That acute sense of powerlessness that comes with fear might just be the very worst feeling in the world. As women, we tend to fight that sensation frequently: Each time we walk past whistles and catcalls, read about the latest trend in self-starvation, or listen to our best girlfriends describe a sexual encounter that really sounds an awful lot like rape.
That’s the base level we’re dealing with — on top of that, there’s the kind of vulnerability that every American has to deal with now: Being afraid that you or someone you love might end up running into a stranger with an agenda, an anger problem, and an AR-15. And if you’re a person of color, you can add “crossing paths with a trigger-happy cop” to the laundry list of things to be afraid of in the United States.
It’s really easy to just say “well, OK, let’s not be afraid!” But you have to take it, as with everything else, one step at a time. Confront all the scary things that you do actually have control over. And at the same time, you will feel more empowered and better equipped to take on the bigger, even scarier societal demons in whatever way you can.
Our shots for this week, as always, should inspire you to want to take on the forces in this country that (wrongly) make you feel powerless. And our chasers, appropriately, will feature women who have confronted all sorts of more manageable fears.
SHOT: Why aren’t we calling Planned Parenthood attacks domestic terrorism — and prosecuting them as such? A group of community, pro-choice, and women’s health organizations are forming a coalition to demand that the Justice Department do exactly that.
CHASER: The New York-based photographer Kyoko Hamada confronted her fear of aging by dressing up as an elderly single woman — and documenting her life as that woman.
SHOT: ICYMI, here’s a roundup of how each of our motley crew of presidential candidates responded to last week’s terrorist attack on the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, Colo. A real gem from Carly Fiorina, noted wordsmith and friend to women: “What I would say to anyone who tries to link this terrible tragedy to anyone who opposes abortion or opposes the sale of body parts is, this is typical left-wing tactics.”
CHASER: I’ve had a longstanding and crippling fear of blood tests for as long as I can remember, to which Grist Video Producer Daniel Penner can attest. Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos, is trying to make blood testing more efficient and less terrifying — because, in her own words, “I really believe that if we were from a foreign planet and we were sitting here and said, ‘OK, let’s brainstorm on torture experiments,’ the concept of sticking a needle into someone and sucking blood out slowly, while the person watches, probably qualifies.”
SHOT: Did you know there’s actually no war on women — and our concerns about “access to contraception” are definitely overblown? At least, that’s what human potato Ted Cruz would have us think. Watch Cruz describe the battle for reproductive rights as “made-up nonsense,” if you can stomach it.
CHASER: It’s a really fucking scary thing to be able to ask for what you want in a relationship — I’d say most people, men and women both, are abjectly terrified of it. But the inimitable Polly Esther (aka Heather Havrilesky) explains, in no uncertain terms, why we need to get over that fear.
SHOT: This spring, the Supreme Court will hear Zubik v. Burwell, a consolidation of cases challenging an Affordable Care Act accommodation for companies that object to covering birth control under their health plans on religious grounds. This New York Times op-ed does a great job of explaining why it’s so bonkers that we’re still even having this debate. And employers’ role in providing (or blocking) access to contraception is still a significant issue — according to a new study, one in 10 large nonprofits applied for the ACA accommodation that would exclude them from birth control coverage.
CHASER: Everyone has haters — it’s just a fact. If you, say, write for the internet — ahem — you are very aware of said haters. But the key, as Ann Friedman explains, is not to fear their disapproval, but rather let it drive you.
SHOT: And if you think the United States’ very regressive attitude toward reproductive healthcare doesn’t have international implications, think again. An investigative piece from The Huffington Post explores how the Helms Amendment, which prevents American foreign aid from paying for abortion, has devastating effects around the world.
CHASER: From The Hairpin, a ranking of some of the smaller, more insane, and even wonderful fears you could think of.