Weekend 9.3

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In 2004, Joanne Webb, a mother, a Baptist, and a former schoolteacher in Burleson, TX, was arrested for being a ‘smut merchant’(1).

If you are unclear on exactly what makes one a ‘smut merchant’ (or if you’d like some direction on how to pursue this very intriguing career path), Joanne was simply holding “Passion Parties,” which were basically the Tupperware parties of sex toys. Like Stella & Dot, but with dildos, not bangles. Lube, not layered necklaces. Clitoral stimulators, not charm bracelets.

[Sidenote: I have now spent way too much time Googling ‘other words for dildo’ and this list of Band Names That Would Also Be Good Names For Your Dildo is my favorite result by far.]

Also, as it turns out, under that old Texas law, I, too, am a smut merchant

Thankfully, criminal charges against Joanne Webb were eventually dropped, and this ridiculous law — banning the sale of sex toys in Texas — finally died in 2008. But not, however, before the ban was defended by the Holy Crusader himself, Ted Cruz. 

In an 76-page brief(2), Cruz wrote (and I’m just gonna paraphrase here) that there is no constitutional right to “stimulate genitals” in ways that aren’t connected to procreation.

Um.

So, based on the arguments put forth by Ted Cruz and his team, the government’s role is to determine when and how female genitals should be stimulated. 

To make a baby? Yes.

For pleasure? No.

With a vibrator? No.

As a side-effect of having sex with a man? Probably yes.

With hands?  Unclear.

But can one use a banana?  

Now I’m just guessing here, but I think an argument could be made for a banana. It’s a similar shape, for one. And technically, if someone were to hold parties selling bananas while explaining how to use them to achieve orgasm…

Your Honor, in this case, a banana could be construed as a sexual device and therefore all sales of bananas should be prohibited. Bananas could ruin marriages!  Bananas could unravel the entire fabric of our society!  Down with bananas! Only buy apples! Apples, the fruit of American freedom!

-me, I made this up

I don’t know, guys. It seems…it seems like politicians aren’t the best people to make decisions about women’s health. Thank goodness that law was repealed. OH FUC—-

Yup. From the same state that brought us the banana ban, Texas is now attempting to ban abortions using bizarre court technicalities(3)

This approach, I think, is significant, and arguably just as worrisome as the ban itself. The new law doesn’t actually criminalize abortions (that would be unconstitutional and could likely lose in courts), instead it seeks to end abortion access using lawsuits.

Under this new law, private citizens in the state of Texas can now file a lawsuit against someone they think is helping others get abortions. While this law has obvious consequences for doctors and abortion clinics themselves, it’s actually even crazier than that.  

For example: If an Uber driver takes a women to an abortion clinic to have an abortion…the protestors outside could find out their name and sue them for “aiding and abetting,” with a fine of up to $10,000.

Even worse, the way this law is written makes it almost impossible to challenge it in court, because it’s protected by a “sovereign immunity” doctrine. So. If you find yourself owing some Crusading Douchebag $10K because you helped pay for an 11-year old rape victim to get an abortion…you cannot challenge the law. You simply have to pay up. 

Obviously, even just the threat of these potential lawsuits are enough to shut down abortion access in Texas.Already, clinics and hospitals across the state are stopping abortion procedures. 

Now, I know this article is going to prompt the usual flurry of angry emails, comments and accusations of heartlessness. Clearly I don’t respect the sanctity of life.

But here’s the thing: Does this law? 

Reading through this heartbreaking thread, where other women share the circumstances surrounding actual abortions, is eye-opening and humbling. A reasonable person cannot judge the choices these women made, only offer love and support.  

  • A young woman who had a condom break the first time she had sex.  
  • Another who escaped an abusive husband. A baby would’ve tied her to him (and his abuse) forever.
  • A girl whose older sister had been severely beaten by their father after becoming pregnant.  
  • A woman who had been trying to get pregnant for 15 years, only to finally become pregnant with five at once, putting the health of all in danger.
  • A woman who was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer two days after her pregnancy was confirmed.

There’s no doubt that not everyone is ready to raise a child. But even nine months of pregnancy can cause such major upheaval in someone’s life — and, in some cases, is downright dangerous or traumatic — so much so that the burden of these deeply personal decisions should not be left in politicians’ hands.

It is not the government’s role to tell us how and when to “stimulate genitals,” nor is it the government’s role to tell an 11-year old — or anyone else for that matter — that they are ready to carry a baby to full term.

And don’t come at me with this ridiculous “life” nonsense. If there was a burning building and in one room was a toddler, and in the other room were 100 fertilized eggs, which would you save?

Even hard-core pro-lifers would save the living, breathing toddler because humans understand, at their core, that there is something fundamentally different between a live human child and a bunch of dividing cells.

But if we take the pro-life crowd at their word (that the goal is actually to reduce the number of abortions) the good news is that are ways to achieve this goal, while still allowing women full autonomy over their bodies. 

  • Easy (and free) access to contraception
  • Free healthcare for all
  • Ending poverty
  • Castrating men who cause unwanted pregnancies

That last one, though….

If you’ve never read Design Mom’s epic essay on the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, it’s more apt than ever. She argues (rather successfully) that intentional pregnancies take two people, but unwanted pregnancies? It really just takes one (and that one sure as hell isn’t a woman). 

It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but her article illustrates, very clearly, what is really at the heart of these abortion laws: government regulation of women’s bodies.

I’d have so much more respect for the pro-life movement if they’d work just as hard to regulate men’s bodies as they do women’s. 

In the meantime…what can be done?

I’ll be donating to the Texas Equal Access Fund, an organization who focuses on serving low-income people and people of color, the ones who are typically hardest hit by abortion restrictions. 

Find your representative (here’s an easy way to look them up), and encourage them to support the Women’s Health Protection Act.

Or maybe even pull a Gen Z, and flood the whistleblower website a Texas pro-life group is using with bogus entries. One guy even developed an app to input real-sounding entries. Not gonna lie, these feel particularly satisfying. (Here’s a direct link to the website, FYI.)

And, if you need a little hope, The Atlantic’s latest, “Texas Republicans Got What They Wanted. They Might Regret It” is a very interesting read.

Bottom line? Call your congressman, email your representative, donate, and…get ready to VOTE. 

Oof. This week was a doozy.


My first stop for Labor Day Sales? Reformation’s linen section. Not only is Reformation clothing sustainably made, but Ref’s linen dresses have become absolute closet staples; I basically wear almost nothing else all summer. Their Labor Day sales are great, but go fast. I have my eye on this dreamy classic.

Next stop? CAMI NYC’s 20% off sitewide sale. This is when I snag my most-worn top, this 100% silk racerback cami (machine wash on cold, lay flat to dry). I seriously wear this piece 4+ times per week (so often, in fact, that I have multiples, all bought on sale).

The prettiest PJs. Small biz Printfresh (of the seriously drool-worthy printed PJs), is having a sale: Take an additional 20% off their sale section with code ‘BYESUMMER’. All of their prints are gorgeous, but I’ve been wearing the heck out of my ‘Daughters of Triton’ set. Especially good for travel, or when you’re going to be around others in the morning.

Saks’ sale section is TROUBLE. It literally made my heart beat fast. Case in point? This 100% silk maxi with the most playful pattern and this frothy little cupcake of a dress that I would obviously wear with sneakers or flat sandals. GAH. See our entire team’s favs here. (But be warned: they’re all good.)

Most exciting find in Nordstrom’s sale section? rag & bone’s woven bag. It’s made from 70% recycled cotton, and has that timeless straw tote vibe, but with a slightly edgy twist. Would lay flat for travel, too. See everyone’s top Nordstrom picks, here.

Best deal? My favorite-ever t-shirt dress (ribbed, midi length, seriously flattering) is on crazy sale at Good American for…$40 (with the additional 50% off at checkout). You can see it on me, here.

That windbreaker, tho. Before I forget, that pretty pink windbreaker from The North Face (featured in the intro pic) is currently 30% off. Size up for a sloucher fit.

A good orange. You know those On running shoes that everyone is raving about? Zappos happens to have one color on sale right now for under $100 (usually $140) and it’s a white with pops of orange and blush and…I think I like them.

Ok. I’m off to try and take advantage of our long weekend. Between the news and the Philadelphia flooding AND the busy week at work…I’m wiped out. I’ll be back with a more normal weekend post next week. (“Normal” being more random finds, less sales. And hopefully fewer rants about bananas. But no promises.)

xo,

S

23 COMMENTS

  1. My FB feed was flooded as well with ways to help… and the websites you mentioned. Makes me happy that so many enterprising young people are finding ways to thwack the system. And I’m here for it! Long live tech and the creative and effective uses one finds for it. Thank you for using your voice here.

  2. Beautifully written. So many of us are at the end of our rope with the news these days, and this law was a particular punch to the gut. Thank you for your balanced perspective as always, and for the second part that’s usually missing from opinion pieces: what we can DO. The Atlantic article felt hopeful too, I agree.

  3. This law is so ridiculous. I bet if you asked the men who pushed it through “what is the earliest time a woman could find out she was pregnant?” they wouldn’t know the answer. Guess what? It’s four weeks at the earliest!!!! Yup, women are already 4 weeks pregnant when they can first find out. That gives you two weeks maximum to get an abortion.

  4. This is one of my favorite articles you’ve ever written. You did an excellent job with some unfortunate (to say the least,) subject matter.

  5. If someone doesn’t agree with you, they don’t have to read it. I admire you for using your platform to speak your mind. And of course I happen to agree wholeheartedly! It’s an absolute travesty of a law. Thanks for being you.

  6. Thank you for this. I started with you when it was ANMJ and have stayed ever since. More and more I find myself drawn to the articles like this. This whole week I have been ENRAGED. Just so damn ANGRY about everything. Your words perfectly encaspulate my emotions. Just donated funds and will write to my representatives. Thank you for giving us action steps to help. Thank you for being a space that brings these issues to light. Thank you for all you are up to in this world. I appreciate it and all of you.

  7. Thank you! This is so well articulated and informative! Thank you for your using your platform once again to shed light on current tragic situations, and for providing links on how to donate and speak out!

  8. Thank you Shana. I’d also like to point out that Lyft (and I believe Uber) have stated that they will pay legal fees and fund any driver who is sued under this law, as they do not want the driver asking every rider where they are going and why out of fear, and do not want any rider to have to lie about where they are going and why.

    Also the usual boilerplate about how if ‘pro lifers’ were really pro life they would pay for pre natal care, not charge hospital delivery fees, wouldn’t be fighting SNAP benefits and Head Start, etc. Because it’s not really about ‘life’, it’s about punishing women and keeping them in poverty or dangerous home situations. The wives and daughter of ‘pro life’ men can and will have the abortions they need, they just don’t want others to have that right.

  9. Oh man, this brought some levity to a topic I am personally acquainted with having lived in TX for a time. I know of stories of seemingly normal men losing their ever loving minds over the news of an unplanned pregnancy- making bizarre threats of all kinds. How do women report this? They don’t. They either keep the baby and live through all the pain of the situation (less likely) or abort and the trauma is internalized either way. No one talks about it. It’s too shameful. I went on a spending fast this year, but love checking back in and seeing things like this. Thanks for a little laugh in the midst of what has been a heavy week+ in this arena with the barrage of news stories.

  10. And people thought we were being hysterical when we predicted Roe would end up being overturned after the 2016 election. This country has no shortage of ways to fuck over poor people who can get pregnant. We need reproductive justice and we need it now.

    On a lighter note Shana, you made a random cameo in a recent dream. You somehow got your hair into a faux-hawk and it looked AMAZING. 🙂

  11. Thank you, Shana, from a 58 year old woman who never had to make such a heart-wrenching decision. Your article was beautifully written.

  12. Thank you so much for this. As a woman who has some very serious moral qualms with the idea of abortion, I am still 100% in support of the legal allowance of the procedure. Look, if a woman doesn’t want a pregnancy, she’ll find a way to end it. Period. Since the beginning of time. This law just means that poor people and women won’t die as a result of said abortion.

    If we’re gonna be pro-life, then let’s actually tackle what causes abortion: poverty, lack of choice, lack of access to education and birth control. I don’t think these GOP pro-lifers actually care about life, I think they care about fetuses. It’s convenient because fetuses cannot talk, cannot vote, and have no needs. Saying abortion=murder is a very easy, shallow-end way to draw the line. Scratch that surface and you’ll see that “life” means more than protection of a fetus, especially in a world where many mothers have no way to get above the deep-end waters of poverty.

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