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September 28, 2021

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Alaska Girls Kick Ass & Midterms Matter

AkGirlsKickAss

If you live in Alaska, you’ve seen that bumper sticker a hundred times if you’ve seen it once. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it when I arrived in the Great Land.

As the years passed, I did things I’d never have done if I had stayed in east coast suburbia. I camped in bear country, and wolf country; I sailed in high seas in the Gulf of Alaska; traversed mountain passes with a baby on my back; almost tumbled into a gorge on a 3-wheeler; pulled up my share of halibut from the deep sea; had Thanksgiving in a log cabin that suffered a power outage and frozen pipes; and even ran over myself with my own snowmachine at 35 below… Don’t ask.

I like living in a state where women are just as at home in Xtra Tuffs as Cole Haans, and in Carhartts as a little black dress; and where most women are as comfortable catching and cleaning a fish as they are cooking it.

It's what's for dinner.

It’s what’s for dinner.

Politically, I watched Alaska women get elected not only to local races, but to the United States Senate, and as Lt. Governor, and as Governor. I even watched that governor (say what you will, and you know how I feel about her politics) get nominated to be the Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party.

I have a hard time with certain aspects of Alaska politics. As the kind of Alaskan women we are, we really shouldn’t be taking crap from anyone about the issues that are ours alone, let alone from those who don’t have two X chromosomes.

Now, before you bristle, I know there are many enlightened men on our side for whose support we should be grateful. And women are not all the same in our political beliefs, and we don’t have to be.

Not all women think abortion is alright. Some women don’t. But the truth is that the majority of Alaskans are pro-choice, half of all pregnancies are unintended, and one out of every three women will have an abortion some time before she’s 45. Even adamantly pro-life women like Sarah Palin and her daughter Bristol have talked about the “choices” they made – because the choice was theirs to make. We as women should allow women, and trust women – all women – to make for themselves the choices that affect their own bodies, their own families, and their own futures. Alaska women had the right to reproductive choice three years before Roe v. Wade. Did you know that? We demanded and exercised the right to privacy given to us in the Alaska Constitutioin. And a Republican legislature ushered it through. Because in those days, the Republican Party stood for privacy rights, and personal liberty. For everyone.

Women don’t have to use birth control if we don’t want to, but 99% of us will at some time in our lives. And we made that decision – when, what kind, and for how long. We did. And if we consulted anyone about that decision, it was our doctor, or our partner – not our boss. We are the ones who decided if religion, or science, or both would dictate our choice. Nobody else. Why should our employer allow insurance payouts for penis pumps, and penile implants, and Viagra, but deny basic birth control coverage for women? Inequity tells you what is valued, and what is not.

We may be in a loving, supportive, healthy relationship with our awesome Alaska guy. But we should never turn our backs on women who suffer at the hands of abusers. We cannot with a clear conscience ignore victims of rape, domestic violence, or sexual assault, when we live in a state that consistently ranks number one nationally (or close to it) for those things. Many of us have been entangled in abusive relationships, or know someone who has. All of us have been nervous walking through a parking lot at night. Or when a man gets in an elevator and we’re the only two in there. Or when we get a flat tire and wonder who will be the one to stop and see if he can “help.” We are always a moment away from being a statistic, and we understand that.

A lot of us have kids. We want our daughters to grow up to be women who are strong, and capable, and empowered. We want our sons to want the kind of women that our daughters are. That we are. We want them to be secure and caring and value a partner in life who is their complement, their equal, not their subordinate. We want society to value our girls as equals because they are.

A couple hundred years ago, we made sure our President was not a monarch. He (and some day she) doesn’t make and enforce the laws of the land. Congress does. Our judiciary does. And the midterm elections have as much or more to do with determining our fate as Presidential elections do. But, during the last midterm election, only 25% of eligible women showed up at the polls. And that’s a problem.

In Alaska, the very first act of our Territorial legislature in 1913 was giving women the right to vote. Alaska women had proven themselves, and the enlightened governing body did the right thing years before the rest of the nation got on board, and decades before we were even a state. Alaska was held as an example of what women could achieve, and how we should be treated. Equally.

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Margaret Vale Howe, niece of President Wilson, at a New York Suffrage Parade in 1915. Alaska women had the right to vote two years before.

Across the country there are candidates, and ballot initiatives that make me cringe. “Personhood amendments” in Colorado and North Dakota would declare a fertilized egg a human being. From the moment a sperm comes knocking, at the moment of cell division your right to decide whether to become a parent could be over. If a fertilized egg is human, abortion would be illegal across the board as murder, and miscarriages which comprise 10-20% of all pregnancies, could suddenly be suspect and emotionally vulnerable women could be investigated as potential murderers. Do I believe that this is what reasonable people want? No. Do I believe that apathy, and blatant misinformation might make those things reality anyway? Yes. And we should be ashamed of that.

In 31 states, if a woman gets pregnant by rape and brings her pregnancy to term, the rapist can sue for visitation and parental rights. Pair that with a personhood law, and your rights to your body, and your child, and the life you choose to lead, have been turned over to your assailant.

rapesue

I’m happy Alaska is not one of those states. But look at this map and let it really sink in for a minute.

How did we become so disempowered? How did a rapist, and a fertilized egg end up with more rights than we living, breathing women? Why do women today, after the battles fought by our mothers and grandmothers, have to worry that our daughters and granddaughters will have fewer rights, and fewer options than we did? And where is all this righteous ass kicking when our most basic liberties, and rights as human beings are being treated as some kind of quaint, antiquated notion?

I don’t often subscribe to bumper sticker wisdom, but in this case we could use it.

Alaska women don’t kick ass by relinquishing their most personal reproductive decisions, and privacy rights. We don’t kick ass by telling our employers they get to pick and choose our birth control based on false science designed to confuse us. We don’t kick ass by subjugating ourselves to someone else’s vision of morality, or someone else’s opinion of what “our role as women” is supposed to be. We don’t kick ass by allowing anyone to redefine and distort the word “feminism” to mean anything other than fair and equal treatment politically, economically, and socially.

We’ve got some very clear choices to make on Tuesday.

Will we allow Sean Parnell to be governor for another term, after he turned away from sexual assault victims in our National Guard, leaving women who serve vulnerable to shocking abuse, with nowhere to turn for justice?

Will we allow that same governor to slide by with platitudes, saying “choose respect” yet refusing to adequately fund the law enforcement in rural Alaska who could actually help?

Will we elect Dan Sullivan, a Senate candidate who disrespects our history, and said in black and white that he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, diminish the access to family planning and health care for a reproductive system he will never have, defund family planning centers, and even ban stem cell research? Oh, and he hasn’t decided how he would have voted on the Violence Against Women Act, or his position on the reporting of sexual assault in the military.

But the Marine Corps officer did say this:

“I sit down with my Marines once every six months and I say, ‘You are going to treat women well. No sexual assault and domestic violence.’”

Why, that ought to do the trick! Just like Sean Parnell’s “Choose Respect” rubber wrist bands at the Governor’s picnic.

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Alaska women don’t kick ass by abandoning other women, and we sure as hell don’t kick ass by staying home.

Get out and vote on November 4th. Do some research and find out which candidates support women, families, and freedom.

Midterms matter.

 

 

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5 Responses to “Alaska Girls Kick Ass & Midterms Matter”
  1. Pinwheel says:

    An all time favorite bumper sticker I once saw in the parking lot of Chugach Electric: “If men could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament”. My newest favorite I got from Planned Parenthood the other day: “Women are watching and We Vote” !! Excellent article Mudflats, Thanx,

  2. juneaudream says:

    This writing, commentary..is extremely..powerful and true. It brings to me..the picture of my mother..with fresh deer blood..on her cheek..after her first kill. An educated woman..who walked..in many worlds/cultures..here in Oregon. Now overlap..the phone call I received yesterday..late morning..from a 23 year old woman..from our area….recently returned from Cameroon and the peace corp. We were..setting up a time..to finally get together..catch up on..the ways to shake out some wrinkles in this world..and helps to bringing..stronger health..in all areas of the African life..to those..she lived amoung for 2 years. We..set a time..and then..she stunned me. She recited the rules for living..in increased safety..in a land..beset..by so many dangers..and esp., one where woman are not..empowered. As I sat..in my farm kitchen..I heard ‘living amoungst the wild lands, and dangers of so many kinds..cultural..and Political’..roll from her..written in one of my first letters to her..over 2 years ago. The noting..what items were, in place..on the walk-arounds..new shoes here..brush..piled there. Who she watches..and..who..watches her..and the listings..swept out of her..a litany ..of mental shields..for her survival. I wept..at the knowledge..she IS..one of the young, the new..leaders of..the Family of mankind. They remember, they watch, they grow! Your written cordage..of idea and truth..is yet another..powerful ..line of growth..for the women..yet..to step-up. Thank you!

  3. Love that photo of the fish…!! That’s bringing home the supper…!!

  4. Zyxomma says:

    As a teenager, while the Vietnam war dragged on, I carried petitions door-to-door so 18 year olds could vote. Our motto was, “Old enough to fight? Old enough to vote!” We won the 18-year-old vote for the 1972 election, when I turned 18. My boss handed me a bubble gum cigar that said on the wrapper, “Re-elect the President.” (The boss was from Texas; I lived in PA at the time.) I got to work with an Exacto knife, and handed it back to him, modified to say, “Reject the President.” (I also showed up at work on Election Day with a home-embroidered patch on my jeans that read, “Lick Dick in ’72.”) I’ve voted in every primary and every general, every year, since. For me, there’s no such thing as an “election year;” they’re all election years. Although I’m a New Yorker (yes, born in Brooklyn, grew up in the tri-state area, and live in Manhattan), Jeanne informs me that I’m an honorary Alaskan, based on my knowledge of the issues. I urge every woman in Alaska who’s at least 18 years old to VOTE. Every election, every year. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE.

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