The Way Forward — Thoughts on the #WarOnWomen, Moral Mondays, SCOTUS rulings and How We Fight

Yes, I’ve been tweeting. Reading compulsively. Talking with allies on Facebook. But, it hit me last night over dinner with fine company, I haven’t really processed all the implications of this week. But, these are my own thoughts about what this week means for those of us motivated by justice, living in Red (or purple – see shenanigans in Ohio as I type) states.

So.

What does it mean that Texas (and now Ohio and elsewhere) are moving to severely restrict a woman’s right to choose? Why now? And what is the impact of Rep. Wendy Davis and all the men and women in the chamber with her? What, if anything, does this have to do with the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, and the Moral Monday protests in North Carolina?

It is my belief that the reason there has been such a focused effort on the part of the GOP (both at the State and Federal levels) to attack progressive gains because THEY CAN and because what is left of their base supports these efforts. The GOP has proven relentlessly over the last five years (since the beginning of The Great Recession) they are only interested in ideological legislation and obstruction of all else. If you have no ideas and no intention of implementing any about the economy, you control what you can. And since the beginning of time, there have always been men in power trying to control women’s bodies and marginalize those with less political power.

The Tea Party rump, which is THE driving force in the GOP is perfectly fine with this approach. Willfully ignoring all lessons from the election and re-election of Barack Obama, they march forward with their fingers in the ears, insisting that this is the same country that elected Ronald Reagan. In this bizzaro world, most of the country is white, anti-abortion and a certain kind of Christian. If you listen to AM radio, (Rush et al) they simply refuse to acknowledge demographic shifts. This allows them to pursue these efforts, confident that the majority is with them. And unfortunately, this same ideology has taken control of many State Legislatures.

Here in Tennessee, we are no strangers to a rabid right-wing controlling the State Legislature. Our fellow Progressives in Texas know this struggle all too well. And this time, because of social media and the extraordinary hard work and courage of the feminist community in TX–their attempt to virtually close all abortion clinics in Texas was stopped. Although you wouldn’t have known it if you only listen to national feminist organizations or any in the traditional media, the fight to stop SB5 began DAYS, if not before Wendy Davis’ inspired filibuster. The choice community in TX (organized beautifully by Jessica Luther @scATX and others) was ready for the fight. And women from around the world joined in by sending their abortion stories to Wendy so that she would have “germane” testimony to keep up her filibuster.

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It was after 8pm on Tuesday, that many of the national women’s organizations suddenly became  interested in TX. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they helped #IStandWithWendy to trend globally, but this neglect happens much too often. Those of us in flyover country are at best ignored, and too often treated with derision a la, “Why do you still live THERE?” This is not just true on women’s issues. It also reared its head after SCOTUS undid decades of work to remove barriers for people of color to vote in the South. Almost immediately after the VRA decision, I saw tweets advising Progressives to write off the South completely.  This brilliant Storify is a MUST READ. I’ve written about this previously from my own point of view.

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The tragic ruling regarding the VRA only illustrates the absolute necessity of staying and upping the ante. We owe it to all those targeted by the vile policies of the Republican Party to get better at what we are doing.  Our work is nowhere near done when it comes to battling for basic human rights for marginalized groups. The drive to register voters, prepare voters and get voters to the polls becomes a thousand times more important now. It seems evident to me that this is a desperate ploy by the Conservatives on the Court to try to turn back the clock for their ideological allies. If you cannot win by convincing people, change the rules. (They tried this in the #txlege too, but a tweeted screenshot stopped them from literally turning back the clock.)

baldwin

The brave folks down in North Carolina are showing us the way forward. Moral Mondays is a pitch perfect approach to protest in red states. Particularly in the South. The involvement of the clergy and people of faith is critical. Their focus is local and targeted. This movement is a tribute to the Civil Rights era and all the folks of all races who risked life and limb to advance racial justice. I would love to see this particular form of activism spread to all states battling Legislatures full of lunatics. It is smart.

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Last night I went to the Tennessee Equality Project meeting to debrief yesterday’s rulings for the LGBTQ community here in Tennessee. As I’ve learned being active politically here, it is very easy to get demoralized. Nights where we can gather and shed tears of joy are rare. In plotting our way forward, several important (and related) truths bubbled up. Yes, it is amazing that DOMA is dead. Yes, movement toward marriage equality is happening in many places around the country. Yes, we are thrilled for families and couples in California. But these are not productive fights for us. We don’t yet have safe schools. We have to fight cruel legislation from people like Rep. Stacey “Don’t Say Gay” Campfield. We don’t have basic employment protections. We don’t have anywhere NEAR adequate representation in the Legislature. We need partner benefits in public institutions. This is achievable.

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Yesterday, two of my formers students (one a gay man and one a lesbian) contacted me privately asking the same question. What does this day mean for me as a Tennessean? They were both too intimidated by the language and assumed knowledge to ask questions. They are both under 30 and plan to stay in Tennessee. These are exactly the kind of people we need to engage. They are the REAL PEOPLE being impacted by the lack of protections here in TN.  And we are not doing a good enough job of being accessible to members of the community who are not typically politically active or in growing allies. Focusing too heavily on marriage equality in a state like TN is guaranteeing a quick trip to Sadville. Our goals must be attainable. Or we will find our safe little Progressive bubbles in the cities and hunker down.

What can we in the South do? Organize, mobilize and educate. Raise money. Grow candidates. On all issues of equality and justice. And we absolutely cannot stop or allow ourselves apathy and snark. Our walk is not the same walk as States outside the South. Our history is more complicated. We are struggling in ways many cannot understand. We simply must engage deeply; where we live. We also must consistently examine our own privilege and strive to be intersectional in our approach. I personally pledge this. (And to avoid any useless and usually harmful debates about purity and who is more Progressive than who…) We must also talk to our friends and families respectfully who disagree with us. Additionally, self-care and fun is as important as the Fight–and no one can do this but ourselves. As one man said in last night’s meeting, we are ambassadors of a way of thinking and acting.

sj-sally

What can Progressives outside the South (and other red and purple States) do? Lend encouragement. Stop talking about secession and inbreeding and dumb Southerners. Give money to organizations on the ground working for justice. Call out others on their lazy stereotypes—even and especially when they are employed by lefty media figures (looking at you Bill Maher) and other Progressives. Pay attention to us before it is trendy to do so. Help us do the work that we feel called to do.

Great links on the Showdown Texas (Round One apparently)

http://soulbrotherspeaks.com/2013/06/27/texas-abortion-restrictions-failed-but-other-states-are-successfully-advancing-them/

http://wellbodymindheartspirit.com/2013/06/26/another-story-about-last-night-at-the-texas-capitol/

http://beawrites.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/it-is-a-good-time-to-be-a-woman/

http://thirdcoastblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/citizens-filibuster-in-texas-fails-to-block-abortion-ban/

http://markdemers.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/justice-not-a-victory-to-win-but-a-current-to-ride/

http://llfrederick.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/never-underestimate-these-good-old-girls/

http://angietupelo.com/2013/06/27/other-important-stuff-that-happened-today-how-wendy-davis-spearheaded-the-first-crowdsourced-filibuster/

http://revoltedyouth.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/wendy-davis-wonderwoman/

Good clicks about the Voting Rights Act and what it means:

http://dankennedy.net/2013/06/27/right-wrongs-and-the-supreme-court/

http://thegrio.com/2013/06/27/obama-supreme-court-made-a-mistake-in-voting-ruling/

http://carolinajews.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/voting-rights-in-nc-what-now/

More on Moral Mondays:

http://2craysisters.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/moron-mondays-hell-no/

http://politicsoutdoors.com/2013/06/17/just-another-moral-monday/

http://charlotte.cbslocal.com/2013/06/19/study-arrested-protesters-are-nearly-all-from-n-c/

http://pacifistpirate.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/why-i-stayed/

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About Kristen Chapman Gibbons

Loosely connected facts: Storyteller. Curator of a Better Internet. Lifelong Politico. Social Media Maven. Creativity and Empathy Evangelist. Performer. Creator of Content Worth Sharing. Digital Strategist. Former Social Worker. Decade teaching in Higher Ed. Master's Degree in Theology. Married to an Irishman. 3 darling kiddos. Preacher's kid. Appalachian. Music maker. Music devour-er. ENTP. Bohemian. Geeky. Obsessed with thrift stores and all things vintage. Lover of species.

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2 Comments on “The Way Forward — Thoughts on the #WarOnWomen, Moral Mondays, SCOTUS rulings and How We Fight”

  1. l. l. frederick Says:

    Kristen, thank you so much for your visit, and for the generous reference to my last post, Never Underestimate These Good Old Girls. (I’ve always regarded Richards, Ivins and Jordan as the liberal Texas Trinity.) I’m most impressed by what I’ve read of your work, and look forward to more. Technically, I’m not a southerner, though half my ancestors were. And living in Ohio is more than close enough to all the negative stereotypes, especially this week. If I say more about our own beneath-contempt worm-feces state legislature, you’d just have to bleep it all out, so I’ll shut up and regroup. Wish us luck. And long, unforgiving memories. – Linda

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  1. Thanks but No Thanks National Media – Please Do Your Homework #tnleg #lgbt #equality | Big Blue Dot Y'all - March 27, 2014

    […] The Way Forward — Thoughts on the #WarOnWomen, Moral Mondays, SCOTUS rulings and How We Fight Yes, I’ve been tweeting. Reading compulsively. Talking with allies on Facebook. But, it hit me last night over dinner with fine company, I haven’t really processed all the implications of this week. But, these are my own thoughts about what this week means for those of us motivated by justice, living in Red (or purple – see shenanigans in Ohio as I type) states. Kristen Chapman […]

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