This is a guest post by Echo Zen. Echo is a feminist filmmaker, animator and women’s health advocate, currently deployed in the States to counter the influence of Tea Party moppets. When ze’s not doing ad consulting for birth control, ze tries to blog semi-regularly for Feministe (partly to set a good example for zir sister).
“Paul Ryan is a ****ing rapist. Sorry for stating the obvious,” she said.
That was my mate’s (politely paraphrased) reaction when Romney chose Paul “rapists have rights” Ryan as “the next President of the United States.” That was before Rep. Todd Akin managed to one-up Ryan in the Honest Misogyny department.
Naturally her friends – or spouses of friends, rather – reacted by throwing a hissy fit over her unflattering description of Paul Ryan. Their quibble wasn’t that Ryan is a pathological violator of women’s bodies. Heck, if anything, they approved of his brave attempts to endanger women’s lives, in the name of restoring America’s moral foundation to benefit rapists, child molesters and other institutions of 1950s patriarchy. No, their gripe was that her language was “too extreme” – i.e. Ryan’s description of rape as just another “method of conception” didn’t qualify, but holding a taxpayer-funded official accountable for his violence against women was going way too far.
And of course, who were the ones crying over this trivialisation of “rapist”? All were men, without exception or irony. Because while claiming pregnancy is a blessing for rape survivors has become a legitimate career path for aspiring women politicians like Bachmann and Barnes, it’s no secret the majority of legislators – the ones attempting to force ultrasound wands into women’s vaginas, or coerce rape survivors into bearing their rapists’ babies – are men living in an alternate universe where women having the same rights as males is what’s destroying society, not corporations or assaults on healthcare access.
Yep. These men, offended by our insistence on calling them out for their actions, expect us to take them seriously – even as they silence our elected women officials and dismiss their human rights concerns as “tantrums”, between stripping women of lifesaving healthcare and refusing to reauthorise laws against sexual assault, all the while claiming they just want to protect women. Yeah, we’re totally going to take you seriously while you claim that women should carry dead, rotting fetuses to term because that’s what livestock do, and everyone knows a woman’s proper role is to pump out babies, alive or otherwise.
Much has been made in the media over the GOP’s “War on Women,” a characterisation that Obama himself wasn’t even willing to touch till late into this electoral season. As recently as June, his own Director of Communications couldn’t give a straight answer during a Netroots interview on whether the War on Women was real, nor if his boss had a strategy for fighting the thousands of legislative attacks of women’s bodies across the nation. And this was a year after the Tea Party Congress nearly shut down the federal government over birth control pills, and months after legislators who wouldn’t even say the word “vaginal” attempted to force transvaginal ultrasounds into sinful pregnant women seeking abortions to protect their health and families.
Then again, given the administration’s willingness to compromise on protecting women’s lives (remember Plan B?), maybe we should be thankful Director Pfeiffer didn’t liken the War on Women to caterpillars. President Obama for his part never publicly addressed the GOP’s politicisation of rape, whether it was Rep. Chris “forcible rape” Smith’s crusade to strip abortion access from impregnated rape survivors, or Del. Todd Gilbert’s belief that abortion patients shouldn’t mind being violated with ultrasound wands since they’ve already allowed themselves to be “vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant.”
Or at least Obama didn’t make a peep till Akin accidentally publicised his party’s “sluts deserve rape” family values. Perhaps the administration never commented on the GOP’s violations of women because misogynists have historically done a fine job of masking their anti-women policies behind the veneer of “limited government” and “protecting the unborn,” impulses to which many Americans have a knee-jerk favourable response. Alas, with the GOP feeling unstoppable in its grip on the country, they’ve become slapdash with fronting that veneer. And with the GOP’s latest ideological leak, they’ve made unmistakably clear to the entire world their belief toward 51% of the population – namely women are liars and sluts who deserve fewer rights than rapists.
Maybe the entire vernacular around the War on Women is becoming dated. War as a metaphor has lost much of its impact over the years, as pundits have exploited the word to claim war on everything from Christmas to cancer. So let’s call the GOP’s agenda for what it really is: state-sponsored violence against women. The rest of the civilised world has figured out forced impregnations are “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.” And predictably, the GOP sides with the rape apologists and war criminals of the world.
Most dictionaries define rape as “an act of violation.” Mr. Ryan, you are a rapist of women’s bodies and lives. Heck, feigning concern for either requires you at least refrain from advocating the deliberate killing of women, and you haven’t even bothered doing that. So, sorry for stating the obvious – maybe this bloke’s postcard will put things in perspective.
Suck my whore pills.