Thursday, October 25, 2012

What she said. SERIOUSLY.

I've started a few blog posts in recent weeks that basically amount to rants about what I'm seeing and reading with regard to "women's issues" during this obnoxious (and not to mention obscenely fiscally irresponsible) presidential election.  The whole thing just makes me cringe, but one of the things I'm especially tuned into is anything regarding reproductive rights.

For starters, I bristle at the term "women's issues".  President Obama said it correctly:  "Women's issues are not just women's issues.  They are family issues.  They are economic issues."  Conservatives like to cite those statements as pandering to women voters, but that is BS.  Barack Obama was raised by a single mother.  He married a strong, smart, compassionate, hard working woman.  And he is raising two beautiful daughters.  I believe without a shadow of a doubt that he will continue to champion feminism.  And I am proudly determined to support those efforts.

There is so much to be said here that I am already struggling to focus and attempt to stay on topic.  What actually got me to the keyboard this morning was one specific aspect of the reproductive rights conundrum: rape. The idea that rape should be defined differently in order to mandate (eliminate) the victims' rights after their nightmare is beyond ludicrous to me.  It makes me twitch with frustration and scrambles my brain.  I don't want to believe it.  I want it to be some sort of sick joke.  But it's really, really not. 

A friend of a friend (thank you, Facebook) wrote this and I am sharing it with her permission.  Thank you, Jennifer Defilippo.  I pulled out 4 paragraphs for my blog, but the other 5 are just as good.  I hope you will take five minutes to read it.   

An open letter to old white men like Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin.

by Jennifer Defilippo

I should be used to hearing old white men making grossly inappropriate comments about rape and women’s reproductive rights by now, but I’m not. I can’t help but feel my blood catch fire when I read about “men” like Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin sharing their wildly outlandish viewpoints. And, yes, they’re viewpoints, and we all have a right to share them. We’re Americans after all. That’s one of the beauties of being an American.

BUT if these old white men spent just one day fearing rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment like women do then they would shut their mouths forever on these matters. If they spent one day being catcalled, inappropriately grabbed while walking on the sidewalk on their way to get a cup of coffee, or aggressively approached by a group of men while walking to the supermarket - in broad daylight no less - then they would shut their mouths forever on these matters. If they spent one day even thinking about the act of rape, fearing not only a pregnancy that could result from ALL rape, but also the transmission of HIV and other irreversible STDs, then they would absolutely shut their mouths forever on these matters.

 And that’s what makes my hands shake and my forehead burn with fury when I wake up in the morning and read about an old white male who used his public platform to tell me and other women that if we’re raped and conceive a child, then it was God’s plan for us to have that child. That a woman wasn’t legitimately raped if she conceived that child in the first place, because a woman’s body has “the natural defenses to protect itself.” What’s my defense from these men’s beliefs when science and biology no longer apply? And what do I do if I don’t believe in God?

 I can only hope that with time, even though right now it seems like the fight over women’s rights is going backwards, that the personal decisions that I make with my body will not always be in jeopardy. Or at least won’t feel like they’re always going to be in jeopardy. That all the work of the women who came before me, who fought so hard to make my life easier, who wanted to protect me, wasn’t in vain. That all women who have suffered the horrors of rape or sexual assault, will not have to suffer yet again when it comes to making a difficult decision on what to do should they become pregnant.

Think about it.  Talk about it.  And pass it along.


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