You’ve been raped more than once and been moved to write about it. How do you feel when men who hold public office assert that “life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen” or “legitimate rape rarely causes pregnancy”?
I think maybe what “God intended to happen” might actually be the outrageous statement by Mr. Mourdock. At a time when we are buried under a culture of lies, when so much is hidden, from tax returns to the names of the people and corporations that are trying to buy this country, he and his colleagues have revealed the truth. I thank him. If his statement had come out of nowhere it wouldn’t have been so dramatic but on top of Mr. Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape,” and how the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down, Paul Ryan’s “forcible rape” amendments in the House, and the Republican platform making abortion illegal even in cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother, not to mention all the vaginal ultra-sound business, I have to thank them for clarity.
As a rape survivor I was horrified when I heard their words. After years of therapy and every kind of healing modality known to mankind, I still feel pain when I hear these assertions. I worry for all the victims of sexual assault who are in the process of dealing with the loss, pain, and shame. I wonder if these politicians realize that their insensitive and distorted words re-affirm the message of the original rapist, “You don’t mean anything. You are sub-human – a piece of shit.” For me, it brings to mind the experience of trying to reason with one’s attacker, to appeal to his higher self. I have the same sense of futility trying to reach these men who seem to have contempt for the vulnerable. And these officials could have the power to change our lives for generations to come. I feel frightened about that.
One thing I remember about being raped is the urgency to get cleaned up, to rid myself of the stench, the sickening slime. I cannot fathom being forced to grow this seed of hate inside my body. I wonder if it’s that they are lacking the empathy gene and have just been conditioned to think this way. I hope that their honesty will be the blessing that wakes us up and leads us to support real life-affirming candidates – affirming of the lives that are already here. If shining a light on the truth can strip away the bullshit, I believe that a loving God would rejoice if we addressed the misogyny and racism, homophobia and xenophobia that we’re experiencing right now and allowed some feminine principles to emerge like saving the planet, having clean air and water, educating our children and keeping them out of war.
If you could say two sentences to these officials and their constituents and know that you’d be heard, what would they be?
Paraphrasing something from the book and my play … Try to imagine what it would be like to “have your arms bound over your head and your pants pulled down around your ankles and a strange dick up your butt while your penis is being ripped off.” This passage in the play takes place when the character who had been raped, finally – many years later taps into her anger. It led one young audience member to realize the truth about his past behavior and have the courage to reveal that he had been guilty of date rape. I would add to these men who would rule over our lives, “Now imagine walking around filled with the venom of your rapist and being forced by law to nurture that seed and then seeing the face of the rapist in that child for the rest of your life. And talk about it being a gift from God from that place.”
I know that’s more than two sentences but can I add one more? Given all that and considering that 31 states give rapists parental rights aren’t rape victims deserving of a choice?
Why do you feel rape has become subject to re-definition and political debate when this was not the case in 2008, 2004, 2000 or any other national election I can remember?
Maybe it has to do with abortion. I think the chipping away at Roe v Wade has been going on for a long time but we were distracted by everything from the murder of Chandra Levy to “Desperate Housewives,” not to mention 9/11, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Then I think when Obama got in, we thought that everything would be okay for women, we could move on to pressing issues like climate change, poverty, jobs. Passing the Lily Ledbetter Act was a great start. At that time, I had finished writing a couple of plays and I was thinking about my next project. I figured I had explored rape and 9/11 – where to go next but abortion. And as you know I like to write comedy. But I’d been thinking about it and my question was, “if abortion is murder, who goes to jail?” In my research I discovered that in Guanajuata, Mexico women who had had abortions, or even miscarriages were sent directly from the hospital to jail to serve terms of 7-25 years for murder. And then I started hearing about these personhood laws in Virginia and Oklahoma and an amendment in the House of Representatives sponsored by the likes of Tod Akin and Paul Ryan. The people of Colorado soundly defeated this legislation, as did the socially conservative citizens of Mississippi, but it is part of the Republican platform. And personhood means full personhood rights from the moment of fertilization, thereby making abortion legally murder. It also means an end to In Vitro Fertilization, so in the words of John Stewart, “IVF – no, Rapist’s baby – yes.”
Maybe at this point in time so much has piled up against women that rape has become a metaphor for all of it…the relentless assault on women’s health, economic well-being, reproductive rights, contraceptive coverage, threats to Planned Parenthood. After 55 laws tearing down women’s rights since the radical fringe of the Republican Party took over the House in 2010, things have gotten so bad. Maybe you get so beaten down by those in power that you get to the point where you’re thinking, well at least there’s an exception for rape, incest, and life of the mother. And now we know there really is not! Thankfully Akin and Mourdock and Smith in Pennsylvania, as well as Paul Ryan lost in this election but there are a lot more where they came from and Paul Ryan went back to his job as the all-powerful chairman of the House budget committee. We can’t forget how hard we had to fight for the rights we have, the sacrifices that had been made by those who went before us. This is a huge wake-up call. There is a hatred of the feminine and its manifest in the way we treat the earth, the arts, women. These spokespeople for that mindset have shown us that it’s real, that we’re not making it up or being overly dramatic. Victims of rape and incest have been quiet – most rapes are not even reported. But now many are speaking out and that is the blessing. That starts the healing.