Dear Susan

Dear Susan,

How much of your soul was forfeited to Mitch McConnell with your vote today? Your 45-minute “speech” on the senate floor was nothing more than a wealthy white woman rationalizing, normalizing and then erasing the lack of qualification of Brett Kavanaugh. It was infuriating to listen to you equivocate as you laid out your reasoning. “Me thinks the lady doth protest too much” because you had to know in your gut that you were laying out a preposterous argument – supporting him on the grounds that he will protect women’s rights even though he was very credibly accused of attempted rape, defending his character even though he clearly has some issues regarding alcohol use and abuse, and lauding his temperament even though he launched into a very non-judicial tirade just a week before.

The betrayal of all women (and those who care about gender justice) by white, wealthy women is not new. Both the first and second waves of feminism are rife with wealthy, white women first selling out women of color and working-class women of all races, and then queer women and women with disabilities. The very short and self-serving field of view of many white, wealthy women has made solidarity along the lines of gender, and more importantly, a collective movement to end gender oppression nigh impossible. Yes, you said you care about Roe v. Wade, but in the midst of your judicial recitation you failed to mention that states have not had to overturn Roe v Wade in order to severely limit access to abortion. Kentucky has ONE clinic in the ENTIRE STATE that offers abortion services. Laws in states all across the U.S. have found ways to limit women’s access via time limits, parent and spousal signatures, mandatory waiting periods, mandatory counseling, etc. Some have been repealed in court, others have been upheld. The double barrel problem of Trump’s many appointments to federal benches combined with his two SCOTUS picks have all but assured that Roe v. Wade does not need to be touched in order for reproductive rights to all but disappear.

This was not just a referendum on Kav and gender oppression / male privilege, Susan, this decision is a clear representation of the ways that gender works in tandem with race and class to ensure that only a select few women in the U.S. can approximate true freedom while others not so fortunate have to roll the dice. White women have long promised to be loyal to masculine whiteness so long as they are given at least some scraps from the table. That’s what I saw you embody again today.

I often work in Maine and I am told by clients there that it is “the whitest state in the U.S.”. If so, Senator Collins, you did not disappoint. Your defense of Kav is an insurance policy. You sold out all the women who are vulnerable to the back door abortion limitations in various states, you sold out all the women who have had the courage to speak up about the violence they have experienced at the hands of men, you sold out the men who also care about these issues, and you sold out the trans* folks who are never going to be seen in your 1970s white liberal / independent version of feminism. You sold them / us all out for some paper-thin notion that Roe v. Wade will be maintained. Well, I’ve got news for you Susan, you’re too late. As soon as this current administration took office, a bevy of laws went to state legislatures to begin the erosion I described above. You already know this, and thus the bubble that Senators seem to live in clearly does not serve you (nor does your loyalty to the white, male system led by Mitch and Don) in that you seem to have no idea how far down the “goodbye Roe v. Wade” road we already are.

So, what to do. Vote for women (and men) who live in the real world. Did you demonstrate a knowledge of the law? Of course you did. You and your aides crafted a long and detailed list of reasons why you support Kav. Does that mean that you understand the day to day on the ground realities for women in even your own state? No. In fact, none of your colleagues seem to be able to pull themselves out of the reality TV show into which our federal government has devolved. One of the elements of living in an abusive environment is that over time what was once unthinkable slowly, so slowly starts to become “normal”. Lines that one would never cross get rewritten and rewritten again so as to afford the one drawing them continued cover under “if it ever gets ‘___’ bad, I’ll leave”. Our federal government is for sure in an abusive relationship and the lines of what was unthinkable two years ago have been rewritten so many times that we are bereft of any moral compass at all. You cited all of the support Kav received from the legal community, but the hundreds of law professors and one former SCOTUS justice who said he was unfit did not seem to equally weigh on your mind. You cited women’s rights, but Kav’s clear contempt for women did not seem to register for you. And you are not alone, how many women and men voted to confirm him? None of them seem to notice that we have crossed into a place where the moral underpinnings of what it means to serve everyone in a democracy are no longer recognizable.

I’m not naïve here. I knew this administration would nominate a conservative. I also knew this Senate would confirm him (sic). But, I guess I still held out hope that you would not send an attempted rapist to sit on the highest court. To be sure, this is not at all “a bad time to be a man in this country”. They can still get away with almost anything and face no repercussions.

As you can tell, I’m pissed. My friend Karen said “never voting for a man again”, which I get. But you, Susan, are obviously not a man. So, perhaps we should say, “never voting for someone who is not squarely committed to social justice and equity for all people” again. More than that, however, we have landed here because we as a society, and specifically leaders in your caste, have not taken gender justice and its relationship to other forms of oppression seriously. Senators who confirm a misogynist would not be there if we did not put you there. Yes, I know about PAC money, I’m talking about something much deeper, much more movement based.

And so, Susan, in response to your vote and all of its ramifications, I’m going to get local. I’m going to pour money into local movements that not only change policy but change how we are with each other – change our ideas of community, of love, of family, of health and safety, of what it means to be “we” before “I”. My rage will be channeled into something else – engaging everyone in ideas of liberation that in the end are good for all of us. We have got to be better than this or we will all go down. I will commit myself to the creation of a social structure that doesn’t just vote you and those like you out of office, but creates a world where there simply isn’t even a place for the lowest common denominator politics of your kind. This was not a victory, it was an example of governance that was callous, avaricious, mean, and disembodied from the larger social body. You did generations of women, men and trans* people a grave injustice today, Susan, and we will not forget.

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