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32 Responses

  1. Hugo
    Hugo July 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm |

    Thanks, Echo, I heard great things about your speech and about you — so glad to see this post here as well!

  2. EG
    EG July 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm |

    That’s a pretty fabulous speech, and a connection I’d never heard or articulated myself.

  3. Doctor Whom
    Doctor Whom July 7, 2011 at 1:27 pm |

    Thank you for the thought-provoking post. I have known anti-choice people who genuinely want to protect what they consider to be unborn human life, but many others, through their words and actions, show that they regard it as just a convenient pretext.

  4. duck-billed placelot
    duck-billed placelot July 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm |

    Echozen – Glad you’re such a committed activist! However, check out Amanda Marcotte’s extensive work on the motivations of anti-choicers, along with more of Sady Doyle, and Shakesville (of course) for major feminist names writing on this subject. Everysaturdaymorning.wordpress.com (a clinic escort) was begun in 2008, I think, and writes about this intersection on occasion. A google search turned up: STFURapeCulture.tumblr.com, this post from ProChoiceGal, and, well, there are more. Maybe reading some of these (mostly female) authors’ writings will help flesh out your own independent thoughts on the matter.

  5. Jill
    Jill July 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm | *

    Love this. And if I may obnoxiously self-promote, my essay in Yes Means Yes was about this same connection. It’s a fascinating topic, and I love the way you’ve addressed it here.

  6. Odysseus
    Odysseus July 7, 2011 at 2:05 pm |

    Suddenly I realised what I needed to talk about at SlutWalk – the intersection between rape culture and the anti-choice movement.

    I feel like this approach is very counter-productive. In fact, I really can’t think of anything that anyone could possibly do that could alienate people from our cause more needlessly than telling some 40% of the US population to fuck off. Seriously, why do that? Why?

  7. Yonmei
    Yonmei July 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm |

    Thanks for this.

    The knotted misogyny of the anti-choice movement is horribly tied up into rape culture. We had a SlutWalk locally not long ago, and the local abortion rights group was divided as whether to go (so naturally we did the pro-choice thing, and those of us who agreed, went, and those who didn’t, didn’t). But I thought that we should try to provide pro-choice leaflets at least for the next SlutWalk.

  8. mephistephanies
    mephistephanies July 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm |

    What a fantastic speech/post. Shared around. Thank you.

  9. Lauren
    Lauren July 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm |

    Odysseus: this post

    He didn’t say fuck off. Nor did he say that every member of the anti-choice movement engages in slut-shaming (though they do value the personhood of a fetus over that of a woman…). I’d also wager a guess that

    What is “our cause” in this instance? Do you mean SlutWalk, and the movement to end slut-shaming and rape culture? If so… then I’m befuddled by the contradiction of your comment. People can’t just pick and choose which instances to advocate for women’s bodily autonomy. It’s not like you can just support ending sexist oppression in the realm of sexual harassment and rape, but then perpetuate and/or remain complicit in sexist oppression in the realm of reproductive health rights and policy.

    And what could be more alienating that the anti-choice movement, which limits the bodily autonomy and reproductive health rights of 50% of the population?

  10. Lauren
    Lauren July 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm |

    sorry, last post clipped the quote that I was speaking to.

    Odysseus: I feel like this approach is very counter-productive. In fact, I really can’t think of anything that anyone could possibly do that could alienate people from our cause more needlessly than telling some 40% of the US population to fuck off. Seriously, why do that? Why?

    He didn’t say fuck off. Nor did he say that every member of the anti-choice movement engages in slut-shaming (though they do value the personhood of a fetus over that of a woman…). I’d also wager a guess that

    What is “our cause” in this instance? Do you mean SlutWalk, and the movement to end slut-shaming and rape culture? If so… then I’m befuddled by the contradiction of your comment. People can’t just pick and choose which instances to advocate for women’s bodily autonomy. It’s not like you can just support ending sexist oppression in the realm of sexual harassment and rape, but then perpetuate and/or remain complicit in sexist oppression in the realm of reproductive health rights and policy.

    And what could be more alienating that the anti-choice movement, which limits the bodily autonomy and reproductive health rights of 50% of the population?

  11. duck-billed placelot
    duck-billed placelot July 7, 2011 at 4:40 pm |

    Jill:
    Love this. And if I may obnoxiously self-promote, my essay in Yes Means Yes was about this same connection. It’s a fascinating topic, and I love the way you’ve addressed it here.

    This is not obnoxious self-promoting; this is the kindest, gentlest, ‘apparently you are new to this blog and these thoughts but some of us have been thinking for a while now’ response I’ve ever seen.

    I’m a little snarkier, over at my place.

  12. Pidgey
    Pidgey July 7, 2011 at 5:33 pm |

    So many so-called “pro-lifers” only seem concerned with life when it involves policing a woman’s uterus and sexual behavior. If their concern extended to increasing access to medical care for children then it would be a lot easier to take their “pro-life” views seriously. I also remember Dan Savage talking and writing multiple times about how the same people trying to ban gay marriage are the same people trying to restrict access to contraception and other services. One of the biggest criticisms of the anti-choice movement has often been their core’s dubious stance on other issues regarding health and sexuality.

  13. SlutWalk, Rape Culture and the Anti-Choice Movement | SlutWalk USA | Blame the Rapist

    [...] SlutWalk, Rape Culture and the Anti-Choice Movement Related content: Grand Rapids SlutWalk part of ‘a forward movement for humanity’ [...]

  14. Stetson
    Stetson July 7, 2011 at 6:59 pm |

    Thanks a lot for this article. I used to detest the term “rape culture”. I thought it hyperbolic. This article convinced me otherwise, and reminded me of the backwards nature of our politicians and government.

  15. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen July 7, 2011 at 9:41 pm |

    duck-bill placelot, I read your (justly) critical comments on this piece… and I agree with everything you wrote. Actually my first reaction was, “How did people figure out I’m a gendered male?! I have a feminine name (long story), and I made sure not to reference my gender in my guest article! Oh wait… when I sent my media bio to Jill, I rewrote it in third-person and forgot to use neutral pronouns.” That I outed myself without even realising it says a lot about my intelligence – I’d planned to keep my gender private for my first foray into public writing. Knowing this piece was written by a privileged male (sort of) will doubtlessly colour how folks perceive this article, but it’s definitely justified. I knew what I wrote might come off as pretentious, and part of me figured that as long as people didn’t tie it to my masculinity, it wouldn’t be too much of an issue.

    (So there you have it – I tried pulling a miniature Tom MacMaster, and failed comically. Plus I feel like a prat for not realising Jill wrote an essay on this same topic… in a book I have at home. Obviously I haven’t read it in a while.)

    However, I definitely appreciate the sources everyone’s pointed me to. Marcotte and Shakesville I’ve read for years – in fact Marcotte’s writings gave me the confidence to step up to the plate as a pro-choice campus leader. This is my first foray into public writing (beyond internal newsletters), and I acknowledge this was not the best topic to blog about, considering Feministe’s readership. (I wrote these remarks with a different audience in mind – yeah, crap excuse.) But I appreciate everyone’s input, and I’ll keep it in mind when I write my next article.

  16. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig July 7, 2011 at 11:12 pm |

    Oddyseus: The people who would be attending/ do attend slutwalk probably vote pro-choice. I doubt any of them would be anti-choice. I don’t think Echo Zen’s speech would alienate anyone.
    Seriously, a Republican attending a Slutwalk? They’d be as out of place as a Fundamentalist in a science museum.*
    (Please excuse the awkward language, I’m aware that some cities have Slutwalks scheduled that haven’t happened yet.)
    *Which I actually see, from time to time. Drives me nuts every single time, as I can’t figure out if they’re lost or if they’re scoping out the museum for a protest. Yes, I can tell them from the way they’re dressed.
    ** Yes, some Republicans are women, and some of them may have been raped, but I doubt they’d show any sympathy or support to their sisters-in- arms.

  17. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen July 8, 2011 at 3:42 am |

    Now, onto responses to the content of this blog post…

    I guess it’s more or less common knowledge here that rape apologists and anti-choicers share the same beliefs – though it’s only recently that anti-choicers have become brazen enough to try legislating victim-blaming into law. It’s a shame that of the hundreds of Congressmen who supported HR3 and its “forcible rape” nonsense, none of them would publicly explain why they supported punishing impregnated rape survivors. (At least DeGraaf and Santorum are frank about their misogyny.)

    What I wanted to do through my SlutWalk remarks was go beyond pointing out how pro-rape and anti-choice ideologies overlap, which was what I’d felt a lot of articles on the topic were about. Instead of just talking about how rape apologists and anti-choicers share the same beliefs, I wanted to show how anti-choicers consciously target rape survivors and explicitly try to institutionalise victim-blaming through legislation. If I did a follow-up to this article, it would be on how the same groups that oppose reproductive rights are the very same groups that oppose laws criminalising marital rape, funding for women’s shelters, etc. It’s a bit analogous to how people think anti-gay marriage groups simply oppose gay marriage, but in fact oppose any laws protecting gay people, whether it’s anti-bullying or hate crime legislation.

    It galls me to no end that the same pro-lifers who support/enable the anti-choice movement seem genuinely unaware that anti-choice groups don’t just oppose abortion, but anything that grants women control over their sexuality. Sure, the GOP is helping us out by being brazen in their attacks on basic contraception – but come election time, will most voters remember that one of the two major parties in the States despises women so much that they tried to shut down the government over BC pills? I honestly don’t know.

  18. Antoinette
    Antoinette July 8, 2011 at 8:52 am |

    This is a fabulous post — thank you for making the clear connection between rape culture and reproductive justice — we too often see women marginalized for seeking justice and autonomy and shamed into believing that we should accept rape as an inevitable consequence of being a woman – women in the military that are raped are not even afforded their constitutional rights to abortion services despite the alarming epidemic of sexual violence. Thank you for peeling back the layers of patriarchy that engender this violent attitude and disdain towards women’s bodies.

    I addressed these very issues in a post I wrote for NARAL Pro-Choice WA on June 10th titled, “Abortion, Rape, and the Shameful Legacy of the Hyde Amendment”

    http://antoinettesfunfeministworld.blogspot.com/2011/06/abortion-rape-and-shameful-legacy-of.html

  19. Leebo
    Leebo July 8, 2011 at 9:49 am |

    Yes, to all of this. Great stuff.

    I have been pushing anti-choice people to address IVF and the intentional creation of dozens of embryos for one IVF attempt. No one wants to go there, except one friend who rationalized it by saying, “Well, you can create only as many embryos as you will implant.”

    Sure, except that tanks the success rate. And if you choose IVF, my bet is you pull out all the stops. Between the embryo farming and the selective reduction after implantation, IVF needs to be brought into this discussion.

  20. ClarionTX
    ClarionTX July 8, 2011 at 9:52 am |

    Echo Zen,

    Thank you for writing a piece that is very accessible for anyone, particularly those NOT as versed in these concepts as perhaps regular readers of this site might be. That’s precisely what has made this piece valuable enough for me to share with a wider audience. I’d love to have more young men on our campus bringing these ideas in this way to their peers (yes, other privileged men – in peer education, we get that people listen to those most similar to themselves and work with that).

  21. Jill
    Jill July 8, 2011 at 10:31 am | *

    Let’s also remember that these are remarks given at a San Diego SlutWalk — an event with a diverse audience, not all of whom are avid feminist blog readers. Yes, the idea that there are connections between anti-choicers and rape apologists has been explored on feminist blogs, but it hasn’t been discussed much beyond that realm. I think it’s awesome that Echo introduced that idea to a wider audience, and spoke about a too-often-ignored (and very controversial) issue. And Echo presented it in a really linear, easily-accessible way — I really love the way he wrote about it here. So maybe let’s support the great work that other activists are doing instead of assuming they’re new to these ideas, or suggesting that because other people have written about the same thing that they shouldn’t be out there spreading the word?

    And Echo, you should not feel like a prat. It is impossible to remember every single thing everyone has ever written, and to mention every single person who has ever explored a similar topic. This piece is great, and I’m really glad you gave this speech.

  22. heidi h
    heidi h July 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm |

    I feel that the comments about re-treading are accurate, however, @EchoZen your comment at 14 is quite a commendable response. Keep up the good work :)

  23. Randomizer
    Randomizer July 9, 2011 at 9:13 am |

    I have been in a (probably too) protracted but civil debate with Jonalyn at the Christian blog Soulation over the tension between a woman’s autonomy and the perported rights of a foetus. I contend that a foetus lacks fundamental characteristics of personhood and that it cannot therefore exert claims by right over the woman it occupies. Her latest challenge is: what are these deterninants of personhood of which you speak. Any thoughts?

    For my part, I think she is sincere about protecting unborn humans, but it does imply unacceptable limits on a woman’s autonomy should her reproductive system defy her will.

  24. AtheistChick
    AtheistChick July 9, 2011 at 9:56 am |

    Love this. I have been aware of the connection between rape culture and anti-choice ideology for some time, but this was much more articulate than I could have ever been! Thank you for exploring this very important topic.

  25. Siobhan
    Siobhan July 9, 2011 at 4:49 pm |

    Randomizer:
    I have been in a (probably too) protracted but civil debate with Jonalyn at the Christian blog Soulation over the tension between a woman’s autonomy and the perported rights of a foetus.I contend that a foetus lacks fundamental characteristics of personhood and that it cannot therefore exert claims by right over the woman it occupies.Her latest challenge is: what are these deterninants of personhood of which you speak.Any thoughts?

    For my part, I think she is sincere about protecting unborn humans, but it does imply unacceptable limits on a woman’s autonomy should her reproductive system defy her will.

    I am prepared to take it on faith that pro-lifers believe that a fetus has personhood. However, the personhood on another individual does not make it incumbent on me to donate an unreasonable amount of my time, money, health and internal organs to ensure that they get to live.

    (“Reasonable” is paying taxes that fund accessable health care. “Unreasonable” is being forced to donate a kidney.)

  26. duck-billed placelot
    duck-billed placelot July 10, 2011 at 3:54 pm |

    Echo Zen:
    A Knowing this piece was written by a privileged male (sort of) will doubtlessly colour how folks perceive this article, but it’s definitely justified. I knew what I wrote might come off as pretentious, and part of me figured that as long as people didn’t tie it to my masculinity, it wouldn’t be too much of an issue.

    Hey, EchoZen, How will we ever start a BLOGFITE if you respond graciously to criticism?! Seriously, though, I’m glad you’re listening to people’s reactions; it will only make your work stronger. And as I mentioned above, I think it’s great that you’re a committed activist. Retreading – particularly for wider audiences like the SlutWalk – is not a problem. What was a problem (to me), was your emphasis in the paragraphs you wrote for feministe on the novelty and independence of the concept of anti-choice/rape culture as part of the same toxic brew; this would have bothered me regardless of your gender. The disappearing of women’s (intellectual and other types of) work is much too common a problem.

  27. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen July 11, 2011 at 12:40 pm |

    Thanks for the response, placelot. Going through everyone’s comments and input is helping me solidify a direction for my future writing – I definitely want to move away from re-treading existing concepts, and instead focus on synthesising them into new ideas. This is necessary because my mates and I are struggling over how to revamp the way we reach out to people about choice, since – as Jos Truitt pointed out back in April – the way we organise for choice doesn’t seem to work anymore, for various reasons (like anti-choicers smearing everything they dislike as “abortion,” as Marcotte has written about exhaustively).

    Hell, we’ve spent decades debunking myths about personhood, publicising the far-reaching agenda of anti-choicers and making resources available so folks can get their facts straight. Yet we’re still not getting the message across. For instance, the American media still pretends this whole de-funding row is about abortion (which is true if one accepts the anti-choice claim that condoms are… abortion), and the general public doesn’t seem to realise every American anti-choice group without exception opposes contraception and basic reproductive control.

    To address Leebo’s comment… you might already know, but anti-choice orgs like Illinois Right to Life have explicitly gone on record as claiming “IVF kills babies,” picketed fertility clinics and pushed legislation banning IVF. I believe most pro-lifers are ignorant of the anti-choice movement’s true agenda, based on the numbers I’ve seen. Also, to address Randomizer’s question on personhood… the snarker in me believes the key determinant of personhood is being able to think for oneself – meaning most teabaggers are sheeple. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

    I’ll take it on faith that many pro-lifers genuinely believe in fetal/embryonic personhood, but I doubt their anti-choice leaders share that belief. Otherwise they wouldn’t pray and cry with women who regret their abortions – would anti-choicers pray and cry with convicted child murderers, even born-again ones? Nor would they steal miscarried fetuses from clinics and parade them around at protests – is that what they call respect for the dead?

    I have ideas on what we might have to do to reboot the way we organise for reproductive justice. They’re still embryonic (no pun intended), but next year I’m prepared to attempt something radical and (probably) insane. I’m just glad there are fellow SlutWalkers and advocates like Antoinette Bonsignore I can count on as allies. Stay tuned.

    (Oh, I forgot to say hi to Professor Hugo! Hope I get to see you in the near future, mate!) :-)

  28. matlun
    matlun July 11, 2011 at 2:59 pm |

    Echo Zen: I’ll take it on faith that many pro-lifers genuinely believe in fetal/embryonic personhood, but I doubt their anti-choice leaders share that belief.

    Why would you believe this? Certainly there will be some political and religious leaders that are just playing the followers, but I am convinced most of the actual activists honestly believe what they are saying.

    I also believe that they are wrong.

    As to your counter arguments:
    * The IVF clinic protests I find fully consistent with the position (embryos will be discarded during the process)
    * The forgiveness is also consistent if they can recognize that the women who are having abortions are not doing it out of malice.

  29. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen July 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm |

    Perhaps I was too harsh with my words. What I meant was that anti-choice concern for “people” (including fetuses, for argument’s sake) generally tapers off after birth – like when anti-choicers in Missouri attack funding for food for low-income kids, or when anti-choicers in Pennsylvania push bills protecting doctors who refuse to perform abortions to save women’s lives… or hell, when anti-choicers strip funding for clinics that provide prenatal care for low-income families. Seriously, this should be basic stuff for folks who care about babies (unless one believes government funding for prenatal care will destroy America’s culture of personal responsibility, but that’s a whole other can of worms).

  30. jovan1984
    jovan1984 July 16, 2011 at 5:57 pm |

    I first became aware of the connection between our rape culture and the anti-choice movement 11 months ago.

    It is nice to see Slutwalks expose the Culture of Misogyny that the anti-choicers are trying to push on us.

  31. David McDonell
    David McDonell July 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm |

    A way a person is dress is NO EXCUSE TO RAPE but I want to bring something just as bad the DORKS out there when people judge you because want to date a DORK I been label that in my teen years and actually thought about killing myself back then when I had NO friends maybe we need a DORK WALK if we all start really caring about people these things should not happen. Stop using sex as a weapon by forcing it on someone or labeling people as DORK not deserving it both are wrong.

  32. David McDonell
    David McDonell July 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm |

    SLUTS AND DORKS UNITE!

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