The girls and boy in the video are saying “Girls are strong Trump is wrong”
I was in eighteen, having sex with my first boyfriend and I didn’t want to get pregnant. There was no one in my life that I could ask for advice or help in getting birth control. So I opened the yellow pages and saw an ad that had a drawing of woman with long hair and a description that made it sound like it was a clinic run for women by women. I think it was called Women’s Choice.
I don’t remember much about the experience. It’s pretty fuzzy to me now. I think mostly because I don’t want to remember.
I drove myself to the clinic which was really just an office with a small reception area. It was above a closed storefront in the dying downtown in Hempstead NY. I was the only patient there.
Everything I remember about it was dark. The shuttered store front, the stairway leading to the office, the reception room, the exam room. In my memory it’s even overcast outside.
When I think of the receptionist/nurse I get a picture of Nurse Ratchet in my mind. Whatever she really looked like, she spoke very little and was formidable.
I had no idea what to expect, no idea what an exam would be like.
The doctor was a very old man. I don’t remember having any conversation with him, but I must have spoken to someone because I left the office with a diaphragm. Thinking of the dinghy, shabby exam room, still gives me the creeps. My mind is closed to the details of the experience.
Needless to say I never went back.
Soon after that I heard about Planned Parenthood from my health teacher in Community College. When I told her where I went to get birth control she was horrified. That’s an abortion clinic she said, you don’t want to go there.
In comparison, her description of Planned Parenthood sounded like a dream.
Sometime later when I decided to go on the pill, I went to Planned Parenthood. It was clean, brightly lit and staffed by friendly women who actually talked to me. Still on my parent’s insurance, I only had to pay what I could afford. Since I couldn’t let my parents know I was on birth control the receptionist told me if they had to call me they would identify themselves as “Sue”. (this was way before cell phones, of course) I didn’t even have to explain to them how not only couldn’t I imagine talking to my mother about sex, but even if I could, she didn’t believe in women having sex before they were married.
I don’t know that I would have had the courage to find another place to get birth control if I hadn’t heard about Planned Parenthood. I went back there every year, no matter where I lived, for the next 15 years while I was on the pill.
For me the Women’s March On Washington was personal. As personal as my own body. As personal as all the indignities that I’ve ever endured as a girl and women.
I didn’t know I’d feel this way when Jon, our friend Cathy and I set off to be a part of it in our small town of Glens Falls NY. Even then it was more abstract. I imagined it would be like calling my senator with my opinion on an issue or signing a petition.
But I found being a part of the Women’s March reached deep into my psyche and was as physical as my body.
I’m still a little stunned that yesterday’s March, and all it hundreds of sister marches through out the world, was in essence about and for women. I know there were many issues tied up in it. People marched with their own agenda’s. But at the heart of it was women, unapologetically making a stand. Saying that the physical, psychological, societal and economical indignities and injustices that have plagued us is unequivocally wrong.
I don’t know what will happen now. How this will play out.
So I’m going to start by doing the only thing I can think of right now. I’m going to volunteer at the place that was there for me when I needed it. The place whose roots are in the birth control movement started by Margaret Sanger in 1916. The place that I know means so much to so many women and men. (because men benefit from Planned Parenthood too) I’m going to start by volunteering for Planned Parenthood in Glens Falls, where the Women’s March began for us yesterday. It’s a place to begin, something I can do. My way of staying engaged. And standing up for my truth.