I'm on the verge of adulthood, womanhood, self-discovery, creativity, and sometimes a whole lot of emotions! Feel free to follow my journey!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Redefining Rape?

I went online last night and a topic for this blog literally fell into my lap. A Facebook friend of mine had a status relating to a new bill that legislators are pushing through. It is being nicknamed the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." As of right now, women can get federal help with abortions relating to rape, incest or if the woman's life is in danger. The term that has been changed in this legislation is "forcible rape"- meaning violence is involved. The speculation is that this would rule out coercive rapes, statutory rape or situations where the woman cannot give consent because of drugs or alcohol, which means it has been getting a great deal of backlash.

First off, a little bit on my own opinions on this super touchy subject. I was raised Catholic. Everyone in my family was staunchly pro-life so I was too by default. Then I read The Second Sex by Simone DeBeauvoir. After a great deal of consideration, I believe that a woman has the right to choose what happens to her body. Denying the woman the right of choice basically turns her into a walking incubator, not a human being. While I don't know what I would do if I was ever in the situation,  knowing that I had the right to decide, especially in a case where I was raped or sexually assaulted, makes me feel like my life and opinions are valued by the society I live in.

Rape is rape. If the woman is forcibly, violently assaulted, that is rape. If a woman is drugged or is too drunk to legally give consent, that is rape. Statutory rape is rape, especially because these laws are put in place to protect women from being taken advantage of. If a woman is coerced into sex verbally or intimidated into sex, that is rape.

Here are some rape and sexual assault statistics that I found:
  • According to medical reports, the incidence of pregnancy for one-time unprotected sexual intercourse is 5%. By applying the pregnancy rate to 64,080 women, RAINN estimates that there were 3,204 pregnancies as a result of rape during that period.
  • In 1 in 3 sexual assaults, the perpetrator was intoxicated — 30% with alcohol, 4% with drugs.
  • 73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger, 28% of victims are raped by husbands or boyfriend
Starting to "redefine rape," especially by people who have absolutely no experience in the matter, is just the tip of an extremely slippery slope. What's next? A woman who can't afford to protect themselves from pregnancy and disease won't be able to buy birth control or Plan B? The legality of any abortion gets repealed? There is a group of people in this country who I truly believe think they are doing what is best for society, but who are passing laws that make our country a more dangerous place to live in, a place where women will be unable to have sex safely or have a safe, clean abortion if that is their choice.

If you would like to read more about this issue, here are some articles I found:

P.S. As a semi-happy ending, Republicans dropped the term "forcible" from this bill. Unfortunately, this bill is still a step backwards for the women's movement and the pro-choice movement.

I am incredibly thankful that this particular issue has never hit close to home in my life or the lives of my friends. I hope that I never have firsthand experience, but if I do, I hope that the country I live in will help me make the best decision and not perpetuate the feelings of helplessness and worthlessness that rape causes. 


  1. If you haven't seen the Wednesday, February 2nd episode of the Daily Show, you should check it out. They feature an entire segment on the redefinition scandal and manage to point out just how fucking ridiculous and offensive it is.

    Open discourse about rape is important, but as soon as it becomes the source of stupid, bipartisan politicizing, something has gone terribly wrong.

  2. oh i'd definitely like to check that out, thanks!