Wisconsin Women Speak: An Invitation, and a Safe Space, to Share Your Story

“I call on every woman in Wisconsin to stand up and say ‘My body, my choice’.”
- Rep. Melissa Sargent

Dear friends,

I was at the Capitol on Thursday to bear witness to the Assembly's passage of a bill that violates the very personal relationship between a woman and her family, her doctor and her body. This bill was introduced on June 3 and the only public hearing for it was held on June 5, before most of us even had any idea such legislation was even possible - or legal.  Click here for Harriet Rowan's excellent coverage of SB206 for PRWatch.

I went to the Capitol myself because I felt women were shut out of that process, and that health care and mental health professionals were not afforded ample opportunity to speak out against the medically unnecessary and psychologically traumatic implications of forcing women and girls to undergo invasive, pointless (and often painful) transvaginal ultrasounds and give up their insurance coverage if they do not report their rapes before seeking an abortion (a consequence especially invasive for young victims, as Rep. Mandy Moore so chillingly pointed out in sharing her story).  I wanted to share that even though I do not advocate abortion (and who does?! No woman "wants" or thinks it's "fashionable" to get an abortion, as the bill's sponsor, Sen. Mary Lazich so disingenuously lied on the Senate floor), I will not stand idly by as we turn back the clock on our access to reproductive health and insurance coverage.  Without the Planned Parenthood offices that will be shut down by this bill, thousands of Wisconsinites will not have access even to affordable birth control, which only contributes to the numbers of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.  I've said this before but it stands saying again:  it is the greatest possible hypocrisy to claim to be "pro life" and then deny funding to the nation's #1 preventer or abortions and unwanted pregnancies. Even FOX news knows that.

Throughout the state, women and men are stunned by this big government intervention into our lives and looking for ways to speak out. On the legislative floor, many Democratic leaders stood to courageously share their own stories to stress how deeply invasive this policy is. Rep. Sondy Pope and Rep. Mandy Wright had particularly stirring stories to share (thanks to Rebecca Kemble for the video):

Rep. Melissa Sargent has issued the following challenge, and it is a challenge I will do my best to accommodate by offering a safe space to share our stories and raise our voices together:
“I call on every woman in Wisconsin to stand up and say
‘My body, my choice’.” 
I offer this page as a space to do that.  The men and women of Wisconsin need to stand together and say strongly, in a unified voice, that we will not accept these intrusions and that personal health decisions and women's bodies need to be respected by the law and those who govern.  This invasion into our most intimate privacy has forced many of us who are otherwise very private to feel exposed, ashamed, and violated by the very powers set in place to protect us.  If we do not have the freedom to protect our own bodies, and our own choices, what value are our other freedoms?
Silence is consent.

Share your story.  Let Wisconsin and the rest of the country know why you think we need to stand up for women's rights.  If you'd like to add your voice to those who have already spoken out, send me your story by email to: monologuesofdissent@gmail.com. Be sure to include your city and whether you wish to remain anonymous or go by your initials.  If you don't want to share your story, but would like to simply sign on your name to this effort so that your voice is counted, let me know.  After we collect our stories, we will share them with our legislators, and I'll continue to update this post as they continue to come in.

I hope that you'll take this call seriously, and join me in standing up and speaking out.  They might have the majority vote, but they cannot silence the majority voice.



I briefly wore this piece of tape over my mouth in the Assembly gallery to express the overwhelming feeling of being silenced and shut out from the legislative process.  We were handed these tiny fliers full of unconstitutional "rules" and told to remove the tape.  What have we come to when concerned, law-abiding citizens are made to feel that dissent has been criminalized in our statehouse?  
I think my friend Mary Worley of Worley Dervish said it best:
"I sat in the gallery today (for the first time ever, actually) from about 1:15 until 3:15pm. I started out with tape across my mouth with the word "nondebatable" written on it. Eventually I was told I had to remove it. I asked (!) whether I could put my hand over my mouth and was told that I could, although apparently some were told that they could not. Supposedly this quiet, unobtrusive action was a violation of the rule against "displays." Unbe-frickin-lievable. So not only are we being silenced, but our very mild, quiet objection to being silenced is being silenced. Message from the Wisconsin GOP to the women of Wisconsin: Sit down and shut up."
This photo by Leslie Amsterdam captures the gallery as women are told to remove the tape from their mouths.  Just after this, when some women cheered a rousing speech by Rep. Sandy Pasch, Speaker Mike Ellis arbitrarily ordered an entire row of the gallery to be cleared.  Seeing the entire back row of the gallery lined with cops ready to physically eject the silent mothers, grandmothers, and allies present was too much for many of us to bear.  It was a day of tears. I ashamed to let my daughter know that we are still, in 2013, fighting for our rights to contraception and reproductive health. 

From JoAnna Pautsch, Dane County:

I'm not ready to play nice, I'm not ready to back down. I'm still mad as hell & I don't have time to go round & round & round.

I have struggled to find the perfect words to describe my 4-hour experience in the state assembly gallery this past Thursday. At first thoughts, the only words that would come from heart & mind to mouth were, “FUCK YOU, Republicans in office & anyone who supports legislation that suppresses the rights of & endangers the lives of human beings” AND “in the last two years, I’ve learned from Republicans what it truly feels like to hate.”  I thought, “I can’t post that. I need to post something profound that gets the point across how very corrupt our government is.” How people need to pay attention to what is happening right in front of their complacent, ignorance-is-bliss noses, & do something about it.

How I watched Republican Assembly person Bill Kramer, in the position of Speaker, laugh with another Republican colleague during testimony regarding sexual assault. The consistent hubris displayed by him & his Republican colleagues up there on their “thrones” making faces while passionate testimony was being given. How most of the Republicans, including Speakers Vos & Kramer, ignored most testimony & refused to offer their own testimony, answer questions, or debate. How most of the Republicans weren’t even in the room most of the time (only during roll call). How the ones who remained simply to push the voting buttons of their colleagues were reading magazines, browsing Facebook & sleeping in their chairs. (It was so unbelievable to me, I had to take photos - which is against the capitol law. I can have a gun in my hand, but not a camera or phone). How Republicans gave this legislation 10 days of “light of day”, while complaining that others needed to be tabled due to “only 3 months of light of day”. How WE THE PEOPLE are paying for this mockery of a democratic process...monetarily & socially.

How most of the citizens in the viewing gallery were escorted out (some arrested) for either refusing to remove tape from their mouths or for allegedly clapping after an amazing testimony – that’s it. How the Democrats respectfully turned their chairs to face them & listened intently when the three sole Republicans chose to speak. How I’ve never been more disappointed in my country, state & government as I am now.  How I’ve never been prouder of some of our Democrat Assembly people.

Or how our almost 13yo daughter asked if we could please move to Canada or Europe to escape the regression & oppression of humans in this country. And how I explained to her that we must do all we can to positively change this one first, but are researching which states and/or countries would be the best fit for us because ours has betrayed us. And how these Republicans in office think they can use their religion to legislate a state / a nation of people of many religions or no religion at all.

I thought my first thoughts might be inappropriate, might offend some on my page, might make me a target or regretful.  But I’ve taught my children to “say what you mean, mean what you say” and stand up for the truth…stand up for what is right. If you disagree, discuss it with me. Give me facts to support your position. This is mine. If it offends someone enough for them to lose respect for me, end a relationship or leave my page, please go…I am so over it!

Back to work!!
From Liz Morrison:
I would like to have my name added as supporting this effort.  Women have fought too long and too hard for equality that should have been ours all along and we should not have to go back and fight this battle again.  The idea that one group of people (Republican/Tea Party white men and women) actually believes that any human being deserves fewer rights than those they enjoy is totally repugnant to me.  Every woman in Wisconsin should be livid and speaking out about the trampling of their rights by Scott Walker and his minions.
Chrissy Morrissey shares her letter to Speaker Pro Tem Sen. Mike Ellis:
Senator Ellis,
That was really quite an outburst recorded by WI Eye yesterday. It is playing all over the internet, 10 thousand plus views on you tube in 24 hours. Hopefully local news media has picked it as well. I wouldn't know about that, as I find TV news mostly irrelevant.

May this finally be your downfall. May the Fox Valley voters at last see you for what you are. You are a villain who takes food and medicine from children. You are a misogynist. You are a spineless tea party ass kisser. You are a traitor to the environment of this naturally beautiful state. You are a shill for the private education industry. You are not a nice man. AND YOU ARE MOST CERTAINLY NOT A DOCTOR!

Local friends who have never previously engaged in politics on Facebook are OUTRAGED! And I say it's about damn time they realize what you are doing in Madison while claiming to represent us. This legislation has NOTHING to do with saving babies. It is about punishing women for being the sexual creatures that nature intended. The republican desire to limit birth control for women is further proof of this outdated prudishness.

If the republican majority cared anything for children you would not consider private school vouchers at the expense of public education. You would not be cutting medical care for families and nutrition programs for children. You would not be allowing sand frac mining and open pit mining, both of which pose serious health risks to children, to choke off state water supplies. You would legislate sensible guns laws that would protect children from intentional homicides and accidents caused by careless gun owners. You would work at creating real jobs that earn real living wages for the parents of these children that you have no intention of feeding, clothing or educating. You are nothing short of ridiculous in your flagrant hypocrisy.

Are you incensed by my disrespectful tone Senator? You are not deserving of respect. You are a disgrace. You have disrespected the people of this state for far too long. You have disrespected the women of this state with your votes to abuse their rights. You are not better than your constituents. Your job is to serve us.

Please watch yourself in action. You are an embarrassment to the Fox Valley and the State of Wisconsin. You do us all a disservice as the Senator from the 19th district.
From the incomparable Worley Dervish: WI GOP to WI Women: Sit Down and Shut Up
an excerpt: I’m so proud of the brave fighting women legislators of Wisconsin—Senator Kathleen Vinehout, Representatives Chris Taylor, Melissa Sargent, Sondy Pope, Mandy Wright, to name only a few—and so grateful to them for sharing their painful, personal experiences, especially in front of a legislature that is so obviously unmoved and indifferent. They stood up and spoke on our behalf, for the women and families of Wisconsin, at no small cost to themselves, so that others could see what this bullying legislature and governor are doing to us and the contemptuous way they’re doing it.

Add to that not only the circumvention of all but the most minimal public input, but also the quashing of even the mildest form of public protest imaginable. Our silent objection to being silenced—putting tape over our mouths—was forbidden. Our role has been relegated to that of passive, voiceless recipient. Is it any wonder that many of us feel that GOP legislators are abusing the women and families of this state, not only by forcing those seeking a legal abortion to get an unnecessary and invasive medical procedure, but also by excluding us from the legislative process, even when it concerns us so very personally and directly? Even the state's medical professionals have not had any input. While our voices are silenced, this is the loud and clear message of the Wisconsin GOP to the women of the state: Sit down and shut up!
Signing on in support and solidarity: 

1 comment:

  1. I was not in the gallery during this blitzkrieg, but I watch on Wiseye and the other videos that the press issued. All I can say is, FUCK YOU TEA PARTY FASCISTS. We WILL end your reign of terror. We ARE outing you, even as I type this.

    I truly hope that Walker signs this outrageous, dangerous and fascist bill into law so we can use it against him and all the other hypocritical cruel corporate-sponsored oligarchy that has descended on our state like a plague. This hostile takeover, as hard as it is to try and stop, will someone indeed come to a grinding halt, and those who perpetrated these crimes against us will be held accountable. The pendulum AWLAYS swings back the other way, and if this extreme swing these right-wing fascists are any indication of what is coming down the pike for them as it swings back and brings with it justice and democracy like we used to know here, then they better be prepared for jail time.