Monday, February 20, 2012

virginia's new honor rape law

In places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, male-dominated society is the norm. Violence against women is acceptable. Women who try to demonstrate any control over their own lives are demonized. And in this area of the world, an "honor rape" is considered an acceptable means of punishing a family. One of the more well known cases of honor rape was that of Mukhtaran Bibi, a Pakistani woman who was gang-raped because her brother was accused of having illicit sex with an unmarried woman. The case is well-known because she successfully pressed charges against the men who raped her and some of the men went to prison. But that is a rare outcome in that part of the world. And in some cases, tribal councils have ordered a gang rape as a punishment.

This couldn't happen in the United States of America. No. But it is going to be happening very soon. Because the men of Virginia have banded together and passed a law that requires that every woman who wants to have an abortion must undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound, whether she wants one or not and whether her doctor wants her to or not. Because the vast majority of abortions are performed in the early part of the first trimester, the only viable ultrasound is transvaginal ultrasound.

What the heck is that? Well, I can describe it in detail because I have had one. In 1991, I had an ectopic pregnancy. My doctor ordered a transvaginal ultrasound to verify that there was a fertilized egg in my fallopian tube. No amount of conversation could have prepared me for this event.

This is the device that was used. When the technician took it out and began explaining it to me, I nearly died of embarrassment. She was very professional and didn't bat an eye as she rolled a condom onto the wand. I had to lie on my back while she put the wand into me. It was not pleasant. It was uncomfortable.It was embarrassing.

This is what the wand looks like inside a woman. As you can see, it isn't a small item. The wand must penetrate all the way to the back wall of the vagina in order to capture an image.It also has to stay in place and be moved around in order to achieve good images. There is a lot of pressure and discomfort. And it takes a while. In my situation, this WAS medically necessary, so I bore the discomfort and embarrassment. I then had surgery to remove the ectopic pregnancy and mourned the loss of a baby that I had very much wanted.

Now you're probably wondering why the men of Virginia passed a law that requires doctors to do this to women when it is medically unnecessary. They claim that they want women to make an informed decision prior to having an abortion. They want women to have "more information". They imagine that looking at an ultrasound picture of the fetus will cause some women to change their minds. There has been no call for this from the medical community, no hint from anyone knowledgeable that women seeking abortions are lacking information that they need to make an informed decision. So we know that this is not really the reason.

Just to get the true flavor of their thinking, note this: When presented with information about how the majority of these medically unnecessary ultrasounds would be performed, one legislator responded that women had already made the decision to be penetrated when they got pregnant, so he had no problem with it. (In other words, once you allow your vagina to be penetrated by a man, it's open season on your lady parts.)

What does this have to do with honor rape? Well, let's see. We have religious fanatics who do not want women to have freedom over their own bodies. These religious fanatics are so determined to control women that they have legislated a vaginal penetration of them in order to shame and punish them. That, by definition, is an honor rape.

Tribal Council in Pakistan = Virginia Legislature
Honor Rape = Forcible penetration of vaginas as a way of punishing women who are sexual

Congratulations, Virginia. You've done yourself proud. You are now the Taliban. You must be so proud.


Sarah Lindahl said...

That was so good! You should run for some office because we need more thoughtful women like you representing us. I'm sharing this on Facebook.

Anonymous said...

Err merr gawd, feminazi

OyaSophia said...

Thanks, Sarah! I'm not sure how I missed your response before now. And thanks for sharing. I really appreciate your support!

As for Anonymous, your efforts at mastering English as a second language are admirable. Keep up the good work!

Dylan Pritts said...

How does that make her a feminazi? Go back to YouTube, troll.

OyaSophia said...

Thanks, Dylan. I think it's important to note that Anonymous is ... well ... anonymous. That means he is either 12 years old - or he is mentally incapable of rational thought and intelligent discussion. Don't waste your time on him.

Anonymous said...

lol, why couldn't women have voted for this? it was only men? Do women not have the ability to vote in Virginia? That generalization, that all the men and none of the women voted for is probably why the first anonymous called you a feminazi. Also you don't know Anonymous's sex, nor the sex of those who voted for it. To those "fanatic" religious people it's not about rights (well I guess you could say the rights of the child...) its about the life of an unborn child. And Anonymous was anonymous because of a couple of reasons other than being "stupid", one he or she felt they'd get made fun of... (which she or he did) or two doesn't have an account lols. Way to think out side of the box on this topic, seeing both sides of the coin helps a lot.

OyaSophia said...

Had you bothered to do any research at all, you would have learned that there was no vote by the general population. This was voted on by the Virginia state legislature, which is, unfortunately, mostly male and Republican, hence my suggestion that it was men who did this.

You offer up the time-worn argument that anti-abortion people are concerned about the "rights of the child". It is unfortunate that the same party that purports to support the "rights of the child" also seeks to destroy all existing services to aid those children once they transform from fetus to infant. Once they are born, they are usually expected to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Oh, please spare us this argument. You're not pro-life. You're pro-birth. That concern for the "rights of the child" is simply a veil behind which stands the Christian Taliban, ready to subjugate women and force them to do what YOU think they should do. By all means feel free to believe that, Anonymous, but kindly keep your hands off our bodies, whatever your gender may be.

Finally, I will proudly wear the tag of feminazi, provided your thinking is what I am fighting. Call me what you like. I've heard it all and care not one bit what Anonymous thinks of me, no matter your number. You seek to control us, but you will fail. Once freed, the enslaved will not go back so easily, no matter how much you wish it to be so. You are a fading relic, the one who wants to tell others how to live our lives. Poof! Be gone! You are of no consequence. But you knew that already, or you would have identified yourself. Here, at least, I have the last word. Reply all you care to. Your words will never appear here again. Now run along, silly troll, run along.

Anonymous said...

I'm not anti-choice or anything but personally I do think a guy should at least have a say in an abortion if a fetus conceived consensually. There are exceptions to that when it comes to rape and such so of course the woman chooses for herself. But other than that I don't think it's very fair to not consult with whomever the male partner is. Obviously the male would have to make a legal agreement to hold them accountable for the child if it is born so that the woman doesn't end up on the wrong end of the deal. If the male objected to the abortion but she still wanted to have it then I don't know how that would be settled, however the male can't be tossed aside and have no say at all the fetus' genes are composed of both parents 50/50. It is the woman who has to carry the child and all I know but I just think leaving the opinion of the male seems to be selfish? I don't know the best word for it I don't mean for it to sound offensive in any way. Figured I'd at least give you a more reasonable conversation than the other comments of the femnazi and such.

OyaSophia said...

In a perfect world, the parents who conceived the child would discuss the issues involved and come to a decision together. Of course, it would be best if they did this LONG BEFORE they had sex!!! To me, this is a perfect argument for education about human reproduction and easy access to birth control. Decisions about whether to have a baby should be taking place BEFORE SEX HAPPENS.

There are a number of problems with "the father should be consulted". When we think about how we would handle a situation, then apply it to everyone else, we are assuming that our choices are the RIGHT choices - for everyone. It is simply arrogant to assume that our way is the only right way.

If it were me, I would absolutely involve the father in my decision-making. I know that my partner would discuss it with me - calmly and rationally - then support me in the decision I made, even if he disagreed with my final decision. Knowing this, it would be easy for me to then conclude that ALL women should involve the fathers in their decision-making. But every relationship is not like mine and every man is not like my man.

Every woman must be given the freedom to make final decisions about reproduction. With that comes the freedom to discuss her decision with anyone she chooses, or nobody, if she chooses.

But - the obvious way to avoid this situation is to provide education and birth control. I am continually amazed that those who are the MOST passionate about being "pro-life" also seem to be AGAINST education and birth control. They also seem to be against ensuring the heath & safety of the infants AFTER they are born, which also mystifies me.

I do thank you for your rational and respectful comment. :-)

Anonymous said...

*Same person again* You are right about the male not always being the perfect person but to me it sounds like people argue that it's only the woman's choice because it's her body and doesn't have to consult their partner about it. Which to me makes it sound very misleading I just wanted to make sure that wasn't true so I'm glad that there are people like you who talk it out with the father at least. Also yes I do completely agree with you that people should have to at least have safe sex to avoid having to deal with the whole process. If people made smarter decisions to learn how to prevent pregnancy before actually engaging in the act. I know a. Lot of people don't get the education about it which isn't their fault but they should at least try to learn a little something about it through a public program. (Which these programs need to be more out reaching to communities to let them know they're there to help). But teenagers are really bad at not paying attention at classes they're forced to take since they don't realize that this can actually happen to anyone not just random people. Yes I am too surprised since safe sex education would actually be a good thing for pro-life people since they're against abortions why wouldn't they just prevent the whole thing from happening to begin with is beyond me. They seem to not really analyze their position well enough. But personally when it comes to it I think abortion should be a last resort of course, having it as a normal thing like contraceptives wouldn't really be a good social norm.

OyaSophia said...

I've been involved in providing education about human reproduction to young people for many, many years. I have NEVER held a single class or workshop that I did not have the absolute and total attention of every teen in the room. This was true in urban settings, in rural settings, in churches, at youth groups, on college campuses and everywhere else I have ever spoken on the subject. I've always spoken of abstinence AND taking responsibility for your own behavior AND using appropriate contraception. Young people WANT to do the right thing.

I've also debated abortion and birth control for decades and have NEVER heard anyone who describes themselves as pro-choice say anything about using abortion as birth control. Every pro-choice person I have EVER known has opposed the idea of abortion. I oppose abortion completely. Pro-choice people want to live in a world where abortion never happens. But we will never condone telling other people what they can and can't do. I am pro-choice now and I will be pro-choice forever.

Thanks again for your respectful and thoughtful comments.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to worry about this, no one would want to touch your fat whale like body anyways. The abortion doctor would probably throw up the entire time.

Why are Feminists always fat and ugly? Because they are angry that no guy would even think about touching them so they become feminists to try and make up for their insecurities. It's pathetic and sad.

OyaSophia said...

I decided to publish this comment from, you guessed it, another anonymous, to show why violence against women is still such a problem in the world. Everything boys and girls see in magazines, television, movies and the fashion industry perpetuates the powerful myth that women should be most concerned about how they look. This leads to adult men who imagine that the worst possible insult to a woman is that she is fat and that men don't want her. I don't blame the person who wrote this. He (or she?) is just a reflection of the world surrounding him (or her?) When women are marginalized or compartmentalized or seen as "less than", men feel free to try to control them or be violent against them. Sometimes, as in the most recent comment, that violence comes in a verbal format. So sad.

Jennifer Mahowald said...

The previous anonymous comment had a point, however rude. Why is it acceptable for you to be promoting an unhealthy lifestyle that is closer to a slow suicide? Obesity is more of a problem than a simple medical procedure. I've had a transvaginal ultrasound and had no issues. You should spend less time preaching and more time walking if you want people to take you seriously. I'd rather pay attention to someone healthy than someone who gives the impression that you do. "I write a blog so I have an excuse to sit on my bum all day". I want my daughter to be healthy and live a long life, NOT die from obesity related causes. I hate it when people use the "society's perception of beauty" excuse in response to criticism instead of just saying, "yeah, I know I need to work on that" and acknowledging and taking responsibility for their problems. Did society make you fat? I don't think so. You CHOOSE to be heavy.

OyaSophia said...

Well, this would perhaps be an intelligent response if I was obese. I'm not.

The previous poster seems to be under the impression that all people who self-identify as "feminist" or "pro-choice" are ugly and/or fat and/or have no man. Perhaps you agree with the previous poster. If so, that's just sad.

It is quite typical for angry men to believe that the worst insults they can throw at a woman are "you're fat" or "you're ugly" or "no man wants you". Again, maybe you are one of those women who agree with him. If so, that's just sad.

If you re-read my comment, I don't think you'll find anywhere that I have suggested that being fat is a good thing. What I am suggesting is that the value of a woman is in many other things, not in their body shape, their relative beauty or whether they currently are in a relationship with a man.

Perhaps you are being deliberately obtuse for entertainment purposes? But here I am writing about the critically important need for women to control their lives and the priggish nature of the right-wing men who want to make decisions for women. And my opponents want to discuss women being fat. Luckily, I'm used to such trollish stupidity and am not bothered by it in the least. In fact, after 30+ years of listening to the same tired insults, it has become a funny joke we feminists laugh about as we read your rants. You'd think after all these years that one of you would come up with something a bit more original in your "insult the feminist" repertoire. Perhaps then we'll take YOU more seriously.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say I'm very happy that I am now a bit more informed, an regretful it took me so long to find out about this =)

Anonymous said...

Just one last note to foolish men who are STILL posting comments on this article almost five years later: Your time being in charge of the world is coming to an end. Women will continue to act and speak freely. You will not control us. You will not silence us. You can send all the ugly, judgmental, even threatening comments you want. We smell your fear. And here in this space, WE silence YOU.