This Saturday, on February 11th, I, in representation of BOOB, will be raising a ruckus in Amarillo for the rights of uterus owning bodies like mine. The Religious Right, in its usual reactionary bullshit, rallies behind a Trump-appointed federal Judge named Matthew Kacsmaryk. He plans to challenge the FDA’s 22-year-long approval of a safe drug, mifeprostone, meant to soften the uterine wall and most popularly used as the first step in a two-pill process for chemical abortion. (McCammon). In addition, researchers have found it to be an effective treatment for the chronic uterine pain condition, endometriosis (Zhang). As we all know, the banning of this drug is not meant to protect us. Instead, paternalistic oppressors want to control our bodies by turning the legal system into a religious circus.
In Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which has been part of feminist movements globally since its publication and is currently on a plethora of banned books lists, she writes clearly of this paternalistic tendency. The character of Aunt Lydia trains future Handmaids, grooming them to believe that what the oppressive system is doing is in their best interests. She is basically “Justice” Amy Coney Barrett lecturing the future sex slaves: “There is more than one kind of freedom… Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it” (Atwood 24). Anti-choice arguments align with this sort of infantilization.
Perhaps, this sounds like a trick from the colonizer playbook. American enslavers, to no surprise, contributed tremendously to “scientific” racism by using the medical industry. They invented conditions that claimed enslaved peoples DEPENDED ON enslavement, that they were not capable of making their own decisions, and that the forced labor of their Black bodies was somehow beneficial to the African “race”.
Without a doubt, medical racism and medical sexism have similar roots: certain bodies are considered, by those in power, to LACK “sound” decision making abilities and accurate perceptions of their OWN bodies. This fabricated belief is why women, people of color, queer people, and those with disabilities are often treated like children that need protecting. We are, according to them, unable to take care of ourselves.
At the same time, when violence happens to our bodies through rape or police brutality, that infantilization vanishes. We are told to take responsibility. Just as Janine from the novel faces when opening up about her rape, we too are surrounded by a shame circle of “[your] fault, [your] fault, [your] fault” (Atwood 72). It is no wonder that Greg “Piss Baby” Abbott is simultaneously restricting female body autonomy while also claiming that he is going to singlehandedly put an end to rape (Stuart). The arrogance, am I right?
So how does this relate to what is happening in Amarillo? Europeans have been using Christianity to control marginalized bodies for centuries; none of this is new. What is new though is that we are growing more and more aware of it. I did some research on this fish fucker (yes, I will keep using overt ad hominem, at least I admit to it). Kacsmaryk, I found, is a member of a not so secret society of Catholic lawyers, judges, and law makers known as the Red Mass.
No, this is not a Netflix horror series; this is a real thing. Actual law schools, such as the St. Mary’s University School of Law and the University of Notre Dame School of Law, encourage future legal professionals towards attending Red Mass, which calls for the “invocation of the Holy Spirit as a source of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, and strength for the coming term of the court” (“Legal Community…”). According to the St. Thomas More Society, the Red Mass “is attended by Justices of the Supreme Court, members of Congress, the diplomatic corps, the Cabinet, and other government departments and, sometimes, the President of the United States.” If you detect a clear violation of church and state, then bing bing bing, sadly, you are a winner.
The entanglement of the Red Mass with US politics has led to the overturning of Roe and the passing of the anti-trans laws currently sweeping the nation. The Red Mass began in the 14th century, but its pervasiveness has not ceased. It first entered American legal discourse in 1928, a decade that demonstrated the power of mass organization and cultural influence, such as women’s suffrage, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Monkey Trials. These movements rebelled against the pseudo-scientific constructions colonizers and patriarchs made bodies out to be. In truth, followers of Red Mass are not members of a religious organization but a conspiratorial one.
The anti-choicers are afraid of our power. Like Atwood’s Gilead, the Red Mass of the religious right seeks to rival progressive, inclusive cultural revolutions. Considering all they are trying to deny us, let us deny them the “freedom to” make us afraid of our own bodies. Let us instead intimidate them with the power of our bodies in gathering, of what we can do with our Masses.
If you are interested in attending this protest and need transportation, here is the link to the rally bus. Try to buy your ticket before February 10th. https://rally.co/booking/130578/143/trips
Update: Sadly, there were not enough people who signed up for the Dallas rally bus, and the bus trip was canceled.
Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale, First Anchor Books, 1998. (originally published in 1986).
“Legal Community Invited to a ‘Red Mass’”, Notre Dame, https://law.nd.edu/assets/352130/2020_redmassflyer_1_.pdf.
McCammon, Sarah. “A Trump-appointed Texas judge could force a major abortion pill of the market”, NPR, 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/02/01/1153593174/mifepristone-abortion-pill-federal-texas-lawsuit-restrict-access-nationwide.
“Scientific Racism: Confronting Anti-Black Racism Resource”. Harvard Library, https://library.harvard .edu/confronting-anti-black-racism/scientific-racism.
Stuart, Tessa. “Greg Abbott’s Promise to Eliminate Rape is Holding Up About As Well as You Expect”, Rolling Stones, 2021, https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/texas-abortion-law-greg-abbott-rape-incest-1271311/.
“The History of the Red Mass”. St. Thomas More Society of Santa Clara County, https://www.stthomasmoresantaclara.org/the-red-mass/history-of-the-red-mass/
Zhang, Y. X. “Effects of mifepristone in the different treatments of endometriosis”. Clinical and Experimental Obstetrics and Gynecology, vol. 3, no. 43, 2016, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm/nih.gov/27328489/