Burn the White Flag

Waking up to day 3 in a post-Roe America is surreal. I had another piece on this topic prepared for today, but it didn’t seem very cohesive, so I started again. Since Friday, I have felt so many different emotions: humiliation, panic, rage, numbness, complete and utter sorrow, and reliving my childhood assault once again. I knew this decision was coming, but I still wasn’t prepared for how I would feel. 

I’ve had some time and miles on my feet to think about all of this. I’ve had multiple conversations with my girlfriends. Collectively, we are not OK. 

You may think that day to day life for women won’t change; that nothing has changed. But events from this weekend reveal otherwise. I have been running with my marathon training team for 9 years. Routes are made to allow runners to see every part of the Richmond Marathon course. Never have I heard of our runners being heckled or harassed while out with the group. This weekend, there were several instances of this happening. Not just one. 

I helped one of our runners recover from her panic when this happened to her. If you have never been the victim of someone threatening to hurt you, do things to you that you didn’t consent to, try to follow you, you are lucky. The vulnerability you feel is supremely humbling and terrifying. You will never get a sense of safety back. 

Is it a coincidence that these instances of harassment toward some of our female runners happened this weekend, the very weekend after women’s rights to bodily autonomy were revoked? Maybe it’s just a construct of my own creation, but I really don’t think I’m overreacting here. It makes me feel as though some men feel entitled to our bodies now that the court revoked this right. I feel like I have a target on me. I feel like my daughters do, too. If this is our new life, I don’t want it. 

I’m having thoughts about wanting to make myself as small and as undesirable as possible. Maybe this is my reaction as a survivor of sexual assault, even though I was merely a child when this happened. But I’m contemplating giving up on wearing makeup, doing my hair, wearing anything that remotely clings to my body, or even shaving. These are among my plans to protect myself today. 

Another thought: What kind of protection do I need? I have pepper spray, but it’s a few years old. So I Googled “does pepper spray expire?” Yes, it does. So that will have to be updated. I’ll have to look into other means of distracting an attacker, because I’m not at all interested in carrying a gun. 

The thing is, violating our rights to privacy and bodily autonomy begins with overturning Roe vs. Wade. Begins. Keep in mind that the government has the right to access your medical records without consent. The next decisions based on the 14th amendment to be “reconsidered” will be: Griswold vs. Connecticut, which decided that married couples should have access to birth control. Loving vs. Virginia, which protects the rights of interracial couples to marry. Obergefell vs. Hodges, which protects the rights of gay couples to marry (this was a part of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, which also decided that separate but equal was not fair in Brown. Vs. Board of Education.) Well, women are no longer equal to men, and we no longer have rights to the most private part of our lives: our bodies. If SCOTUS can reverse this, everything else is on the table, too.

I made this piece when Kavanaugh was confirmed. Angry that an accused rapist was allowed such a precious seat of power in our country, this was the result. A woman, with the colors of opposing parties on either side, silenced. A flag stripped of color; shades of grey. A quote from one of my favorite songs.

If you think that the loss of these rights doesn’t affect you, maybe when SCOTUS starts to dismantle social programs like Medicare and Social Security, this will get your attention. These programs are not charity. They are entitlements we pay into. This is another pet project of conservative lawmakers. 

My mind continues to swirl down the rabbit hole of what comes next. I’m absolutely terrified for my young adult daughters. This is not the America I had envisioned for them. 

If you see things the way I do, I have no words to console you. I have no idea how to fix this. They say vote, but those in power are doing their best to dilute the influence of our voices. They say peacefully protest, but we’ve all seen the videos of peaceful protestors being thrown to the ground, violently attacked, and tear gassed. They say call your lawmakers, but the ones who most need to hear our thoughts and opinions are deaf to our concerns and fears. But I do know that we can’t give up. Apathy must die. And we cannot simply sit back as a passive observer to the fall of our democracy. America was never meant to be a theocracy, and that is where we are headed. We must act, and we must do it now. 

Voices closing in from all sides

Warning all the ways to die.

They say “you’d better give up. You’d better give up!”

I say, “I’ll never give up. I’ll never give up.”

I’ll be an army. No you’re

Not gonna stop me gettin’ through, ooh

I’ll sing a marching song and

Storm through the halls louder than you, ooh

I could surrender,

But I’d just be pretending. No, I’d

Rather be dead than live a lie.

Burn the white flag.

White Flag- Joseph

___________

Women are not OK. I hate to be put into the position to ask men for help, but we need your help. Since we are no longer equal citizens, we will need the help of our partners and friends who are to help us. It’s just the way it is. 

It isn’t lost on me that many American citizens have lived this existence of not truly having equal rights their entire lives. The heaviness of this new injustice is overwhelming. And I realize that what I feel is a tiny fraction of the burden that people of color or the disabled endure; that I will never really understand the full burden of inequality.

If you are of the camp of “if you don’t like it here, leave,” let me tell you the story of how my ancestors arrived in these United States. My people settled in what is now Richmond, VA, in the community of Manchester, in 1610. My family was among the original colonists. There’s a whole other layer of reconciling what they may have done to the true owners of this land, our Native Americans, but I will never know that story. But you can’t tell me that my roots don’t run deep enough to “belong” here. If you are not a Native American, you are an immigrant in the United States. Period. That’s right. This is NOT a white, Christian nation. The colonists stole it. 

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy. 

Published by annecreates

I am a physical therapist, wife, mom, runner, artist, and vegan. I'm passionate about helping others find wellness, speaking about the human experience, and in fighting for social justice. Assistant Coach for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Current ambassador for: Boco Gear, SaltStick, Noxgear, and Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon 2022.

2 thoughts on “Burn the White Flag

  1. I’m so saddened to hear that you and others felt threatened during the training run. My daughter and I have been so distraught since the news Friday. I have another daughter and 2 nieces in a trigger state, and they’re not doing well either. Anyway there’s a Women’s March July 9 with training July 8. We plan to go I guess. I don’t know what to do. Feel powerless.

    Liked by 1 person

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