Monday, January 31, 2011

Can We Re-Define ‘Rape’?

This is my story,and I am VERY lucky I did not get pregnant from it:

18 years old.
The Army.
Germany, sent out to the field for the first time.
The only woman and 1500 men.
I was the Medic, they were Engineers.
Alone, in the dark being watched, only I didn't know
Vilseck, Germany after two weeks without a shower, we were allowed to go to Tent city for 2 days.
Much Celebrating. Much Drinking. After showers the partying started.
I was invited.
A cute boy
free drinks
more drinks
Something wrong....
Room spinning
can't walk
being carried
pass out
wake up
can't move
tied up
can't talk
gag in mouth
someone on me
wet between the legs
another body on me
another body
all night
over and over again
how many?
Don't know
too many
over and over again
more laughter
in and out of conscience
how many?
could be twenty
could be a hundred
all ranks
all sizes
all ages
all penises
all thrusting
all sweating
lots of pain
smell of greasy tent
smell of booze
smell of tobacco
smell of man sweat
smell of semen
smell of sex
all thrusting
all groping
all squeezing
all pawing
only one, who when he saw my tears, stopped in his tracks
But he walked out, and another came in to take his place
over and over again
no help
none in sight
all night long
in and out of reality
in and out of dreams
more body's
more men
more thrusting
how many hours?
finally the sweet release of awareness
in the showers
bruises and blood everywhere
oh my God the pain
all consuming pain
my clothing in a pile
water is cold
scrub some more
put on uniform
met at door, by commanding Officer
stern words about MY behavior
told if I talked, it would be MY fault
Threatened with prison for "enticing"
handed orders to be transfered
Told to pack my bags
Transportation waiting
Warned again
If you talk, you die
or worse
watching blindly as the trees roll by
curling up inside of me
hiding the pain
hoping the pain will fade
as the bruises do
can't walk, can't sit, can't take a shit
blaming myself
Others have
so why not me?
it weighs on a mind
remembering what was said
silence it is my friend
lock the pain away
never talk they said
never talk I did
The pain it became my friend
To this day, it never ends.
"House Republicans rode into office on claims that President Obama and the Democratic Congress were promoting a "liberal" agenda rather than focusing on the real task at hand -- job creation. Yet the first act of the new Republican House was a symbolic repeal of health care followed by a focus on the true conservative passion: regulating the sex lives of the most vulnerable and politically powerless women. The latest proposal, which would limit benefits for rape victims unless they could show that the rape was "forcible," reintroduces a distinction that women fought for decades to eliminate -- the notion that "real rape" can only occur when a stranger jumps out of the bushes and holds a woman at gunpoint. Otherwise, the woman must necessarily be complicit in the resulting pregnancy and should be forced to bear the child."

I'd like to sit down in a room with all 173 co-sponsors and describe to them in minute detail everything that happened the night I raped over and over again by fellow soldiers. You know, it's been thirty years, and I still get sick to my stomach, my hands still sweat and shake, thinking about it. And I'm one of the lucky ones. I wasn't physically scarred for life. I didn't end up pregnant.

If I had, and if an abortion had been denied to me because I didn't fight hard enough, scream loud enough, risk my life adequately enough to satisfy the Cons in Congress, I can promise you something: I would've ended up killing myself if I couldn't abort that baby. They can't understand, will obviously never understand, why many women wouldn't be able to face carrying their attacker's spawn to term. Let me just put it this way: there are worse things than getting raped. One of them is being denied any chance to regain some control over your own body afterward. One of them is being forced to put your body through the further trauma of pregnancy and childbirth against your will. And at that time, in the aftermath of the worst morning of my life, I wouldn't have had the mental strength to deal with it. It was hard enough putting the shattered pieces back together without a swelling belly and constant reminders of the horror I'd gone through.

But they don't care about a woman's welfare. Obviously not. They have some fantasy about rape, which makes them just as despicable as the men who rape. They think there's some kind of honor to be fought for, that a woman should do everything in her power to guard her virtue rather than survive, and if she doesn't, then she's a slut who deserves everything she gets.

I wish I could take them back in time. I wish I could turn what's in my mind into a film, so I could walk them through the event. I'd like to see their faces when they're faced with the reality of sexual violence. I'd like them to have to walk in my mind. And I'd like to pause every so often, and ask, "Did I fight enough here? How about here? Was that rape forcible enough, or was it too gentle to qualify as the kind of rape where a woman is granted an abortion?"

I'd like them to have to experience every emotion with me, both during the attack and in the months and years afterward. I'd like them to know just what it is to have control and integrity ripped away from you. I'd like them to walk that fine line, knowing that if you fight too hard, you're going to get yourself killed. I'd like them to be there in my mind, the moment I realized I didn't have the physical strength to fight my attacker off, and that no one could hear me scream. I'd like them to share that instant where panic and gut instinct turned into a cold calculation, where I decided it would be a better idea to live.

Do they think I made the wrong choice, choosing survival over a fight to the death? Do they think that making the choice to survive means signing away your right to your remaining bodily integrity? And would they still believe that were they forced to live it with me?

They believe abortion is murder, and yet each and every one of them, should you ask, would likely tell you that killing someone in self-defense is justifiable. Let me try to explain something to them: getting rid of a clump of cells isn't murder, but let's play on their field a moment. That clump of cells that could become a human being someday is an intruder. It broke in, it wasn't invited, and it's stealing from me. It could kill me. It's certainly going to hurt me, both mentally and physically. So if you believe some homicides are justified, why do you think it's not justifiable to kill that intruder?

They need to walk in my mind. They need to watch the months it took, feel the force of will it took, to regain function again, to not hide in the house anymore, to learn how to cope with a terrible new reality. I dropped out of school, because I wasn't capable of normal function for quite some time. It took years before I could trust people again. I still have bad moments. But I'm nearly a whole human again. I don't think I would've gotten there if I knew I'd been forced to bear my rapist's baby. And I don't have words strong enough to describe the visceral reaction I have to the idea. That would have given me a lifelong connection to my rapist. That would have been a level of trauma beyond my imagination. I know my mind well enough to know that bearing a rape baby at the age of 18 would have broken it.

Is that the price I'm supposed to pay for being attacked? According to the Cons in Congress, it is. It's my fault, you see. I should've fought hard enough to keep from being impregnated or died in the attempt. Nothing else will do. They care more for a clump of cells than they do for a living, breathing, thinking and suffering woman.

But I don't think they've thought this through, and that's why I'd like them to experience what I did. Because then, you see, they could imagine what it would be like if that had been their wife, or their daughter, or some other woman they may actually care about. They may have to look at her a bit differently, and wonder if it's worth destroying her in order to force her to grow a clump of cells fertilized by a rapist. They might have to ask themselves if they'd really want her rape to be so forcible that it could kill her before they'd allow her the choice of aborting that clump of cells before she gets traumatized all over again.

Because, you see, what the Cons in Congress are saying to women is that if we don't fight, if we don't drive our rapist to really hurt us, then we'd better be prepared to have a rape baby. If we're strong enough and wise enough and lucky enough to survive, we're to be punished. We're to have control and bodily integrity ripped away from us once more. And if we want to avoid that second traumatization, we'd best escalate the situation. There's only one way to respond to rape in their world: fight. Even though fighting could get us seriously hurt or killed.