This is a piece on the NC Legislature’s recently-passed ‘Restroom Law’ that I had written in the week it was passed and signed into law. In the time since the passage of HB2, Gov. McCrory has attempted to back-pedal on the intent of the law, signing an Executive Order that tried, poorly, to ‘clarify’ the bill, resulting in a deeper pit of shit from which he cannot extract himself.
Over the past few weeks, this state has lost millions upon millions of dollars from the loss of a number of potential businesses, meaning a huge loss of tax dollars and jobs for under- and unemployed residents and vendors. It may also lose millions of dollars in federal aid, if it has not already, funds that impact a number of programs and businesses statewide.
Not that this state really cares about that. The Republican legislators prefer a large, poorly-educated voter base over an educated middle class, and that is reflected in the cutting of education funding over the past two decades. A full reading of the bill will also provide information as to what the legislature is actually hiding (and, in my opinion, the absolute and entire reason for the bill itself) regarding workers’ rights–they now have absolutely none in this right-to-work state, thanks to this bill, and attention is being deflected away from those actions with the ‘bathroom’ shenanigans laid atop them.
Admittedly, there are ‘pockets’ of liberalism in the areas surrounding the universities and the few larger cities in the state, with populations bolstered by out-of-state students and residents transferred in by large corporations. Not far outside of those cities, however, less than twenty miles in many places, are the rural areas where the majority population of the state reside. The area east of Raleigh, extending from state line to state line (a portion of the state I am extremely familiar with), is agrarian-based, where the ‘Religious Right’ is the ruling class, and is why this state is so deeply mired in the bigotry and contempt that has long been its history.
“Who needs dystopian novels when we can just read the news?”–this isn’t mine, credit to whomever it belongs…
I’m sad. And mad. And I am too damned old for this shit.
I live in North Carolina. I am a butch lesbian living in North Carolina. And I’m really, really pissed, but, strangely, not surprised by the heinous actions of the NC legislature. I have lived here long enough to know that this state has been heading in this direction for the past twenty years.
From “Complacency Kills:”
I’m in a small, rural, southern town in a ‘red’ state, a state that has a legislature comprised almost solely of white men who are trying to pass laws that would turn back time, take the state and, in their last, best hope, the country, back to the 1950s. They are trying to legislate my people back into the closet, and, being ‘female,’ back into the kitchen. Trying to legislate the poor back into the fields and the warehouses by gutting education funding. Trying to rig elections by passing the ‘first cousins’ of Jim Crow laws. Their ‘rule of law’ is based on the Bible, or rather, their interpretation of it, where they, as white men, are at the top of the heap, standing on the backs of the people who’d elected them, their sheep, easily frightened by the slightest noises of the things they don’t understand, do not wish to comprehend, or even acknowledge.
I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know if there are enough people in this state to turn this around, understanding that the world is not just as ‘black and white,’ ‘male and female,’ as so many here would like it to be. The legislation passed by the predominantly-Republican legislators literally undoes decades of fairness in employment laws and wages, as well as the ‘restroom issue.’ The deed is done, for now, and I believe that it is not going to change until an Appellate Court and/or the Supreme Court of the United States hears a case that challenges this law, either from here or from another state.
From the time I was a teenage lesbian in the ’70’s and, at that time, living in the State of Georgia, wearing the typical jeans, boots and flannel, I have always been a little nervous about using public restrooms. I was relieved when, on road trips, I would find myself alone in the ladies room of whatever fast-food restaurant or service station we’d stopped at, moving fast to get in and out without encountering another woman. When that was managed, I could literally feel the stress leave my body as I walked out. On the occasions when I was not alone, I would wash up and leave without making eye contact, except for a few glances that let me know that I was being suspiciously appraised, and found lacking.
On more than one occasion, when I was younger, I’ve had women, usually older, say, “Excuse me, this is the ladies’ room.” “Yes, it is,” I would reply, then smile. The looks I would receive following that were sometimes sneering, sometimes tight-lipped, but always disgusted. They were aware of my ‘femaleness’ after I spoke, but I wonder how many of them would have liked to tell me to grow out my hair, wear makeup, a skirt, hosiery, and heels, so that I would not look so ‘mannish.’
Today, however, I’m in North Carolina and, with those encounters in mind, I think that if a man was found in the ladies’ room, a man who entered said facility with the intent of doing harm to a woman, any woman he encountered would not be afraid to 1) call him on it, 2) give him a beat-down the likes he has not received since his mother or grandmother last whupped him. See, I know the women in this state and they work hard. They are tough. I just wish they believed themselves to be that way.
The NC Legislature believes, however, that ‘women and children need protection,’ that only they, as white men, can give them, from ‘bad’ decisions and ‘dangerous’ situations. And that is the plank this whole ‘restroom’ mess of hatred rests upon and hides behind; first, that men think women need ‘protection,’ and secondly, that men think women are only just above children in the Male Hierarchy of Human Value. This is a trope (I’ve heard this word more in the past month than I’ve ever heard in my life) that is perpetuated by the White Male Patriarchy (another term that I am thoroughly sick of), and it is drilled into little North Carolina girls’ heads from the time they are old enough to recognize the difference in the sexes. It is perpetuated from the start and, as these women grow up and move through their lives, it is reinforced from all sides by their church-based communities.
And that is what makes this fight so damn difficult.
Far too many women born and raised in this state seemingly believe that they need protection, not just from anyone not straight, white, and male, but also from themselves, as seen in the ‘War on Women’ regarding birth control and abortion. These women are given no faith in their own ability to make decisions for themselves, and they acquiese to the whims of their ‘betters’ on every matter in contention, letting ‘the men’ make laws regarding their bodies and their lives, with only a few taking a stand against them for themselves. Incredibly, there are women in the NC Statehouse, holding high office, who rgularly vote with their male counterparts to pass such atrocious legislation, siding with the oppressors of all beings not white and male.
It is a present-day Stockholm Syndrome compounded by a real lack of education, both scholarly and worldly, and the nationwide scholastic testing results bear this out. Admittedly, these are harsh words, and I’ll insert the required ‘Not-All-Women’ here, but I see and interact with these people every day, as I have for the past twenty-five years. I make this point to say that far too many of the women born and raised in this state have and will vote in the same manner as their straight, white male fathers, husbands, and pastors, because they truly believe what they’ve been told their whole lives–that they are only being ‘protected,’ that whatever ‘it’ is, it is ‘for their own good.’
How gallant of these straight, white males.
I don’t know how to ‘fix’ that, either.
I can only hope that North Carolina will be where the LGBT Community and its supporters take a stand, in a way that mirrors the Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro in the 1960s. The predominately-white male NC State legislature needs a reminder of its own history, because they obviously did not learn it well enough the first time.
Still, once again, because of this mess, I suspect that I will be closely scrutinized when I use any public restroom in the State of North Carolina. I believe that an altercation is far more likely to occur, given that the white male population, old and young, righteous and ‘in charge,’ will use this law as permission to put their hands on me and demand that I prove my ‘birth sex,’ in whatever way they may deem necessary in that time and place.
Ignorance and fear make people do terrible things…
Thankfully, there have been calls for ‘sit-ins’ and lawsuits have been filed by several groups to seek relief from the courts but the law essentially stands as it was written, even with Gov. McCrory’s hastily-written, changes-nothing Executive Order. Some may protest the claims I have made above, that women are ‘brainwashed’ into believing they are unable to determine what is ‘right’ for themselves, to make their own ‘Life’ decisions, and that people who believe in the full intent of HB2 allows them to physically stop me, or anyone else they may decide is using the ‘wrong’ public restroom, but I stand by my assertions and words, determined by my own interactions and observations, and by the actions best displayed by Trump enthusiasts at his rallies. They are all of the same ilk.
ALSO: In addition to noting that women had voted for this bill (following the Republican ‘party’ line), I was also truly shocked to learn, nearly ten days after the bill’s passage, that this group of cowardly legislators, working quickly and in the dark, also included eleven Democrats, six of them male, elderly, and black. This was left out of nearly every news account I had read up to that point. I found the information in an op-ed piece and the writer speculated that the Democrats’ votes were cast at the behest of the pastors of their respective churches, but I still find it amazing that, within that group, is a once- and still-oppressed minority that would willingly turn on another, and do so ‘in the name of Jesus.’
Or, maybe I should not be so naive, that these men would so quickly forget their own history in this state, or perhaps bigotry only exists when it is levelled directly at them. The Human Race has long had a ‘Hierarchy of Value’ when it comes to the people who comprise it, using skin color and religion as its quide to ratings’ worth. I find it disturbing, though, that an elected official would be so quick to discount another human’s value at a time when everyone not white and male is trying to ‘matter.’
I am quite sure that this entire piece will truly offend some people, but they should only be as dismayed and disturbed as I was when this legislation was passed and I was made aware of those behind it. I know that I should not fear my government but, given the circumstances, I have no reason not to, as both a worker and a lesbian.