Wednesday, February 2, 2011

You want to see a woman fight back? I'll do it now.

I know this is a post I have to write, but I don't know if I'm going to get through it. I'm so overwhelmingly angry and hurt and shocked, I barely know how to force the tumbling thoughts in my brain down through my arms, out my fingers and into my keyboard. I doubt I could speak a coherent sentence at the moment, but I hope I can write one.

Some of you may have already seen the news about a proposed bill attempting to redefine rape. Under this new legislation, only "forcible" rape would count as rape.

"Forcible", by the very term, implies that "coerced" rape would no longer be rape. So a woman who complies with an attacker out of fear for her life (or another's) life is no longer raped. A college coed who passed out drunk and awaits with a stranger on top of her, is no longer raped. What term would these politicians like to use then, exactly? The less offensive (and more minor charge) "sexually assaulted"?

The fact that this law is even being considered in the new millenium is sickening. It hearkens back to the days when a woman had to prove she fought tooth and nail against an attacker before the authorities would consider her case. If a woman didn't (or more likely, couldn't) fight until she was physically exhausted or overcome, then she was considered legally compliant (or "asking for it").

This bill, in its attempt to redefine rape, drags women's rights back to the days before "no means no".

Nevermind that someone unconscious, or mentally handicapped, or underaged can't give legal consent. They weren't really raped. We'll come up with another word for it.

And, of course, this is all just part of a political agenda. The whole attempt to redefine rape is being used as a means to deny women abortions that would typically fall under the "three exceptions" rule (rape, incest, threat to mother's life).

Now bear with me, people, because I'm not trying to start a political debate on here. This isn't a case of red vs. blue. This is about basic humanity vs. violence towards women. I'm elaborating on the topic only for the sake of clarity; not to try to say whether democrats or republicans are the ones who are right.

Okay, so as the law currently stands now, a woman can only receive Medicaid coverage for an abortion if it falls under the priorly mentioned "three exceptions rule"; if the pregnancy is a result of rape, a result of incest, or if continuing the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother.

This bill would amend the law so that she could only receive the abortion if the rape was determined to be "forcible". (In other words, your classically portrayed scenario of a fully conscious, struggling victim held down and "forcibly" raped.) This shows a dangerously outdated perception of rape. The majority of rape is not by strangers (as is so often portrayed in the media), but by people the victim knows, and often includes somehow drugging or threatening the victim into being unable to fight back. (Forcible rape also discounts the well-documented phenomena of "rape paralysis", where a woman is paralyzed by fear and unable to physically move.)

And this does not need to be somehow twisted into an abortion debate. I hate abortion. I think it is wrong on so very many levels and, no matter what the circumstance, I do not believe I could ever make the decision to end my unborn child's life.

But I am pro-choice. I am not so arrogant as to think that I could tell a raped and brutalized woman that she had to spend almost a year of her life carrying her attacker's child to term, that she is a sinner and a murdered if she does it. I am not God, and I in no way kid myself that I have that right.

Would I encourage a friend or relative to complete that pregnancy, even if she decided to give the child up afterward? Absolutely. That decision I would support 100%, and I would gently counsel her to consider options other than abortion. But I would never think myself so high and lofty as to tell another woman in that situation that she didn't have a choice, and I would certainly never support any legislation that would attempt to do so, either.

And...I'm rambling again. This whole situation has my emotions raging. I've written most of this fighting back tears, and I don't think I can anymore. Because I have one more thing to add...

It's been almost seven years since I lost a childhood friend to a stalker. I don't like to talk about her much, because of it still hurts so badly, every single time I think of her. Part of it is at the impossible injustice of it, all the people who failed her. Another part is, I suppose, survivor's guilt. She was perfect and I'm a screw-up but she died still a child and I grew up to have a life and family of my own. My friend, from since I was 12-years-old, was kidnapped, raped, and murdered by another student in her dorm. Her murderer waited until the end of the semester when the campus was mostly deserted, knocked her over the head, injected her with a sedative, raped her, and strangled her to death.

Now, under this proposed law, what he did was not rape. He injected her with a drug so she wouldn't struggle, so it wouldn't be considered forcible. What happened to her took her life, and left a hole in the life of every person who knew her and loved about her (and you couldn't do the first without doing the second).

And, for some sick political agenda, maybe to con a few thousand extra votes, some politicians up on Capitol Hill are trying to say that what happened to her wasn't rape.

It's not rape if you don't fight back.

Well ladies, this is our chance to fight back. Spread the word, write letters, make phone calls. Tell your senators and representatives that they can debate abortion all they want, but don't try to minimalize violence towards women as part of their agenda. We're not going to lie back and take it.

R.I.P. "Princess Momo-san". I still have that picture all of us got taken for 8th-grade graduation. I hope you're looking down and laughing with me at how we all looked with braces and crimped hair.


Megan said...

I'm so sorry that this bullshit agenda has caused you to re-experience a painful time in your life. If it's okay, I'd like to link this post on my facebook and twitter accounts as well.

1st-Time Mommy said...

Sure. Even if writing something is difficult, anything I post on here is free-game to repost.

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