Saturday, June 21, 2008

Owning women’s bodies, owning women’s wombs

I’ll admit it. I read anti-choice blogs. And listen to anti-choice podcasts. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t adding to their hits, but I figure they probably do the same to our stuff.

Anyway. I was listening to some old podcasts that I’ve been waiting for some time to get to listen to (we’ve been traveling a lot here at CAF). And while completely on another topic, one of the commentators mentioned when she was in college, “there was a rapist near our college.” Suddenly, I had a rising tide of outrage in myself.

This was coming from the woman on the show who had had an abortion and worked as a counselor for women suffering after an abortion (from an anti-choice perspective, unlike agencies such as Backline and Exhale and independent feminist clinic post-abortion counseling groups). Coming from a woman who was supposed to be anti-choice because she’s pro-woman, I expected more. She mentioned the campus cops escorting women to and from classes and parties, and went back to the topic at hand. The naivete of this woman who counsels other women made me pity her clients.

Let’s put rape into some perspective:

-Rape is sex you don’t agree to, including forcing a body part or object into your vagina, rectum (bottom), or mouth {or a certain sex act that you did not agree to, if you consented to sex- ed.}. Date rape {sometimes called/used interchangeably with acquittance rape, sometimes marital rape depending on the situation; often used interchangeably with “sexual violence”- ed.} is when you are raped by someone you know. Both are crimes. Rape is not about sex – it is an act of power by the rapist and it is always wrong. (from

-Incest is the type of sexual contact that occurs between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal (e.g., parents and children, uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews, etc.). (from RAINN)

-One in three girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.
-14% of women are victims of rape committed by their husband.
-As many as 80% of all assaults involve acquaintances.
(from Rape Victim Advocates)

My activism is framed in a social justice framework, including knowledge from the anti-rape movement. The statement this woman obviously lacked any knowledge of- or perhaps even a dismissal of- the anti-rape movement’s advances. Possibly, there was a serial rapist on or near the campus. Mostly likely, however, there were many males on her campus that felt they had the right to the female’s bodies and to show their control over them (sound familiar?). Stranger Danger may be a good thing to have in the back of your head, but Date Rape, Marital Rape and Incest are unfortunately far, far more common. Stranger Danger serves misogynistic* males in control by keeping women afraid (to be alone, among other things), dependent on familiar males, in a state of constant victimization. And while the other prospects can seem even more terrifying, being in a Stranger Danger mindset stops us from keeping those males (and females) around us from being held accountable, informed, and active in engaging for an anti-sexist culture.

Enforcing a rape culture, even in a simple conversation- an especially in a podcast available for worldwide download-, is not pro-woman. And neither is making women feel bad for the choices they’ve made around pregnancies.

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