Hunter and Evelyn
Evelyn and Hunter, a 9 months pregnant trans man, came into a photo booth I recently hosted at a play party, right as I was closing up shop. I was tired, but was I going to give up the chance to document these two out in public mere days before parenthood? Never.
(TRIGGER WARNING: Rape/Sexual assault)
Dear Todd Akin,
I am writing to you tonight about rape. It is 2 AM and I am unable to sleep here in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I am in Bukavu at the City of Joy to serve and support and work with hundreds, thousands of women who have been raped and violated and tortured from this ceaseless war for minerals fought on their bodies.
I am in Congo but I could be writing this from anywhere in the United States, South Africa, Britain, Egypt, India, Philippines, most college campuses in America. I could be writing from any city or town or village where over half a billion women on the planet are raped in their lifetime.
Mr. Akin, your words have kept me awake.
As a rape survivor, I am reeling from your recent statement where you said you misspoke when you said that women do not get pregnant from legitimate rape, and that you were speaking “off the cuff.”
Clarification. You didn’t make some glib throw away remark. You made a very specific ignorant statement clearly indicating you have no awareness of what it means to be raped. And not a casual statement, but one made with the intention of legislating the experience of women who have been raped. Perhaps more terrifying: it was a window into the psyche of the GOP.
You used the expression “legitimate” rape as if to imply there were such a thing as “illegitimate” rape. Let me try to explain to you what that does to the minds, hearts and souls of the millions of women on this planet who experience rape. It is a form of re-rape. The underlying assumption of your statement is that women and their experiences are not to be trusted. That their understanding of rape must be qualified by some higher, wiser authority. It delegitimizes and undermines and belittles the horror, invasion, desecration they experienced. It makes them feel as alone and powerless as they did at the moment of rape.
When you, Paul Ryan and 225 of your fellow co-sponsors play with words around rape suggesting only “forcible” rape be treated seriously as if all rapes weren’t forcible, it brings back a flood of memories of the way the rapists played with us in the act of being raped — intimidating us, threatening us,muting us. Your playing with words like “forcible” and “legitimate” is playing with our souls which have been shattered by unwanted penises shoving into us, ripping our flesh, our vaginas, our consciousness, our confidence, our pride, our futures.
Now you want to say that you misspoke when you said that a legitimate rape couldn’t get us pregnant. Did you honestly believe that rape sperm is different than love sperm, that some mysterious religious process occurs and rape sperm self-destructs due to its evilcontent? Or, were you implying that women and their bodies are somehow responsible for rejecting legitimate rape sperm, once again putting the onus on us? It would seem you were saying that getting pregnant after a rape would indicate it was not a “legitimate” rape.
Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to close your eyes and imagine that you are on your bed or up against a wall or locked in a small suffocating space. Imagine being tied up there and imagine some aggressive, indifferent, insane stranger friend or relative ripping off your clothes and entering your body — the most personal, sacred, private part of your body — and violently, hatefully forcing themself into you so that you are ripped apart. Then imagine that stranger’s sperm shooting into you and filling you and you can’t get it out. It is growing something in you. Imagine you have no idea what that life will even consist of, spiritually made in hate, not knowing the mental or health background of the rapist.
Then imagine a person comes along, a person who has never had that experience of rape, and that person tells you, you have no choice but to keep that product of rape growing in you against your will and when it is born it has the face of your rapist, the face of the person who has essentially destroyed your being and you will have to look at the face every day of your life and you will be judged harshly if you cannot love that face.
I don’t know if you can imagine any of this (leadership actually requires this kind of compassion), but if you are willing to go to the depth of this darkness, you will quickly understand that there is NO ONE WHO CAN MAKE THAT CHOICE to have or not have the baby, but the person carrying that baby herself.
I have spent much time with mothers who have given birth to children who are the product of rape. I have watched how tortured they are wrestling with their hate and anger, trying not to project that onto their child.
I am asking you and the GOP to get out of my body, out of my vagina, my womb, to get out of all of our bodies. These are not your decisions to make. These are not your words to define.
Why don’t you spend your time ending rape rather than redefining it? Spend your energy going after those perpetrators who so easily destroy women rather than parsing out manipulative language that minimizes their destruction.
And by the way you’ve just given millions of women a very good reason to make sure you never get elected again, and an insanely good reason to rise.
The Delhi Charter School, funded by tax dollars, has apparently decided that it is above both the Constitution and Title IX. The school “reserves the right” to pregnancy test any female student. If that student tests positive or refuses the test, they are either expelled or relegated to home schooling.
Oh, and Louisiana is an abstinence only state, with the 18th highest teen pregnancy rate in the country.
By Annie-Rose Strasser on Jun 20, 2012 at 1:10 pm
Between 1990 and 2008, pregnancy and abortion rates for women in their twenties dropped dramatically, a new study revealed today. Pregnancy rates fell by 18 percent, while abortion rates dropped by a third.
One of the biggest influencing factors in this decrease is the growing accessibility, use, and options for birth control. Contraceptive use is the best way to prevent abortions in the U.S. Over time, young women have gotten greater access to a larger number of pregnancy prevention methods. The study explains two main causes in the drop:
The introduction of new contraceptive methods and discontinuation of existing ones and]changes in the use of existing methods: the proportion of women using any method, the methods used, and how consistently and effectively they are used.
Indeed, only 70 percent of women (PDF) who started having sex between 1990 and 1994 used protection, whereas 84 percent did between 2005 and 2008:
And President Obama’s new policy that expands access to birth control will help ensure that more women can get contraception when they need it.
Currently, over half of pregnancies are unintended in the United States. Growing access to prevention methods will lead to a decrease in such unintended pregnancies. Other factors — including the trend toward getting married at an older age — also contribute to the pregnancy drop for 20-somethings.
Recent studies have found that many women are over-confident in the effectiveness of their choice. So which methods are best?
People often think that their contraception is more reliable than it actually is, according to research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (AJOG). A study of 4,000 American women found nearly half of those surveyed overestimated how effective the pill and condoms were at preventing pregnancy. A recent British survey by Marie Stopes of women who had unplanned pregnancies found a similar over-optimism about their effectiveness. So how safe is your choice of contraception?
Women who use no protection and have regular sex have an 85% chance of getting pregnant within a year (using the withdrawal method you are still subject to a 27% risk). If you are using condoms the figure is 15% for the male variety and 21% for the female type. A cervical cap has a 16% failure rate in a woman who has never had children but a 32% risk for women who have given birth. If you are on the pill you may think you are safer than you are: 8% of women get pregnant while taking it.The solution
If getting pregnant would be a disaster, then you need to be realistic in your choice of contraception. Failure rates are higher in real life than they are in studies. “In the real world women don’t take their pills perfectly,” says David L Eisenberg, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at St Louis School of Medicine in the United States and lead author of the AJOG paper. “They don’t take them close to the same time every day. They don’t know what to do when they miss a pill. It’s complicated: they should use another method or abstain until their next period to be really safe. Condoms have a high failure rate because you need to have a very motivated partner to use them and there is a lot of potential for mistakes.”
Studies show that women say they choose contraception based on how effective it is first, then how safe (how many side effects) and how convenient it is. But the most effective methods – long-acting reversible contraceptives which include implants, injections and intrauterine devices – are still under-used. Eisenberg recommends using these.
Contraceptive implants (a tiny rod under the skin) have a less than 0.1 in 100 risk of pregnancy over three years. A quarter of women stop using implants after one year, partly because of irregular bleeding but some may stop because they want to get pregnant. Intrauterine devices have a failure rate of less than two in 100 over 12 years but can cause bleeding and pelvic pain. Hormone injections (Depo-Provera) have a failure rate of less than 3% in the first year of use. They need to be repeated every 12 weeks so don’t forget to get the next injection.
If you’ve finished childbearing or don’t want children, then sterilisation works but still has a failure rate of one in 200 for women and one in 700 for men.
“Money from the Department for International Development has helped pay for a controversial programme that has led to miscarriages and even deaths after botched operations”
Activists say that it is India’s poor – and particularly tribal people – who are most frequently targeted and who are most vulnerable to pressure to be sterilised.”
This is seriously not okay.
As Holly said in her reproductive rights video, “if we’re to call ourselves a pro-choice movement, surely we must include the struggles of people who wish to have children but cannot due to the Government’s discrimination against disabilities, ethnicities, class and gender.”
What can we do about this?
The morality of aborting an unconscious violinist
My 2nd year abortion essay: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/61316328/Abortion.doc
Have any more ‘wacky’ thought experiments? Think ‘wacky’ thought experiments are bull? Let me know in the comments below!
Judith Jarvis Thompson: “A Defense of Abortion” (the originator of the unconscious violinist) http://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil160,Fall02/thomson.htm
More background “A Defence of Abortion” and the famous violinist: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Defense_of_Abortion
Those Pesky Dames:
Reproductive Rights Rant
A rant about birth control and abortion rights, focussing on the UK and the US.
Captions should go up on Wednesday
Those Pesky Dames: