Training my whole life for this
There is nothing new under the sun; the vitriol currently being spewed is actually being regurgitated.
Anyone that has been to my house knows that my two enormous floor-to-ceiling bookshelves are littered with various classics of evangelical Christian purity culture. I've got multiple copies of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, I’ve got Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, I’ve got something called A Good Man Can Be Hard to Find… Unless You Let God Be The Head Of Your Search Committee! and I’ve even got an out-of-print copy of Left Behind-famous Tim LeHaye’s long-forgotten homophobic screed from the 1970s The Unhappy Gays that I picked up in an Arizona thrift store years before I came out, the pages of which are now beginning to fall out in chunks. I curate this collection for multiple reasons; for starters because I write about this shit professionally and it’s convenient to have a research library right here in my house. These books also tend to cost about seventy-five cents at the thrift store, and I consider it my Boy Scout good deed of the day to take them home with me so that no one else can buy them and — god forbid — take them seriously.
This tendency to hoard the worst of the worst evangelical Christian literature like Smaug the Dragon, counting my baubles obsessively and waiting for the day they finally come in handy, is probably why I ended up the proud owner of these fifteen-year-old pamphlets from Heritage House and HumanLife.org, which I think either came from an anti-choice booth at Cornerstone Music Festival in the mid-2000s or my friend Jessica, who indulges my inner Smaug and has faithfully mailed me books and pamphlets from her homeschooling days on more than one occasion.
I was thinking about these pamphlets this morning, which have been sitting on the bottom rung of my bookshelf for years, sandwiched in between a thick stack of bibles and a collection of vintage midwest church cookbooks. I was thinking about them because for the last week, all I have been able to think about is the fact that the hellscape I am living in is the collective wet dream of the people who raised me and the communities that formed me. There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9); the vitriol currently being spewed is actually being regurgitated.
People are terrified; they want to know “what’s next.” Birth control is next, they say. Queer people are next. No-fault divorce is next. And I get it — I’m terrified too. As I type this sentence I am wearing a pair of sweatpants that I have had longer than I have had the right to be married to my wife. But the truth is that the map has been clearly laid out, and “what’s next?” is more of a rhetorical device than a question in need of an answer. There has never been a next. Our identities, our life experiences, our bodies are not discrete categories we can parse out individually, holding each piece up to a magnifying glass in sequence to determine if it should have legal protections.
By Friday night of last week, I saw dozens of people braver than the U.S. Marines trying to stop the spread of online misinformation (perhaps one of the most worthy goals of our time) by putting out Twitter threads and infographics about what exactly the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization does — and crucially, what it doesn’t or can’t do. Abortion is still legal in many places. Birth control is still legal everywhere. So is Plan B, although thanks to a years-long misinformation campaign by right-wing Christian anti-choice groups characterizing Plan B and similar medications as “abortifacients,” not everyone realizes that.
But I had these fifteen-year-old pamphlets. And I knew what they said. I knew that for those who wrote them, stopping abortion was part and parcel of stopping people — particularly women, but really everybody — from having sex outside of legal marriage and from using birth control or emergency contraceptives. I knew ending legal abortion access wasn’t so much the goal but the method — the method by which they would ensure that their theocratic vision of a biblical society came to fruition. Their gospel cannot be realized without forced birth.
I’ve been training my whole life for this. I’d be remiss not to point out that it all rises and falls together. I’d be remiss not to point out that laws are not the only way to take and keep control of people. Confusion works too, in a pinch. So does shame.
What a bummer of a first Substack post eh? Well, it’s kind of been a bummer of a week and now we are all supposed to spend the weekend barbecuing and wearing red white and blue or some shit in gratitude for “freedom.” I have one uterus and two very anxious dogs who hate fireworks so none for me, thanks. As for me and my house we will stay home and shut the blinds and plot our revenge.
Come back to this space periodically for more rants on theology, politics, #ChurchToo, repro, and starting next week, thank god, The Bachelorette. Glad to be here.