Redefining Rape

  • I had a friend here in Nashville about 22 years ago that was walking to her car after a day at work. She was a chef and had on an apron. A man attacked her as she was getting in her car, tied her hands up with the apron strings as she struggled against him and raped her in the back seat of her car. I haven’t seen her in years, but she never wore an apron again and the one thing she loved, cooking, became more than she could bear. Last time I heard, she was working in an office.
  • I know another woman that is from west Africa. She watched her entire family sprayed down with gunfire. She was spared but passed around from man to man who raped her in every way imaginable. She ended up crawling to a neighboring village to get help. She was 11-years-old. Did I mention that she crawled for miles to get away from her rapists?
  • There is another story of a woman I know who was just out having fun one night. She was drinking and having a blast with her friends which young people do. She wandered off to go to the bathroom. While she was alone, one of the members of the party she was at, which was being held out in the country, followed her and forced her to have sex. No one would help her later on although she wanted to press charges. She was told she just “shouldn’t have been drinking.”
  • She was young, beautiful and vivacious. I knew her because I had some classes with her. A man broke into her house one night while her roommates were gone on spring break and raped her repeatedly for hours, beating her the entire time. I don’t know what happened to her, all I remember later is I saw her in court and she had to tell the story over and over again. By the end of her testimony, she was broken again. I remember distinctly that the defense attorney asked her repeatedly what she was wearing. (She was in pajamas because she was in her own house. I never liked that attorney ever again.)
  • She was 14. I worked with her in my early days of working in a domestic violence shelter. She was pregnant. It was the second time. The father was her biological father. I’ve written about her before as she took matters into her own hands. All I saw was a child that was taught that sex was a horrible, terrible thing.

Should I go on? I have a ton of these stories which are a tapestry of what we as women and men hear all the time about how women are raped. Women we know and care about that have sat across from anyone of you at a restaurant or down the aisle of a pew at church.

For many women, they bury the rapes within themselves. It’s hard to heal when your suffering is devalued.

I will let Cup of Joe over at Knox Views explain:

Four members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation – Reps. Blackburn, DesJarlais, Duncan, and Roe – have all signed on as co-sponsors of legislation which drastically alters the definition of rape. H.R. 3 has been dubbed a top priority by the GOP. But within the details are some harsh ideas about what rape is and is not, all in an effort to reduce reimbursements for private health care plans.

I wish to add one thing and I assure you I will not stutter. There are stories that have flown around Hoots for years of a man who could “take care of things for you” if you were “in a bind” back in the 50s and 60s before Roe V. Wade.  I have just heard the legends behind this but I will say that that one man who told me of this person is someone I respect and have known since childhood. He told me that if you had the money you could set up a “meeting” with him. He was discussed in hushed whispers. He was never arrested because he provided a “service” underneath the shadows.

And as you know, if you didn’t have money you were out of luck. So basically the way I see this piece of legislation is that poor women will be left out. Again.

This law that the GOP is slobbering over in redefining the terminology of the word rape is not only offensive, it’s a harsh reminder that women who are sexually abused are being asked to remain invisible more than they already are. No one knows what they will do after a crisis happens. Imagine if it was someone you love or if it was you.

As I said, I am not stuttering. Rape is rape. And to legislate a definition that has real life implications is immoral.

6 comments for “Redefining Rape

  1. Jessamy
    February 1, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Amen. And thank you.

  2. grandefille
    February 1, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Every time I think I cannot admire and adore you more, you go and write something like this and I am verklempt.

    This law that the GOP is slobbering over in redefining the terminology of the word rape is not only offensive, it’s a harsh reminder that women who are sexually abused are being asked to remain invisible more than they already are.

    You have gotten down to the brass tacks here, and although I hate to lower the level of discourse (as I did at Aunt B’s a minute ago), I must say, also without stuttering, that the latest obsession with defining rape (as with previous sex-related legislative obsessions of late) is sounding more and more like legislators want to legislate what they CAN do and not what others can’t. Why else would you be so damn concerned about splitting hairs about WHAT RAPE IS? It is unlawful sexual penetration of another human being. No distinction about what orifices, objects or objectives were used. And politicians’ continued “slobbering,” as you so aptly put it, over semantics is smacking loudly of a bunch of perverts in a circle jerk. The fact that they get to control women, while the politicians get off, is just a perk to them.

    Again, I apologize for lowering the level of discourse here, but I’m furious. And I thank you.

  3. mickey
    February 1, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Rape is not a FEDERAL ISSUE, why is congress looking at this?

  4. February 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    This issue is something that is extremely important to our ongoing struggle for women’s rights. At EMILY’s List, we know that over the past 26 years, our members have fought for the freedoms my generation enjoys today by helping to elect pro-choice Democratic women. We’re asking the GOP: what are your priorities? You spoke of an economic mandate, but your actions show a dedication to rolling back the rights of women.

    Join EMILY’s List in sending this message to Speaker Boehner: we will not stand for these attacks on women’s rights.

    Visit today to join us.

  5. February 2, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Thank you for this post, Trace. As you document, rape is incredibly common in America. Chances are, all of us know someone who has been raped who just never talks about it.

    But the social conservatives insist that Medicaid coverage of abortion in cases of rape isn’t neccessary because very few pregnancies result from rape. They think either that women magically do not become pregnant unless they “want it” (not true) or they think that most women who report rapes are just lying about it.

    Rape is listed as an exception under the Hyde Amendment because most Americans don’t want to force women to bear rapists’ babies. But the the truly hard-core conservatives were never comfortable with the Hyde Amendment exceptions. They want to make it impossible for poor women to have abortions paid for by Medicaid under any circumstances, including life-threatening situations. Do these so-called “Pro-Lifers” hate all women, or just poor women? You decide.

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