billiecaintuesdaycainjesusisntadicksokeephimoutofmyvaginaxojaneIf you don’t believe our country is in the middle of a War on Women, look no farther than the great state of Texas this month. After heroic efforts from democratic (mostly women) legislators in the Texas House and Senate, and monumental demonstrations from Texas citizens, Texas passed one of the most restrictive bills on reproductive rights in the nation.

As the saying goes: if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention to Texas (that is how the saying goes, right?).

In the midst of the fervor surrounding Texas Bill SB5, faces have emerged to symbolize the on-going fight for reproductive rights. One of these is Senator Wendy Davis, whose 13-hour filibuster helped prevent the damaging bill from passing the first time around. Another is State Representative Senfronia Thompson, whose use of a wire hanger in her moving speech was a chilling reminder of what is in store for Texas women who are about to lose their access to family planning (just so we’re clear, that would be horrendous back-alley abortions leading to sepsis, mutilation, and death for thousands of women. Just so we’re clear).

And then there’s Tuesday Cain, a 14-year-old girl from Austin who showed up with her father and her best friend to protest the harmful and misogynist legislation with a sign that read “Jesus isn’t a dick so keep him out of my vagina!”

You know: the whore.

At least that’s what angry conservatives have been calling Cain, both to her face and on social media. Because nothing accurately describes a not-sexually-active child with the gumption to stand up for her rights to her own bodily autonomy and healthcare like the implication that she has sexual intercourse for money. Whore! Amirite?

Cain recently published a response to the criticism and insults she’s received after her picture went viral, in which she explains the downright ugly behavior of adults who didn’t like her sign. It’s a brave and mature piece which shows the outstanding character of one young girl in the face of overwhelming forces of sexism far larger than her, than Bill SB5, and even the state of Texas.

One of the worst things about what has happened to Tuesday Cain is that it’s not even surprising.

We live in a country where the video-recorded rape of a teenage girl in Steubenville, Ohio elicits a stronger outcry of sympathy for the rapists than the victim. Where a 13-year-old pregnant rape victim in Ellwood, Indiana can’t walk out her front door without being called a “slut” or “whore.” Where a Georgetown student was labeled a “slut” on national radio and subjected to a vicious smear campaign for daring to testify that hormonal birth control pills are prescribed and used for managing serious health concerns like ovarian cysts.

Insulting and degrading women and girls for fighting back against systematic, culturally-instituted, government-sanctioned sexism is just what we do here.

Cain and the women mentioned in the cases above just can’t win in the eyes of the sexist masses. Get raped? You just ruined the lives of the poor men who tortured and humiliated you, you whore. Get raped and impregnated and choose to carry the pregnancy to term? Well, you may not have chosen abortion, but you’re still a filthy whore, you whore. State the reality that hormonal birth control is used for more than only controlling when and if you get pregnant? Clearly… you’re a whore.

And protest that religion has no place in government policy, especially where a woman’s reproductive decisions are concerned? You are most certainly, without a doubt, a whore.

“Whore” and “slut” are interesting choices for insults, especially when directed at a child who by her own admission has never engaged in sexual intercourse. The intention with using these words is to degrade women for having sex (whether or not it was consensual) outside of the approved narrative of heterosexual marriage for the purposes of reproduction. To choose anything else, or to imply that anything else is ok, gets you labeled a mean-spirited, gendered pejorative.

All Tuesday Cain wanted was for her elected representatives to take a step back and realize that religion should have no place on the floor of the Texas legislature. That putting restrictions on family planning clinics would endanger the people of Texas who rely on those clinics for healthcare. That placing unreasonable difficulties on women when they make their reproductive decisions is sexist and a violation of human rights.

And for that, Tuesday Cain has been dubbed that most exalted of misogynist insults: a whore.

Because someday she might want to have a say in when and if she gets pregnant and gives birth, she is a whore. Because some day she might need access to a safe and legal abortion, she is a whore. Because some day she might find herself in need of the preventative health services offered by a family planning clinic, she is a whore. Because she cares about her fellow Texans, believes in their right to determine their own reproductive lives and future, and doesn’t believe those decisions should be made by a predominantly male and uncaring governing body, she is a whore.

If that’s what makes a whore in the United States of America, then I’ll wear the name proudly. If Tuesday Cain is a whore, then so am I.

About The Author

Bombshell executive editor Jess d’Arbonne works in book publishing. In her non-existent spare time she writes about nerd culture, books, feminism, and zombies. She’s a Libra, a Browncoat, a self-professed geek, and nobody’s fool. You can follow her on Twitter @JessDarb

18 Responses

  1. Angela Medina

    I applaud you both and I’m behind you, in front of you, and/or beside you every step of the way. Keep on fighting.

    Reply

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