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Fuck The Fourth

July 4, 2022

When I was a kid the 4th of July was a major event. We would spend the holiday at the beach – long days in the water and on the sand. The children were tasked with digging the pit and gathering the driftwood for the bonfire. There were s’mores and sparklers. Sometimes we had our own fireworks and other times we were treated to amazing professional light displays off a barge in the ocean out front of our family home. One year I was a cheerleader and marched in the town parade. The 4th seemed somehow magical. Summers were about freedom from school and the 4th was about how free were were as a nation.

In recent years I’ve largely blown off celebrating the holiday. In my previous neighborhood in L.A. assholes would be firing off fireworks every night for weeks around the holiday, which did nothing but send panic through my dogs. We couldn’t leave our dogs at home alone and couldn’t enjoy a nice bbq in the backyard. Over the years my husband and I tried all kinds of solutions, settling on Xanax for the dogs, bourbon for us, and music/movies played at top volume to try and drown out the relentless barrage of celebrations. For us, the 4th had become something to dread. Something to just get through.

Then 2016 came along and with it brought into the mainstream the realization that terms like “patriotism” and symbols of democracy and freedom like the American flag had been co-opted by Trumpers and the right-wing. To be honest, the American flag started to lose its meaning and relevance around the time it started being used to make underwear. Nothing says “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” like skid marks on the American flag.

Since 2016 exposed how racist and misogynistic our country still is, when I see an American flag flying on a car or in front of a home, I automatically make assumptions about the people to whom it belongs. I assume they are an asshole, most likely a Trumper, who is buying into the agendas that are eating away at our democracy. I assume they are flying that flag with an eye toward picking a fight. There’s a house on the route I run most days where the owner has displayed outside of his home one of each of the 27 iterations of the American flag. His neighbor by contrast has Black Lives Matter signs and Pride flags in their yard. This one corner in my small town is waging a symbolic version of the civil war of which this country is on the precipice. I’m pretty sure this civil war is the main reason that they all want to have their guns at the ready.

And then 10 days ago the Supreme Court, an entity I always thought was supposed to be the hallmark of impartial judgment, bitch slapped every woman in this country with their ruling on Roe v. Wade. Further, the homophobic and misogynistic opinion from Clarence Thomas made it clear that not only was this court extremely partial, but it was also in fact gunning for women’s autonomy on a larger scale, and the LGBTQIA community wholesale. Like most women I know, I was floored. I’m 56 and have grown up in a world where I was told I could be anything I wanted to be and was capable of making all decisions about my body and my life.

I have benefited from Roe. I have had 4 abortions. I don’t owe you an explanation as to why, but I am not ashamed of my abortion story. I have known since I was 8 years old that I wanted nothing to do with having children. I am not maternal. I do not want children and I would be a shit parent. I know myself. Not being able to take The Pill or use hormone-based birth control for health reasons, I had to rely on other methods that aren’t necessarily as reliable until I finally had my tubes tied at the age of 35. People might accuse me of using abortion as a form of birth control – but let’s be very, very clear – no woman enjoys having an abortion. It’s not a party. They don’t give out cake and balloons. Getting your uterus hoovered isn’t the feel good moment you’d think. It’s a fucking physical and psychological misery and it comes with all kinds of side and after-effects.

Now, in menopause, one could argue that this is no longer my issue. It’s true, I got my abortions when the getting was good. I’m no longer at risk of getting pregnant, so what the fuck do I care? I do care – because it’s not about abortions. Not really. Don’t get sidetracked by that thought. It’s about control and hate. This is one of the first of many decisions about my autonomy – about your autonomy – that other people are going to be entitled to make. This doesn’t stop here. It doesn’t stop with women. One by one, they will come for our rights. Some of these gleeful right-wing flag-wavers who think they got one over on the “libs” are going to find out in due course that they will be coming for their rights too.

When we were kids some of our favorite snarky retorts were, in addition to “Up your nose with a rubber hose”, “It’s a free country!” and “Majority rules.” These were truths that as children we held to be self-evident. We live in a democracy and in a democracy, the majority of the people get to make up the rules, right? And this is the “Land of the free”, right? We are independent. We have free will and self-determination, don’t we? Well as of June 24, 2022, that is no longer true.

Tomorrow as people in this country gather to celebrate the independence of this nation, I (and I’m sure a lot of others) will instead be mourning the loss of our national identity as a “free” country as well as the death of bodily autonomy. There’s no set of sparklers or piece of apple pie that is going to make this day feel celebratory. As far as I’m concerned this country can take the 4th of July and shove it up its nose with a rubber hose.