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Radical Consent

It may seem like the patriarchy is raging harder than ever. Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford presented her story of the worst day of her life, trauma, and sexual assault in a calm, collected way. Meanwhile Kavanaugh responded with rage in a down right childish way. Anita Hill was in the same place, showing the same calm collectedness, years ago with a different skin color. Serena Williams showed rage in the US Open and was immediately deemed dangerous. People of color already know that the justice system doesn’t serve them. Are women allowed to show rage? Are women of color allowed to show rage? I find solace in Adrienne Maree Brown’s (doula, activist, author, community organizer) words, “Things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered.” Womxn are sharing their stories now more than ever, are you listening? Can we change in the culture?

As women, we especially fall through the cracks when it comes to allopathic medical care in general. Ahem, twilight births in the 20s, stage 0 breast cancer, hysteria diagnoses, the cascade of interventions in childbirth, the list goes on and on and on. We normalize our symptoms while health care professionals trivialize our symptoms. We persevere. We are tricked by language. When male hormonal contraceptives were being studied. They were marketed with accurate scientific language. We are told our symptoms are a result of moodiness and prescribed antidepressants. It must be stress, relax. Meanwhile many women remain undiagnosed and uneducated about their own bodies. We are constantly sent the message that our bodies must be broken. Ina May Gaskin calls it the “ Woman’s body as a lemon” approach. When it comes to things that only women go through such as the pill and the spectrum of pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum, we need to be especially vigilant.

As a doula, I stand vigilant for birthing people and their autonomy in hospitals. I look for the yes. I look for the right questions. I educate clients on how to ask the right questions to come to right decisions for them. I look for the hidden tools, the fear-mongering language, and checks for understanding. I grieve for the folks that I wasn’t able to step in for in time. I grieve for the folks who can’t disrupt for themselves or who don’t have anyone to step in for them or who don’t know what’s happening or who don’t know it’s even wrong . Doctors, nurses,health care practitioners are healers. They are good people who want to help, but they are just as intertwined in this culture of rape as anyone. These days consent is radical. In every moment of consent, we are radically changing this culture.

Woman is the body that I live in, but this is for trans bodies, black bodies, brown bodies, POC bodies, disabled bodies. For the people whose choice is taken from their bodies. For the people whose stories are seldom told or truly Listened to. It’s all a different flavor for them, but the message is the same.. this body is not your own.

We live in a culture where a woman’s worth is contingent upon her desirability by men and we are all victim to it. We have an enormous capacity for resilience. We separate ourselves from the bodies that these things have happened to. We reconnect when we can. We try to heal. I thank each and every person out there sharing their unimaginably difficult stories. This isn’t a battle of political parties. This is right and wrong. This is the patriarchy being turned on its head. This is the people whose stories are seldom shared, rising up to share their truths. This is a universal call for healing. As Adrienne Maree Brown finishes her quote, “ We must hold each other tight and continue to pull back the veil.”