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#YouKnowMe: powerful but also profoundly depressing
It has been another terrible week for reproductive rights in America: Alabama outlawed abortion, and Missouri has passed a bill banning abortion after eight weeks. Emboldened by Trump, the right has ramped up its war on abortion, and there is a very real chance Roe v Wade will eventually be overturned.
It’s not just anti-abortion activists who are organizing, however. Women’s rights groups are seeing record donations and unprecedented levels of energy, as activists fight to protect a woman’s right to control her own body. The regressive new laws have also sparked a viral social media campaign, with thousands of women sharing their abortion experiences with the hashtag #YouKnowMe.
The #YouKnowMe campaign was started by the actor and talkshow host Busy Philipps, with the intent of getting rid of the shame that still surrounds abortion. “1 in 4 women have had an abortion,” Philipps tweeted on Wednesday. “Many people think they don’t know someone who has, but #youknowme. So let’s do this: if you are also the 1 in 4, let’s share it and start to end the shame. Use #youknowme and share your truth.”
Huge numbers of women (and trans-men) have joined in, including a number of celebrities. Cynthia Nixon, for example, tweeted: “Almost 60 years ago, my mother had an illegal abortion. It was too harrowing for her to discuss, but she made sure I knew it had happened. In 2010, my wife had a legal abortion after we found out her pregnancy was not viable. We cannot and will not go back.”
Hashtag activism has traditionally prompted a lot of sneering, but as #MeToo has demonstrated, online discussion can catalyze real world change. The #YouKnowMe stories people are sharing make the political deeply personal. They paint a powerful picture of the different reasons people get abortions – some are traumatic, some are mundane, but none is more valid than another.
#YouKnowMe also seizes control of the narrative around abortion. Anti-abortion activists have embedded shame and blame into the language we use to talk about the issue, describing themselves as “pro-life”. The real-life stories women are sharing with #YouKnowMe are a reminder that there is nothing pro-life about the people who would restrict a woman’s right to choose; they are simply pro-control.
While #YouKnowMe is powerful, it’s also profoundly depressing. Women shouldn’t have to publicly defend their humanity. They shouldn’t have to justify wanting bodily autonomy.
They shouldn’t have to broadcast their personal stories in order to remind legislators that they’re not just baby-carrying vessels; they are human beings.
‘Break the girls’
Women were at the forefront of the mass protests that recently ended Omar al-Bashir’s decades-long rule over Sudan, accounting for 70% of demonstrators according to some estimates. CNN has a chilling piece on how the Bashir regime tried to use rape to silence these women. “Break the girls, because if you break the girls, you break the men,” soldiers were told. The women did not break.
More male managers afraid of interacting with women
#MeToo has made men afraid of interacting with women at work, according to new research by LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey. Sixty percent of male managers said they were uncomfortable mentoring, socializing, and having one-on-one meetings with women, up 14% from last year. Almost half of male managers said they were uncomfortable socializing with female colleagues outside the office, and more than a third actively took steps to avoid such interactions.
33 women now lead Fortune 500 companies
That’s up from 32 in 2017 and 24 in 2018. While the figure is a record high, it’s pretty dismal that only 6.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.
Drinking and dehumanization
New research published in the journal Sex Roles has found that women drinking alcohol are viewed as “less human” and more sexually available. It’s a troubling reminder of the double standards around drinking, and the way in which alcohol is used to blame women for sexual assault, and exonerate men.
Lesbian Batwoman to the rescue
It’s been a pretty depressing week, so I think we could all do with some Sapphic superhero news. CW has unveiled the first trailer for its new Batwoman series, starring Ruby Rose. An openly LGBT actor playing an openly gay superhero is a TV first, and a small sign of progress.
Dogs are a woman’s best friend
According to a new study, dogs are more likely to obey women than men. This is apparently because women are more empathetic. I have no idea how scientifically sound this research is, but I think we can all agree that dogs are very good boys.