Rape, is rape. It's all legitimate, and it's all forced.

Trigger Warning:
This blog deals with rape, a politicians attempt at rape apology as a reason to outlaw abortion and the idea that only good girls get raped by strangers jumping out at them. Of course it's bullshit, and I treat it as such; however, it might be triggering for some people who have been through a sexual assault. I don't want to cause your healing to stop, or regress, so you might want to skip this one.

It meanders a bit, too. Topics like this are hard for me to deal with in a linear way, as they touch on the very core of who and what being female, a woman and human means. I am almost 35 and still trying to figure that out for myself, so I can't expect to be able to explain it properly for anyone else.

As always, you can get help from RAINN, SNAP, or the Hotline. You can also Google "rape survivor resources" and find myriad links to people who have been through it, and who want you to come out the other side, too. 

I spent the weekend doing things around the house. We had to replace out bathroom faucets, as two of the three leaked. We figured we'd replace all of them, because wouldn't you know it-- those two leaky ones weren't both in the master bath, and we wanted everything to match. It took awhile on Saturday, not because it was difficult, but because of the normal "fix-it-up" problems that sent us back to Lowe's a couple times: wrong part, not enough water-line, wrong size. That's just how it goes, and while it can be irritating, the running back and forth part was the hardest part of all. The faucets slid right in and are working beautifully.

We got up at our normal time on Sunday (usually 10ish) and by noon the other faucet was replaced in the kids' loo. We ate, looked at the news, the usual waking up stuff. It took about 20 minutes for me to get it swapped out, with Honey being an excellent Tool Boy. No big deal, it went pretty smoothly.

It was after that, close to 1 my time (which is 4pm EDT) that I saw the latest in Republican gaffes. Now, like Thomas over at the Yes Means Yes! blog, when I said "gaffe" what I mean is "GOP elected official said what he/she actually believes and means, as opposed to the party line". In other words, a GOP gaffe is merely the truth they didn't want you to know-- yet.

I don't want to concentrate on what he said, so I'll quote it really quickly:

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." [emphasis added] You can read the whole thing here at TPM and see the vid, also, the "apology" is here.

The media gasped so hard they stopped breathing for a few minutes; women and men were outraged, and some have been very insistently calling for him to step down*. He's not just running for the Senate, you see, he's already in the House, representing the beautiful state of Missouri, as well as sitting on the House Committee for Science and Technology. [Yes, I know the irony is so thick here, but I'm going to leave it alone]

About a billion gallons of digital ink have been spilled discussing this man's words. I don't want to rewrite anything any of these wonderful writers have done, from Sarah Posner over at Religious Dispatches, to Irin Carmon over at Salon to LZ Granderson at CNN, and a thousand more! I recommend you read them all, this topic, while disgusting, is fascinating. To see into the minds of men who would regulate women's bodies, take control of them and force us to give birth no matter what is something like looking into the mind of a sociopath-- scary as hell, but very interesting, nevertheless.

What I wanted to write about, and am getting into right now, is that this idea isn't new. It isn't new at all, in fact. I can't tell you when it first was articulate, but even in the Middle Ages it was believed fervently by the Church, the government and everyone else that conception would not, and could not, take place unless the woman "took pleasure in the act ". I remember reading that maybe ten years ago, and was disgusted, but I wasn't surprised. It's the same line of thinking that says orgasms cause women to conceive, or that you can't get pregnant standing up: wilful ignorance of the human body, and choosing ideology over people.

I do have to hand it to Akin, Paul Ryan and the rest, they are disgusting, but they're consistent. If they truly believe that abortion is wrong, in all circumstances, then at least they're sticking to their guns. I, on the other hand, believe that a woman has autonomy over herself-- no matter what, so I'll stick to mine. Carmon discusses that a bit in her Salon piece. The rape exception is kinda stupid, either abortion is super-duper wrong, and should never ever happen, or it's not. But excepting this rape is OK, but this one isn't, is... well, I think rape and incest exceptions shouldn't have to exists-- because women have autonomy over their bodies, no matter what. Their body is theirs, not some guy in DC's. That is something best left for another time, though.

When I was about 8 I was watching television with my family and it was showing a National Right to Life march on the news. It would have been January 22 or so, because they were protesting Roe v Wade. One woman got up and was talking about the child she conceived from rape, and how she felt so healed and helped by Gawd when she had and raised that kid. I don't remember the kid being anywhere, she didn't say anything like, "Stand up, sweetie, let the people see you".

I asked my mother what rape was and why she talked about killing her kid. My mother was starting to fall into the fundie mindset by this point, so she'd railed against those sluts and their abortions enough I knew what they referred to-- sorta. Mind you, little evangelicals are taught that abortion is very much like stabbing your uterus a handful of times when 38 weeks gone, and just before you go into labour. It's treated like a heinous, horrible thing that people do to live infants... I thought women had babies and then the doctor killed them-- no joke. It wasn't until high school when I did a paper on pregnancy and the human body that I learned what an abortion was, and started turning pro-choice.

First, she asked if I remembered how babies were made. Of course I did. It was gross, but I knew. [Hey, I was 8!]  Then she told me that some times very bad men would attack women in the dark, or break into their houses and hurt them by "forcing them to make a baby". But luckily for that woman, my mother explained that most of the time, like 99% of the time, when that happened her body would shut down. [sound familiar?] God had given us this wonderful protection from those mean men, and their evil actions, so we couldn't get pregnant. Our bodies just couldn't release the egg, and that evil little sperm couldnt' get to it. What a blessing, huh?

Well, I'd been taught that God himself made me while my mother was pregnant for me [yes, back then I didn't understand that God didn't take the time to create every single baby conceived, evangelical kids are taught some creepy shit, huh?]; I was brought up on that whole "fearfully and wonderfully" made thing from some Psalm I don't want to look up. The idea that God would protect me from evil man jumping out of the bushes and attacking me, that was wonderful! Wow, I really was made wonderfully.

So, I asked about the other 1 percent of the time? What about that lady on the television?

I can't remember her exact words, but they were something like this: "Well, two things happened. Either she really wasn't raped, or God had a plan for the baby she would have. If she was raped, and God had a plan, then her body would listen to God, and she'd get pregnant anyway. If she really wasn't raped, if it wasn't really rape..." she trailed off a couple times, I do remember that. "If it wasn't real rape, maybe she changed her mind, or felt guilty afterwards. Most of the time if a woman has a baby and says she was raped, she wasn't. She was just trying to get the man into trouble with the police."

My mother, an original men's rights advocate... She quickly ended the explanation, mansplanation?, with "I'm sure that God had a plan, and I'm sorry she was raped."

I thought about that off and on for awhile. I've always been like that, I think too much some times.

I tried and tried to reconcile what she'd said. She said two very contradictory things... either that woman who seemed so broken on the television was lying, or she'd been attacked. Either she wanted to have a baby, or God decided for her. I didn't know then, that a woman could have an unwanted pregnancy-- the thought had never occurred to me.**

I don't know if I ever believed that idea that rape didn't end in pregnancy ever. Or so rarely as to be anomalous. The idea was kinda weird, the way my mother put it. So I thought, for a little while anyway, that maybe God really did have a plan for these so-called rape babies. Something special he created just for them. Something to show that love can come from horrible actions? I didn't know, but I hoped it was lovely. No one deserved to have their father be so hateful to their mother-- to hurt her like that.

When I learned about the different kinds of rape, how rare so-called "stranger rape" really is, how likely a woman is to be raped by her friend/boyfriend/date, that marital rape existed, I was pretty floored. I don't remember ever believing a woman was "asking for it". That idea didn't stick in my head, although my mother swears up and down that stranger rape is the normal, and if you're not a perfect lady you're asking for it.***

I have to, sadly, admit that wasn't the last time I heard that trite little bit about God having a plan for those sooooooo very few rape-babies, because women's bodies just reject all sorts of sperm if they dont' want to be pregnant. Now, I think it's mice that can spontaneously abort a litter if things aren't right, food and shelter-wise; some other small mammals, too. But we woman aren't that lucky. If we were, no teen would ever be a mother-- she'd just choose to self-abort and *poof* no big deal. If we could, then there would be no unwanted children; no need for abortion at all-- I mean, our bodies would do it for us, right?

It's a lovely thought, but damn, our biology isn't that accommodating.

Some time later my Grandmother made mention of a woman at their church who was raped and chose to keep the resulting offspring. So I asked why did her body let her down? Did God have a plan for her kid, too?

I got this weird drivel about how evil abortion was even though I wasn't asked about abortion. At that time abortion was not something I truly understood, so it never came into my mind. My mother and grandmother, in their never-ending quest to punish all women for being sluts and not being perfectly ladylike enough brought abortion into all sorts of conversations. Then I was told some weird word-salad about God always having a plan, and if he didn't want there to be a pregnancy then it wouldn't have happened, but it did, so that fertilised egg was a person, and we have to protect it, but not everyone does, because they're all evil sluts and murdering feminists. Or something.

It was very confusing and didn't answer my question: If God gave us this body that is so amazing it can tell if we're wanting to get pregnant or not, and it protects us from getting pregnant during a rape, then why are these women getting pregnant?! What kind of God does that? What kind of plan is so amazing and awesome and wonderful that she had to go through that horror to get pregnant? Why not just wait until she and her husband are ready to make the baby? I mean, Jehovah is all powerful, right? He could totally have waited...

The way they slut-shamed my cousin, R*** showed me later (about 2002) that their position wasn't about preventing abortions, or how awesomely created the woman's body was. In fact, their position was anti-women because they believe we're all worthless, except them-- the pure virginal ones. I heard all sorts of "Oh, how awfuls" and "can you imagines" when she ended up in hospital. One thing stuck out at me, though, my grandmother nodding like a bobble-head when my mother said, "But you know, they're married, and so I highly doubt he raped her. You can't rape your own wife! She was probably having [she was whispering here] anal sex with her boy friend and he is the one who hurt her. I don't think M would have beaten her, either!"

Now, I'd met M, when he came with R to the annual family reunion/Great-Grandma's birthday party. He was a big, mean, nasty, misogynistic pig of a man, so yeah, I totally could envision him anally raping her and beating her to a pulp. So I said so and got stared at by these two self-righteous woman. "The law says that unless you consent it's rape. Beating someone up so they can't fight back doesn't mean they've consented. The law says that marital rape is illegal."

[I wish I could have remembered those words late, when it happened to me. At the time, R and M were going through a nasty divorce, and so him beating and raping her seemed to much more rape-like than my being woken up over and over with a penis in me that I didn't want there.]

I guess the point I'm making is that the idea of graduated rape-ness isn't new. It's pretty fucking old, and horrible as hell. The idea that your rape only counts in the minds of these people, people like my mother and grandparents [yeah, my grandfather doesn't believe marital rape exists, either] is if some dude attacks you on your way home from church and beats the fuck out of you. The idea that the only rape that counts is pretty old, and hangs so prettily on that Madonna-Whore complex that is shouted from the pulpits of these fundie churches. Always it's on the women not to be sexual, not to be too pretty, or attractive, not to cross any imaginary lines, or some man might not be able to control himself, and oops, there you go, it's all your fault you whore! You shouldn't have asked for it like that.

The fact that Akin said it aloud, to a news channel is the surprising part. This sort of thing has been whispered about, because good girls can't be soiled with such knowledge; have to protect the virginal ears and sensibilities of the "ladies", else they might need their fainting couches as they swoon from exposure to the evils of man. [Sorry, I'm going to pause here, my eyes are rolling so hard that they might fall out, and I rather like them in.]

Well, I'll say it once more with feeling:
Only Yes! Means yes. Only enthusiastic consent means Let's fuck!

Rape is always wrong. It's always forced-- coerced, threatened, harassed, or in other ways not asking nicely and being told, "Hell yeah!" Good girls, don't exist. Women do; and women get raped. We get coerced, drugged, talked into it with threats to our person; we get raped by our partners, our friends, our dates, our ex's and strangers. We don't always have marks to "prove" anything; some times we wake up in the middle of it; some times we lay there in terror of our lives and don't say anything; some times we fight back. But any time there is no Yes! it's a no. If you can't get that bit, you're not mature enough to have sex with anything besides your hand, or a fleshlight. [Google that yourself. I'm not linking it to my blog.]

Women, if you've been sexually assaulted, I am sorry. It was not, and is not your fault. You weren't asking for it, you didn't deserve it, and the one who hurt you deserves to rot in prison until the end of time! I'm sorry you went through it; that you were hurt; that someone would harm you like that. I hope you got help, that you were able to seek medical attention, and nourish your spirit. Don't let Akin and his ilk take away your healing. Don't let the MRA's and fundies and their fetishizing of women take away your healing. Don't let anyone take it away, it's your hard won healing, and fuck anyone who gets in the way.

That's what I'm doing: "Fuck you, Akin, and Ryan, and anyone else who thinks women ask for it. Fuck off and take your hatred of women with you. Take your fear with you. Take your crossed-ideals with you, and go die in a fire! Women are people! We matter! We Are Important! So Fuck you!

-Signed a pissed off voter, who just happens to have ovaries.




* In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a member of Ultraviolet, Change.org, Credo, and Daily Kos, and have signed on with all four calling for him to step down. I also sent a email directly to his office explaining that any phrase like "legitimate rape" is ridiculous, and he has no business re-victimizing us all over again; it is as though only stranger rape is real, and all the rest of us who were raped by intimate partners, friends, dates, some guy we know, our baby sitters &ct weren't really raped.

I closed with "Biological functions are rather straight forward and well known. The uterus, while amazing cannot tell the difference in "welcome" and "unwelcome" sperm. If this were the case, there would never be an unwanted or teen pregnancy in history. Therefore, if you do not know the biological functions, you should not legislate them. Step down.".

**When I was very young I knew my mother liked my brother better, but I thought it was normal for boys to be preferred. I'm sure I'm not alone in this assumption-- when kids are brought up in a household that prefers boys, they don't know any better. It wasn't until I was closer to 12 that I learned women could accidentally get pregnant, and even then there was almost a demand that she keep and raise it. Adoption was what people did, no one ever placed their infants, I mean, that's for other people! [Unless she found a nice christian couple, and then it was OK.]

***She hangs on to this, even though both my sister and I were raped by then-intimate partners. Even though our cousin was beaten so badly and raped by her then-husband she was in hospital for a week with a prolapsed anus; even though one of her friends/co-workers was drugged and raped by a "good friend". I think she needs to believe we were the abnormally targeted ones, so that she can continue holding her beliefs as an MRA. Yes, my mother is an men's rights activist. My father is a feminist. Weird, huh?




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