Prove How Bad It Was

So, by now, you’ve heard of the national efforts to allow funding of abortions only in cases of forcible rape, though “forcible rape” has no legal definition. I want to stress what McEwan says in her post–“The proposed law effectively, if not by design, gives veto control over terminating pregnancies resulting from rape to the rapist.” If you are poor or otherwise without resources to pay for an abortion, this law guarantees that your rapist, by deciding how you’ll be raped, gets to control whether you can have an abortion.

And this is the “moral” side.

Of course, in Tennessee, Blackburn, DesJarlais, Duncan, and Roe have signed on to co-sponsor the bill. I’m sure they’ll be asked by reporters just where they personally draw the line between rape victims not deserving of our sympathy and those who are.  But I want to get beyond that just for a second. You know I’ve been waiting for the ultrasound for abortion bill to be entered. I haven’t seen it yet, but I have little doubt that one’s coming–where women who want abortions will be forced to undergo an ultrasound and have to watch it.

And I’ve been thinking a lot about this because it involves such a level of sadism–that you would force a doctor to sexually assault a woman and force her to watch–that you can see people almost physically deny that that’s what it is, that it’s not that bad, that doctors have to do an ultrasound anyway, that they’re just trying to get a woman all the information she needs, etc. I don’t blame folks. Having to stare the truth, when it’s so ugly, right in the face is hard.

But this, deciding there’s a level at which a woman has been raped enough to entitle her to help with paying for an abortion, is a similar kind of sexualized sadism, in that it requires women to perform our degradation, to testify to our own violation in detail to whomever might require it, in order to receive medical care.

You know how we talked about how recent studies have shown that there really isn’t such a thing as the “accidental” rapist, the guy who thinks a girl is consenting when she isn’t? But how very deliberate rapists use the smoke-screen of the “accidental rapist” to serially rape women? By making all men, men who wouldn’t actually ever rape anyone, afraid of being accused of “rape by misunderstanding,” they have been able to create situations where well-meaning men provide them cover because well-meaning men don’t see that they are also being played?

I think we’ve reached a point where we may need to come to this realization about the abortion debate as well. Most people are having an intense discussion about which they feel strongly. And a small, but apparently influential, group have figured out that they can use people’s anxiety about the abortion issue to get laws passed that appeal to their sadism and allow them to get off by degrading women.

7 thoughts on “Prove How Bad It Was

  1. ~raises hand, begins to sway~

    I am biting back some very awful language for these folks, particularly CongressMAN Blackburn right now. I may not continue to do so, however.

    Since all these bills have to prove they’re constitutional now, pray let’s figure out how this is NOT a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated …

  2. I just got finished reading a romance novel written by a woman where a female character says these three words:

    Please. Don’t. Stop.

    Punctuated just like that. The male character thinks she’s saying “Please don’t stop.” The book leaves it ambiguous for awhile. The couple confronts one another years later and she–the woman–says that it was her not able to make up her mind. That she was begging him to stop but really wanted him to keep going.


    This is the fairy tale? This? I’ve been a folklore student my whole life. My recent fascination with romance novels is to see them as modern folklore. And this means that there is a large part of our folklore that considers rape to be a)romantic and b)kind of our fault for not knowing what we want from a man.

    So if this is our folklore—if the body of our myths has such a large place for the cossetting of rape-as-love–then is it any wonder that our laws are going to think we mean “please don’t stop” when we are clearly saying “Please. Don’t. STOP.”

    I’ll save my thoughts on transvaginal ultrasound for the day when they try to tell me I’ve got to let a person shove a plastic wand up my vagina in order for my choice to be well-informed.

    Well…I will say this. I want every man who signs such a law to have to consent to an anal probe first.

  3. Your point about ultrasound is a good one, but I wonder if many people know what you really mean. I would imagine that the majority (especially men) picture an abdominal ultrasound, performed externally. Anyone who has had a 1st trimester ultrasound knows it involves an internal exam and vaginal penetration with an ultrasound wand covered with a standard condom. In order to visualize the tiny embryo, there is often a good deal of “waggling around” (as a well know TN democrat used to share with audience’s about his wife’s experience). I can’t imagine that too many women, enduring this against their will, will feel an upswelling of good will toward their embryo.

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