Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Something Personal This Way Comes

Talk About Mixed Messages!
The national assault on women's bodies by people who don't understand the mechanics of abortion in our culture has begun again. I try not to be political on this BLOG, but on this issue I find it difficult to refrain - after all, for me those factors that lead many women to choose abortion are part of my personal experience. Thankfully, I didn't get pregnant, but I shudder to think what would have happened to me if I did.

The latest salvo in the war is a push to codify rape in the government's approach to health care. Currently, if you are enrolled in Medicare and get raped, Medicare will cover an abortion. So - the anti-abortion warriors are on the quest to change the definition of Rape to Forcible Rape. this would disqualify victims of Date Rape, Coercive Rape and Spousal Rape. 

I wrote the following in response:

When I was 14 I was raped by a trusted boyfriend. I was a virgin, had never had a sex-ed class, I didn't know the mechanics of sex, I didn't understand my own body, let alone a boy's body and I was in love.

I was stupid.

He asked if I wanted to see the church belfry.
I said yes.
When we were up in the belfry, looking over the town, he asked if he could kiss me.
I said yes,(we had after-all kissed before - a lot).
He asked if he could touch my breasts. I said no.
So he kissed me some more and then touched me anyway.
I slapped his hand, he acted contrite.
This went on, with his advances becoming more and more daring.
Any girl who had been educated (as Planned Parenthood currently does for millions) would have seen the danger signs - his lack of respect, his playful insistence, his alternating compliments and curses were all classic abusive behaviors.
I hadn't been educated.
I didn't see the signs.
When I finally got angry and tried to leave, he grabbed me, threw me to the floor, ripped my dress apart and raped me.
If you ask that man today what happened, he will say I was asking for it.
That my mouth said no, but my eyes said yes.
That he could tell I wanted it.
That is, of course, bullshit.
My mouth said no, my eyes said no, my body said no.
Confusion is not yes, it is confusion.
I had never even seen a penis, and to have one used as a club on and in my body was horrifying.

In 1976 in Wyoming, it was not considered rape, what this man did to me.
Going willingly to the belfry sealed my fate.
By agreeing to go with him (so said society of the time) I had also ceded all control over my own body.

We cannot go back to a time like that.
No means no, no matter when it is said.

As for abortion - I am a person (and I believe there are millions just like me) who is both pro-choice and anti-abortion. I was lucky to not get pregnant by a rapist. I was lucky to not have to make that choice. I cannot say what I would have done if I had gotten pregnant. I know I would have wanted the choice. And had I decided to abort, no law would have stopped me. I would have tried a desperate, stupid thing. I was, after all, only fourteen years old.

If we, as a society, truly want to stop abortions, we must stop the causes - we must stop Rape, we must stop teenage stupidity, we must stop the man who threatens to beat his wife if she becomes pregnant, we must stop a church from making the cumulative daily sin of birth control more consequential than the single sin of abortion, we must stop incest, and child molestation and poverty and subjugation of women..

And most of all, we must educate our girls, our daughters, our nieces, our friends. It is your body, and nobody - not your husband, not your boyfriend, not the neighbor, not the priest, not the government has a right to it. And we must educate our boys about responsibility, and sexual pressure, and consent and birth control. To truly stop abortion we don't need to make it illegal, we need to make it unnecessary.

You have control.
Don't be stupid.

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