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Lessons from the Hot Tub

I was in Florida for work.  Pulled a muscle in my back getting dressed (yes, you can do that.) Decided to hang out in the hot tub during the pre-dinner break.  It was cloudy, no one was swimming, and I chose the hot tub that was empty.  Relaxing in the heat, water pounding against my back was heavenly.

I was in the area marked “Adults Only,” but when the man with his young daughter appeared and asked if I minded if they joined me, I didn’t mind at all.  The little girl was maybe 3, curly blonde hair, pink bathing suit, pink plastic sandals, still wearing her little inflatable life vest.  She was shivering.

“The pool was too cold for her, ” the dad says as he slides down into the heated whirlpool.  “Here honey,” he says, “Get in, this is warm.”

But she pulls back, shakes her head, “no, no, it’s too hot.”

He shakes his head.  “It’s not too hot, come on, get in.”

I laugh, “Like Goldilocks, that pool’s too cold, this one’s too hot – where’s the ‘just right’ pool?”

Dad continues to urge little Goldilocks into the pool, until she agrees to sit on the side. She dips her feet, still encased in little pink plastic sandals, in the water, then pulls back, “no, too hot.”

“No, it’s not,” Dad insists.  “Just try it.”  He grasps both her ankles in one hand and pulls her feet into the water, holding them there.

From the other side of the hot tub, I’m at eye level with her feet.  I can see her resisting at first, trying to pull away, but he holds firm.  He doesn’t release her ankles until she relents.  Then he lets go.

“See,” he says, “It’s not too hot.”  She doesn’t say anything.  She’s still shivering, even though her feet are in the water.

Goldilocks’ grandfather comes by.  “You should get in there,” he says, all gruff.  “Go ahead, get in!”  She shakes her head.

Grandmother comes to join us.  “It’s too hot for her in here,” she says, looking at me rather than Dad.

I smile, “And she knows that!  That’s why she’s not all the way in.  She already knows it’s too hot.”

Grandmother agrees, “She’s little bitty, she doesn’t have an ounce of fat on her, it’s too hot for her.”

Dad ignores us.

Mom, holding a baby, comes to sit on the edge of the tub.  We chat a bit – where are we from, how long are we staying, and yes, the water is really hot.  Goldilocks is still sitting on the edge of the tub, feet in the water, shivering.

“Are you cold?” says Dad.  Her teeth are chattering, she nods.  “You should get in,” he says, “Want me to put you in?”

She shakes her head, “No.”

“Hot,” she says.

“Come on,” he says, “I’ll just dip you to the waist.”

“No,” she says, softly, but the head shaking is a bit frantic.

“It’s not too hot,” he says, and he begins scooping water in his hand and pouring it over her legs.

Remember, I am at eye-level with her feet and legs.  I watch him pour water on one leg while she pulls it up, trying to move it out of his range.  He switches to the other leg, and she pulls that one out, shaking her head, “No.”

She doesn’t cry. She doesn’t protest loudly, she doesn’t have a tantrum.  She is a good girl, our little Goldilocks.  But she keeps trying to get her legs away from the relentless stream of water that feels too hot to her.

I leave the hot tub.  I can’t stay and watch her Dad – by all other evidence, a kind and loving Dad – I won’t stay and watch him teach her that how her body feels doesn’t matter. That her saying, “no,” is pointless.

In a wildly inappropriate moment, I want to ask his wife, “Is he like that about sex.  Does he try to talk you into it?  Does he keep doing stuff you don’t like while he tells you, yes, you do like it?”

Ok, time to go.  There are three hot tubs in this hotel.  I don’t have to give up my hot tub pleasure, I just move to one that’s empty.  And from that distance, I ponder.

I may be oversensitive.  The election of our racist, misogynistic President has heightened my already acute awareness of how we control female bodies.  That Dad wasn’t “abusive.”  He wasn’t scalding her.  He wasn’t even mean about it.

And he gently and relentlessly showed her that how her body feels doesn’t matter.

It’s not like he was making her take medicine, or get vaccinated.  No health or safety reason to override her need to be comfortable in her body.  He ostensibly wanted her to enjoy herself.

The women around her acknowledged that she was right – that her body was right – they agreed, the water was too hot for her.  But they didn’t offer any help.  They could have brought her a beach towel.  She could have sat on the edge, quite cozy, wrapped in a big fluffy towel.  I don’t think it even occurred to them.

Maybe I’m making too much of it.  But I keep seeing her skinny three year old legs, pink plastic sandals still on her feet, trying to pull away from the water.

And I keep thinking that somewhere in this story is the reason some of those white women voted for Trump.  If you learn that it doesn’t matter what your body wants when you’re three, if you learn not to trust your own best instincts at three years old, when do you learn to trust yourself?  How do you know that it matters?

 

 

Making Sense of the Duggars – Why It’s Not About Josh or His Sisters

I’ve read dozens of articles about Josh Duggar and his family – lots of people with lots to say.  They agree that Josh, starting when he was 14, molested at least 4 or 5 younger children, some of whom were his sisters.  They agree that he “confessed” and his parents responded by sending him for “treatment.” Apparently, the victims forgave him.

Some articles condemn Josh and his family, some defend them, some seem to delight in the fall from grace of this family that was quick to judge others.   Some worry about the victims.  Some condemn other people for judging the Duggars!  None of that is particularly helpful.

But just ignoring it isn’t a helpful response either.  When abuse happens and it’s hidden away, it will, eventually, tumble back out of the closet. When it does, the most effective response is not to shove it back in the closet, or to ignore the skeletons dancing in the living room.

When it became public knowledge that Catholic priests had been molesting children, and we realized the Church hierarchy had been carefully covering it up, we needed to talk about that.  We needed to pull the problem into the light so people could identify ways to stop it.  It was important to determine the factors that had allowed so many people to turn their heads and let it continue.

The problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church went beyond individual priests who abused individual children – it was a systemic problem that supported the abusive priests at the expense of the children.  It was a system that encouraged secrecy and shame, and that had to be exposed before it could be remedied.  (Not to imply that the process is complete.)

The Duggars promoted themselves as an ideal family system, and we need to understand what happened.  Not the details of the abuse, or information about the victims.  And not just wringing our hands and talking about how awful-horrible-terrible it is.  That may be satisfying, but isn’t helpful.

Libby Anne at Love, Joy, and Feminism offers helpful information.   In What Did Josh Duggars Counseling Look Like, she introduces us to the material used in seminars offered by Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute – which is where they sent Josh for counseling.  The whole article is worth reading, but at the heart of it is this outline for “Counseling Sexual Abuse.”

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I work with many adults who’ve been sexually abused as children.  If I wanted them to feel responsible for the abuse, I would start with this outline.  Then, after I’d thoroughly doused them in guilt and self-blame, I could encourage them to seek forgiveness and find redemption in their spiritual growth.  For the victim this is a cruel perversion of the actual process of healing from abuse.   For the perpetrator, it’s an opportunity to blame the victim and feel forgiven without much effort.

This model of understanding sexual abuse explains a lot about why the situation in the Duggar family was handled the way it was.  But ~ but ~ HOW can they think that’s how it works?  For example, their emphasis on modesty as abuse prevention is applied to very young children – even three and four year olds.   How can that be?  It’s as if they’re living in a different reality.

And in a way they are.   Josh Duggar and the Tale of Two Boxes shifted my understanding.  People with progressive sexual ethics and people with conservative sexual ethics don’t share a paradigm for sexuality in general.  Suddenly, lots of confusing difference clicked into place.  Compare the two:

Sex

When you break it down that way, it makes perfect sense.  Consent is not a biblical principal.  Consent can’t be a biblical principle because the Bible is patriarchal, and consent implies equality.  In the Duggar family, for sure, women are not on a par with men.  Women are considered inherently different and naturally submissive to male leadership.  This creates an artificial power differential based on gender.

As a therapist, I know that children who are abused by their parents often blame themselves.  Because they depend on their parents for survival, it’s safer to believe that their parents are good and that the abuse was somehow their fault than to believe that their parent is unfair and cruel.  I can speculate that women in a severely patriarchal household are motivated to consider their male head of household in the same light.  If the family leader appointed by God is not basically good and trustworthy, then where does that leave those who are dependent on him for guidance and direction?

Nope.  It’s much safer to follow blindly with your eyes closed.  Easier to accept logical contortions than to  break away.   And I don’t say that lightly – Libby Anne provides dozens of links to “survivor blogs” – leaving this kind of family is incredibly difficult and painful.

For those of us not bound by such extremes, it’s tempting to believe we are somehow better than the Duggars.  Smarter, maybe.  After all, we know better than that.  It couldn’t happen to us.  But before we settle too deep in that comfortable space, let’s remember that we live in a patriarchal culture too.  It’s easy to see the traps other people are caught in, harder to see when we’re tied up in traps of our own.

The challenge is to move beyond “that’s awful-horrible-terrible” – even when it is.  The goal is not to demonize others and not to be “better than them.”  The goal is a world rooted in equality – regardless of gender, race, class, or ability –  a world where victims’ voices are heard, and oppression is not the norm.    And that movement – that change – has to start inside each of us.

After 50 – Another View

I’ve been pondering on a couple of articles I read lately.  In Aging while female is not your worst nightmare,  Lori Day poignantly describes the impact of ageism – summing it up in these words:

“The wisdom that comes with age has little value to anyone but those possessing it, because wisdom is another word for old, and old is what no one wants to be.”

I remember my mother talking about feeling like she wasn’t heard, at meetings,  interacting with sales clerks, and even in groups of friends.  She was much older than 50 when it happened to her, but she was frustrated and indignant.  Often, it was that thing that happens to all women sometimes – Mom would be in a meeting, she’d suggest something, and no one would say anything.  Five minutes later, someone younger, or male, would suggest it and suddenly everyone thinks it’s a great idea.  It used to drive her crazy.

But at least Mom gave me advance notice.  I knew this was coming someday.  Day, who is 51 or 52, bemoans the fact that no one warned her.

“I’m looking at perhaps three more decades of my life that will be shaped to some degree by not only misogyny, but by the intersection of misogyny and ageism. That’s a whole bunch of years I never gave the slightest thought to when I was younger. No older woman ever demanded that I think about the fact that it would eventually happen to me. No one asked that I care about it, respond to it, and recognize the unfairness of what can sometimes feel like a one-way feminist street.”

She ends the article with a call to action:

“Let’s stick together. Let’s make a conscious effort to stop putting down older women to set oneself apart from them and from an inevitable form of bigotry that cannot presently be escaped.”

Good advice.

Then I read this article.  Women Over 50 are Invisible? I Must Have Missed the Memo.  Erica Jagger challenges the narrative that aging brings a new level of discrimination.  She says:

“I could look at myself and see a middle-aged, cash-strapped, over-worked, and occasionally overwrought single mom. OR I could see a survivor who shed her Stepford Wife shell and now isn’t letting anyone dictate how she should live, who she should date, or what kind of sex she should have.”

She attributes her sense of well-being, despite being 52, to her attitude.

“Shrugging off society’s death knell to mature women takes audacity, something every 50-plus woman needs if she doesn’t want to go gently into that good night. Feeling invisible stems less from one’s appearance, and more from the value we put on other people’s often shallow judgments of middle-aged women. I think it’s my refusal to listen to the messages telling me I’ve passed my expiration date, and my determination to create a brilliant second act, that makes me seem younger than my years.”

So I’ve been pondering these articles and my own experience, thinking about the women I know, and trying to figure out where I stand.  I think…

Fifty is not actually old.  It may be the beginning of the crone stage of life, but just barely.  At 50, I began to celebrate life.  I realized that I really could do anything I wanted, without seeking anyone’s approval or permission.  I took risks and made life changing decisions.

In my 50’s, I grew into myself.  If something didn’t work out, I quit doing it and tried something different.  I spoke up and spoke out (not that I was exactly shy and inhibited before) and I expanded my world.

But I also remember being 35 and in graduate school.   In the middle of class, some older woman would raise her hand and I would roll my eyes, thinking, ‘Here we go again,” as she started a long and slightly off-topic tale of her experiences.    I felt bad for doing it.  I did.  But sheesh.  This woman (and there was more than one of her) had a story for every single situation, you know?   Being old doesn’t automatically confer wisdom or make all your words golden and not every occasion has to be a sharing opportunity.

I’m almost 60.  Well, just turned 59 – same thing.  My life is super good – I have a career I love, with enough variety to keep me happy.   I live with my partner, who I love.  He’s fun and interesting, and we’re comfortable with each other.   We have enough money to cover all our needs and many of our wants.   I have delightful friends, who I enjoy; activities that keep me busy and are rewarding.  I have amazing grandchildren, and even though one of my daughters lives very far away, we’re still close, and thank goodness, we live in the age of Skype and air travel.

I would not trade any part of my life for a chance to be younger.  It took me 59 years to get here, and I have no desire to go back to being 40 or 30 or 20 – and, absolutely-no-way-in-hell, not a teenager.

So I’m not young.  I’m a crone, and proud of it, but just beginning to come to terms with it.  I don’t quite know what it means yet, or how I will grow into it.

Some thoughts I consider:

1.  It’s ok to need help.  (I know, of course it is.  Particularly if it’s you that needs help, and not me – it’s totally ok for you.)

2.  Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I have to.

3.  It’s ok for other people to figure things out for themselves.  Even if I already “know” the answer.

4.  Sometimes, my right answer is not actually the right answer.

5.  No matter how wise I am, not everyone is obliged to listen to me or agree with me.  It’s up to me to say the things I think need to be said.  I don’t have to make anyone hear me.

6.  It’s ok if someone explains something to me that I already know.  Even if I learned it the hard way, before they were born.   It’s ok to just agree with them.  I don’t always “already know,” and they can’t read my mind.

8.  I am headed toward death.  Seriously.  People my age die all the time and only old people say, “But they were so young!”  If I get to die without a long layover in dementia, I’ll consider myself lucky.

I’ve noticed that as we age, often, we simplify.  We move to smaller places, strip our homes of everything except the most necessary or treasured belongings.

Maybe we strip our egos too, gradually scale down from strong active leader to wise consultant.  From star to supporting character.  Maybe our voices need to become softer so that other people can find their own voices, so they’ll be ready to carry on without us.

I’m not there yet – let me be clear – I’m not stepping aside right now.  Life still has plenty of challenges and surprises for me.  But I am letting go of some things, and feeling ok about it.  Working on figuring out how the “growing old” thing works.

I can almost envision a time of being truly retired.  Maybe not til I’m 80, but someday.  I’ll take a leisurely walk on the beach every morning, read for sheer pleasure, and enjoy all the small moments.   I won’t have a long to-do list to put off doing.  If anyone wants my advice, they’ll have to email me, or call, or come visit.  They’ll have to ask me what I think.

I’ll spend time with loved ones, family and friends.  Maybe I’ll write, or volunteer to read at a nursing home or kindergarten.   I’ll have little projects that will enrich my life without any effort to change the world – and do it content in the knowledge that y’all young people are out there working hard at all the things that matter.

That doesn’t sound so bad.

 

What I Was Trying to Say about Rape and Blame and Teachers and Teens

I got into a discussion that became an argument yesterday, on Facebook.  I know, I know, that’s a bit ridiculous in itself.    A Facebook argument with people I don’t really know, who don’t know me and don’t have any context for the things I say, is probably not all that productive.   But I began clarifying my thoughts, and that led me to this post today, so maybe it was helpful

It started with this article by Betsy Karasik entitled “The unintended consequences of laws addressing sex between teachers and students.”   But the more popular reference to it was “Sex between students and teachers should not be a crime.”

Background.  Earlier in the week, a judge had released the teacher who raped a 14 year old girl.  The girl killed herself, the rapist served 30 days in jail.  Even when he violated the requirements of the treatment program he was attending, the rapist was not held accountable.   The judge’s comments blamed the victim and revealed a total lack of understanding of how rapists function.    There was a huge outcry against the judge, and, as I write this, it seems possible that both the rapist and the judge may experience some strong consequences.

Then comes Betsy Karasik’s article, suggesting that maybe we shouldn’t criminalize rape when it’s an adolescent and a teacher, that maybe teenage girls aren’t completely victims, that maybe men can’t really help themselves and we’re being unrealistic to expect them to.

Let me be perfectly clear.  I do not agree with her.  Do NOT agree.  Do NOT AGREE.  DO NOT AGREE with her.

Background.  I’m a therapist – mental health – and I work primarily with people who have experienced abuse, particularly sexual abuse.    One in four, or maybe one in three, women experience some kind of sexual assault or molestation.  One in six men.  That’s not always the issue my clients come to therapy to address, and it’s not always *the problem,* but it’s often part of the story.

So I’ve spent a lot of time listening to people talk about their experience of abuse.  What happened, what they thought at the time, what they think now, and how they feel.  I’ve got extensive training in a number of approaches to working with trauma, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Processing Therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy.   I can talk all day about trauma and survivors and healing and moving to thriving ~ and will if you get me started.  But I’m going to try to really stay on track here, which means I’m leaving out a lot more than I’m saying.

I believe that when people are abused, two things that happen that contribute greatly to long-term emotional suffering afterwards.   First, we don’t experience our feelings when the trauma is happening.  We’re focused on surviving.  It’s not safe to feel our feelings, we just need to get through the trauma.  And that’s protective.  Numbing out or dissociating protects us from feeling the full impact of what’s happening.

That’s really helpful at the time, and helps us survive.  But.  It creates a whole new set of problems if we’re not able to reclaim the feelings and process them later – and really, who wants to do that??

The second thing that happens, typically, is that the victim ends up feeling like it was their own fault the trauma or abuse happened.   Perpetrators of sexual abuse ~ and our culture in general ~ have a real talent for victim blaming in a way that often completely convinces the victim.   From “I shouldn’t have gone to Walmart at night” to “I should have known better than to go with him,” to “But I wanted it ~ it’s totally my fault ~ I actually started flirting with him!” the victim is convinced something they did caused the abuse.

I don’t believe the victim is ever responsible for getting raped.   People get raped because they cross paths with a rapist at a time when they’re vulnerable.   It is always the rapist’s fault.

But believing that we had some control over the situation sometimes helps people believe that we can keep it from happening again.  It feels protective.  The desire to believe we can keep ourselves safe is really at the heart of lots of victim blaming.

So ~  when I first start working with a client,  often, they’ll say, “Here’s what happened.  I know it wasn’t my fault.”  Then they tell me 35 other things that suggest they’re living their life like they totally think it was their fault.

And at some point, they say, “I know in my head that it wasn’t my fault ~ and that’s what everyone tells me ~ so I don’t know why I still feel like it’s my fault.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

That’s a powerful moment.  The confession “I still feel like it’s my fault” carries a load of shame.

Carl Jung says, “Shame is a soul eating emotion.”  Brené Brown says,  “Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”

If I try to convince my client that it wasn’t their fault, that they shouldn’t feel like it was, I am adding to the shame they already carry.  I’m dis-validating their feelings, telling them they’re wrong to feel the way they feel ~ which is part of what helps create the shame in the first place.

It’s more helpful to point out that of course they feel that way, it makes perfect sense, and then begin to look at how that works.

So that’s what I heard when I read Betsy Krasik’s article.  I heard the same thing my clients often say ~ particularly ones who were teenagers when the abuse happened.  “Men can’t control themselves,” “I was mature for my age,” and “I wanted it.  I asked for it.”

I have no idea if Betsy Krasik was speaking from her own experience or other people’s  ~ and I don’t think it matters.   She’s not my client, and I’m not particularly concerned about changing her mind.  But.

It seems like people are responding to Ms. Karasik the same way they dd to the judge who made the victim-blaming comments and the poor decision in sentencing.  As if she should never have voiced the opinion, as if just saying her thoughts out loud was wrong.

Ms. Karasik got the “Asshole of the Day,” award.  Someone said she had “just given a free pass to pedophiles,” as if her article would allow pedophiles to feel justified.    Just for the record, pedophiles don’t need a free pass ~ they act based on their own motivations and already feel justified.

But I think our response to Ms. Karasik adds another layer of shame for people who have those thoughts.  She isn’t a judge; she isn’t making decisions that affect sexual offenders.  She said something that lots of people secretly believe.  If we yell at her and act like she’s awful for saying those things, we pass that shame on to people who have the same questions, carry the same doubt.

We need to refute what Ms. Karasik says.  We need to explain why she’s wrong.  But  we don’t need to act like she’s wrong for saying it.  Lots of people won’t speak up because they *know* it’s *wrong* to feel that way.  But if we can’t talk about it, how do we process those thoughts?  How do we find “the facts of the matter”?

I think Ms. Krasik did us a service by speaking her mind.  She opens the door to having a real conversation about it with people who secretly think she’s right.  I don’t want to vilify her and shame her for speaking up.  I want to thank her for putting her ideas out there. That’s what I was trying to say on Facebook yesterday.

“If we are going to find our way out of shame and back to each other, vulnerability is the path and courage is the light. To set down those lists of *what we’re supposed to be* is brave. To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.”
― Brené Brown

Contrasting Articles on Women

On facebook today,  i saw two articles, both posted by people at UniteWomen.orgKY, but so different in perspective that i had to look twice to make sure they really posted both of them.

The first one ~ How Not to Get Raped ~ is based on interviews with rapists about what they look for in a victim.   It ostensibly gives us ideas on how to avoid being raped.  It says things like:

1) The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun, braid or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed . They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets.
2) The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women who’s clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors around specifically to cut clothing.
3) They also look for women on their cell phone, searching through their purse or doing other activities while walking because they are off guard and can be easily overpowered.

The second article ~A Message to Girls ABout Religious Men Who Fear You ~ is a recognition of the ways many cultures, and particularly patriarchal religious systems, seek to control women.  It says things like:

 they single-mindedly focus their attention on you, your body, your clothes, your hair, your abilities, your physical freedom. When their “manners” and “morals” are not universally applicable, but different for boys and girls, you can be sure that this is why. They seek to teach you, subtly, through small slights and gendered expectations, that you are “different,” weak, unworthy, incapable. The sadness is that, in their perception, if you are none of these things, then they are not strong, worthy and capable. This is not an excuse, but an explanation. It’s why they find infinite “benevolent” ways to undermine and disparage you, all in the name of “God’s word.” When that fails, they resort to violence. All over the world, their anxiety is manifest in a spectrum of actions ranging from mild paternalism, respectful of “proper boundaries,” to deadly enforcement of their rules.

The first article is an excellent example of what the second article is talking about.

I had to laugh at some of the things in the first article.  For example, if rapists go for women who are wearing clothes that are easy to remove {and what does that look like?} then why would they carry scissors for that purpose?

Oh, wait -I get it.  Light clothing would be easier to cut through.  Heavy clothing that covers your whole body might be more difficult.  And layers of clothes would be really good.  I bet if I wore enough layers, and covered myself thoroughly enough, they couldn’t even cut through it all.

Ok, not laughing any more.

Further on in the article, they give a lot of suggestions about being on guard and ready to attack if necessary at all times. I picture myself carrying an umbrella (an actual suggestion) and any time a man walks towards me in a public parking lot, I wield the umbrella like a sword and scream, “Get back, you crazy rapist!!!”

I imagine that most of us recognize the problems inherent in women trying to prevent our own rapes.  Rape happens because we cross paths with a rapist at a time that we’re vulnerable in some way.  That vulnerablity might be age ~ children are particularly vulnerable ~ or place, or lack of sobriety, or all kinds of things.  But the rape happens because we cross paths with a rapist.

You’ve probably seen the lists of advice for men on how to avoid rape.  There are many of them, but I think this blog post ~ 5 Rape Prevention Tips (for guys) ~ is my favorite at the moment.

Also, there are organizations like Mens Work  that help men recognize ways to end violence against women.  This isn’t a men vs women issue.  It’s women and men who support us vs men and women supporting patriarchal cultures that try to control women through intimidation and shame.

Anyhow. I saw the two articles this morning on the same website, and had to say something.  Now I feel better.

{In case my short links don’t work, here’s the sources for the other blogs and the stumbleupon that I reference.}

How Not to Get Raped:

https://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2vEKx0/www.joyfulinspirations.com/rape_deter.htm

Message to Girls about Religious Men Who Fear You

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/message-to-girls-about-re_b_1518849.html#s327348&title=Dr_Ingrid_Mattson

5 Rape Prevention Tips (for guys)

http://community.feministing.com/2011/12/18/5-rape-prevention-tips-for-guys/

Mens Work

http://mensworkinc.com/

Audre Lorde and Women in 2012

I’ve been reading quotes from Audre Lordes. writer, poet, and activist.  She says:

“Unless one lives and loves in the trenches, it is difficult to remember that the war against dehumanization is ceaseless.”
― Audre Lorde

I spend time escorting at the abortion clinic.  I see new laws introduced daily seeking to control and limit women’s reproductive health options  The anti-abortion and anti-contraception movement makes me acutely aware of the dehumanizing of women that is happening.

I feel overwhelmed with it.

~ One politician suggests that for married couples, abstinence is the best form of contraception.

~  Another one quotes the old, and always stupid, joke about contraception being “an aspirin she puts between her knees.

~ Someone I know, who I would have expected to be open-minded and sensitive to women’s need for choice, commented in an on-line discussion that he “didn’t care if women got abortions, but they should pay for their own ‘abortifacients.’ After all,” he said, “I have to pay for my own liquor and nicotine.”

So sex is for procreation, women are the gatekeepers, and if we get knocked up, we need to pay the price.  Got it.

It amazes me to know there are people who would read that and say “Yes.  That’s exactly how it is.”

I’m just waiting for someone to add the old cliche against pre-marital sex:  “And you know, why would  they buy a cow when they can get the milk free!”

All that is painful.  Worries me.  Makes me angry.  But the “transvaginal ultrasound bill” breaks my heart.

The bill requires a woman seeking abortion to have an ultrasound.  No news there.  But if the embryo is too small to be clearly seen on a regular ultrasound, {which is the case with most women seeking abortion} it would require a transvaginal ultrasound.

That means the doctor will stick a rod up the women’s vagina and shove it around to get the clearest possible image of the fetus.

Not because of any medical necessity.

Not even because research shows that it convinces women to change their minds ~ it doesn’t.

The Christian Taliban thinks it is a way to discourage women from seeking abortions.

Let’s be clear.  Back in the day when abortion was illegal, women who could afford it went to other countries for their abortion.  Women got abortions from back-alley doctors.  Women stuck coat hangers up their own vaginas trying to end a pregnancy.  A transvaginal ultrasound will increase her misery, but it won’t deter women who need an abortion.

As a medical procedure, tranvaginal rape is unpleasant and uncomfortable.  I had one a few years ago, checking for ovarian cancer.  I didn’t like it, but I agreed to it for the sake of my health.

As a mandated experience for no medical reason, it is a form of rape.   A foreign object inserted into your vagina and moved around without your full consent to it IS rape.

Yes, the women will have “consented”  because they want an abortion and the law requires it.  But “consent” mean agreeing of your own free will, not under coercion.

Rape.  Legal rape, mandated to medical professionals.

Have we lost our minds?    I don’t understand.  Where is the AMA??  Where are the doctors against politicians mandating medical procedures?  Where are the nurses, the technicians who will have to assist at these procedures?

If you have links to those articles ~ the ones where those folks speak out, please let me know.  ‘Cause I haven’t seen them.

I am beginning to see articles by women who are realizing that this is a war against us.  And that gives me hope.

Audre Lorde reminds us:

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
― Audre Lorde

She testifies:

“My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.”
― Audre LordeThe Cancer Journals

And she calls us:

“Tell them about how you’re never really a whole person if you remain silent, because there’s always that one little piece inside you that wants to be spoken out, and if you keep ignoring it, it gets madder and madder and hotter and hotter, and if you don’t speak it out one day it will just up and punch you in the mouth from the inside.”
― Audre Lorde