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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Where's Woman?
Posted by Jill | 5:32 AM
Despite spending much of the last month looking at a glowing screen into the wee hours, I have been able to keep up with the Todd Akin fracas. Coming this late to the game, there's not a whole lot more I can add to what's already been said, except for one thing: Where is the woman in the equation of parsing the definition of rape? Where is the woman in the sanctity of human life definition?

When Akin made his now-infamous statement about "legitimate rape" over the weekend, he said "I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child."

This was perhaps the most important part of Akin's words; far more important than the talk of "legitimate rape." We already know how right-wing men love to spend hours thinking about rape in an attempt to determine which rapes make it OK to have an abortion. My own personal favorite is this one from 2006, forever known as the "Sodomized Virgin Exception":
A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

This is how the middle-aged white men (and it's disproportionately middle-aged white men) who hold the well-being of women in their hands via the state houses across the country and in Washington DC, think. This is how they spend their time, coming up with some perfect specimen of Virtuous Virginal Womanhood that whose life would be previous enough to make ending that of a blastocyst acceptable. This is how they spend their time, discussing with bogus doctors ways that the female body somehow magically shuts down when sperm from a rape is deposited in her. The most important thing to these men is to come up with a way to stigmatize and demonize not just the sluts and whores who dare to have sex and defy the rules these men have set down, but also women who become pregnant through no will of their own. It's so important to these men that women who would seek an abortion be branded as whores that they have invented the Magical Shut-Down Valve, just to assuage any pangs they might feel about forcing a woman to carry for nine months the product of the most traumatic experience of her life. Because for them, the woman is just an incubator and completely unworthy of their consideration, especially if they can invent some biological way that they can use to reassure themselves that "she really wanted it or her body wouldn't have let it happen."

Roe v. Wade was decided the year I graduated high school. Even when I was in college, the clinics that would later help to make women full-fledged recognized human beings in this country by giving them full control over their bodies had not yet fully materialized. Girls were still making bargains with God to please, please, please not let them be pregnant. Back in high school, girls who had gotten a little thick through the waist were still sent off to "stay with their sick grandma" for a while (sick grandmas being the All-Purpose Pretext of Choice in those days, including the one John List used to throw everyone off his trail after murdering his family in 1971), returning with their waistlines restored in just shy of a year. But even in those early post-Roe days, yes, there were always people standing outside of clinics, but you didn't hear men who held national political offices parsing out the intricacies of sexual assault. Perhaps they did in the porn houses of 42nd Street, but not in the halls of government.

And yet, here we are in 2012. We live in a country increasingly dominated by religious fanatics who are attempting to work out their own sick, twisted sexual issues and fantasies in the legal space of America. These man can't afford to give the woman in question any humanity; that is reserved for the rapist (who in their fantasies is probably themselves) and the "child" (which is what they no doubt believe vindicates their sick proclivities). To them, the woman is not at all human, but simply a vessel -- a vessel for something that they can regard as the only kind of life that's "pure" and a symbolic vessel into which they can pour their own hideous minds and self-loathing.

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Blogger Ahab said...
"Where is the woman in the equation of parsing the definition of rape?"

In their eyes, she is only an incubator, not a human being with agency and rights. It's sick.

Anonymous The Wifely Person said...
I threw this over the wall at the NYT this morning for the piece on the Republican platform, but i doubt they will use it. Still I couldn't resist:

Perhaps the concern about abortion stems from the Republican fear that if abortion had been available to many of their mothers, and had those mothers known their sons would be working so hard to diminish women's rights, they might have availed themselves of that service.

Frankly, if one of those plank writers was my son, I'd be embarrassed.

Blogger Bob said...
Americans will sell out the rights of women, gays, minority voters; trash the Voting Rights act, the Civil Rights act all because of stubborn recession.