In politics, stupidity is not a handicap. ~~Napoleon Bonaparte
It is currently my practice to remain emotionally detached from the flow of political rhetoric, especially in a presidential election year. My tendency to be sensitive to the emotional currents around me makes these times rather painful. I accept this about my nature, and set personal boundaries accordingly. Of course, Life is the Eternal Trickster Spirit.
It started with a comment. In a weekend radio interview, Rep. Todd Akin glibly stated that ‘legitimate’ rape rarely results in, and that a woman’s body will reject, an unwanted pregnancy. He then implied that a post-rape abortion would be “attacking the child.” I am stunned by the ignorance and dehumanization in this line of thinking. To my understanding, Mr. Akin is saying that: 1) women do not really know what rape is, 2) a woman’s body can and does defend itself against unwanted pregnancy, and 3) women must not control their own reproduction unless the “moral majority” of society agrees.
I am flush with the challenge of facing the truth about myself, my past, and the world I live in. I feel like Diana Nyad… this challenge is just beyond my ability to “soldier on.”
Deep breath…. counting to ten…. I am a woman. I am a mother. I am a survivor of sexual exploitation.
I was not raped the first time I became pregnant. I was 18 and in love. I was thrilled to know that a child was growing within me. I was living at home with my parents & spending weekends with my boyfriend, who was in the Army and stationed at Fort Hunter-Liggett on California’s Central Coast. We were young and believed we would live forever.
My father objected to this arrangement. He told me he did not want to raise my “bastard child.” He informed me of a “simple procedure” using a saline solution that would take care of this problem. His medical insurance would pay for it all.
My boyfriend agreed.
So, I went to a doctor appointment for a pre-procedure physical. The doctor began his exam and suddenly left the room, returning with a colleague. The second doctor repeated the exam and the two conferred briefly. It appeared that I was in my second trimester, and that “simple procedure” changed to something a little more complex.
The doctors explained to me that they will now insert laminaria sticks into my cervix, which will begin the process of dilation– opening my womb for the next phase of this process.
For my male readers, dilation of the cervix in this case can be compared to stretching the opening of the penis using a Q-Tip.
They then sent me home with instructions to fast after 10 pm and return for admission first thing in the morning.
Feeling nauseous, confused, and overwhelmed, I lay down on the sofa in the hospital lobby, waiting for my mother to take me home.
How was I going to explain what was happening?
Why did I let them do this to me?
Why did my father and my boyfriend tell me I had to do this?
What choice did I have?
I did not eat. I slept restlessly, dreaming of judgment, condemnation, and running away from an unseen pursuer.
In the morning, my mother drove me back to the hospital.
They gave me a private room with a TV.
They had lots of papers for me to sign.
They inserted something like a suppository into my uterus through my dilated cervix, and told me I might experience some cramping.
Labor pains, of a sort. Like severe menstrual cramps. My mother stayed at my bedside all day and into the evening.
I felt something pass through my vagina that night.
I told my mother.
She wanted to look.
I asked her to get the nurse.
She cleaned up the bed and took away the soiled linens.
Neither my father nor my boyfriend came to see me while I was in the hospital. Neither of them called to see how I was doing.
The next morning, I was discharged to home. I told my mother that I wouldn’t wish that experience on my worst enemy.
I am pro-life. I believe in taking the best care possible of the children we bring into this world. They depend on us to keep them safe until they’re able to take care of themselves. I believe families, in all their beautiful diversity, deserve all the dignity, respect, support, and encouragement we can give them, because families are the foundation of civilization.
I am pro-choice. I believe that women should be empowered to choose when, how, and with whom they have children, and that no one else has the right to impose their will on any woman’s body… physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or ideologically.
I am pro-education. My 18-year-old self wished that when she was older, the world would be a little wiser and young women wouldn’t need to have these “simple procedures,” and that having children would be treated as the blessing that it is. I wished that procreation would become a choice shared by two people who want to share their life and love with brand new little developing humans… you know, angels sent from heaven to learn about being human…
Yes, I am an Idealist.
And in my idealism, I neglected to take into account the moralism, sexism, masculinism, and anti-feminism of the ruling classes in this country. I’ve come to believe that capitalism, consumerism, and militarism continue to be more important to us as a nation than the day-to-day lives of the We the People… and that morality is nothing more than exploitation of our basic human need for social acceptance…and our fear of rejection and abandonment.
And I’m glad I’m menopausal. I fear for the future of women of child-bearing age in a nation that pathologizes our sexuality and reproductivity.
God/dess Bless America. We certainly need it.