Until the war is over

Originally posted at Feministing Community page

Perhaps we should be done talking about Akin’s “legitimate rape” remarks and the GOP’s hollow attempts to distance themselves from his stance while simultaneously laying groundwork for an abortion plank that has no mention of exceptions around rape or incest. But we can’t be done. We can’t be done because Akin isn’t done. We can’t be done because Akin isn’t a lone gunman in this War on Women. He’s part of an army of people who believe, be it because of politics or religion – or maybe because they just didn’t have great sex-education – that women can’t (and shouldn’t) make their own decisions about their own bodies.

The words “the personal is political” has never resonated more with me than it has in this last year. The outpour of anti-choice legislation, the attacks on every aspect of reproductive justice, is a terrifying reminder than my rights can be bought and sold for an election without my permission. And I know the motive behind this attempt to stifle autonomy for women must be political because nothing adds up. If Romney means what he says, for example, and makes exceptions for abortions in cases of rape because he still cares about women, how does he think that’s going to go? If one of the 32,000 women who are estimated to be pregnant from rape each year tries to get an abortion in a country that restricts them almost entirely, where will they go if the clinics are mostly closed? If there is no funding? What will they do if they are too afraid and fearful for their lives to say that they were raped? What if they are ‘too young’, or ‘too poor’, or ‘not American enough’ to be supported by the systems that claim to support them? There’s no science or research or logic to it – just repeated attempts to take control of how we live our lives.

And there is so much shame around how we choose to live, especially those that are trying to thrive in the margins. We are shamed for using birth control and we are deemed careless for our unexpected pregnancies. We are criticized for parenting at too young an age, and we are made to feel embarrassed for seeking access to reproductive health services. We are scolded by those who will never have to make the decisions we will have to make about bearing or raising a child and we are patronized when we speak out about our rights. It’s the kind of shame we may spend our whole lives trying to resist, keeping it from tangling itself in our hearts and our minds.

But we can count on each other – we can share our stories and tell each other it’s ok to be mad or sad or hopeful or ashamed. We can keep speaking out and keep changing our homes and our communities and we can keep fighting until there are just our bodies, alive and safe and well.


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