“With the drumbeat of bill after bill being put forth in legislation about women and their bodies, and male legislators redefining rape and making decisions about birth control and stalling on the Violence Against Women Act due to provisions for Native women and LBGT, I’d finally had enough. Up to my neck in stories about transvaginal ultrasounds and personhood and the evils of contraception – with little regard for the people these discussions would most affect – I yelled from my desk one day, “Get out of my crotch!” ~ Kim Wyatt, publisher of Bona Fide Books and Cherry Bomb Books, South Lake Tahoe, and co-editor of “Get Out of My Crotch!” Bona Fide Books is the convergence of Kim Wyatt’s  lifelong love of literature and commitment to community, and Cherry Bomb Books, its imprint, was founded in 2012 to right wrongs.

While the title may be shocking and the subject controversial, the book “Get Out of My Crotch!” wasn’t intended to offend nor be one-sided, but instead to present from a variety of viewpoints one stalwart opinion: Women! Your body is your body and no one else’s! As Roxane Gay writes in her essay “The Alienable Rights of Women, “I struggle to accept that my body is a legislative matter.”

This wouldn’t necessarily be a book I’d pick up on my own, but to my surprise, I couldn’t put it down, reading it in a few sittings, gobbling up the history, politics, and genuine, heartfelt stories concerning reproductive health. Most impressive are the voices from a diverse group of writers: a Catholic woman, a nurse practitioner, a transgender adult heterosexuals, gays, grandmas, wives, and single women. Wealthy and poor, young and old, all the contributors are skilled in slinging words with professionalism and eloquence. What better way to get a point across than with language. As one author states in her essay, “…writing is a tether of words when the world isn’t safe like it [is] supposed to be.”

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This book was born out of frustration with the politics of 2011-12, politics that confronted Roe vs. Wade (1973) and introduced a variety of proposals concerning reproductive health. “By the end of 2011, more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions were introduced and 135 provisions were adopted. Ninety-two of these provisions explicitly restricted abortions,” a contributor writes. Yes, abortion is a chief subject in the book, and yes, all of the writers are pro-choice. Their expertise on the matter? Some authors had abortions, one performed abortions, and most have fought for the right for a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion or not.

As with most essay collections, personal accounts are the central gravity, the means to reach us viscerally. In this collection, I think of the doctor who was required to wear a bullet proof vest underneath his physician’s lab coat. I think of the woman whose uterus held a deformed baby and the decision she had to make whether to terminate the pregnancy immediately, abort further into the pregnancy, or do nothing and possibly miscarry. I think of another woman who was molested by her father, and then molested again by a boy five years older than her, and then raped by several men years later. I think of the woman who was told that her rape was really an almost rape, although she didn’t see the meaning in the changed language. And the illegal, unregulated abortion clinic where sanitation was grim, a back-alley type of establishment that was responsible for injuring or even killing women, like those of the accused Philadelphia Dr. Kermit Gosnell. For the authors in “Get Out of My Crotch” and for editors Wyatt and Sari Botton, the Gosnell case shows why abortion must remain legal, regulated, and safe.

Wyatt continues to travel the country on her book tour. When asked what has been the best and worst outcome of the tour, she responded: “So far, the best moment was close to home in Sacramento when a young woman in the back stood up during the Q&A and said: ‘What can we do?’ Moments later, a sheet of paper was passed and a reproductive rights speaker series was born. A close second was at a book signing in Boston, when a serious-looking man, after looking at the book and turning it over in his hands, looked at me intently and said: “We need this book in Oklahoma. Can you get this book to Oklahoma?” A negative response was a woman at our event in Portland who said she wouldn’t buy the book because a percentage of the proceeds go to Planned Parenthood.”

Wyatt and Botton have dealt out some fighting words and taken a risk to publish a book on a touchy subject. But, whether readers covet the book or argue against it, relate, reconsider, or refute, there’s passion in this subject and a lot to learn.

“Get Out of My Crotch!” is available online at cherrybombbooks.com, Amazon, and local bookstores. For more information, write editor@cherrybombbooks.com or visit cherrybombbooks.com. Find “Get Out of My Crotch!” on Facebook.

~ Comment on this column below.

Author

  • Eve Quesnel

    Eve Quesnel has lived in Truckee for 35 years with her husband Bill, once-upon-a-time daughter Kim-now on her own-and many dogs through the years, currently a Border Collie-Aussi mix. Her favorite pastimes include walking in her neighborhood and nearby woods, hiking in the high Sierra, and reading and writing. Quesnel is now retired from teaching English at Sierra College in Truckee but continues to pursue several writing projects. She is intrigued by the natural world of which she explores and writes about for the column "Nature's Corner" in Moonshine Ink.

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