SACRIFICING WOMEN, CHILDREN, AND RAPE, By Louise Annarino,October 25,2012

26 Oct

Sacrificing Women,Children and Rape,By Louise Annarino,October 25, 2012

The chart below by Brainwrap ,published today at Daily Kos illustrates how the GOP reframes the violence against women we call rape as simply another method of conception rather than criminal behavior. If rape is discussed as a method of conception rather than criminal violence it allows Republicans, Roman Catholic bishops, and others to exclude its consideration as a reason to allow an abortion exception for rape victims. After all, why should we allow abortion for any mere act of conception? Once we describe the question as one 0f conception only we can forget

about the need to protect women and to keep them safe. Thus, we are free to  criminalize abortion, even in the case of rape. Consequently, the  only person in need of our protection is the fetus; not the mother.

This is not new; nor is it necessarily partisan politics. Too often and for too long, we have allowed men to define rape as a sexual act, rather than a violent criminal act. Susan Brownmiller wrote of this   dismissive rhetorical formula in her book AGAINST OUR WILL: Men, Women And Rape, 1975 ,she wrote “Rape is a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.” I would add that rape is also used against children. Wrongly defining it affects children as well as women.

Rape is not a sexual act. Rape is not a method of conception. Rape is an act of violence meant to intimidate, control, and weaken women and chldren. It is an act of domination and control by violent attack. It is often, though not always, perpetrated against women. Men can also be raped. Rape is a crime committed by an individual, or by a group of individuals (gang rape) which is not uncommon, nor rare.

Recently, we have learned that children are often victims of rape by priests, clergy, Scout leaders etc. Unfortunately, those who knew of these rapes perceived and reacted as if the incidents were sexual acts rather than violent criminal acts which should have been immediately reported to the police for criminal prosecution. Instead the rapist priest or troop leaders were re-assigned as if the behavior could be stopped by removing the rapist from the temptations of his sexual partners. Rape is never a sexual act. It is an abuse of power meant to dominate and control another human being. It destroys human beings. It is violent. It is terrifying.It is soul destroying. I live with its memory every day, and dream it every night.

The position of the Republican party is that a woman who is the victim of a criminal rape should be forced to give birth.Vice President Paul Ryan and at least 12 of 28 Republican Senate nominees, including Republican Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel running against Democratic Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown take this position. Paul Ryan redefines rape and dismisses it is an act of criminal violence when he articulates this position,”I’ve always adopted the idea, the position that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.” But defining rape by criminalizing abortion this way vaccinates the horror of rape and re-injures its victims by denying the reality of their experience. It demeans  the victim and dismisses the crime. Ignoring the victim of a crime, re-victimizes the woman or child who has been raped.

During the past weeks as I heard the comments listed in the above chart, I found it difficult to sleep,eat,laugh and feel safe. I felt re-injured. I felt terror lurking beneath my skin, ready to bring me down. By calling rape “another method of conception” my experience with violent sexual assault was transformed into an innocuous,even harmless, sexual encounter. In effect, we are being told, “We see no reason why you should ask to be protected or kept safe from a mere method of conception. Asking us to do so, asking us to ALLOW you any CONTROL over your own safety, security or life itself will soon be a criminal offense, because we intend to make abortions,even in the case of rape, illegal. Women who are victims of the violent crime of rape are being told that we are the real criminals.

Why do Republicans need to define rape this way? To connect rape to contraception via  an act conception. Thus, they can justify access to birth control, allow employers to refuse to offer contraceptives coverage in insurance plans, to justify Catholic hospitals and clinics refusal to allow insurance company policies for their employees to cover contraception. Rape is yet again being used to dominate and control women, to intimidate us and bring us in line by redefining it as a method of conception. We feel re-injured by the Republican positions because we are being re-injured! These men declared their power over women and children in a new way; by refusing to allow us even the right to define our victimization as violent crimes. Any woman or parent of children should think long and hard before voting for ANY candidate who calls rape a method of conception.

The chart above paints a rosy picture of what Republicans intend for women and children. It seems to describe the types of rape. However, it is far worse. more insidious, and far more dangerous to our safety  because it does not merely define the type of rape; it removes the core, elemental use of violence which is at the heart of rape; instead defining it as an act for sexual pleasure or conception, not an act to dominate, threaten and control. Rape cannot be a crime if it just another method of conception, as defined by Paul Ryan, Josh Mandel, and the Republican platform. Women and children will lose their right to be safe, maybe even their lives, to protect a fetus and to insure continued male domination.

President Obama’s comments on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno explain why he deserves our support, “I don’t know how these guys come up with these ideas. Let me make a very simple proposition: rape is rape. It is a crime.This is exactly why you don’t want a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women’s healthcare.”

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