I’m full of rage right now. Rage at those in power who are forcing their ideas, their opinions and their biases onto my body and the bodies of uterus-having humans all around me. I feel silenced. Violated. Powerless.
Want to take back your power, and shed some of those awful feelings at the same time?
Take your rage and make it activism. Make it action.
I volunteer at an abortion fund. I started a few years ago. After spending a comfortable decade awash in the sea of blue that is New York City, my job necessitated a move to Texas, where I instantly felt unmoored and alone. I was harassed for wearing my “feminist” shirts, saw guns bulging out of waistbands and was confronted with the kind of racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice rhetoric I hadn’t heard since running from my tiny Ohio hometown after high school. I felt the need to do something — anything — so I began volunteering for The Lilith Fund, an Austin-based abortion fund that provides Texans with financial assistance to end unwanted pregnancies, along with education and outreach programs about reproductive rights.
My first tough hotline call involved a 16-year-old looking for help. Our call was intercepted by her mother, who was opposed to abortion. I listened to the mother scream at the girl, whose panicked crying was audible in the background the whole time, and then the line went dead. My heart pounded for hours after that call ended. Was that experience easy? Of course not, but the teen ultimately got the help she needed: With assistance from The Lilith Fund and another local organization, Jane’s Due Process, she later obtained a judicial bypass, a court order allowing her to make her own decision without parental consent. Those difficult moments were a mere blip in my life, but they were everything for her, and that is the power of giving your time to help fight the erosion of people’s rights. People like the trans man I spoke with who hasn’t been able to find a job because of his gender identity — he can’t afford food, let alone the abortion he was seeking. Or the pregnant woman who asked me to call her at a very specific time, because, she told me later, her abusive husband had thrown away her birth control pills and raped her. He was forcing her to carry the baby to term so she was “linked to him forever,” she said. We spoke while she was at the store, away from him and able to get help. That woman had more courage than I could ever hope for; hearing and helping her and those like her feels like a gift. Her strength gave me strength. Fighting the effects of oppression by helping one person at a time is downright medicinal to a rage-filled heart.
If you are angry too, whatever you do, don’t let that feeling fade into inaction. It’ll just bubble up over and over again, fermenting into a toxic hate sludge that poisons your days; I know the feeling well. I urge you to push through fear, doubts, hopelessness, loneliness, all of it, and find an organization that needs the help that you can give, be that your dollars, your time or anything else you can provide. Planned Parenthood and local clinics need patient escorts and in-clinic help. Abortion funds need volunteers to run their hotlines and offer transportation, accommodations, doula services, child care, translation services and so much more. Nearly all these organizations need funds, as well as attendees for protests, rallies and sit-ins. I highly recommend taking part in any of the above, because you will meet good people doing good work who understand exactly how you feel right now. What’s so magical about turning your anger into action is the connection you share with others alongside you in the fight.
We uterus-havers have been showing up for each other for a long, long time, especially the women of color, differently abled, non-Christian, LGBTQIA folks among us. We know we can’t count on a majority of the men in our world (or the many women who somehow agree with them — Trump-voting white women, I’m looking at you), including some of our so-called allies. Their silence is deafening, their posteriors remain in their seats, and it’s we who are left to stand and fight for one another.
It is self-care of the highest order. Spending time with others who are fighting for what I believe in is a balm for my chapped sense of worth as a woman in the world today. I feel connected to those who did this work before me, in eras where it was more dangerous to do so, in a way that is indescribably healing. They fought, we will fight and the next generation will likely keep the fires lit — we have to, until we have equality and full bodily autonomy.