Commentary

Susan J. Demas: It’s OK to cut people from your life who don’t regard you as a person

June 28, 2022 5:18 am

Hundreds of people braved the heat in Lansing to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to remove abortion protections for millions of people on June 24 2022. | Photo by Andrew Roth

With an illegitimate Supreme Court deciding that half the population doesn’t deserve basic rights in overturning Roe v. Wade, we can’t even grieve in peace. We also have to deal with an onslaught of exceedingly dumb takes and trolls.

Thanks to social media, there’s really no escape from what everyone from the kid you sat next to in junior high shop class to your ex-neighbor’s fourth cousin in Arkansas thinks about abortion, so there’s an added layer of awfulness to Friday’s news (which was made no less terrible by the fact that we all knew it was coming). 

There are those gleefully cheerleading the decision from six far-right justices (who function more like feudal lords issuing decrees than reasoned jurists) to strip bodily autonomy from those of us who can get pregnant. Make no mistake: They’re also salivating at the justices’ explicit intention to kill the right to birth control, same-sex marriage and more. These are backwards people way out of the mainstream who believe that 20% of the population gets to dictate what everyone else does. And many of them are running for office for that reason.

Then there are those who continue to downplay the seriousness of this attack on human progress, modernity, secularism and human rights and have taken it upon themselves to lecture you that Roe being killed is NBD. Maybe it’s because they don’t believe abortion affects them or problems like student loans are more important. Or they want to believe that anyone can still access their health care rights if they try hard enough (1. They can’t and 2. This isn’t how human rights work). Or they just don’t take women seriously on anything. 

And lastly, there’s the agree-to-disagree crowd. These are folks who actually fall into the first category, but their jobs dictate that they have to feign reasonability like being a Fortune 500 executive or multi-client lobbyist. Or they’re in the second group — they don’t believe reproductive freedom impacts them and think this response makes them seem more mature. Or they’re just not into politics, man (i.e. they don’t think abortion really affects them, so they can afford not to). Must be nice.

For the last several decades, particularly in the social media era, we’ve been endlessly lectured by pundits that we have to accept that there are two sides to all issues and embrace those who disagree with us. There’s nothing worse than living in political bubbles, smug analysts have told us — something that spawned a million soul-searching pieces from self-flagellating liberals in elite outlets after Donald Trump’s narrow 2016 victory. Meanwhile, Republicans candidates run ads vowing to murder those who aren’t right-wing enough as a poll-tested way to win primaries, so it would seem that both sides aren’t really the same.

So here’s my take from the cheap seats in Second-Class Citizenland.

You do not have to listen to or keep people in your life who don’t believe you are a person worthy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Period.

– Susan J. Demas

First, right-wingers realized all that kumbaya stuff was ridiculous a long time ago and have been laser-focused on creating a Christian ethnostate by shredding norms, basic rights and democracy itself, as the Jan. 6 hearings have shown over and over again.

Second, you do not have to listen to or keep people in your life who don’t believe you are a person worthy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Period.

It is not up to you to forgive and forget. You do not have to be the “bigger person” and endure painful brunches with friends or Thanksgiving with your family as they casually spew misinformation and treat you with condescension, pity or contempt. You are free to leave with your dignity. 

That is one right you still have the freedom to exercise.

This does not make you intolerant or immature. It means you are not a doormat. You do not have to be in an abusive relationship with reality and sanity and engage with people who do not respect you as a full human being. 

“Pro-life” people are not more moral than the rest of us (no matter how much they fall over themselves to claim otherwise). Women are not incubators. Reproductive rights are human rights.

A sign at Michigan Pride rally in Lansing on June 26, 2022. | Photo by Laina G. Stebbins

You do not have to give an inch on any of this. Your life, your health, your future are not a theoretical discussion or political bargaining chip. You do not have to compromise on your humanity.

Once you give yourself permission to cut this toxicity from your life, you will feel better. It’s one of the few things you can change right now.

As for the broader fight ahead, it’s maddening and soul-crushing to have to try to claw back rights our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers already won. 

And there will be many more battles and dark days to come. 

But I know this: The extremist minority that seeks to subjugate us will not win, as long as we stand together, don’t give into despair and fight like our lives depend on it. Because they do.  

GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Avatar
Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 22-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQ+ people, the state budget, the economy and more. She previously served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 90 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 5,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 80 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two kids along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

MORE FROM AUTHOR