Aw Shucks The Politics of Pizza and Wombs

The phrase “aw shucks” implies to me a bit of ‘good ole boy” perhaps false naiveté with a layer of self-consciousness around something or the other. That is a phrase I really do not relate too. I am much more likely to be heard exclaiming: ‘aw shit”.

The past week has provided me with ample opportunity to be heard uttering, “aw shit”. Much but not all of this angst has centered on the kerfuffle around the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and all the dust stirred around that. Besides having a strong queer political interest in this I was also further drawn to the story by the fact that I grew up a few short miles from Walkerton, Indiana on the banks of the Kankakee River. Walkerton is of course the home of Memories Pizza and the owners of said establishment who plopped themselves into the middle of the storm by saying they would never provide pizza a for a gay wedding. As has been pointed out countless times over the past ten days queers are capable of great weddings but these events rarely if ever include serving pizza.

The indignation directed at these pizza merchants though understandable really did just create martyrs for the cause of intolerance. They are basking in the glow of many tens of thousands of dollars sent their way mostly in small donations by likeminded very fearful folks who, for reasons that are really inexplicable, feel their world is actually threatened by gay marriage.

Rather than posting and commenting on the sad ignorance of Indiana pizza proprietors and giving them an undeserved platform, we need to perhaps re-focus on what got us to this wedding in the first place. That would be the millions of us all across the country who have come out as queer and the profound, rippling, change creating effect that has had on society. The coming out process repeated over and over again is the fuel for the really remarkable change in attitude towards the LGBTQ community in the past few decades.

The changes in social attitudes well underway even in rural Indiana can only be further fueled by the coming out process by those folks known as son, daughter, brother, sister, mother or father to these pizza shop owners. The personal knowledge of queer loved ones almost always trumps the bible, or at least gives one pause before withholding the pizza dough. I hope and actually know for a fact that my personal coming out has had an impact on at least some of the folks I grew up with near Walkerton, Indiana some of whom still live near there.

My real “aw shit” for the week though focused on another sad tragedy that occurred in Indiana last week and that was the sentencing of a woman named Purvi Patel to 20 years in prison. This is a complex story and I am providing a link to one of the better stories on it I read on-line from Common Dreams which I would encourage all to read: Boycott Indiana—for Imprisoning a Woman Who Miscarried.

The long and short of it is that this woman was convicted under an Indiana fetal homicide mandate along with a charge of neglect on her part around the pregnancy. So this woman is facing twenty years in prison for what seems most likely to be a late-term miscarriage or stillbirth. The actual facts in the case remain somewhat murky however the larger issue does not and that involves reproductive freedom and the control women should have over their own bodies.

The right-wing assault on a woman’s right to have control over what goes on in her own womb the past few years in particular is absolutely stunning and breathtaking in scope. The closing of Planned Parenthood clinics and abortion facilities in many states is only the tip of this insidious iceberg. I think it very sad that these issues do not seem to have received the attention or focused outrage that the denials of cake and pizza have for us queers.

I realize we are fighting for more that cake but it really is not the only issue that deserves much more of our attention. Obviously many lesbians in particular are all over these encroachments into the womb by most often white, right wing, male zealots and the spineless politicians who pander to them. I do think though, speaking to my queer brothers here, we need to be a bit more vocal and involved in what is truly a war on women and their inalienable right to control their own bodies and reproductive choices. It is all the same struggle whether it involves cake, pizza or someone’s womb.

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