Have we forgotten about our women?

Ava Wittman, News/Asst. Copy Editor

Okay, I am well aware how hefty a title this article possesses, and I will admit right here, the content of this article will not ease up, either. I fully intend to discuss topics such as reproductive rights including abortion as well as harramassent, assault and misogyny that is baked into our country, and I intend to discuss them completely authentically and in as uncensored a way as possible. 

I am not here to tell you that abortion should or should not be legal, or that the #MeToo movement is completely benevolent or malicious. I am not here to tell you any one person is evil, and I am not here to encourage anyone to grab pitchforks and mobilize. I am simply here in hopes of showing the women who feel every day they are powerlessly watching their rights slip away that they are not alone. I am simply here in the hopes of showing a young girl that just because one man can get away with something, does not mean they all can. I am simply here in the hopes of explaining that no matter what stories we share, no matter what pain we bare bravely in front of a courtroom or a nation, no matter what experiences we have lived through, time and time again, they fall on deaf ears. I am simply here to tell you that, as a country, what began as a few steps in the wrong direction has become a full sprint, and it is up to all of us to fix it. 

While there have always been minor digs at women’s validity in the country, one of the clearer digs for many women, especially younger women, I believe to be the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Now, for many, the beginning of feeling uncomfortable in one’s own political climate may have begun with the election of Donald Trump. Which would soon be followed by an onslaught of news articles we watched scroll past our screens, many of us as no more than children. The leader of the nation was telling female reporters “they wouldn’t have their job if they weren’t beautiful,” and some writers defended the president’s admission that he loves “grabbing ‘em by the pussy.” 

Although, I think many of us were made to brush these off, we were told time and time again it was just “locker room” or “boys talk,” and we learned to sort of quietly tolerate this talk in many ways. With the appointment of Kavanaugh, however, it became clear that it was no longer talk. 

Kavanaugh was appointed to the United States Supreme Court back in 2018, despite sexual assault allegations against him by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Ford uprooted her life and risked her name to testify against Kavanaugh in front of the Senate. Now, whatever your thoughts on the hearing were, whatever your thoughts on Ford’s validity or Kavanaugh’s innocence, that is not what we are here to discuss. The issue is that Kavanaugh was neither guilty nor innocent beyond a reasonable doubt, and he has found himself a seat on the highest court in our country. 

To many, it may have seemed like an oversight, a mistake or even a questionable moment in United States history, but one that will eventually fade with time. To some of us, though, the messaging felt increasingly clear: it was no longer “We don’t hear you.” It was no longer “We don’t see you.” It was no longer “We don’t believe you.”  It was “We don’t care.” 

But even that was livable. Eventually the feelings of despair faded. We found solidarity in others who were distraught. We picked up the pieces and we moved on. Then came new legislation in Texas. 

Just a few weeks ago, Texas passed what has been referred to as “an abortion ban.” While it is not a ban exactly, it means no women can seek an abortion if she has been pregnant for more than six weeks. There is an exception for those in which the mother is thought to be in extreme danger from having a baby. Although, there are no exceptions in cases where the pregnancy is caused by rape or incest. It also allows for individuals to sue anyone who gets an abortion or assists in someone getting an abortion for up to $10,000. 

Again, I am not here to tell you whether this is fair or whether this should be the legislation. That is up to every individual themselves. But the notion that this legislation is to stop late-term abortions is foolishly idealistic. Six weeks is not enough time to know if you’re pregnant, which to any non-period-having person, may sound insane. Six weeks is more than a month – how could you not know if there’s a person growing inside you? Well, for those of us who do have periods, many of us get them about every four weeks, although it is not uncommon for a period to come one or even two weeks late. So there is room for a woman after five weeks to only begin to be concerned she may be pregnant. That gives her a week to find out she is, and if she wants an abortion, should could have only days to decide. 

I was originally going to write in this piece that it was clear lawmakers did not have an adequate enough understanding of female biology to be making these laws, that there needed to be far more voices from those who understood the complexities of pregnancies to be weighed alongside laws. But then it dawned on me, perhaps it is not a lack of understanding; perhaps it is a lack of caring. 

These are not clumsy flails in American history that will heal with the passage of time. These are incredibly misguided – although still completely purposeful – steps in the complete wrong direction. And to be honest, the steps back from here will neither be quick nor easy, but getting here was no fast-track journey, either. So we must take it upon ourselves to ask: do we want to live in a country that appoints an accused assaulter to the highest court? Do we want to live in a country where a girl can be raped and then sued for aborting the baby? 

That is no longer a far off land that we are headed to if we don’t change course. We have landed. There is no more room to pretend that is not what we are facing, that these issues are oversights or misunderstandings. So it is time to ask ourselves, do we care?