Can we Stop Saying Horrible Things about Rape?

This election year has been filled with white, male Republicans falling all over themselves to say dumb things about rape.  They talk about legitimate rape, the rape thing, forcible rape and they even imply that rape is god’s will.  Every time you think they have gotten the “shut up about rape” message, one of them trips up and thinks they finally have a way to talk about pregnancy resulting from rape without sounding like a dick.

But here’s the thing – isn’t this all just a distraction?

The conversation about safe, legal abortion in this country has shifted from “you don’t get to tell a woman what she can do with her body” to “well, sometimes you can, but what about when she is the victim of sexual violence?  Surely you don’t mean then?”

This results in old white guys stumbling all over themselves and looking like misogynistic jerks, which is bad for them but I think it is also bad for the abortion debate.

We’re still stuck on rape and incest as an excuse for keeping abortion legal.

They are hot button issues and they certainly get people to say stupid things.

But the idea behind making sure abortion is safe and legal goes far beyond making sure rape victims don’t have to have their rapists’  baby if they would prefer to avoid doing so.  It is the simple idea that a woman should have the same rights to make decisions about her body as a man.

When we talk about the concept of killing a child (and I know that is what the opponents of abortion believe is taking place), we are essentially suggesting that the moment a child is conceived, a woman forfeits the right to make any decisions about her health.

While there are two lives directly affected by a pregnancy, the only life that is relevant is the life of the child.  No matter what.

If you are a man and you are reading this, think about that.  There will never be a time in your life when you don’t have complete control over your body.  If you have a heart condition and you want to go on eating red meat until you keel over at Ponderosa, you can do that.

Folks might think you are stupid, but they won’t ever suggest that you don’t have the right to make that decision.

If, however, you are a woman and you become pregnant – by choice, force or accident – you effectively forfeit your right to your own body for nine months.  You are little more than a vessel for carrying a child and the rights of that child supersede any rights you may have.

Rape and incest aside, how is it possible that in a country that values freedom above everything else, we don’t seem to want women to be free to make their own choices?

Aside from a small population of Trans-Gender women, how many ladies out there chose to have a uterus?  This is an unscientific poll but I’m going to just toss out a ballpark estimate of zero.

Yet the end result of having that uterus is everyone in the country talking about what you should do with it.  Heck, even as I’m saying that you should be able to have complete control over your uterus, I’m still just another person talking about your uterus.

As a guy, nobody is talking about what I should do with my testicles.  There is not a national debate over when I should or should not have control over my reproductive organs.  I get to coast through life doing whatever I damn well like with them.

The debate over abortion can’t just get hung up on conception through rape because the thing is, no matter how that fetus got in there, it is still the one factor that people think should decide whether or not a woman has the right to make decisions about her own body.

Those who are against the morning after pill want to take it a step further. They want to take it as far as suggesting if a woman might be pregnant, she shouldn’t have control over her body any longer.  The moment she allows (or is forced to allow) sperm into her body, she can make no medical decision until it has been determined whether or not she is pregnant.

What is the next step? Nobody advocates we force women to stop smoking or give up drinking when they are pregnant. We know those things are harmful to the fetus but we aren’t about to make them illegal. Or are we?

Are we going to start throwing young women who get dangerous back alley abortions in jail because they committed murder?  I suppose they would only be an accomplice…

The debate around abortion revolves around this central question: Are women more than just vessels for the next generation?

Few abortion opponents will argue that women are but they will argue that once a woman might be pregnant, she should have no option available to her but carrying that baby to term.  For the next nine months, the state dictates the most important decision she will ever have.  Once she has the baby, she can have her body back.  She can even keep the baby if she would like to.

When I was younger, I wished I could be a girl for a little while just so I could know what it was like.

Right now, it seems to me that it is a lot like a bunch of people arguing over what you can or cannot do with your body without any of them looking at you and saying “well, what do you think?”

As a guy, that is something that will never happen to me.

Note: I know that opposition to abortion is heavily based on the concept that we are killing children every time a woman has an abortion.  That is an emotional argument and any abortion opponent who has read this far thinks that I’m advocating killing babies.  I’m not because I don’t believe that is what is taking place.  Even if I did, though, I think that the central issue here is that we immediately assume a fetus has more rights than the woman carrying it.

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About Petsnakereggie

Geek, movie buff, dad, musician, comedian, atheist, liberal and writer. I also really like Taco flavored Doritos.

8 responses to “Can we Stop Saying Horrible Things about Rape?”

  1. Shawn says :

    toward a moratorium on the cartoon version of American politics:

  2. Bridget says :

    THANK YOU! This is a point that is getting lost, as you say, and I feel that pro-choice folks are allowing ourselves to be backed into a corner on this. Not a good idea, no matter who wins next week. Thank you for bringing it up and explaining it so clearly.

  3. Barg says :

    The conservatives are really good at controlling the tone of our national dialogs. And you are right, the debate has shifted from one about the inherent risks of unregulated (or unrealistically prohibited) abortions to being about defining when one might be appropriate. It’s a point I hadn’t seen until now and I’m glad your post brought it to mind.

    What concerns me more than the abortion debate itself is the collateral damage being done to general sexual health education. It’s not even a ‘pro-life’ stance anymore, with talking points that I could at least understand, now it’s just complete unrestrained theology by a group that is fundamentally afraid of sexuality.

    • Petsnakereggie says :

      Yeah, the conversation around sex education is a whole different rant that is just as important.

      I’m concerned that if we keep talking about abortion in the cases of rape, incest or life of the mother, we have conceded too much to the anti abortion side of the debate. In a sense, we are accepting defeat on the larger issue by focusing on the smaller issue that we feel we can “win.”

      I don’t want to downplay the importance of rape victims having access to abortion. They are not the only women who need access to that choice, however, and the debate has been framed in a way that is beginning to shut them out.

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