But before we get too deep into the media of our res, I should mention how those women came to be in the first place. Last year, I became outraged and terrified when politicians started using words like "legitimate rape" in public, without the expectation that it would cost them. But Whores was dangerous concept, and I quickly realized the story needed to be about the characters and how they dealt with that danger, not about my perhaps paternalistic desire to shield them from bad men.
So I started with a question. How bad could it really get? Back alley abortion is one of those terms that gets trotted out early in any abortion debate. But would they be in back alleys? Certainly not at the beginning. There would be plenty of people with training, and sympathy, willing to put their livelihoods, their careers, and possibly even their lives on the line to safeguard a woman's rights. I imagine most of them wouldn't think about that last possibility too hard- after all, not that many abortion providers have been murdered in cold blood (unless we're talking proportionally).
That phrase, 'safeguarding a woman's rights,' became a central theme very early on. I think too often the "rights" part of the reproduction debate gets overlooked. This isn't just about a woman's desire not to gain weight and have swollen ankles. It's about a woman's ability to plan her life, and her career- and for employers to be able to count on a woman's ability to do the same- things men like me can frankly take for granted. Not that I disregard that first argument, either; there is no other circumstance I can think of where people attempt to use the government to take sovereignty over a person's body.
But, as is often the case, asking that initial question of how bad it could really get didn't get us to an answer. Because the answer was really that it could get fairly bad- but that it wouldn't end there. Illegal abortion doesn't end the discussion- it's just the opening gambit. This isn't just about abortion- it's about the entire realm of reproductive rights, and frequently spills even beyond those shores. Witness the way that Sandra Fluke has been personally attacked for months for daring to suggest that birth control should be included as a minimum standard for health insurance plans. And of course you have the legislation put forward by Paul Ryan just last month to grant personhood to eggs that haven't even implanted yet- effectively banning the most common and effective forms of birth control.
And maybe, despite the bill being cosponsored by a major party Vice Presidential candidate, that seems like a leap . I'd probably grant you that- in the same way I don't think Orwell thought 1984 was really about to happen in 1948. But if you'd asked your average American in 1910 if the country would ever ban booze, they'd have laughed hard enough at the question to spill their beer- but less than a decade later, America dried up. And plausibility is kind of beside the point. The point was asking the question: if birth control prohibition happened. what then?
Black market birth control seems like the obvious answer, and a black market birth control crackdown the obvious render, which would leave every woman with an IUD, the implant, or taking the pill for whatever reason to be in possession of contraband, and a criminal.
I was happy when after the last election cycle, when the likes of Richard Mourdock and Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin were punished by voters. It's still something I take comfort in. I have no desire to be a prophet. In fact, as far as Whores is concerned, I would be deliriously happy to have history remember me as a delusionally paranoid crank whose fever dream is laughable even to the slowest of school children. But even when we step away from the precipice, there are always forces pushing us back.
Last year, the Republican House that failed to renew the Violence Against Women Act remained in power. Likely fearful over having an International Women's Day dedicated to ending violence against women pass by while they refused to renew a fairly uncontroversial law that had been doing just that for 18 years, the House finally passed it last week. But their recent failure to avert the sequester means a reduction in funds for the programs in VAWA.
I want Whores to be irrelevant, for us to be able to live in a world where women's health and safety aren't something to politic over. On this International Women's Day, that's what I hope and pray for. But sadly, we aren't there, yet.
I invite everyone to download a free copy of Whores at Smashwords this International Women's Day (March 8 through March 10), and to pass it along to your friends, family, or anyone you think it might speak to. And thanks for reading.
About the Novel:
In the near future, women’s rights are eroding, and those who buck the system are hunted as gender criminals by the authorities and rogue militias. This harrowing dystopia is seen through the eyes of a woman cast into a resistance group by circumstance, and a newly minted gender crimes detective tasked with bringing them to justice, as he grapples with whether or not that word still has meaning.
Available at Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.