Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dr. George Tiller was assassinated today.

I wish I had words.

All kinds of people are writing eloquently and profoundly about Dr Tiller's death.
My thoughts refuse to form those kinds of statements.
All I can come up with is a string of profanities, a line of "why" questions, and utter disbelief and shock.
I'm still stunned.

((For more eloquent statements and reflections, see: Cristina Page, Ann at Feministing, pretty much anything at Kansas Jackass, and former PPFA president, Gloria Feldt, at Salon.))

I received a text message from my friend Christene this morning, during my barista shift at my second job. It said, simply, "Dr george tiller - abortion doc in wichita - was killed this morning."
I stared at it, shocked. I assumed it was a sick joke. Or maybe she'd just read an old story about him being shot. He's been shot before. And he lived. He's Dr Tiller. He doesn't get killed. They've already tried.
The words tumbled out of my mouth as I read the text to my coworker. As I spoke, I called Christene. She said she'd just read it in the Wichita Eagle. That he'd been shot on his way into a church service.

I gathered tidbits from other friends via text for the rest of the day. That he'd been shot not outside, but INSIDE his church.
That the suspect had been apprehended in Gardner, KS. Just a short distance outside of Kansas City.
That the car was registered to someone who lived in Merriam, KS. A suburb of KC. About 10-15 minutes from me. A man who most likely has protested outside of the Planned Parenthood clinics here. Who is most likely pretty involved in the anti-choice movement HERE.

Dr Tiller was killed.
In Wichita, Kansas.
This is my turf.
I live a block from the Kansas state line.
I work in the reproductive health field in this region.
This is where I am.
Wichita's not exactly close, but it feels like it's my backyard.
This is where I am.
This is what I do.

And someone's been killed, in my backyard, for doing work in the same field I do work in.
Not just any someone.
Dr. George Tiller.
Golden boy of the pro-choice movement.
Woke up to death threats and pickets and protests almost every day.
Had been shot before. And lived.
Kept working, despite all of this, perhaps in spite of all of this, because he knew what it meant.

Without Dr Tiller, there will be no abortion providers between Denver and Overland Park, KS.
That's only part of what this means, on the broader level, for women. For Kansans. For all of us.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

well, this complicates things.

last year, in july, i wrote this post, telling what was then my messy, mean, politically incorrect truth. in that post, i rejected the clear-cut version of survivorhood and queer identities - i.e. the insistence by both the CSA survivor community and the queer community that abuse could not, does not, will not ever cause a victim to "go gay." in that post, i stated my (then) truth that i am gay because i was abused.

i didn't say as much, but a big part of what i saw as that causal connection was the fact that i was abused by men and now have relationships with women. implying, of course, that i can't be with men because i was abused and raped by men.

but what if i discover memories of being abused by a woman, too?
what of my queer identity, then?
if so, i couldn't say, "i sleep with women because they're safer, because i have had violent and abusive experiences with men."
i couldn't say, "i trust women more because i have only been betrayed by men."
does it then go to the opposite extent, where i'm a lesbian because i was abused by a woman? that argument is usually used against gay men who were abused by other men. but i suppose it could apply here, too.

except, the thing is....i know that's not true. it doesn't feel true, or real. saying, "i'm a lesbian because i can't trust men, or picture myself being with someone of the same gender that so abused me," seems real, and a little bit true, still. but saying either, "i'm a lesbian because i was abused by a woman" or even "i'm heterosexual because i was abused by a woman" feels wrong. not because the latter is just 100% untrue, but because i don't think that experience really affected the development of my sexuality. it affects my sexuality, absolutely -- only one person has ever so commanded my attention that i don't fall into painful memories halfway through sex. i haven't been fully present for the majority of sexual acts with every other person i've ever been with. but it doesn't affect how i view my sexuality regarding the people i'm attracted to.
for this piece of the abusive puzzle, it doesn't connect. the two are completely unrelated.
but each of the other assaults? yes. they absolutely factor in to who i am attracted to.

does it make sense? no.
but is it true? yes.
it's true, and complicated, and even messier than i thought it was a year ago.
it's not a generalization, and this may very well not apply to the rest of the survivor community, but what's a community without individual truths? these are not the truths that the mainstream community wants to tell. hell, they aren't truths that i want to tell.
but it's a truth, and it's real, and in the inclusive survivor community i want to be a part of, individuals tell their full, messy, complicated, ugly truths.