The reason the sky is bigger here is because there aren’t any trees. The reason folks here eat grits is because they ain’t got no taste. Cowboys mostly stink and it’s hot, oh God, is it hot…. Texas is a mosaic of cultures, which overlap in several parts of the state, with the darker layers on the bottom. The cultures are black, Chicano, Southern, freak, suburban and shitkicker. (Shitkicker is dominant.) They are all rotten for women. — Molly Ivins
I have a ghost in my computer. This poltergeist spontaneously shuts my laptop down whenever there’s anything important happening. On Tuesday I finally broke down and took it into the shop for an exorcism, so as Wendy Davis filibustered SB5 in the Texas Senate, I could only follow what was happening via the Twitter app on my phone.
Refresh refresh refresh refresh.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 26, 2013
There was something right about the way I experienced this event, huddled on the couch with my dog and cat–neither of whom could tell if the sounds I was making were of pleasure or pain–hunched over the tiny screen of my iPhone 3.
You see, I grew up in Texas. I went to a public school in Dallas where football was everybody’s favorite pastime except mine. I was in the marching band, and yes, the uniforms were exactly as ugly as you imagine, polyester and hot as hell–and we got made fun of for them exactly as much as you think. I performed in school plays and I was at the top of my class. I did not have big boobs. I did not wear makeup. For a while I didn’t even shave my legs. I did not speak with an accent. I did not fit in.
I don’t think I even heard the word feminism until college. I most certainly was a feminist–baby, I was born that way–but I didn’t know that there was a word to describe my sense that something just wasn’t right for women in Texas. I knew that if I would just get a better bra, wear makeup, and pretend not to be smart, I would fit right in, on the outside at least. But I also knew that I shouldn’t have to use padding and pushups, shouldn’t need cake makeup for my 16-year-old skin to look “pretty,” and I most definitely should not have to pretend that I was not smart.
My family lives in Texas and even though I only go back to visit, Texas still lives in me. Texas is like that–the incredibly loud and enthusiastic house guest whom you love but who just won’t leave. So I follow the news out of Texas as if it were still my Lone Star State.
RT if you are crying
— Aminatou Sow (@aminatou) June 26, 2013
So as Senator Davis held her filibuster, I held my breath. I shouted out loud. I tried to convince my dog that my tears were of joy. And it made sense to me that my efforts to follow what was happening were limited by a phone that is practically an antique. It has never been easy to be feminist in Texas.
To hear the voices of the women in Austin raised together in protest–well, as we like to say, it warmed the cockles of my heart. I had always known that there had to be other Texas feminists somewhere, but unless you are a hardcore activist, even being aware of oppression in Texas can be very lonely. In the communities in which I grew up, abortion was generally not discussed: Not at the dinner table, not at parties, not at the football game, and definitely not at school. (Conservative Christians, on the other hand, discuss it constantly but inaccurately.)
I wanted to be there, in Texas, in Austin, in the capitol, in the rotunda I remember so well from visits with my youth group. I wanted to call everyone I know in Texas and tell them to go. I wanted to sprout wings and fly away home.
— ClinicEscort (@ClinicEscort) June 26, 2013
Too many women in Texas are taught to keep silent unless they’re laughing at a man’s joke. They are taught that their opinion doesn’t matter, that nobody is listening, that nobody agrees with them, that little ol’ they can’t possibly do anything to effect politics in a blood red state. But that changed on Tuesday. Texas women had something to say and they made themselves heard.
From this day forth, let no Texan woman be silenced. Let no Texan woman believe that her voice doesn’t matter. Let no Texan woman think that she has to pretend to be stupid just to fit in. We know what we need to keep us healthy and free. And we’re gonna git it.
It used to be hard to be feminist in Texas. Not anymore. Be loud, ya’ll. Be fierce. We got your back.