When I was a kid my grandfather and mom would always say that “You have to pay your dues.” It was a common phrase said to me because I was an impatient kid which morphed into being an impatient adult. I own it.
Yet I never thought that I would have to pay my dues for just being a woman. You see, I had faith that we were progressing ahead in this nation. As a woman who could never have kids, I did take birth control when I was younger to help balance out some things, if you know what I mean and I think you do. I did unpaid internships, I worked hard and I put a lot of time and energy to make my life better because on paper, I am a single woman.
I have gone through what many women have had to go through over time. Lesser wages for the same job that a guy had. I kept telling myself that I was paying my dues. I came from a progressive rural household and I was taught that voting was my right, not a privilege. I trusted in my teachers at school, I believed that my father and mother’s generation and the generation of her mother had worked to end a lot of ~isms that were in this world. I believed that something bigger than myself had my back. I didn’t mind paying my dues because I honestly believed that things would be okay.
I was talking to my new friend Portland yesterday who probably will move back to Oregon when his gig ends here in Nashville. We talk about politics, pop culture, I kiddingly try to teach him how to be southern which is a joke between us and I’ve been showing him the Daily Buzz stories. He had never heard of the monkey bill or the attack on women’s reproductive health issues before but I see he’s paying attention. It’s always interesting to see people’s faces who aren’t putting a critical eye on news and legislation. I know a lot of good men. They are appalled by this war on women as much I am.
And what I’ve recently learned about myself is I am damned tired of paying my dues. I’m tired of misogynistic bullshit. I’m weary of these games being played with women, and good hard-working people being treated like criminals. If you treat people like dirt constantly, they start believing that they are and there are asshats out their right now using this right now to disenfranchise a nation of weary people who just want to get home for dinner unscathed every night.
And most importantly, I don’t want my nieces and younger women to ever experience this feeling of anger that I have at this moment. I’m damned tired of organizations like ALEC and Art Pope creating legislation that is oppressive and soul-killing. And don’t get me on the slut shaming that this country and specifically in this state constantly throw at women. My nieces and your daughters and granddaughters deserve better.
I don’t mind sacrificing and paying my dues but for what? While so many people, including myself, are struggling to just make a living we see self-serving billionaires making laws that are devastating working class people’s ability to have a decent quality of life. If you told me when I was 18 that this stuff would happen as I was careening toward 50, I honestly wouldn’t have believed you.
And this didn’t start four years ago. This didn’t start 14 years ago. This has been going on for decades. ALEC started in 1973 with a very specific agenda and that was to dismantle the New Deal one piece at a time. History is your friend.
This is not the country of my parents and my grandparents. We were taught to help our neighbors and to be good people. And shared sacrifice is what this country is about. But I’m not paying anymore dues when my country is being stripped piece by piece.
This shit needs to stop and it needs to stop now but we have nearly 40 years of shadows that we are going to have to fight.
I have to believe like I did when I was younger that demons can be slayed and that David can win over Goliath. I just have to.