It has been a hard week for women and girls in Texas. As I told a friend, I love living here, but sometimes it is like being on the frontier of rational thought. My evidence:
1) In Austin, where the new city council now has a majority of women, the city manager hired a consultant to provide a two-hour training on how to work with women in government. Because apparently women are so incredibly different to work with – especially when they come in flocks – that it requires special training. The presenter got his insights from a conversation with his 11-year-old daughter. And he helpfully taught our city staffers that women are not that great at numbers and ask a lot of annoying questions. You can read more about it here.
Lesson: Women are like children and in order to work with them, you need special training and a lot of patience.
2) In Houston, they are making sure girls know their second-class status early – that way they won’t have to provide remedial training to their city government! The high school health curriculum for Houston Independent School District includes slut shaming. Think I am kidding, check it out for yourself. So, girls, if a guy is trying to pimp you out, there is clearly something wrong with you, not him. Because, even if we ask too many questions and have no idea how to deal with finances, we are responsible for all sexual thoughts and actions – our own and others.
Lesson: When boys are jerks, it is always the girl’s fault. We don’t have any power at all – except the complete and total responsibility for other people’s sexual thoughts, feelings, and actions.
3) Maybe at this point you are feeling relived you don’t live in Austin or Houston. Sorry, there is bad news at the state level, too. This week, the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill that makes it incredibly difficult for minors seeking abortion to get a judicial bypass – that is the procedure available for girls who feel they cannot safely get parental consent. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. The new rules also make judges in these cases targets for protest. And, just to make sure women know their place, all women seeking abortion must show a state-issued ID – or else they will be assumed to be minor children and have to get permission. That’s right, unless you have an ID, you are officially a child. I’ve worked with poor and homeless women –getting an ID is often a problem, even for grown-ups. Here, read more if you can stomach it.
Lesson: I am not even sure what the lesson is here.
So, women are children who are completely responsible for male sexuality, but even with all that power they are terrible at math and can’t be trusted to control their own bodies.
What. The. F@$k.
There will always be people in power who want to control women by limiting our choices or treating us like pets or babies. Fine. Diversity. Whatever. But when the year is 2015 and those people actually have political power…I can’t even.
At the same time as these political assaults on women’s “personhood” (because, let’s face it that is what it is) were happening there was an amazing outcry in another area of civil and human rights. A bill to prevent marriage equality – even if the Supreme Court allows it – was challenged by businesses across the state. Apparently, discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation is bad for business – as it should be.
What I want to know is when discriminating against women will be considered bad for business. Or just plain bad.
Texas has one of the highest teen pregnancy and teen birth rates in the country. We also lead the nation in the percentage of uninsured – and it probably didn’t help that our state government tried to make it more difficult for those folks to get coverage thru the Affordable Care Act. I have scoured the Internet and can find absolutely no evidence that this is good for Texans. Even and especially baby Texans and girl Texans and women Texans. The only people it seems to be good for are politicians.
Two years ago, there was a brief uprising in Texas. A sea of orange-clad women and men raised our voices to counter the push to close access to reproductive health care. It was exhilarating and discouraging at the same time. But it might be time to get out those marching shoes again. As a women, I am apparently not that good at math (at least according to a well-paid consultant) but I have a lot of questions and a strong, independent daughter to raise.
Who’s with me?