How did you feel when it happened? When they came to take away the rights to our bodily autonomy? When they said 12-year-old girls would be forced to carry to full-term, and then go through excruciating labour to deliver, babies with the faces of their rapists. When they legalised paying bounty hunters to pursue us for living in our own flesh and blood and wombs. When they believed that those of us who had given our lives to be free, to walk our own paths and dream our most vital dreams, would easily and quietly surrender to their twisted cage, unable to see they were connected to other cages inside cages, each one taking more of our air and our light. I heard a shrieking, high-pitched laugh-scream coming out of my frothing, ancient mouth, my white hair blazing with fury. I wanted to weep and howl, and I did, for the depth of their hatred for me, for women, for Black women and brown women and Indigenous women and Asian women and young victims of incest and poor women and trans men and non-binary birthers of babies and all the rest of us trying to get free.
So I wrote. I wrote and I wrote. I wrote piece after piece trying to say something smart. Something that hadn’t been said. Something so revelatory and earth shattering it would unlock the story, solve the crime, catalyse the opening. Finding the words that would undo this nightmare. That would save the young women and people who would die trying not to give birth and the ones who would be forever emotionally, economically, spiritually tortured and destroyed by having babies they never wanted, which would rob them of their dreams and destinies.
Words and poems that would, through the genius arrangement of syllables and rhythms and facts, historical references and metaphor, finally break the spell, the centuries-old curse of patriarchy: word dares, simple words, clear fucking words like no no no no no. We are never ever going back because we all know that once we agree to that we will open the door and they will come for everything and everyone.
In one of the pieces, I wrote a declaration of refusal. I refuse, I wrote. My conscience will not permit me to agree to the scornful decisions of a fringe minority on the supreme court – some of whom have been accused of sexual assault – appointed by a president who is a self-confessed perpetrator, those masquerading as judges to determine what goes on in this body or the precious, glorious, generous, life-giving caring bodies of my sisters, whom I love with every fibre of my being.
But then I realised I wasn’t sure how exactly we would refuse, what form that would take in a country with 400m guns.
So here’s what I know. I will not ever accept this decision to go back against myself, my body and all the years of our bloodily fought-for freedoms. I know there are multitudes who feel the same. I don’t have the answers but I have questions. I believe in questions.
Will we be passive, obedient followers of unjust laws. Will we be more concerned with formality than justice, acquiesce to corrupt and delegitimised institutions – rather than devotion to conscience and each other?
Will the magnitude of our joining forces catalyse our imaginations, our ferocity and solidarity, and emerge with a collective vision – a series of surprising, successful actions?
Will we finally agree to understand that the struggle for abortion rights is the struggle against white supremacy, is the struggle to end gender oppression and patriarchy, so that we stand by each other when they come to each of our doors?
Will we finally be able to release our self-delusions, which have obscured the supreme court’s historically racist and inherently patriarchal practices, and stop turning our lives and will over to these institutions run mainly by white men who work against the majority, the vulnerable and oppressed?
Will we trust our bodies and defend their sovereignty against church and state?
Will this be the moment when we finally come to celebrate that not one of us has the answer or will ever write the definitive piece, but when we choose to line up side by side in the same direction with the uniqueness each of us has to offer, the way forward will be revealed?
Is this the moment we’ve been waiting for?
Is it called Revolution?
Could it happen with love?
I offer you my hand.
V (formerly Eve Ensler) is a playwright and activist and the founder of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls