So I am hosting a writing workshop Thursday. 6-9 pm. In Fort Worth. There will be drinks and discussion, not a lot of me talk-talk-talking to you and absolutely zero reading from a handout. My approach to teaching writing comes almost directly from what I learned teaching yoga.
A workshop works best when you are helping a single person aloud, and thereby teaching everybody.
So you will talk about your idea, your challenges, your novel, your blog, your theme, your identity, your pitch, your dream. And by working through your block, whatever that may be, we all learn. Because what I know for sure is: Whatever you are battling—in life, in writing, in anything—almost assuredly somebody, actually lots of somebodies, are as well. And you light the path for whoever comes next.
A good hunk of what we do Thursday will be working with you on your writing. And almost all of what we do comes back in some way to ferocity. Because writing, any kind of writing whatsoever, requires bravery.
This is why, when I was brainstorming names for this little writing venture I am launching, I went with The Little But Fierce Society. It is not that it rolls easily off the tongue. It does not. It is about the state of mind required to fearlessly tell one’s story. And, of course, I love this quote from Shakespeare. It is evocative of this modus operandi I am trying to bring to every aspect of my life—a belief that, though, I am just one voice, my words matter. Words matter.
Because, and I am going to let you in on a writing secret, it is hard for me at times, too. After 1,000s of columns and plenty of awards and being The Best Damn Sports Columnist in all of America a year ago (not the official award title), I still have days where I stare at my screen or delete and rewrite. And I have plenty of days where I am scared and spend too much time wondering:
What will people think? Will they like it? Will they like me? Is it good? Will it get published? Will I be heard?
What gets me to keep writing, to double click on “publish”, to forge ahead anyway is my belief that writers write. No really, it is impossible to be a writer if you do not write.
So start writing, chasing, doing, dreaming, creating. This was the impetus behind The Little But Fierce Society, where we specialize in Boat Burning, Bravery and The Art of Story.
So join me this Thursday, or next Thursday if learning to write about your business is your passion, and let’s start on this journey together. Let’s get this down on paper, on an iMac, in a journal, wherever.
Because fierce is an action verb, no matter what Webster’s says. Fierce has absolutely little to do with being angry or mean, or saying something snarky, or fighting battles, or taking down another person. I spent a long time confused by this, too, confusing fierce with mean. And while the world needs more ferocity, it has plenty of mean.
Being fierce is absolutely and unequivocally about unrestrained zeal, being furiously determined, being undeterred and brave and honest. Fierce is the dogged belief that a word after a word after a word really is power, and that includes your words.
We have a couple of more spots available. I am keeping this purposefully small because I want to be able to talk about your writing, your project, your goals. I want to be able to read YOU, to follow up with you, to figure out how to get you started. This is not about sitting around for three hours listening to me tell stories about writing or silly Dos and Don’ts but about teaching you—in real time ways—to tell yours.
This is not about theory. This is not a test. This is a jumpstart, to writing and creating and forming groups of writing and co-creators. This is about becoming a society of little but fierce souls ready to change the world with our words.
“I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for.”
Well played, Jennifer Lawrence. Very well played, indeed.
That “sorry, not sorry” was only a snippet of an epic rant unleashed by JLaw in an interview with Vanity Fair regarding photos of the actress (yes, nude photos you Puritan whiners) that were hacked into, stolen, leaked and gawked at unapologetically by far too many dudes hiding behind bs reasoning for this violation. All of which, sadly, were prettied up versions of “She asked for it”. This is the disgusting trope used too often with regards to issues of rape and sexual assault and sexual harassment and, really, if we are being honest, any behavior that men know is wrong but want to do and get away with.
You know, like treating those of XX origins like objects.
“Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this,” Lawrence told VF. “It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world. ”
Whoa, slow your roll, JLaw. Having a choice about what goes on with your body? Not lately, not likely.
And now some idiot is going to argue that JLaw had this coming, for posing for and sending nude pics. This is garbage. Total garbage. I wish I had taken nude photos when I was younger, you know before a kid and time and self-hatred took their toll. I believe Lawrence and Emma Watson and every woman has a right to take pics of themselves, if doing so is a choice they make freely and without shame.
And whether you think the nude selfie is a good idea or bad, the fact that publishing these photos is somehow seen as a “punishment” for JLaw and Watson daring to have a subversive opinions like girls matter or that judging women on looks is humiliating and mean is a problem for all women.
Republicans and Democrats, the virgins and the promiscuous, the working moms and those that stay at home, the sooner we realize we are all in this together the better off we—and yes, our girls—will be.
JLaw is exactly right. This is not another celebrity scandal. This is an attack on all women. And this is bullshit.
“It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. … I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside,” she told the magazine. “Anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offense. You should cower with shame.”
Of course, I love Jennifer Lawrence. I love her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, a strong and inspiring female character not often seen in tween films. I love her for her remarks to Barbara Walters about just how ugly women have become to one another and how we desperately need to stop. I love her for her “sorry, not sorry”. If only the rest of us would be that brave, and quit buying into this “she deserves it” creation myth.
So my family and I started attending Christ Chapel Bible Church a little more than a year ago, after a little gentle nudging by my friend and neighbor Elena McMurry. Then my 5yo attended KidsKamp and LOVED every second. We became official members not long after in part because of this ability to inspire kids, and in part because Pastor Ted delivers what can best be described as “Real Talk” sermons. He preaches like a columnist writes. And of course, I dig this.
At least most of that time I do.
We all, if we are being completely honest, just want to go to church some Sundays and sing and commune and hear how we are going to heaven. We want The Good News, not so much the fine print. I know I have those Sundays.
Which is why Pastor Ted feels a little abrasive at times. (Can you say that about your pastor? Does it help that I mean abrasive in The Best Possible Way?) He feels especially so in times of declining membership almost everywhere, when sticking to Scripture and points of theology generally held in universal agreement is the more prudent course.
This is just not Pastor Ted’s way.
And so, recently, he started a series of sermons called #WorthItAll. About suffering. Our kick-in-the-lower-guts, daily suffering. He’s delving into how and why, trying to bring clarity to that prickly theological question that loosely translates into “So if God really loves us, why exactly do crappy things keep happening, you know things like toddlers with cancer and school shootings and divorce and depression and sadness and on and on and on?”
That is not just me asking that, right? God, I hope not. I have always tried to be honest about my struggles with faith, how I did not step into a church for years after my mom died instead staying home and praying by myself, prayers that usually began with “God you suck … ” because I was young and hurt and broken. And with every heartbreak and betrayal that followed, I have stayed in conversation with God. Only with kinder language. What my prayers usually boil down to is “why?”. And there is no good answer to this question, absolutely none, especially if it is your life that is cratering. It is in these moments that “everything happens for a reason” feels particularly empty and believing that God knows every hair on your head feels almost impossible. Because, and I will speak for myself, in that moment, it feels like if God really knew me, really cared about, really loved me then he could not possibly sit idly by and watch me break like this.
What has brought me solace in such times is my belief that God answers prayers with people. He sends good people, kind people, doers and huggers and pray-ers into your worst times to help. And I believe this but where is God.
Pastor Ted suggested something Sunday I had never heard before when talking about human suffering and God. Pastor Ted suggested that God’s heart breaks for us, too. As Pastor Ted noted using Scripture, Jesus did not stand aloof from our sorrows but willingly experienced them. This stuck me as kind of crazy, and also very powerful. He had sandals on the ground, so to speak. And I have been thinking about this a lot since leaving church. Is is possible that God, while not wiping away ever tear, sits with me and cries too? That he hurts when I hurt, when my friends hurt, when humanity hurts one another?
I realize the cynic will say, well, God is all powerful, why not just fix everything? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. What does wring true is God being with us in the trenches, in hardship, and yes in joy and happiness. He has been with me in my worst moments, and I am 99.9 percent sure there were only one set of footprints in said moments because he carried me. He loves us so much that he willingly chose to be “crushed for our iniquities”. At this point in his sermon Sunday, Pastor Ted started listing said iniquities and this felt brutal. He started with cheating and walked his way through a list of sins both big and small, gossip and lying and murder and meanness. And when he had finished that sanctuary was silent. Because we all knew we had committed one(or more) of these sins, that we had been given undeserved Grace and that really and truly, only a God that cared about us, would do that.
Yes, the list was abrasive. But I mean that in a good way. And I thank you, Pastor Ted, for being willing to go there.
My life, if I am being honest, probably has way way too many unofficial rules of living.
No lunch foods before noon. No sports team gear in anything except for official team colors. No rooting for a sports team in a city where you did not grow up(unless that city did not have a team in that sport, that team moved, or special circumstances apply).
Mostly, though, I believe readers write and writers read. I do not believe you can be a good writer, or really a good functioning member of society, unless you read. Books, articles, blogs, newspapers, fiction, nonfiction. Just read. So weekly, I am going to share my favorite reads as well as anything and everything else that is interesting me that week.
That pic is a stack of Man Booker Prize short list, and right now I am reading Joshua Ferris’ To Rise at a Decent Hour. While, so far, not nearly as good as Then We Came to the End: A Novel. At least not for me.
A. To The Men on this rant against The Target Machine. Because I am very close to entering that zone with my 5yo daughter where slutty toddler is the only style available. Enough is enough.
Taking down Paula Deen, with all accumulated evidence, is not a difficult task. But this is so amazingly well done. Long but totally worth every minute.
Dylan Gardner is like 12, and yet his Let’s Get Started is my latest Spotify, iTunes, song for kitchen dance partying with my 5yo obsession.
I am still not sure I believe this article. But it is Nate Silver’s crew so it has to be true.
Including a sports piece because it is a) me b) October and thus baseball playoffs time and c) everybody hates my beloved St. Louis Baseball Cardinals, which is kind of annoying. Okay not really. Hell, I moved to Texas for a reason. This response, though, is why politicians all of them are idiots.
And finally Gone Girl was such an amazing book, and I am psyched about seeing David Fincher’s take on this. Hopefully, this weekend. OK, who am I kidding. Likely on Netflix in a year.
Below is the complete summation of hours and hours of my father’s talks to me about writing as I grew up.
Tell your story. Use your voice.
My father, an amazing newspaper journalist and political columnist, and I talked writing often. For a while, mostly during my time at Mizzou, this consisted of him trying to talk me out of newspaper writing. He wanted me to go to law school, or another money-bearing, word-using profession.
And when that failed, he resumed trying to pass along what he understood about words and story and craft to the daughter whose interest fluctuated between reading, writing, watching sports, playing sports and debating(thus his lawyer rec). And how he did this was by telling his stories. Of his life. And of his newspaper career. Of ledes he had written. And of subjects he had interviewed. Of what he learned. And of what he wished he had known. Of the little tiny minutia that we find mundane and boring about ourselves but is infinitely helpful to those who come after.
I learned how to be a writer not by reading a book with a list of rules but rather from listening to his story—his failures and his greatest achievements weaved together to teach me. And by writing.
What I know for sure, after almost 20 years as a professional journalist and writer, is: Everybody has a story to tell. What I believe with all my heart: Everybody also has as a responsibility to tell it, and the ability to do so.
A quick word on responsibility because when you tell your story, about what is hard and what hurts and what is real, about what was amazing and breathtaking and what lights you up, about moments of true happiness and gutting despair, about your divorce, your faith, the death of your mom, your diabetes, your brilliant kid, your business, your dream, your real and raw and beautiful life, what you are really doing is reaching out your hand. And that hand helps somebody else up. What you are allowing them to say(although you probably do not believe this) is “Me, too” or “Thank God, it’s not just me” or “I am not alone”. You shine a light on a path, show them a way to get through, to survive, to celebrate. You give them a friend, even if the only connection is your words from thousands of miles away.
Because what I also know for sure is that Margaret Atwood is absolutely right when she says “a word after a word after a word is power”. There is no power greater.
By sharing your story, you create space for others to give voice to theirs, to claim their voice. Make no mistake, learning to write and becoming disciplined about writing is really about finding your voice.
How do you know if yours is lost? Do you say “fine” when a friend asks “How are you? when the truth is really much more complicated? You have not found your voice. Do you stay silent or even join in when people gossip about another? You have not found your voice. Do you wish people knew the real you? You have not found your voice.
This is not about judging yourself for those moments. We all have been there; myself as recently as Monday. Nor is this an encouragement for emotional sluttiness or oversharing. This is about being real, about being in full expression, about authenticity.
And writing allows us what little safety is available in this being authentic thing. When you write—via a journal or personal or business or in short story or novel or poetry or column—it allows you to be out there while still at home in your pajamas.
But I do not know how to write, Jen? I sit in front of a blank screen for hours, Jen? I do not have time, Jen? I am boring. I have nothing to write about, Jen?
Everybody can write, and write fast. Yes, you. No really, you. There is a great quote from Joan Didion about writing about what feels mundane—a play date, or grocery shopping, or breakfast.
You get the sense that it is possible simply to go through life noticing things and writing them down and that this is ok, it’s worth doing, that the seemingly insignificant things that most of us spend our days noticing are really significant, have meaning and tell us something.
And this is what these workshops are about—helping you start writing. Whether your project is a blog for your business, a blog that you want to become your business, a novel, a daily email to your child for him to be able to open on his 18th birthday, a journal, or words to go with your 457 Instagram photos.
Of course, I am lucky. I do writing and teaching. My sweet friend, Shelby, of Shelby Crawford Events, has a knack for party planning and event throwing and home decorating and just making everything special. So I feel very honored that she offered to throw these for me. So I hope you will join us. And begin the process of learning to tell your story.
Burn The Boats,
ps. All you need to bring is a writing sample, and yourself. We will handle everything else. And yes, a writing sample can be a particularly witty Facebook update that you love.
pps. One more Didion about why this chronicling is so very important—even if just in a journal. “We are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4am of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.”
ppps. Also in the works is a writing and yoga workshop with my amazing mentor and owner of Indigo Yoga Brooke Hamblet, which I have dubbed The Wring and Write, because to write it down you have to get it out. Look for info on that coming soon.
pppps. This is all part of one of my Plan Bs, starting a writing-media-teaching company called The Little But Fierce Society. More info on that coming as well.
I had a moment recently, where a group of my girls from Indigo Yoga and Lululemon Fort Worth(ok mostly, girls and a few guys) had asked for a Burn The Boats explainer. Now I love telling that story. And I was really going, with dramatic pauses and use of colorful Lawrence Taylor languaging and a somewhat successful Bill Parcells’ impersonation when I actually HEARD the story again. I have heard and told and retold and written about BTB for years, but this felt very much like my first time. I think this was because I was talking to non-sports type and I had to do a little footballsplaining.
The Giants exited the plane. Beat the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. Came upon another boat in need of burning, The Super Bowl.
For whatever reason, what struck me this time was this very obvious detail I rarely talked about. They. Had. To. Get. Off. The. Plane. I mean, of course, they did. This seems obvious in hindsight. Yet whenever I had told this story before, whenever I had heard this story, whenever I wrote about this story, what struck me as most important was this phrase “Burn The Boats” because attitude is everything and thoughts become reality and blah, blah, blah. That is hard to type because BTB has carried me through a lot of hard days and motivated me to try and fail and try again. This phrase alone helped me through my worst and teariest days at FOXSports 1.
What I remembered while talking to The Lulus was how important not simply talk about “boat burning” and “daring greatly” and “being a yes” really is. You have to get off the plane. And once off, with the charred embers of whatever your boat is behind you, you have to be willing to fail. Because Parcells’ message was not “failure is not an option”. BTB simply means quitting is not an option, that whatever you are endeavoring for is worth risking failure for. It means you would rather fail at whatever your island is than retreat to your boat(your excuse, your backup plan, your parachute) and die the ugly death that is regret.
If I am being honest, I have been saying BTB and staying on the plane a lot lately. Or lighting a match then reaching for an extinguisher. Or planning and planning and planning and never really doing.
And that is not boat burning. That is not what the BTB story is about. It is not simply a rallying cry. It is a way of living your life.
So I invite you to join me right now. Get off the plane. And then burn those mother f-ing boats,
I was volunteering at library hour for my 5yo’s kindergarten class Tuesday. And again Wednesday. As all of this Ray Rice-wife punching-Roger Goodell lying-holy S went down. The details of why I was scanning Seuss-es instead of banging out a column is for another, much longer blog. I bring up my location simply because another mom, another volunteer, succinctly and perfectly summarized what had been bothering me since this whole Ray Rice went down.
"What did the NFL think happened in that elevator?"
Every single woman I know, those that follow sports like religion and those who only watch ULL practices for the kinder boys, immediately upon seeing video of Rice pulling his then-fiancee by her hair out of an Atlantic City elevator knew what had gone down. She had been beaten. Punched, or kicked into unconsciousness. We understood this because almost every single woman I know has been physically intimidated by a man in this lifetime. Too many have been punched, and kicked, and slapped as well. We understand all too well how anger can quickly ball itself into a fist on the hand of even the most forward-thinking man.
No second video was needed to know what went down in that elevator. No second video was needed to know a two-game suspension for Rice was embarrassingly lenient. No second video was needed to see the NFL does not care about women.
The first video was enough for women because, really, what did Goodell or anybody else think happened when two go into an small confined space and only one comes out conscious? It is more morally outrageous, frankly, that it took the sight of Janay Rice being punched in the face to rile the NFL into action.
The clear message sent by the league was and is: We do not care if our players beat women. What we do care about is if the pr beating we take if there is video of the woman getting her face punched in.
Almost every single thing the NFL has done since this Ray Rice-Janay Rice beat down came to light months ago has reeked of a league and really a sport that has a female problem, and its cover-its-ass-at-all-costs ethos that reveals itself when that dirty little secret slips out. There are too many rapes, beatings, sexual assaults downplayed and swept under rugs to suggest anything other than a wonton disregard for women. With an exception. When trying to sell us pink jerseys to raise awareness for breast cancer raise more money for the league and when trying to sell us Victoria Secret panties at Jerry World. We are good enough to be marketed, too, yet not quite significant enough to be considered worth protecting when beaten or assaulted by their employees. I know, I know, Roger admitted he was wrong. I’ll let his apologists praise him for doing what was politically expedient. What I know for sure is his conscience took a helluva long time to kick in and did so: Only after ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith “started a discussion” about how women could prevent further beatings (that amounted to “Shut your mouth. Know your role. Be sexy. Not too sexy. Don’t provoke. Smile pretty”. Only after Roger and the Ravens had personally vouched for Rice’s character and contrition. Only after far lengthier suspensions had been doled out for positive drug tests and ensuing backlash. Only after fans had cheered him. Only after a clear message had been sent to DV victims everywhere that when you come forward prepare for another beating. Only after women finally had grown tired of Roger and Stephen A. and George Will suggesting that we girls, with our rape privilege and preventable beatings and role in what goes down in elevators owed America an apology because we were distracting the men from doing things like deciding what birth control we should use.
Only then did the NFL listen. Or pretended to listen.
So I do not care if Roger saw the first tape or not. And I do not think he needs to be fired, the quick and easy response sports talker after sports talker has thrown out in quick succession. Nothing changes if we take voices away from the table, if we shame men into fake apologies and retractions. Change happens when we add voices to the table. Female voices. More female columnists and opinionators on TV. More female working for NFL teams and not simply as secretaries and low-level pr types. More female voices in the league. Too often in sports and especially the NFL, the females are there for decoration—like flowers also getting changed out when they get old. We almost exclusively get to ask the questions and get out of the way as the men debate. We get mostly to stfu while the men handle the big issues.
What I know for sure is if they had had a female in the room when discussing Ray Rice’s initial punishment it would have been more than two games. The woman would have said what my friend at the library did: What do y’all think happened in that elevator?
Burn The Boats,
ps. I think Rice’s indefinite suspension is BS, too. This is a league about to welcome Josh Brent back into the league in a few weeks, after he drove drunk and killed a teammate. If there is grace for him, there is grace for Rice. For his family. For his career. Kicking him out solves nothing. Does nothing to protect DV victims. Does nothing to teach football players how to treat women. Because really, all the NFL did was teach its players that if you are going to beat your women do it where there are no cameras.
So I have been working on a manifesto for Blogs Like A Girl, an intention for what I want this space to be and what voice. Work. In. Progress.
Until I came across this quote from Alexi Wasser of IMBOYCRAZY.com (a blog I have never read though I now plan to) while reading #GirlBoss (a book by Nasty Gal’s Sophia Amoruso that I have read and highly recommend) and thought “yes, yes, yes”.
I found that by sharing my personal experiences, like through my blog, that we’re not alone—that the most shameful, personal, specific things you are going through are actually universal. You can laugh about it. I want to make a contribution that matters, and I want to be as vulnerable and as raw as possible so other people feel less alone. I want to make people happy or make them laugh—even if it is at my own expense.
And this feels like a good place to start. Hard. Clear. Honest. About my sorrows, my failings, my hopes and my plans. More to come, very very soon.
I am just going to say that thing you are not supposed to say: I care about those illegal immigrant children at the border. I really do. I just care about my own kid more.
There is a reason on an adoption application it asks for income. Because as important as it to provide homes for kids, there has to be funds to support them. It is the same reason there is an occupancy limit on a lifeboat even if there are more people on board the sinking ship. It is the same reason they tell you to put on your own air mask before helping everybody else.
It is because you end up doing more harm than good if you are not really capable of helping. You end up hurting everybody.
Are those scenes from the border heartbreaking? Yes. Do I want to help young kids? Absolutely. Do I cringe watching my fellow Americans protest kids in ugly displays? Of course.
But contrary to popular lib opinion, it does not make me racist or mean or spiritually bankrupt that I do not want to help them by getting further in debt to China, or by paying an even bigger tax bill, or even worse not figuring out the logistics at all.
The more this topic has been debated in recent days the more I have thought about that scene in Dave. Brief synopsis: The POTUS is a heartless prick. He has a stroke. His aides decide to hire a presidential impersonator to play him. Only his look alike is a bleeding heart liberal who objects when they cut funding for a homeless shelter. The advisors them tell him: “If you want your precious shelter, go find the $656 million in the budget for it.”
This feels right, actually. If a policy or program means enough to us, then we must be willing—in a time when this country finds itself under crippling debt—to cut something else.
This is how families work in America, or how they used to before too many began living beyond their means on credit cards and insane mortgages and loans. Of course, we created bailouts for those decisions. And you know who paid for that? Taxpayers like myself, like you. And when that was not enough money, we borrowed and stayed borrowing and borrowed more. As a country. Fail to repay loans. Get a bailout. Pay all bills on time. Live within your means. Save for a rainy day. Pay out the you-know-what on April 15.
Not only is this insanely unfair, it is unsustainable.
If we want to be a position to help real refugees who end up at our borders, we must first put on our own mask. We have to pay off our debt. We have to balance our budget. We have to say no.
Is it heartbreaking. Absolutely. But the answer is not to let every poor kid into our country, into our health-care system, into our schools, into our already strapped child-welfare system. Especially now. We are having trouble taking care of our own, or have we forgotten the sorry state of our public schools? Or the amount of time it takes for a veteran who served his country to see a doctor in a VA hospital? Or the daily influx of news about kids in crisis in this country?
I am not saying we never let another kid across the border. There are true refugees, fleeing unspeakable violence and ugliness, and we have a moral obligation to help. We also have a moral obligation to our own kids to have a plan beyond “Hey, we paid for this by borrowing more money from China. Good luck paying that off kids”.
I read a column recently in my Star-Telegram, saying this was a complex problem. It was a non-opinion, really, bland and intellectually dishonest. A solution is actually quite simple. If we as a country want to be able to do something with those kids at the border, beyond turning them into talking points about how heartless Republicans are and how fiscally inept Democrats are, we have to be strong enough to help. And we are not. Anybody who says otherwise is lying.
So I will say it again, that thing I am not supposed to say. My heart breaks for those kids at the border. But I do not think throwing money we do not have at a problem with no solution is the right thing to do. Even if it feels good to say otherwise.
I have a pile of Hobby Lobby detritus in my garage at this moment, paper straws in chevron prints and red-white-and-blue streamers and card stock for making flash cards. Yes, flash cards. I know. I need help. When I bought these items a week ago, The Supreme Court had yet to rule on Hobby Lobby’s petition to be able to opt out of providing certain forms of birth control to employees under The Affordable Care Act. Nor, if I am being honest, did I entertain this impending decision before walking in and consuming. My thoughts were only on decorating my 5yo’s bicycle for our neighborhood Fourth of July parade and how to properly accessorize the lemonade stand we had recently built.
Now I look at them, this pile of stuff, and I beat myself up. Of course, the better thing for my daughter, my sweet little daughter, is to personally unfund Hobby Lobby who so obviously thinks so very little about the majority of their shoppers. Mostly women. Mostly crafty, family-oriented women. Mostly bright, educated women capable of deciding, in conjunction with their doctor, what form of birth control to use.
I know the argument, by the way, the religious freedom argument being used to say Hobby Lobby should not have to pay for medicine or procedures they do not agree with morally. And you know what, I might actually concede this if not for that whole slippery slope thing.
Because when we allow one group to opt out of laws that govern us all, even for religious reasons, we open the door for others to do likewise. Thus the slippery slope. And this is why Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s dissent is so powerful. The Notorious RBG gets at the very heart of this idea of the dangers of letting people opt-out of societal standards when she writes:
The Court’s determination that RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] extends to for-profit corporations is bound to have untoward effects. Although the Court attempts to cabin its language to closely held corporations, its logic extends to corporations of any size, public or private. Little doubt that RFRA claims will proliferate, for the Court’s expansive notion of corporate personhood–combined with its other errors in construing RFRA–invites for-profit entities to seek religious-based exemptions from regulations they deem offensive to their faith. … The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.
But what does the majority white, male court care? The field will not be littered with men unable to get medical care deemed appropriate by their doctors. Because, apparently, Viagra fits nicely into everybody’s religious beliefs. No, that burden will be born by women, women who more often than not are incapable of providing for this care with the paltry sum paid to them by The Lobby.
I posted my thoughts on this on Twitter (@engeljen) almost immediately and what I heard again and again in defense of Hobby Lobby scared me. Guys were arguing The Lobby is not responsible for the irresponsible choices of women. Wait, what? The conclusion by many defenders of The Lobby seemed to be that birth control, morning-after pills and, yes, abortion are deterrents stopping women from being more sexually responsible. And, as an offshoot, helping keep guys in line, too. Because, you know, that is on US.
It is not. What is on us, women of all moral beliefs and political stripes, is to finally fight back against this constant whittling of our rights. Because the other thing about a slippery slope is eventually they will get to a right that matters to you and by then it will be too late.
So no more chevron striped straws, no more streamers, no more anything from The Lobby. I am morally opposed to abortion. Likewise, I am morally opposed to a bunch of old white guys overruling my doctor, or yours, or that of any woman. I am doing this for my 5yo daughter. And for yours. The Notorious RBG needs our help, our voices. She needs us to join the dissent.