Women in North America have plenty to be concerned about. In Canada, where I reside and thank the stars every night for that good fortune, a motion to create a parliamentary committee is to be debated this fall. This committee would “reexamine” the “evidence” of when life begins. It would be a hand picked committee of elected members of parliament, not medical experts, trying to redefine when life begins. The members who brought it forward, and members who have openly support M312 have taken public anti-choice stances and have challenged Canada’s abortion legality.
Our sisters in the states are facing darker times then we, sadly. They have been under attack for decades. Not only is abortion illegal in many states, but in those states where it is legal it is increasingly difficult to access. Now, a Senator hopeful running in Missouri has outed the pro-life extremist faction of the GOP and has caused the GOP to demand he step away from the race – more to quiet the fact that he is not alone in his views. He said, with much certainty, that there is “legitimate rape” and other kinds of rape and women don’t often get pregnant from “legitimate rape” spawning numerous parodies of his insinuation that the uterus is magic and only accepts embryos made of love.
Unfortunately, he is not alone and there are many politicians and would be politicians who prey on fear, loneliness and extremism to parlay their misogynistic and hateful opinions. Just today the GOP platform committee approved an anti-choice party platform with rather strict and inflexible language regarding abortion. To parse apart what is rape and what isn’t quite frankly blames the victim.
In a powerful and vulnerable open letter to Akin, Eve Ensler describes her experience with rape and the effects it has. She puts into words what millions of women have experienced. Rape, violence, violation and then to be treated as a monster afterwards. Dissected and examined to ensure she is telling the truth.
The truth is that we still live in society that doesn’t value women equally. Many people do within this society. Most men, I would say, love and respect women. Most men wouldn’t think twice about believing if their daughter/mother/wife was raped. However, society still does not. Our elected members, most of whom are men, still believe they should make choices about women’s bodies, in the best interest of women – who clearly could not possibly have the wherewithal to make choices on their own behalf.
The underlying assumption of your statement is that women and their experiences are not to be trusted. That their understanding of rape must be qualified by some higher, wiser authority. It delegitimizes and undermines and belittles the horror, invasion, desecration they experienced. It makes them feel as alone and powerless as they did at the moment of rape.
– Eve Ensler
If I sound angry, it is because I am. I am very angry. I am angry that the fight my grandmother and mother faced is the same fight I am facing. I am angry that our legal system – in Canada and the US – still puts the blame on rape victims. Makes them prove that they were violated in the most horrific of fashion. That rape as a tactic of war is all too widespread.
This is not a singular event, this was a person who has said this same thing over and over again to receptive audiences. The mistake he made, and the mistake the GOP is punishing him for, is that he said it in a public space where his ignorance and misogyny was caught on tape during an election year. He outed a strong faction of the GOP that doesn’t believe women should have the rights over their own body, medically or otherwise.
In Canada, it is different. Thankfully. M312 was a nod, yes, but it was a quiet one. It was a wink in the direction of those the CPC is continuing to court. However, Harper can busy the PMO by convincing MPs to vote against, but it isn’t on moral high ground or a deep belief that women are perfectly capable of understanding their own bodies. It is because Harper fears what the GOP fears. An election fought on the issue of abortion rights. A fight he will lose. The GOP doesn’t want this to become about women’s rights. Their record hardly supports claims that they are progressive when it comes to women’s rights. The Harper record is not much better. At the end of the day low paying minimum wage job creation hurts women disproportionately. So does the nonsense women have to endure when political representation is discussed, or rather denied.
Sometimes anger is good. Sometimes it is needed. In solidarity with our sisters in the south and around the world, I cannot sit by while this debate rages on. When are we done discussing what is rape and what isn’t? When will be done denying necessary access to medical services to certain populations?
Join a women’s group. Support a feminist representative. Support these Senators in fighting back . Support MPs and political parties that have comprehensive medical platforms that support a women’s right to choose. Support Ensler when she says, “And by the way you’ve just given millions of women a very good reason to make sure you never get elected again, and an insanely good reason to rise.”