I’m male. A man. Heterosexual and a father. I’m a citizen of Texas (yup, driver’s license, address and registered to vote). I am absolutely horrified at what is currently happening in the Texas Legislature. When State Senator Wendy Davis filibustered last week to kill a severely restrictive abortion bill (SB5) that would have virtually made abortion illegal in Texas, I cheered her on from a family event out of state. It wasn’t until yesterday that I saw the video of her brave stand against reactionary legislation and the abuse of the legislative process. Watch the video. No, really.
Do you see what I see? Here’s what this cis-gender, hetero, white male saw.
I saw a woman bravely stand on principle as a law making body of almost entirely old, white men sought to make laws telling women what they can and can’t do with their bodies, and mandate how they must handle one of the most difficult choices any human being has to make – to terminate a pregnancy.
I saw old, white men literally in positions of power. They control the proceedings. They sit at the front of the chamber. They enforce and interpret the rules by which the issue will be discussed. The first thing I notice is this is a male chamber. The valiant Wendy Davis is not the only woman in the Texas State Senate, but women make up such a minority of this body that as she speaks alone at the podium she seems to be the only woman in the chamber.
I notice also how white the legislature is. When a Senator who is a woman of color rises to speak, and she questions “[Why] women senators have to raise their hands to be recognized [while male colleagues do not], I can’t help but think that the demographics of Texas and the demographics of the Texas State Senate chamber just don’t jive.
A quick look at demographics: Texas is 40% Latino, 12% African American, 4% Aisan, and 1% Native American. So 57%, almost 6 in 10 Texans, are NOT White. (The room I am sitting in right now in a cafe in The Woodlands, TX, just north of Houston [the most ethnically and racially diverse metropolitan area in the country], is full, and there are two people of color in the room. Both are Latino bus boys. This room is about as diverse as the Texas state Legislature.
I notice in the video where the women of Texas are sitting – in the gallery in the upper floor. They are not to speak or make themselves a nuisance. When they do, Texas state troopers enter the gallery, and the way they move among the crowd intimates violence. At the very least it communicates that there is a physical power in the room that will maintain control and that control is maintained neither by nor for the women in the room.
Astounding. And then, there is the admission that the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, presiding over the state senate, altered the computer record so that a vote would be taken before a midnight deadline. Why is this man not in jail? Where is the call for his resignation. This isn’t an “Oops, I got the time wrong.” This is a deliberate attempt to alter, forge, and cheat the legislative record.
Having been thwarted in their attempt to man-ipulate the legislative system, the men of the Texas legislature will try again beginning Monday, July 8 at 2 p.m. This could last up to another month.
If you live in Texas, contact your state senator and state representative and tell them to oppose the abortion legislation which is also opposed by reproductive rights groups, the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Hospital Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Hell, if you don’t live in Texas, contact Senator Wendy Davis to thank her and offer your support and contact Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and tell him he’s a liar, a cheat, and a schmuck and he should be thrown out of office. You can tell him I said so.