The War on Women and Fridays with Billy.

We’re back! After two weeks of no Billy Bragg for holiday-related reasons, the internet can now heave a sigh of relief. Fridays have regained their Billy-ibrium!

This week’s selection, “Trust,” is a short story, really, told by a woman. One of the things I’ve always loved most about Mr. Bragg is his ability to channel the voice of someone entirely unlike himself — a gay veteran of the Second World War, a Japanese-American victim of internment, or, in this case, a woman who’s been very badly done by the man in her life.

He wrote this song at the height of the AIDS crisis, and the lyrics leave us entirely uncertain: Is she pregnant? Infected? Or just afraid? There’s no way to know, but that fear, that uncertainty — that abandonment — is a thing with which many, many women are all too familiar, and which far too few men have made an effort to understand.

Least of all the men making decisions about our bodies.

There’s been a lot of angry back and forth lately about the phrase “war on women,” and on the recent day that 150 Afghan girls were poisoned for the crime of going to school, I wavered a bit, myself — and then I remembered the state-sanctioned rape that is forced transvaginal ultrasounds, such as take place in Texas every day. People are literally attacking our bodies in an effort to create a legislative reality that inimical to our most basic interests — I think “war on women” is pretty reasonable.

The first line of defense in any battle has got to be information, and in that spirit, I want to encourage you to check out and bookmark the frankly mind-boggling Team Uterati Wiki on which Angry Black Lady and the Team Uterati team are doing yoeman’s labor. It’s a one-stop-shop for information on the people, the places, and the roughly 1,100 anti-choice bills currently pending across the country.

You heard me: One thousand and one hundred.

Women are human beings. We have a fundamental, human right to bodily autonomy, one that powerful people (some of whom are women) are attempting to strip from us, for their own purposes. The only way to win this war is to fight back. Let’s arm ourselves with knowledge, inundate them with our demands, and vote the bastards out come November. And then let’s keep fighting.


He’s already been inside me
And he really didn’t say
And I really didn’t ask him
I just hoped and prayed

He’s already been inside me
And I really don’t feel well
I keep looking in the mirror
But it’s hard to tell

Will he stay by me and take my hand
And hold me till I sleep
Or will he crumble and fall to the floor
And weep
Oh feeble man, Oh evil man

He’s already been inside me
Would he have told me if he cared?
I know I ought to find out
But I’m much too scared

He’s already been inside me
And I know it can’t be good
Nothing feels
The way it should

Will he hold me in his arms again
And wipe away my tears
Or has he already taken
My best years
Oh evil man, Oh feeble man

What is Fridays with Billy?

UPDATE: It’s been suggested to me that this song is “being sung by one man about another man, not by a woman at all.” I can see that, and remember it crossing my mind back in the day, so I mention it here — I can only hope Mr. Bragg himself weighs in someday…! (Knowing his work, it’s entirely possible that he left the song just that vague on purpose).



  1. dmf

     /  April 20, 2012

    for fridays and not losing sight of actual lives lived in our pursuits of “higher” principles

    On Monday my mother washed.
    It was the way of the world,
    all those lines of sheets flapping
    in the narrow yards of the neighborhood,
    the pulleys stretching out second
    and third floor windows.

    Down in the dank steamy basement,
    wash tubs vast and grey, the wringer
    sliding between the washer
    and each tub. At least every
    year she or I caught
    a hand in it.

    Tuesday my mother ironed.
    One iron was the mangle.
    She sat at it feeding in towels,
    sheets, pillow cases.
    The hand ironing began
    with my father’s underwear.

    She ironed his shorts.
    She ironed his socks.
    She ironed his undershirts.
    Then came the shirts,
    a half hour to each, the starch
    boiling on the stove.

    I forgot bluing. I forgot
    the props that held up the line
    clattering down. I forgot
    chasing the pigeons that shat
    on her billowing housedresses.
    I forgot clothespins in the teeth.

    Tuesday my mother ironed my
    father’s underwear. Wednesday
    she mended, darned socks on
    a wooden egg. Shined shoes.
    Thursday she scrubbed floors.
    Put down newspapers to keep

    them clean. Friday she
    vacuumed, dusted, polished,
    scraped, waxed, pummeled.
    How did you become a feminist
    interviewers always ask,
    as if to say, when did this

    rare virus attack your brain?
    It could have been Sunday
    when she washed the windows,
    Thursday when she burned
    the trash, bought groceries
    hauling the heavy bags home.

    It could have been any day
    she did again and again what
    time and dust obliterated
    at once until stroke broke
    her open. I think it was Tuesday
    when she ironed my father’s shorts.

    “The good old days at home sweet home” by Marge Piercy

  2. Ironically, I think the war on women might be the best thing to happen to America since the Civil Rights Movement in the first place. The GOP is pushing so hard that women will push back. There’s that saying…something about hell and women’s fury…hmm…