Culturally diversified, bi-racial girl with a small diamond nose ring and a pretty smile poses beside the words “Women deserve better,” and I almost let her nonthreatening grin begin to infiltrate my psyche until I read the unlikely small print at the bottom of the ad.
“Sponsored by the US Secretary from Pro-Life Activities and the Knights of Columbus.”
On a bus in a city with a population of five hundred and sixty three thousand, four teenage mothers on the bus with me: one Latina woman with three children and no signs of a daddy; one sixteen-year old black girl standing in twenty-two degree weather with only a sweater and a book bag and a bassinet with an infant that ain’t even four weeks yet.
Tell me that, yes, women do deserve better.
Women deserve better than public transportation rhetoric from the same people who won’t even give that teenage mother a ride to the next transit, won’t let you talk to their kids about safer sex, have never had to listen as the door slams behind the man who adamantly says that shit ain’t his, leaving her to wonder how she’ll raise his kid.
Women deserve better than the three hundred dollars that TANF gives will provide that family of three, or the six-dollar-an-hour job at KFC with no benefits for her or her baby, or the college degree she’ll never see because she can’t have infants at the university.
Women deserve better than lip service paid for by politicians who have no alternatives to abortion, though I’m sure right now one of their seventeen-year old daughters is sitting in a clinic lobby, sobbing quietly and anonymously, praying her parents don’t find out, or is waiting for Mom to pick her up because research shows that out-of-wedlock childbirth don’t look good in political polls and Sarah ain’t having that.
Women deserve better than backward governmental policies that don’t want to pay for welfare for kids, or healthcare for kids, or childcare for kids; don’t want to pay living wages to working mothers; don’t want to make men, who only want to be last night’s lovers, responsible for the semen they lay, just like I don’t want to pay for shit but want to control the woman who’s having it.
Acting outraged at abortion. Well, I am outraged that they want us to believe that they believe that women deserve better.
The Vatican won’t prosecute pedophile priests, but I decide I’m not ready for motherhood, and it’s condemnation for me? These are the same people who don’t support national condom distribution to prevent teenage pregnancy, but women deserve better.
Women deserve better than back ally surgeries that leave our wombs barren and empty.
Deserve better than organizations bearing the name of land-stealing, racist rapists funding million dollar campaigns on subway trains with no money to give these women while mouths of middle-aged white men tell us what to do with our bodies while they wage wars and kill other people’s babies.
So maybe women deserve better than propaganda and lies to get into panties, propaganda and lies to get into office, to get out of court, to get out of paying child support.
Get the fuck out of our decisions and give us back our voice.
Women do deserve better. Women deserve choice.
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