Sukie's thoughts on the status of women and current politics...
In the year 1967 I was introduced to a very useful continuum by Misters Lord and Bannon: Reactionary – Conservative – Moderate – Liberal -- Radical. Reactionaries are extreme beyond Conservatives just as Radicals are extreme beyond Liberals. The German Nazi Party is an example of Reactionary thought that progressed into violent action. Stalin’s Communists demonstrate Radicals who also became violent. Neither extreme emphasizes as much social responsibility toward people who are different as the other categories do. In this way the extremes are thoroughly similar.
Remember that order and those terms. They can clarify much of what is now going on in our nation and in this note.
In 1971 I was part of what was possibly the first radio show to openly state that women who are victimized by rape are not to blame for the rape.
Today many – but definitely not all – people recognize this fact. Today most of us realize that nuns, shy virgins, 85 year old great-grandmothers, children, and men have also been among the victims of rape. We know now – or at least most of us know now – that rape is less about sex and more about power, domination, and violence. Violence and violate are similar words for a reason.
Rape itself is a violent physical act no matter how it is achieved. It also is a form of emotional violence. It breeds more than unwanted fetuses that can even endanger the woman’s health or life, as well as her future. It breeds fear. Luckily, it also breeds the strengths which come from resistance and from banding together in mutual support as many victims have done.
41 years ago saying that rape victims were innocents and not to be blamed was considered a revolutionary statement. At first so many outraged callers phoned in that the people at the station wondered if the show would be cancelled. Those calls were from both genders. Why? Because it was common at that time for people to believe that “good girls” did not get raped. That mistaken concept allowed women who felt they were carefully following the rules to delude themselves into thinking they were therefore safe, and that fantasy was held as tightly as any toddler’s security blanket.
Then another call came in. It was from a good girl. This particular good girl had been a rape victim and because she was brought up on that fantasy she was blaming herself for her victimization and had even been considering suicide. She called to thank the station, to say that now she understood that the rape she suffered was not her fault and that she should continue to live. Sometimes all it takes is one phone call to see what is most important.
One of the other delusions of that time was that most rape victims do not get pregnant. Okay, let’s look at the biological reality. The biological reality is that for each time having unprotected sex the chances of pregnancy is rather low unless the woman or adolescent of breeding age happens to be in the fertile part of the cycle. The rates are the same for sex by consent as for rape. The mythical “protection” -- purported by some people who have reason to lie -- that women supposedly get from resisting rape does not exist according to statements from the professional societies representing gynecologists and obstetricians in the United States.
There are thought to be something like 35,000 pregnancies from rape in the U.S. each year. That is about 5% to 6.5% chance per encounter, with perhaps 11,000 of those rape pregnancies aborted. Note that the rate is per encounter. With consenting people who have unprotected or insufficiently protected sex there will usually be multiple encounters at different times so the effect is cumulative and the chances of a pregnancy therefore increase.
Why would anyone pass around that a woman has some nonexistent form of biological protection? Well, some just embraced the statement without then learning enough to know better. There are other reasons, though. One gets back to that good girl myth. The good girl somehow escapes just by being a good girl. It did not work in 1971 and it does not work in 2012. Another reason may be that this myth provides a way for men who are poor lovers to tell themselves that they are good in bed. The worst male lover in the world can look at the children he has sired and convince himself that his wife, lover, or victim must have been pleasured because conception occurred. The myth feeds their egos and they embrace it better than they embraced their women.
Wanting to believe that rape victims to blame for their own pregnancies because they were good girls who resisted is a very tiny step from wanting to once again believe that rape victims are to blame for the rapes that they suffered because they did not have good girl protection.
Forcing women to bear all fetuses to term even when the mother’s life is at risk or when she is a victim of rape or of incest (which is itself rape) – as Romney’s VP running mate, Ryan, tried to enter into national law says that the life of a woman is worth less than the life of someone unborn who may not even survive to birth. It says that the acorn is worth more than the oak, at least as long as that oak is female… People do not usually have the option of being both genders, unlike oaks. Decreeing that a fertilized one cell microscopic, dependent life form is worth more than the full woman bearing it and that the woman must bear it despite risks ultimately becomes an approach to Gender Genocide with women and adolescent girls dying, as does blaming a victim for her rape which itself can potentially increase the risk of rape, making the problem all that worse for the females and those who actually love them. Yet, Ryan introduced and supported a federal Bill which would have done exactly that only a few years ago.
The term, Rapepublican Controversy which is increasingly being repeated is ugly, yes, but not as ugly as this threat to the women of our nation is. Nor does it apply solely to the race in Missouri. As long as Romney allows Ryan to remain on his ticket as his VP candidate it also applies to the current Republican candidates for national executive offices. Luckily for Romney it is not too late to have Ryan resign from the ticket and to select a candidate without misogynistic Bills behind her or him. Luckily also for Romney he does not really have to appease the emerging Reactionaries in the United States. After all, who else do they have to vote for who has any chance of being elected? They are already in his bag and if he wants to become a Moderate once again he can do so safely before the Republican National Convention. He could actually select a moderate running mate rather than the current Reactionary who values the acorn more than the oak and who actually thinks that the same policies which created the economic woes that now exist in the industrial world will somehow end them. Will Romney do so? I doubt it. Will there be some women who vote for him, anyway? Well, there are Uncle Toms in real life, too, aren’t there? Will there be enough women and men who want the women and girls, and rape victims in general in our nation to be safer? Will there be enough who think that a woman’s life is not worth less than that of a dependent fetus? I hope so. I have younger relations and friends whose lives might depend upon it.