Like Briar Rose, we have been asleep, protected by the thorns and brambles of our self-selected insular communities in which our beliefs and feelings are constantly validated. We ‘unfriend’ or ‘unfollow’ those with whom we disagree – growing our brambles denser over time. We choose the veil of emotional safety rather than take the risk of engaging in conversation with those who believe differently. We protect our fragile egos and assume everything will be all right because we can only see what is within the confines of our homegrown thorns and brambles. Our hubris blinded us, such that we did not see the aura which envelops our American landscape.
In the cold, dark pre-dawn hours of Wednesday morning our edifice of thorns and brambles was ripped open with the news of Trump’s victory. We were awakened by an unwanted, unasked for kiss of a harsh new reality.
In our slumber, we dismissively believed that our constructed walls and our thorny attitudes were enough. We rested on our laurels granted to us by our mothers and grandmothers.
Somehow, in the intervening years, we forgot. We forgot what our mothers marched for and what our grandmothers fought for. We forgot that it took a struggle to even be able to wear pants, let alone a pantsuit. We are spoiled, my Gen X compatriots and my Millennial sisters. Our great conceit is that we take for granted the advances made by previous generations of American women.
My own mother was a member of NOW, NCJW, and the ACLU among other groups. She marched as an activist and advocate for women’s rights and equal rights for all. She successfully sued an employer in the 1970’s because her male colleagues were paid more than she was. She not only contributed financially to the groups and movements she supported, but she actively recruited new members and did grassroots work.
Her mother, my grandmother, met my grandfather at a socialist political rally in the late 1940’s. The two of them were politically active liberals for the entirety of their lives. My grandmother wore her pantsuits in the 1930’s and took to local elected offices in the 1960’s. She was brash and loud about her beliefs and worked to move things forward for all of us.
My paternal grandmother worked in Washington in the 1940’s until a pregnancy outside of marriage caused her to lose her job. She was an active member of the Democratic party until her descent into Alzheimer’s. She hosted dinners and rallies at her home and campaigned door to door for the candidates who supported progressive agendas.
Those women of my past worked diligently for the rights we now fear to lose. However, we quietly acquiesced to small injustices made against women including both our reproductive rights and, principally, our equal human rights.
We sat and did nothing as state by state, piecemeal, our rights have been chipped away.
A minor change of wording to a law here and there do little harm, so why fight it?
It’s still OK.
The small downshift in the number of weeks of pregnancy that abortion is acceptable.
It seems to makes sense, right? We can still have abortions, except for when we can’t.
Hobby Lobby winning their case to not cover birth control for their employees due to their CEO’s religious beliefs.
Well, it sucks, but what are you going to do?
These seemingly small shifts affect someone else, you see, not me. Till it does.
This death of our rights and our humanity is a death by a thousand cuts.
This is the insidious crawl of misogyny, writhing underneath the sheet of illusory safety draped upon us by men who truly believe they know what is best for women’s bodies.
It is the misogyny enforced with smug arrogance by the women who believe their religion or their tradition grant them the power to impose their way of life upon others.
Our fore-mothers put their big girl pants on to actively work for change. I call on you, my sisters and compatriots, to cut away your own protective brambles, to move from the perceived safety of your self-constructed segments of reality.
I call on you now – put your money where your mouth is, lace up your boots and work to further progress. Take the risk. Open yourself up to the possibility of making this country a better place for all people.
My boots are already on my feet. I am ready.
Please support The Silent Mother by becoming a patron through Patreon.
Your generous donation allows me to keep writing.