Yesterday, Democratic Texas state Senator Wendy Davis stood and spoke for nearly 11 hours in an attempt to stall proceedings on a controversial abortion bill. Authored by Republican Senator Glenn Hegar, the bill would ban abortions in the state of Texas after the 20-week gestation mark, limit abortion-inducing drugs, and require abortions to be performed in ambulatory surgical centres. The latter, it was argued, would seriously limit rural women’s access to abortions. In order to succeed in her filibuster, Davis had to speak straight, without bathroom breaks, sitting or even leaning, until midnight when the bill would expire.
Catherine Breillat, here is your contemporary feminist rewriting of Cendrillon (Cinderella): it’s 2013 and the little glass slipper is a pink tennis shoe and what’s at stake is a woman’s right to safe sexual health care—abortions and birth control, Our Bodies, Ourselves. In this contemporary twist, Wendy Davis is both Fairy Godmother and Cinderella but so are all Texan women, and all American women, and all women watching, really. The themes of oppression, time, and triumph stand, as we all #StandWithWendy.
Davis’s filibuster has succeeded for now—the bill has been stalled—but the fight for
women’s human rights is far from through. (But hey *victory lap* we just won federal benefits for legally married same-sex couples!) Last night’s filibuster made for great TV but it doesn’t stop there. We must continue to #StandWithWendy, stand by Planned Parenthood, and stand up for ourselves.
Now, style. (Hello, my name is Fiona and I’m a fashion junkie.) There’s a camp that goes talking about women politician’s style/appearance is sexist and undermining of their real work. There’s also this thing called Harm Reduction, and I believe that’s what Wendy Davis, educated woman that she is, was exercising last night. The media is going to talk about what a woman in power looks like no matter what, so why not give ‘em something to talk about? Wendy Davis’s hot pink running shoes—in high contrast to the rest of her cool/calm/collected angel white and sky blue garb—said look at me. They said you bet I’m going to stand up for what I believe in. They were a beacon of Davis’s determination. Because standing is a form of torture, as are high heels, a truth which the artist Vanessa Beecroft has made a career of. Davis’s bright, practical kicks never let us forget the scope of what she had taken on. They grounded her as she read testimony from doctors and women who would be affected by the bill if it were passed. They highlighted (in highlighter colors!) both her literal and her political stance.
Accessorizing with pearls, a large silver watch, and an emergency orange “Stop the Texas War on Women” button, Wendy Davis used her body, herself—the site of what’s at stake here—as a surface for her politics, and that’s why Wendy Davis is my new style icon. Better a role model than a model, girls!