Stay mad, stay hydrated
Once again, we interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to address immediate developments of fascist theocracy and rapid unraveling of American liberties.
Like many of y’all, my first impulse Friday morning after the majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices officially announced the dissolution of Roe vs. Wade and revealed themselves to be the radical fundamentalist lizard people we all knew they were, was BURN. IT. ALL. DOWN.
Figuratively, of course. Mostly. But I did find myself thumbing through my dog-eared copy of the Anarchist Cookbook for the recipe on Molotov cocktails—or as some MAGA idiots think they’re called, mazel tov cocktails (they’re garnished with Jewish space lasers, don’tcha know?) I figured if I happened to pass by a certain governor’s garbage can in the next few weeks, well then, l’chaim!
Then a level-headed friend, who happens to also be a fire chief, gently counseled that any form of arson, no matter how small—yes, even a tiny symbolic and totally deserved trash fire—is a felony, and I’m not willing to commit to that level of lawlessness just yet.
I mean, the only thing I plan to go jail for in the foreseeable future is transporting anyone who who wants an abortion to haven states and sharing information about abortion pill access, which can be found here and here. (Seriously, the camping euphemisms can stop now.)
Still, as I headed over to Johnson Square Friday afternoon for the gathering that had been planned by fearless community organizers ever since Justice Alito’s brief leaked like his old man underpants, I couldn’t stomach simply holding another sign. I wanted to break some shit! I wanted pushback!
We knew this was coming, and I wanted a response to match the savage extremism facing us: Where are our radical inane power grabbers? When do we release the bloody rage of 100 million impugned uteruses upon the land? What is the progressive inclusive feminist version of a Tiki torch?
I hit upon another idea: I would stop at one of the several pawn shops along my route and show up carrying a gun! Not a loaded one, mind you, but as a prop—I thought the theater of it would be an absurdist way to illustrate the brain-melting hypocrisy of SCOTUS denying a state’s right to govern its gun laws the literal day before applying the opposite logic that states have the right to govern women’s bodies.
Maybe it would catch on, I thought, envisioning an army of badass women in Bans off Our Bodies t-shirts carrying AR-15s and sending the scared, saggy testicles of the patriarchy shriveling even further up its pathetic taint.
Then another even more level-headed friend, who happens to be married to the fire chief and was accompanying me to the square, pointed out that my sick joke would probably not land well and I would end up terrifying the wrong people.
Obviously, she was right. And frankly, it’s just really off-brand for me.
I’ve always believed that guns invite violence rather than protect from it, and research validates that being in possession of a gun dramatically increases the likelihood of actually being shot. It’s a fact both literal and literary: As Russian playwright and physician Anton Chekov once advised, if you introduce a gun in Act One, you’d better use it by Act Three, and I’m not willing to commit to that plot point just yet.
Anyway, violence and vandalism aren’t the path to being a decent human being, no matter how satisfying or justified. Though I might be lying a little; if Supreme Court Justices can’t keep the agreements they made at their congressional confirmations, all promises are off.
But now, where to put this anger? How not to scratch the eyes out of smug self-righteous pharisees who hate affordable housing and universal healthcare and parental leave but are ferociously increasing the need for it? How not to fantasize about Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett boiling in a vat of fentanyl and raccoon poop?
As I write this, one by one states are going dark, triggering six-week bans and/or criminalizing abortion enitrely, putting women and families at risk. Georgia’s six-week ban, which the state’s soon-to-be-ousted governor bragged on as the “toughest in the country,” is likely to be enacted this week. The maternal mortality ratio here is already the highest in the U.S., with women of color more than 3.3 times more likely to die from pregnancy complications. I hope there’s a legal fund for the families of every woman who dies birthing a child she didn’t want to sue Brian Kemp for murder.
Every person I care to know, regardless of gender, is outraged and full of grief right now. We know it’s not and never was about saving babies but about power and control. We know that it is only the first swing in a radical oppressive agenda to strip away hard won rights for marriage equality, racial equity, and religious freedom. Our guts feel like we drank too many Molotov cocktails and we’re about to explode.
But here’s one small thing: It will now be more evident than ever that abortion is essential healthcare, best managed privately between a woman and her healthcare provider. The stigma around abortion is melting away like Majorie Taylor Greene’s pancake make-up in the sun, and the 80 percent of Americans who support safe, legal abortion are unifying and mobilizing.
Fortune 500 companies are putting policies in place to pay for their employees to travel to abortion providers. Resources are being shared, funds are being raised, campaigns are gaining speed (just saw Stacey Abrams touched down in Savannah on Monday, swoon!) Now is not the time to burn it all down or blow ourselves up—there’s still work to be done, and power to win.
So in the end, we decided to bring popsicles.
We showed up to Johnson Square dragging a cooler full of dry ice tied with balloons Sharpied with “Stay mad, stay hydrated” and handed out purple and orange sweet treats, figuring that helping people keep their cool right now is the best action we had to offer.
“This is a marathon, not a race,” counseled yet another like-minded and sound-hearted friend, a person who has tirelessly led this movement locally for years, standing up to haters and deflecting misinformation like she’s got Wonder Woman cuffs.
She reminds that abortion is still legal in Georgia—for now. Channels to help people get the care they need have been established, organized by some of the smartest legal and political minds in the country (see below.) While our calls for vengeance are completely understandable and necessary, she advises that vigilantism and violence do not help the cause—or ourselves.
“The most important thing at this time is we have to take care of each other.”
Now that’s an action to which I’m willing to commit.
If you or someone you know wants an abortion, go to abortionfinder.org to find the closest verified provider. If you need helping paying for an abortion or want to contribute to access for others, go to ARC Southeast or abortionfunds.org.
See y’all on the streets ~ JLL