Open Letter to the White Male Legislators in Alabama and Georgia
By Sonia Gutierrez (May 15, 2019)
Dear White Guy, You Don’t Own My Body
I had a miscarriage.
At the clinic, the doctor told me I had a blighted ovum and said she was sorry. According to her, I would have to go to the hospital for a procedure—if nature didn’t take its course. Well, I didn’t want that and trusted my body could miscarry on its own. I knew women’s bodies had miscarried for thousands of years, and I trusted their wisdom and the female anatomy’s ability to release its seed.
I called my cousin with a doctor in the family and asked her if I could miscarry on my own. She answered, “Yes.”
I visited my parents to tell them the news. In the backyard, my father standing next to the guava tree looked worried. When I told him about miscarrying on my own, my father said he would prefer that I go to the hospital. While my father talked to me, my mother walked hurriedly to her estafiete plant, took some leaves, and asked me to drink the tea with chocolate when I was ready. My mother’s knowledge didn’t surprise me—she had always been our medicine woman. But I knew women like my mother and myself, who knew their bodies and stood their ground, had been historically persecuted and branded as witches and evil.
Later that late afternoon at home in my garden I took a shovel and a pick and struck the Earth ”La Tierra” with all my might. My partner asked me, “What are you doing?” I answered, “I’m telling my body I am ready.”
Hours later, we had dinner at my sister’s, and I excused myself. When I looked down at the toilet, I saw what looked like a heart-shaped plumb. I shared with my sister the miscarriage had begun and not to worry—I would be fine.
We went home. I miscarried all night. I do recall drinking aspirin in case my miscarriage came with pain. It didn’t. It was a beautiful, heartbreaking process.
Days later, when I returned to the clinic, I was asked, “How did you do it?” or something like “Who did it?”
I answered, “I did.” She was impressed.
Fifteen years after, when states like Alabama and Georgia put the faith of women’s bodies in men’s hands, who do not know what it is like to live in a woman’s body, it worries me that a woman like me who remains rooted in indigenous knowledge after 500 years of colonization is told what her body can and cannot do.
Dear White Guy—ignorant is the man who thinks he can think for a woman and know her body more than she does.