State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Texas) publicly announced her plans to run for governor of Texas on Thursday. The little-known state senator made national headlines this summer for her 13-hour filibuster of an anti-choice mega-bill in June. The announcement was greeted with jubilation from the many feminists who have anxiously gathered to support her activism. Davis has just become Wonder Woman.
Davis took us by surprise (though we should have noticed her earlier). We were three bad years into a patriarchal losing spree. The backlash against President Obama had allowed too many states to have Republican-controlled legislatures. They used that power to cut down women.
Our rights were shattering faster than we could clean them up. States were fighting contraceptive equity, uprooting women's health clinics, and eliminating women's access to abortion care. There were so many stories of states slashing women's rights that the news couldn't keep up. Most of us activist were becoming jaded: "Oh, Ohio passed one too. Well it could be worse." It was a rough and painful summer. We were just trying to keep afloat.
Believe it or not, the 1970s was a prime time for feminists. Bell-bottoms, peace signs, and hippies worked for us. Women were fighting for fair work and respect. Second-wave feminism was raging. But fast forward 40 years, and feminists are scrambling. Anti-women and anti-choice movements are flourishing and the states are passing bills that will shred women's rights. We are plummeting faster than most want to admit.
But that's why Wonder Woman took us by surprise. We weren't used to advocates, and we certainly didn't expect heroes. Then suddenly there was this woman who was willing to literally stand for us. We were enchanted and encouraged.
We needed inspiration. With new-found hope we took to the streets! Women across the country decided it was time to fight. We argued for reproductive rights and gender equality. If the state legislature of Texas thought they could ignore a little blond woman in pink shoes, they were sorely mistaken.
Women stormed the capital. Women disrupted the Senate. Women screamed until they were hoarse. Orange-clad ladies flocked to the state capital and shouted against the noise, "We support Wendy. We are pro-choice!"
Davis is the politician we've been waiting for. Despite harassment and belittlement, she is the woman who never retreated. She stood for women before we knew to ask.
As a young woman, I couldn't have asked for a stronger female representative or feminist role model. Davis put herself on the line to protect the women of Texas, and she refused to accept anything less than equality.
In the last half century, the feminist movement has worked itself to the bone. We have pushed through the exhaustion and bled through the pain. We needed a symbol of hope, a modest hero. Crazily enough, we got one from Texas.