Yes Means Yes! No Means No!: Fighting Against the Redefinition of Rape

“However we dress, 

Wherever we go,

Yes means yes,

No means no!!”

–Take Back The Night chant

When I was a Senior at the College at Brockport, I participated in and volunteered for an event called Take Back The Night.  For those who aren’t familiar with Take Back The Night, this historical event took place in Philadelphia in 1975 after a woman was fatally stabbed while walking home from class.  Decades later, Take Back The Night has called for the safety of all women–especially those who were sexually assaulted.

I bring this up because not only is it a cause I care deeply about, but because sexual abuse of any sort leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  So when I read stories about the Republican party attempting to redefine rape as a “method of conception”, the rage that boils within me eats me alive and I fear that I’ll just blackout and end someone’s life.  Take Paul Ryan for instance.  He recently conducted an interview about Representative William Todd Akin, a Missouri Republican Congressman who states that when a woman is raped, her body “shuts down” thus making itself unable to become pregnant.  Oh, here he is:

Douchebag Number 1

I know.  I also said “What the motherfuck??” when I heard about this. But then he initially receives support from Paul Ryan, the human wad of wet tissue paper running as Vice President alongside Mitt Romney.  In case you don’t know who the hell he is, here’s a picture:

Douchebag Number 2 AND he doesn’t blink.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I could care less about the two-party system and the drama that comes with it.  Furthermore, I am NOT the type of Radical Leftist who hate every Conservative that crosses the frequency of my radio when I listen to NPR (though I’m very much a Radical Leftist).  But what infuriates me is that what Ryan and Akin are saying and doing is nothing new or shocking.  Rape is one of the most heinous crimes ever committed against any person–no matter the age or gender.  In regions such as the Congo and Afghanistan, rape is used as a weapon of war or ethnic cleansing method against women and young children.  In the Middle East, young boys are raped by men old enough to be their fathers, but it’s not not called rape but bacha bazi–meaning “pretty boy” in the native language.

Yet rape–and the concept of it–is not even taken seriously.  In every part of the world, the victim is always at fault, no matter the circumstances.  In fact, it is more difficult for a sexual assault victim to receive support from law enforcement, the judicial system, society and, in some cases, their own families than one who has been through any other sort of trauma.  And the governments make it no better when the majority of the Representatives and their supporters rally against laws that would bring justice down on perpetrators.  For instance, the Child Victims Act has been rejected by the New York State government since 2005.  If passed, this law will allow adult survivors of sexual abuse to press charges against their perpetrator five years after the state’s statute of limitations.  This is an important law because it would give survivors the opportunity to seek justice as well as give them a voice.  However, organizations connected to the Jewish and Catholic community successfully rally against this law, stating that those now coming forward should not be allowed to press charges years after the crime.

I have other examples, but you get the point, Readers.  I just want to point out something and then I’ll let you go. This Republican war to redefine rape is not just about the violation of someone’s body.  Rape is about breaking the spirit of the person it’s happening to.  It’s about controlling that person’s entire way of living and how they view themselves as a human being.  In terms of rape being deemed “another method of conception,” that’s basically saying that the child should come into the world at any cost–even if it means that the mother may not want the burden of explaining to that child how he or she came to be.  Or worse, placing that child in the position of being abused because he or she is the constant reminder of what happened.  It’s not fair to either mother or child.

I am writing all of this because this bullshit has to end.  This redefining trauma for the sake of not wanting to deal with it has to end because it won’t help matters.  If anything, it perpetuates the cycle of violence and the only way to break that cycle is to educate ourselves and others.

And to fight.  Always fight.


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