I'm going to talk about some of those things. I have been privileged to know some incredible women in my life, & I'm going to share their stories. I will change their names to keep their confidence, but their stories matter. They are important in today's anti-woman political climate. I will do my best to tell the stories matter-of-fact-ly.
*As I know some of my readers know me & my acquaintances fairly well...I ask that even if you think you may recognize someone or their story here, you just leave it here, please. It's their business to talk about or not as they feel comfortable.
Nina was pregnant. During a routine ultrasound, it was discovered that the pregnancy was ectopic. She was married with 3 children. The hospital where her doctor had privileges was a Catholic hospital (& the nearest one to where they lived) & they refused to terminate her pregnancy even though it is well known that the baby cannot grow to term & can endanger Nina's own life, possibly leaving her husband a widower with 3 children to raise without her. They ended up driving to another hospital where her life & fertility were preserved & she had another baby in a few years.
Amy was a college student. She & her roommate went to the roommate's boyfriend's apartment for an evening to hang out & play drinking games. (I will not hear any judgments on the drinking. College kids do that with some frequency. It is normal.) Amy had a little more than she intended & passed out. She woke up sometime during the night because one of the boyfriend's roommates decided to help himself to the pretty girl passed out on the sofa. She woke up to his hands on her breasts beneath her shirt. She was able to tell him no loudly & forcibly enough that he backed away for fear of her waking others in the house, a clear sign that he knew what he was doing was wrong. Both girls had thought it would be a safe place & had intended to stay overnight. Amy said she tried to stay awake the rest of the night, but she was so sleepy that she thought walking home alone in the early morning hours & sleeping there was the best thing to do.
Claire told me that when she was a little girl, her brother sexually abused her. She was 5 when her mother happened to walk in & catch them. She doesn't know if anything was ever said to her brother who is nearly 5 years older than her, but she was lectured about what she thought she was doing until she was so shamed, she felt it was all her fault. (It cannot ever be a 5 year-old's fault. Period.) It was never mentioned again in her family. She doesn't even know whether her father knows what happened to her.
Christine started to remember childhood sexual abuse by a family member as an adult. She found the reality so traumatic as a child that she buried it & was unable to recover the events until adulthood. When she did, she revealed her memories to her parents who then felt guilt for not knowing & sparing her the abuse.
Eileen was hanging out with friends one day after [high] school & they were all having a fine time but the afternoon passed & eventually she was left with just the boy at whose house they were. They had dated in the past, but remained friends, & Eileen was dating somebody else at this point. The guy thought she might be interested in revisiting their history, but she was not. He tried to seduce her, pressured her, guilted her, challenged her, & used every method imaginable to coerce her into just getting it overwith...he thought he had scored. She felt used, betrayed & violated. The term 'date rape' didn't exist yet. It was years later when she realized that that is exactly what had happened to her.
Jackie found herself pregnant at 18. She was not dating the father, but they were friends...friends with benefits as the saying goes. She did not want a baby. With or without the man's help, she did not want to be a mother when her whole life was ahead of her. She had plans. She was smart. She was young & ambitious & she'd simply miscalculated. For support, I went along to the abortion clinic, crossing the picket lines while horrible, angry people called us murderers. People who knew nothing of the fear she faced hurled insults, not even knowing which one of us within our circle of friends was having the procedure. It's not an experience I have forgotten all these years later.
Sofie was in her late 30s, with 3 children, one still quite young. She was previously divorced & was currently in a failing relationship when she discovered she was pregnant for a 4th time. Already relying on child support, alimony & government assistance to take care of her family, she did not want another baby putting off her return to work another several years nor did she wish to remain poor, working to pay for daycare. She opted for abortion. At this time, the abortion pill RU-486 had finally become available in the US & she was able to obtain a prescription from her doctor. She says it was a difficult decision because she loves being a mother, but she cannot regret it because she didn't need to be tied to the wrong man forever, & she has since been able to make a good life for herself & her 3 children that they wouldn't otherwise have.
As for me personally, I will share that I have found myself in some situations where I was definitely ill at ease. One instance that comes immediately to mind is when I was at an outdoor concert with some friends. We were packed pretty tightly together on a hill watching the band & some guy nearby asked me if he could bum a light. I let him. 3 times he did this. On the 4th time, he didn't ask me for a light. Honestly, I'm not even sure it was the same guy. I felt something on my shoulder where he'd tapped me the previous times & as I started to turn, a hand was clamped very tightly over my mouth so that I couldn't yell out. I always thought that if something would ever happen to me, NOTHING WAS GOING TO HAPPEN TO ME, my strong, loud voice would be my saving grace, but no, that was not the case. I was being pulled backward, & it was truly all happening in slow-motion. I kicked my foot out & hit my friend in front of me in the leg. She turned around to see who'd kicked her, saw the predicament I was in, & instantly grabbed at my hand that was reaching for her & pulled me away. The guy disappeared into the crowd. I have no idea what he looked like. Right there -in the middle of hundreds of people- & no one saw a thing.
I've heard other stories, but they come to me 2nd-hand & I don't want to diminish real stories by telling some where I don't have it from the source. This is just me & women I know. I'm 1 person. Think of all the women you know & figure the probability that you know victims too. Sexual assault is far too prevalent in our society.
Borrowed from a friend on facebook, her status recently said:
Yes people, I'm pretty upset about this!!! If you, or anyone you know has been raped (and EVERY man and woman knows someone who's been raped), YOU should be upset about this too!!! (If you're on my page, then you do know someone). This IS NOTjust
a one-time comment or thought process of the Republican based party....This article talks about several, but not all of the other (men) who have used similar jargon and thought processes. And, there are many current US leaders who believe the same thing. Don't put your head in the sand and pretend like they don't. Open your eyes and realize that they are trying to reshape the future of women in the US and therefore the women of the world, and not in a positive way.http://jezebel.com/5936160/the-official-guide-to-legitimate-rape
I don't know to whom she was referring & I won't ask, but that's just how common it is.
Given that I love these wonderful women & the girls they once were, it makes me angry. Their lives were disrupted for what? They have scars, & for what? Some so jerk can feel powerful? Because some guy had an urge to dominate? The politicians in the Republican party trivialize these matters, trying to redefine rape as legitimate or forcible as opposed to coerced or unconscious....They seek to undermine or outlaw access to legal & safe contraception, abortion & other health screenings under the disguise of being 'pro-life.' They have vowed to cut funding to rape crisis centers & to domestic violence programs. These women's lives are not political points to score. They matter. They are flesh & blood mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, cousins, teachers, nurses, nurturers....& they get to decide what happens to their bodies & in their lives for their own mental & physical well-being.
What gives anyone else the right, or rather, why would anyone else think s/he has the right, to dictate someone else's choices? How twisted is it to think one's own morality (& I hesitate to call it that because to me it is immoral) ought to trump another's freedom? How can anyone possibly know better than the one facing the consequences? Who lives with the memory- the pain or the relief? It is personal. It is another attack. And it is unacceptable.
When people fail to understand why I'm so passionate about politics, I want to hit them figuratively with a brick in the face. Why don't they get it? When they get angry with me for talking about it, or turn their heads away like I don't understand that there are other issues...I ask this: Are you identified 1st by gender or occupation or religious affiliation or race? The 1st thing people tell when spreading the news of a baby is its gender. It is an identity most of us carry throughout our entire lives. (From what I can find, transgender or transsexual people make up less than 1% of the population.) So yes, I do 1st feel a firm loyalty towards women's issues being a woman & the mother of girls. It is central to who I am as a citizen with my rights in jeopardy, my physical & mental health access at stake & my economic standards that are set below that of male counterparts....It is all connected! It is patronizing to belittle it.
Frankly, I really don't care who pays what in taxes if my children don't have dominion over their bodies in their futures. I don't care if the big banks fail & gas prices rise to $20 a gallon if they are not free to control their own body's reproductive functions. It all just ceases to matter once one becomes a prisoner to biology.