22 August 2012

An Open Letter to, Well, Everyone

I've been stewing on this for a week.

My blog has always been about me and my daily life and my weird sense of humor. Lately, this joint is more quiet than hopping, but it's nice to know I still have a place in The People's Republic of Blogistan where I can let loose.

What has been stewing in my head is all this ruckus about Representative Todd Akin.

I've never been raped. I hope to never go through that one thing that all (and, yes, I mean all) women fear. I hope and pray that my daughter will never have to heal from rape. We all fear many things, but rape is something all us girls think about, whether it's happened to us or not. It's the ultimate defilement of our freedom, our femininity, and our humanity. I walk through a parking lot, keys sticking out from in between my fingers like nasty little Wolverine claws, completely alert to my surroundings. I do this day and night. I check the back seat of my car before I get in, even if the car was locked. I look at every male stranger at the grocery store, every single one walking down the street, each man going past me as a potential rapist.

Oh, wait, you're a man? And you don't like assumptions being made about you? Oh, well then, let me just say welcome to the party because I don't appreciate being treated like a second-class citizen who should be relegated to the kitchen and laundry room while supposedly possessing the powers of a Bene Gesserit witch.

Thus far, I have enjoyed being an American woman in the latter 20th and early 21st centuries. I have the ability to go to the grocery store in my flip flops and shorts in the baking Georgia summer, I can wear a bathing suit on the beach and catch a few rays during a family vacation, I can talk to my husband about financial issues, political opinions, and child-rearing philosophies without getting backhanded, I can go out and find gainful employment (if I could ever write a decent resume), and heck, I can do anything except spontaneously grow a Y-chromosome.

But, and this is a pretty big BUT, when people like Rep. Todd Akin come onto the scene and make statements about "legitimate rape" and that I have such power over my body that I can shut off ovulation at the flip of the switch, I feel all those personal freedoms melt away. I feel like I'm living in a Matrix where I'm being fooled into thinking that I have freedoms when, in fact, maybe I don't. Or I do and they're about to be snatched out from under me like a magician does a table cloth. Except this really nice china grouping is about to be shattered. Because, as we all know, douchebags are everywhere and where there's one Rep. Akin, there's more of him, waiting in line to express the same uneducated, narrow-minded opinion, ready to take away my choice in what I do to my body. Much like the rapist takes away a woman's choice with whom she will share her body.

This isn't a blog post about "vote for The Other Side". This is a blog post about LEAVING ME THE FUCK ALONE. I don't ask for much. I don't ask for federal assistance or state welfare, lowering my taxes or bearing arms. This is a post about personal fucking responsibility.

If you want to make sure your children never have abortions, then teach them about safe sex, saving themselves for their spouses and that abortion will send them to Hell. But, don't presume to do the same for my children. Don't make that decision for me. Because, yes, if (God forbid) my daughter is ever raped, I will take her to the pharmacist for the morning-after pill. And if you take that choice away from me, then I will take her wherever I have to go to make sure she never has the child of someone who tried to take away her freedom. I don't intend to buy condoms for your kids, so don't you dare ever take away my freedom to know, deep down, that I, or even many of our daughters, mothers, wives, or sisters, could not mentally survive pregnancy due to rape.

I don't pass out guns on the street corner and I will only ever use a gun in the defense of me and my family. Don't you dare ever take away my ability to protect myself and my family.

I don't get up in your face with my American flag, waving it around like a cat toy, just to piss you off. Don't you dare ever take away my right to wear said flag on a t-shirt, pledge allegiance to it, or fly it proudly from my house.

I don't market my religious beliefs (or lack thereof) to anyone by knocking on doors or starting conversations about faith at inappropriate places or times. So, stop trying to convert me on my doorstep, while I'm working at a polling precinct, or when I'm trying to scrapbook and socialize at a friend's house.

I don't tell you to shut up when you're defending something that makes me physically ill or when you're showing something on TV that I disagree with. I simply change the channel or walk away. So, stop trying to shut down people when you disagree with them.

I will never tell you who to fall in love with or who you can spend the rest of your life with. Love equals happiness. Why shouldn't we want people to be happy? My sexual orientation is practiced in my bedroom with the blinds closed. Just because someone is gay doesn't mean they do the deed on public park benches or in grocery store aisles. Quit assuming that the sexual orientation of a stranger can destroy your marriage. Only you can do that.

I won't ask you, Rep. Akin, to stop running for re-election and I won't duct tape your mouth shut. I will, though, tell you that you're an asshat who needs to go back to high school-level anatomy and physiology classes and tell you that maybe, from now on, you'll think before you open your uneducated-about-the-female-body mouth. As a representative of the people of the 2nd congressional district of Missouri, you should know better. You should know that rape is something ALL women fear, viscerally, and that you don't get to trivialize it or the need for many victims of it to know they could never survive knowing a physical reminder of said rape exists in the world. Ever.

Let's take responsibility for ourselves and our children. Let's stop trying to control the lives of everyone outside the walls of our home. Let's instead take care of each other. Let's not trivialize a horrendous act in order to forward a political agenda. Instead of shouting at each other and spouting such nonsense as "MY SIDE IS BETTER THAN YOUR SIDE" why not realize that ALL sides are right, for the people defending them, and that we HAVE to compromise. Yes, COMPROMISE. It has to happen or we will fail as a society. You may not agree with what I have to say and I may dislike how you feel, but we have to meet in the middle and walk together or we're just going to stand there, butting heads, getting nowhere.

So, leave abortion alone. Leave rape victims and their subsequent choices alone. The woman who forgot to take her birth control pill and accidentally got pregnant and felt her only option was to have an abortion? Leave her alone, too. And leave alone the odd woman who may be using abortion as a form of birth control. The choices these women make don't affect you in any way. Leave all us gals alone. We can, surprisingly, take care of ourselves. We're a hardy bunch, believe it or not. If there truly is a God, It will judge us as It sees fit. That's not your job.

24 comments:

Avitable said...

Well said.

gingerssnaps said...

Bravo! My thoughts exactly!

Michel Marcheterre said...

You had me at Bene Gesserit.

Dave2 said...

As amazing and reasonable as this excellent entry is... my mind could NOT get away from your mention of Bene Gesserit! I mean, SERIOUSLY! They ACTUALLY HAVE THAT ABILITY THAT AKIN THINKS ALL WOMEN HAVE! I never even thought of that! Though... they ARE fictional characters, right?

Just when I think you couldn't possibly get any cooler than you already are...

Kyra said...

Exactly!!!

Megan said...

A-to-the-men.

hello haha narf said...

i love you

Muskrat said...

Know what I fear most? You when angry.

Lindsay said...

It is so easy to get frustrated and angry at politicians, especially right now in the heat of election season. Since your post was an open letter to everyone, I concluded that it would be appropriate to seek clarification on a confusion I have had for a while. You are certainly entitled to your beliefs and opinions and rights to voice said beliefs and opinions thanks to our great Nation. That being said, I have never understood how women get a pass to end a life just because it brings them pain and suffering. I, like you, pray that I nor anyone I know and love would ever have to experience the devastating terror of rape. I just can't see how choosing to end someone's life would make the situation any better. While I understand that the growing baby would serve as a daily reminder of the horrific incident, I really don't think a woman would go a day without the reminder, baby or not. Rape hurts women. Abortion kills babies and hurts women. Even if I had no Biblical convictions against it, morally I just can't see the justification. 1% of all abortions occur because of rape or incest; 6% of abortions occur because of potential health problems regarding either the mother or child, and 93% of all abortions occur for social reasons (i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient) I feel that it is the holocaust of our time. We as a nation are looking the other way as literally millions of lives are ended, mostly because of inconvenience. It is true that another women's abortion does not hurt me, but it does hurt that baby and that baby can't speak for itself. So I feel someone must speak up for the unborn's right to live. It seems that, as already evident in Europe, it begins a slippery slope of the right to end a life. Some say before birth, some even say as old as 2 years old if the child is a burden on the caregiver. See this article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9113394/Killing-babies-no-different-from-abortion-experts-say.html The stand that many people make on abortion and other issues have little to do with the affect on their personal life. It is the fact that when a nation decides that something is acceptable it becomes normalized through media and every facet of life. It becomes who we are and what we stand for. I just find it so odd that as a public school teacher, I could not even give a child a vitamin without written consent from the parent, but a teacher can drive a teenage girl across state lines for her to get an abortion without her family knowing it and once it is said and done does not legally have to notify the parents. Something is not right with that! I appreciate the opportunity to engage in healthy discussion and I hope I won't be ban from family events! ;)

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Thanks, hon!

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Thanks, darlin'!

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

:D

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Outside of Frank Herbert's wonderful brain, the Bene Gesserit are fictional. But oh to be able to control one's body completely would be awesome!

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Thanks for reading!

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Thanks, hon!

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

I love you, too!

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

HAHAHAHAHA! You crack me up!

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Lindsay - I would never ban you from a family function! I'm the outlaw, remember? :) But, we can agree to disagree. Which is why I won't disclose my full opinion about abortion here. I want to keep that to myself. I would still like to be able to attend family functions. But I think it's fundamentally wrong for our government to be in the business of mandating abortion. Especially in cases of rape, cases where the mother's life may be in danger of carrying the pregnancy to term, and in cases where the baby will have no chance of survival after birth. Where I'm coming from, those things are non-negotiable.

My point in writing this post was not to discuss the moral right or wrong of abortion, but to point out that my government has no place in making that type of decision for me. Just like I don't think it would be correct for a Christian church to, by law, invite imams, rabbis, Sikh leaders, athiests, etc. into their churches to convince their members to convert. Just like I think certain drugs should be legalized. Just like I think prostitution should be legal. Just like I think euthanasia should be legal. And I could go on and on.

The decision of abortion should be made by the mother and father (if she wishes) and/or grandparents (if the girl is underage). And said procedure should be provided by those doctors who feel comfortable performing it without fear of punishment. What we can hope is that people like you, who feel so passionately about it, can change society's thinking and lower the 93% statistic through activism and education.

I think it would also be helpful if we wouldn't turn a blind eye to sex in general. I see so many people scream about "CONDOMS IN HIGH SCHOOL BATHROOMS!" but think about how many unwanted pregnancies that would stop. We don't want our precious babies to have sex until they're older and married but, let's admit it and be honest, some kids are going to do it no matter what. (continued below...)

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

(Continued...)
Lindsay - Also, I see problems with adoptions. I see tons of support for biological mothers who are giving up their children for adoption... right up until they give birth. After? Well, they're on their own. It's hard to override those maternal instincts and give your baby away, so why can't we somehow "reward" them with psychological after-care? My mother had a child out of wedlock that she gave up for adoption and no one gave her support. My grandparents shuffled her off to a home for unwed mothers because they were ashamed of her and after 9 months, she was expected to go on as if nothing had happened. Granted, that was 1966, but I'm sure the same holds true today. If you were "shunned" socially for abortion rather than for carrying your baby to term and giving it to another family, I could see many other women opting for the latter rather than the former. But, when a woman's own family will possibly disown her for "embarrassing the family by getting pregnant", of course she's going to hide that fact with an abortion.

There is also the question of adoption. When you hear about all the hoops you have to jump through to secure an in-country adoption and then, have the possibility of having your parental rights stripped because three years later the biological mother has changed her mind and wants custody, there's something horribly wrong with the system. This is the very reason why Tyler and I nearly adopted out-of-country when it seemed that fertility treatments weren't working.

I know I'm rambling, but I can't comment on the science behind conception/self-awareness/consciousness. I'm not a specialist in those areas. But I can say that when abortion is made illegal, then what's next? Birth control pills? Condoms? Diaphragms? The morning-after pill? Where does it end? I'm afraid of the floodgates opening to the point that the possibility of a fertilized egg has more control over my life than I have over my life.

Love you, cousin-in-law! That's something that will never change! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Lindsay said...

Thanks for reading my comment and responding with love! I'm with you on the realization that the government needs to back off on many areas! I am all about raising awareness and educating people on the realities of abortion. I guess it's just that once abortion was legal, it became ridiculously easy for any girl for any reason to have one. When we legalize something, we put our stamp of approval on it as a society whether we like it or not and it causes a culture change whether bad or good. Just like in the case of that article I referenced earlier, if we do not draw out the boundaries we will soon have people choosing to kill their infants and toddlers because they decided they were an inconvenience on the family or society. We wouldn't really sit around as a nation and say, "That's their business and we need to stay out of it." (I would hope anyway) Some things are just wrong and we as a society have got to determine where we think that line is.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Lindsay - I completely agree about boundaries. I don't think anyone who has completely agreed with this blog post or anyone (in their right mind) who identifies as pro-choice would agree with the article you attached that it's OK to off a 2-year-old because they were a detriment to the family. But, I'm also worried about those boundaries at the other end of the spectrum that could be taken away (birth control, condoms, etc) because using those things have the potential to prevent a pregnancy that should have happened and then we get into a whole Calvanism/ pre-destination argument.

After doing a little digging, I found an article on the US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health web site. Titled "Abortion in the U.S.: Utilization, Financial, and Access". It was published in June, 2008 (the most recent one I could find) by The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. I'll quote a few lines from the article:

"Approximately one-fifth (19%) of the 6.4 million pregnancies occurring annually in the U.S. end in induced abortion." (That comes out to 1.2 million abortions per year in the US at that time.)

"In 2005, 1.21 million abortions were performed in the U.S., down from 1.61 million (the all-time high) in 1990."

"49% of pregnancies were unintended in the U.S., and of these, 42% resulted in abortions in 2001 (the most recent data available)."

"89% of abortions were performed in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy in 2004, with about 63% in the first eight weeks and 1% of abortions at 21 weeks or later."

"Complications from abortions are rare, with less than 0.3% of abortion patients in the U.S. experiencing a major complication requiring hospitalization.16 The annual risk of death associated with abortion has been approximately one death per 100,000 legal abortions."

"Research has shown that both medical and surgical abortions performed in the first trimester are not significantly associated with later infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, or preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries and no greater risk of breast cancer." (continued to next comment...)

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Lindsay - (continued from previous comment). Another article from the same organization (http://dailyreports.kff.org/Daily-Reports/2008/September/23/dr00054614.aspx) shows that as of the publishing in 2008, abortion rates had dropped steadily since 1974, but that this was still a disparity between race (minorities have a higher abortion rate) and income (poor Americans have a higher abortion rate).

So, some good is coming from pro-life activism. And education should continue in order for abortion rates to drop, but it needs to be positive, meaningful education that not only covers abstinence, but also just common sense.

Common sense that Rep. Akin seems to lack.

Glad we're talking! :)

Lindsay said...

Me too! Thanks for your thoughts on the matter. Love you!

sybil law said...

If only our politicians had working earholes.
Or brains.