Well, folks, it’s June 24, 2013, and I’d like to welcome you to a little feature I call “Rape Culture Round-up.” Progress on the War on Women front? Let’s just say any moves have been lateral at best, rather than forward.
We can start with this little gem from conservative talking head Laura Ingraham. When discussing how Plan B (emergency contraception) will likely soon be available over the counter, she opines thusly: ” It’s a good deal for pedophiles, a good deal for people who commit statutory rape against young girls.” Right. Because rapists and pedophiles are FIRST AND FOREMOST concerned about the consequences of their actions for their victims. And the mentality of a rapist is such that he’s worried if a pregnancy results from the rape, he might have to stick around and raise the kid. Let’s completely ignore how the availability of Plan B (aka the “morning after” pill) might actually help or empower a person who’s the victim of a rape or pedophilia. Don’t mention that, Laura. Instead, let’s introduce one of my favorite techniques (employed by both sides of the debate, by the way) the…drumroll, please…the false comparison.
“These girls can’t get their ears pierced, they can’t take an Advil at school without parental permission. Yet, they can go into a pharmacy in this Brave New World of women’s equality and — quote — reproductive health — and get a morning after pill…I think it empowers men who want to abuse women.”
Allow me to enlighten this debate by sharing that while girls can’t take an Advil at school without parental consent, they also can’t take the morning after pill at school with or without parental consent. If and when girls CAN go into a pharmacy and buy the morning after pill without consent, so, too, can they buy Advil without consent. I’m not sure Ingraham understands this, but a school is a different place from a pharmacy. They operate differently and under different rules. It’s complicated, I know.
Here’s another little factoid for those fans of false comparisons. Girls and women get their ears pierced and take Advil for different reasons than they might take the morning after pill. So, for example, if a 38-year-old woman finds her birth control has failed, and for whatever completely legitimate reason she has (which, frankly, is none of your damn business) she is not likely to take Advil to prevent the potential pregnancy. Neither will a 15-year-old rape victim, battered, bruised, in shock and traumatized decide the solution is to run to the mall to get her ears pierced so that she doesn’t become pregnant. We take Advil when our back hurts from too much volleyball. We get our ears pierced for fun and fashion. We take the morning after pill to prevent a pregnancy for a variety of reasons (which, again, are none of your damn business.)
Furthermore, the concern Ingraham and the others at Fox News show that the availability of Plan B emergency contraception may “empower men who want to abuse women” is, shall we say, disingenuous. If they were truly concerned about empowering men who abuse women, they’d be talking about the following things in today’s Rape Culture Round-up:
1. The Anonymous hacker who helped expose the Steubenville rapists might get more jail time than the actual rapists. Let’s hope not, but way to discourage disclosure and reporting of rape, justice system!
2. Facebook’s misogyny problem. Thanks to the highly publicized social media campaign that threatened to lose FB some big advertising dollars, Facebook is finally tiptoeing around the notion that pages entitled, “Raping your Friend Just For Laughs” and “Kicking your Girlfriend in the Fanny because she Won’t Make you a Sandwich” might constitute hate speech, rather than humor. Pictures of women who have been pushed down the stairs, with the caption “Next time, don’t get pregnant” might not be permissible free speech. DON’T, however – DO NOT – post a picture on FB of a woman breastfeeding. It will be taken down because it is “indecent.”
3. At Microsoft’s conference last week, one of the producers of (surprise, surprise) an extremely violent video game saw fit to make a rape “joke.” In front of thousands. To a woman. A woman he was absolutely destroying and pummeling in this violent video game. Yes, friends, he told her she liked it. She said she didn’t. He said, “Just let it happen. It’ll be over soon.” Hm. The one bright spot is that this joke was not well-received by the audience, and the producer was quickly called out for it on Twitter – by a fellow Microsoft producer, and a male one at that. Yes, in this case, the fact that the fellow producer was male is significant. Makes it more of a Sister Souljah moment.
4. Lindy West, a feminist and a comedian, spent a few minutes on a show discussing why comedy is not the most welcoming place for women. Please click on this and watch the short video of her reading the responses she’s gotten for this in a post entitled, If Comedy Has No Lady Problems, Why Am I Getting So Many Rape Threats?” Please do it. I will wait.
Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?
5. Republicans in Congress continue to bring the crazy to the debate on abortion laws making exceptions for women who are victims of rape and incest. Yes, Trent Franks. You’re right. Chances of getting pregnant from rape are practically non-existent! My unicorn agrees with you. Now excuse me while I run to the store to pick up my light saber that has been repaired. Have to slay those dragons, you know!
Now, if any of you are hearing Fox News covering these stories in ways that demonstrate genuine concern for women and the appropriate derision towards rape culture, please let me know. Somehow, though, I doubt I’ll be hearing from many of you racing to Fox’s defense.
I will leave you, though, with an absolutely brilliant response one woman had to her personal experience with rape culture. She received a full frontal naked picture of a man wanting to date her. She took screen shots of the picture and resulting conversation. And sent them to his mother. Please click on this to see it. Please do it. I will wait.
Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?
So, this ends today’s Rape Culture Round-up, folks. While I hope I’ll never have to do another one of these, I know I will. For as long as our society downplays the threats to women and enables rape culture, while simultaneously and perversely denying women the means to cope with the aftermath and/or control their reproductive lives, there will be a need for columns like this one.
This post originally published on The Broad Side on June 14, 2013.