ban abortions in Texas after 20-weeks gestation, limit abortion-inducing drugs and require abortions to be performed in ambulatory surgical centres, which would result in the closure of the majority of Texas’s abortion clinics. The vote had to be taken before midnight, which is what Davis was attempting to prevent.)
I read how, when Davis was forced to stop speaking, other Democrats took over, including Senator Leticia Van de Putte, who asked what a female member had to do to be heard over a male senator. According to this Guardian liveblog, “The comment prompted the public gallery, which had been filling up during the evening, to erupt. The cheers delayed a final vote on the bill to the stroke of midnight.”
And I cried. I cried because Wendy Davis, Leticia Van de Putte, the people in the public gallery are so brave and inspiring. And because I hate that not only did Texas try to put this bill through, they tried to cheat to put it through. And because, as I read on Twitter, “there’s never been one piece of legislation related to men’s bodies in the US. But about 640, this year, to regulate women’s.”
And then, to make me feel better, I read a collection of Nora Ephron quotes because today – unbelievably – is the first anniversary of her death. And one of the quotes was this, taken from her 1996 Wellesley commencement address (which you should totally watch):
“One of the things people always say to you if you get upset is, don’t take it personally, but listen hard to what’s going on and, please, I beg you, take it personally. Understand: every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you. Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: get back, get back to where you once belonged. When Elizabeth Dole pretends that she isn’t serious about her career, that is an attack on you. The acquittal of O.J. Simpson is an attack on you. Any move to limit abortion rights is an attack on you — whether or not you believe in abortion.”
Lately, I’ve felt excited by the various feminist movements I see gaining pace online. From the Everyday Sexism Project to No More Page 3 to the Twitter Youth Feminist Army. At the same time, I feel genuinely frightened at the level of hatred towards women that still exists (and doesn’t look like going away any time soon), as Caro wrote about so eloquently here earlier this week.
It is, as Caro says, ok to be upset. But we need to act too. In fact, the more I read, the more upset and angry I get, the more I feel like I need to be doing… something. I just don’t exactly know what. Do you?