Rape in the news
Lately rape has been in the news as our new Republican congress has moved to cut funding for abortions even in cases of rape or incest. Ever the humanitarians, however, they did offer an exception; they would fund an abortion in cases of “forcible rape”. At last report that provision has been removed – I guess they’ll just keep hammering the left side of the Overton window until they can move it where they want it.
So I’ve been pondering the issue of redefining rape, and following it on Twitter under the hash tag #DearJohn, which refers to our Speaker John Boehner, that well-tanned soulless simulacrum of a human being as he supported the effort. I couldn’t help wondering what life was like at his college fraternity. But it’s been an interesting week and I just couldn’t get my thoughts together on the thing. Fortunately three of my favorite bloggers certainly have and I commend their reflections to you:
I find myself pausing to consider: Am I a rape apologist because I didn’t have a problem with the PA comic? I consider rape to be vile and repulsive. An act I have trouble fathoming how someone could commit on another human being. I believe rapists should be treated as the predators they are and punished accordingly. I have similar beliefs and feelings in regards to torture, murder, and any of a number of other heinous acts. Does the fact that I sometimes find amusement in jokes about torture or murder make me an apologist for those terrible crimes? If I am to accept the reasoning of Mellisa then it must be so.
So what, then, should I think of this bit by The Daily Show on the Republican attempt to redefine rape to eliminate taxpayer funded abortions…
I’ve become more sensitive to this over the last few years, not through any personal experience but just because it was pointed out enough times that the above literary usage of prison rape, particularly for laughs, is not only callous, but actually counter-productive to solving what is a very real problem. Just as the problem of other types of rape are hindered by a “rape culture” that accepts that rape happens, it’s not so bad, it’s a joke punchline, “lie back and think of England,” “well, you know she probably enjoyed it a bit, too” kind of crap, so too the media acceptance of prison rape as humorous and/or karmic justice is, itself, perpetuating the problem.
I cannot begin to describe how angry these fucktards make me. They won’t understand, anyway. Men can get raped, true – but they can never be impregnated by their attacker. They don’t have to face that particular hell. And the chances of them being raped in the first place is so vanishingly small that they can’t imagine the fear and the trauma women live with.
I would like to explain it to them. I’d like to sit down in a room with all 173 co-sponsors and describe to them in minute detail everything that happened the morning I woke to a rapist at my door. You know, it’s been nearly twenty years, and I still get sick to my stomach, my hands still sweat and shake, thinking about it. And I’m one of the lucky ones.
My only contribution to these thoughtful (and in places heart-wrenching) expositions is this: Boehner and the Republicans are not the real problem; a voting majority elected them. They are the highly visible business end of an anti-human culture that says, in effect, that mercy is a weakness and ignorance is strength. And I’m not quoting Orwell or anything here; they have the Truth, and they don’t know and they don’t want to know anything else. They’re not interested in walking a mile in anyone’s shoes but their own because empathy, that civilization-building accomplishment of brain evolution, is what they specifically want to starve out from all public life. Never mind that it is the sinew that connects community and progress, that it makes us stronger than we could ever hope to be individually. Never mind that, in the end, that to scorn human weakness while insisting on personal privilege is a fair thumbnail sketch of oppression. Where it leads depends on how far we’re willing to let it go.