International Women’s Day

      2 Comments on International Women’s Day

A thing about being fifty-something at the moment is that I have the compulsory perspective of middle age, while still feeling that I haven’t actually lived through very much. Generation X had it drilled in to us that we “missed” the twentieth-century wars and the civil rights movement. We were mostly small children during the Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation movements of the 70s, too. What that means is that I have seen a huge amount of change over the course my more-or-less adult life, merely because it has been forty years long so far, but that I am also aware of the huge amount of change that I “missed” over the previous forty years or so.

So I can’t help thinking of (f’r’ex) the attacks on the rights of trans people in 2023 in the context of how quickly (in generational terms) trans rights have advanced over my lifetime, and also how new the issue appeared to be when I was young. Obviously, that doesn’t help anyone in the moment, but having some states outlaw gender affirming care and effectively authorize the police to beat up trans people is in objective fact better than the situation in 1983, when good medical care for trans folk was largely unobtainable anywhere in the US and police could beat up trans people with impunity everywhere. It’s not that I think that everyone needs to sing “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby”—Young People Today are correct to be outraged. It’s just that I can’t help instinctively thinking that only one of the two major political Parties is attacking trans people.

And similarly—it’s absolutely appalling that abortion is illegal again in many US states! There are appalling attacks on women’s rights throughout the country, and where there are not appalling attacks, there are insidious biases, and it is very important that we pay attention to what is actually going on right now, and it’s very hard for me not to think about how much worse I personally can remember it being—and even more than that, it’s very hard for me not to think about people making a huge deal about how much better it was in the 1970s than it had been in the 1950s. Thinking about that is not any more helpful than thinking about how much worse the situation is in Afghanistan than in the US right now, or thinking about how much worse it could get. But it’s where my instincts are.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

2 thoughts on “International Women’s Day

  1. Chaos

    This is all very personal and emotional, right?

    My gut feelings about queer rights match yours. The story in my head is that Obergefell was decided 21 years after i was a closeted gay high school student, and that arc of progress-over-my-lifetime has a lot more narrative weight for me than the vast majority of alarming things i learn about right now.

    My gut feelings about abortion and women’s rights don’t match yours at all. I dunno, it’s complicated. Like, on the one hand, the #MeToo movement feels like a visible marker of progress over my lifetime, in that i remember the phrase “sleeping her way to the top” being considered legitimate discourse among people i talked to, and if #MeToo hasn’t been 100% successful, well, at least it ain’t that any more.

    On the other hand, i’ve lived my entire life with Roe being the law of the land, and a generation of conservative legal activism conspired, successfully, to weaken that law and then take it down, and nobody has a plan to swiftly undo that. If there’s been social progress in my lifetime, i think at least part of that social progress is the result of a generation growing up with the expectation of reproductive freedom, and being able to make life decisions and future plans on that basis.

    I dunno, i don’t have an actual prediction, just my instinct there is that optimism is misplaced because the breakdown of reproductive freedom is too big a thing, and the social fallout of the generation that grows up post-Dobbs, hasn’t happened yet.

  2. Vardibidian Post author

    Yes, very much personal and emotional—my instincts are not necessarily in tune with my analysis, and when they are, it’s often because I made my analysis match, rather than the other way.

    I wonder how much difference there is between people who were born before or after Roe—analytically, it makes very little sense that someone born in 1969 or 1970 would have that much different an experience than someone born in 1973 or 1974, but I have known my whole life that my mother’s last pregnancy was pre-Roe, and that wouldn’t be true for someone even a few years younger.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.