Illegitimate Violation

It usually takes a major election for those big social topics to come to the forefront. Those topics are often considered con traversal to someone, and those that deem it thus will often use it to gain political points, sway voters and hopefully get elected so that they can enact policies they hope will help them to deal with that issue as they feel best.

While on the surface, that last statement appears to be innocuous, but it rarely is. Unless one has been under a rock for the past decade, one can easily think of several things that are important issues, but made so political and so divisive that actual discourse on the subject is nearly impossible. Yet it is discourse that is needed, and of course real solutions. That is the crux of the problem. The suggestion of authentic solution is shoved aside for the sake of “policy”. What makes it worse, as as these topics are human ones, issues that directly affect the needs and rights of human beings. What ends up happening is that idealistic policies really doesn’t seem to care one single bit about the people those policies are supposed to address.

The latest in this increasing trend is the debate over rape. Yes, boys and girls, as incredulous as that appears, apparently rape is not what some would like us to think. To some, rape has levels. There are the obvious attacks, the ones that make headlines, the ones where the woman shows obvious signs of the attack, such as bruises in her face, or the fatal wound that took her life. Then there are the not so obvious ones, occurrences where what happened not not clear to see, or the victim was in a setting that isn’t considered “textbook” for what is deemed forcible rape. One would be senator even had the audacity to label the levels as legitimate and illegitimate. I’m not exactly sure what the hell he meant by that division, and what is legitimate about a violent, demoralizing attack on someone that has lasting effects, whether they are visible or not. To use this heinous talking point to speak against abortion is insulting to every woman, and most certainly every rape victim in our communities and to the world. To appear to deem rape as less of anything but exactly what it is, angered me to near the point of tears, and I knew that keeping silent would be a disservice.

So please, Mr. Akin, and those who agree with him overtly or covertly, please tell us what is legitimate about being forced to endure a physical attack on your body, to be violated physically and emotionally? Tell me what one does in the aftermath? You see, you being a man, likely never have to worry about the possibility that a rape could happen to you. We women have to train ourselves and our daughters to do what we can to help from such an attack happening to us. We are well aware that the possibility exists. We are wary in parking garages or parking lots at night, especially if we are alone. We have to be sure, if we are alone that we’ve put precautions into place to hopefully prevent a stranger from attacking us wherever we may be. Even then we aren’t always successful. Men generally don’t have to worry about that.

If we are at a social setting, a concert, out to dinner, to a party at a friend’s houses, our dressing up and maybe having a drink seems to be an open invitation to some who view us as a target. Going on date also puts ourselves at risk. That cute guy in your Sociology class could be the one who makes the decision to to destroy your world. Men don’t have to worry about that.

Even if precautions are in place, a setting that would seem safe could be the place where rape happens. Women get raped at the workplace. Someone comes in to rob a store, sees a woman, and uses the opportunity to attack her on a worse level then just the robbery. Women also can face the risk of being raped by customers or co-workers. Men don’t have to worry about that either.

And then there is the home, where the most rapes occur. The risk there is even worse. Women and children face attacks by family members and friends of that family, caregivers or people who do work for the family. What makes this so horrible, is that often the victim doesn’t get a chance to get away from her attacker., or feel safe enough to report the crime and the aftermath of what would happen to the family. Because of the dynamics of family, they often feel trapped. If one is married to their attacker, the stigma still exists that there is no such thing as rape in a marriage. For those victims the trauma they face is ongoing and more excruciating then most of us can ever imagine. They often are never reported.

To use rape as a political means to get elected while trying to end abortion is a slap in the face of every victim. True, not every rape ends up in pregnancy, but enough of them do. As was stated in a poignant article by Eve Ensler:

I have spent much time with mothers who have given birth to children who are the product of rape. I have watched how tortured they are wrestling with their hate and anger, trying not to project that onto their child.

The rest of the article is just as powerful.

True, there have been admirable people who were born the direct result of a rape. But people like former presidential candidate and talk show host Mike Huckabee are missing the point. In fact I would suggest that his comment was worse then the statement that brought the talk show into the fray.

The former Arkansas governor and onetime presidential contender suggested a couple of cases in which he suggested that rapes, though “horrible tragedies,” had produced admirable human beings.

While technically true, it was the what that statement implies that is so offending and insulting. It was almost like he was saying “Oh sorry, you got raped, that sucks, but look, you got a cool consolation prize.”

Really? Wouldn’t she have much preferred NOT GETTING RAPED?

He likely didn’t intend to send that sort of message, but it was my initial reaction, as it ignores the real issue… the one left unspoken, that a woman was attacked in horrible way. Then one can consider that Huckabee’s statement never considers the questions about the mothers of children born of rape. The one that asked “What did these women have to endure?” We can only imagine what that the list would include. It quite likely would include: physical trauma of the attack, the suffering of emotional devastation, the nightmares, the fingers pointing of shame, and the whispers of others when they could no longer hide their pregnancies by a community who either didn’t care about, made up their own scenarios or really want to know about the reason behind that pregnancy. If any of these brave women reported their attack, they had to undergo a physical exam that included invasive evidence gathering in the search for proof of the attacker’s presence on their body. If they saw their rapist stand trial, they had to tell a jury the details of their ordeal reliving it all over again, and then fear the day their rapist eventually was released from jail…that is if he was ever caught much less convicted.

Men have never had to worry about any of that.

Now these people who are so against abortion, even in the cases of rape, say that they have compassion for women who’ve been raped. I say prove it, because from where I sit, I am finding it quite hard to believe. If they want to lessen the chances of pregnancy occurring as a result of rape, then work to reduce the amounts of rape that occur every single day in our country, much less in the world.

So how often is this crime occurring? I did a quick bit of research. In candidate Akin’s state of Missouri, I was able to find about 13 rape crises related entities. There are about 3 million women in Missouri so that works out to be about one agency for every 230,769 women. I hope there are more. In 2010 there were 1417 reported “forcible rapes”. The term itself excludes other types of sexual assaults which in reality are also rapes. Of those 1417 cases, 383 individuals were arrested to face charges for victimizing Wisconsin women.

Arkansas, Huckabee’s home state, has about the same amount of crises agencies, slightly lower numbers but half the population. My own state of SC has similar numbers and a population close to Missouri, at least when comparing reported cases of “forcible rape”. Our governor, a woman, no less, wanted to slash funding for our 13 rape crises center, thinking that the need for the victims of this crime was merely not important enough. But it is. SC statistics of crimes against women, including rape are higher then national averages. Lest we forget most rapes of all kinds go unreported. For more sobering facts go here. National Rape/Sexual Assualt Statistics .

So the real question is not about ending abortion in the case of rape, but what can we do to prevent the crime of rape that may result in a pregnancy. If we want to reduce abortions, preventing victims from receiving a morning after pill or an abortion is the most ridiculous solution devised. It solves nothing, but only tells rape victims that their pain doesn’t matter, the crime committed against them doesn’t matter, they don’t matter.

Prevention is the key here. If we want to reduce abortions then implement steps such as education and contraception. If you want to reduce rape, which all us of should, than prevention and education is also key. However we need to get radical here. More needs to be done. How? Not by giving out more safety tips for us women, but by implementing steps for men to follow. It will take both genders to fix this, and its high time the male half of society stepped up to the plate. Now as a disclaimer, there are lots of men who do follow these guidelines already, and we women are so thankful for their presence. We need to get everyone on board.

Teach yourselves and and your sons, that if you commit an act of violence, against someone else is, it is never their fault, it is always yours. Teach yourselves and your sons to respect women as human beings, as people of such value that using one’s body or a tool to harm, or to over power a woman in a demoralizing and physically harmful fashion is wrong. Teach yourselves and your sons that women are not just walking baby holders with vaginas built just for you, but people like yourselves with talent, voice, purpose, value. Teach yourselves and your sons that a society that values all genders, all people with respect and equality, is a thing of beauty. Teach yourselves and your sons that devaluing half of your species so that you can have all the power actually robs you of the potential you could have if only you’d be willing to share. And finally teach yourselves and your sons that rape is not sex its violence, ugly, profane, destructive; and that a penis can hurt as bad if not worse than fists. That is what men need to worry about.

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5 Replies to “Illegitimate Violation”

  1. What a great Article Sylvie. As an Australian, I do not understand why the abortion debate always gets such precedence every election year. Adding the argument of what ‘legitmises’ rape has been more offensive on a topic that should not even be a part of electoral debate. Rape and abortion are a human rights issue. They should never be used as a token to gain political mileage to put any person, male or female, in a position of power. Any person wh does so, is perpetuating the crimes against victims of rape.

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