A Responsibility to Be Politically Active

Earlier today, I came across this article in The Atlantic arguing that “rape exceptions” in anti-abortion legislation do far more harm than good to the state of women’s reproductive rights when put into practice and are not a “better than nothing” alternative to full abortion rights. The article presents a hypothetical case of a state enacting such legislation and questions the state’s ability to enforce such a law. “How will women claim their “rape exception?” it asks. Would women have to prove that they have in fact been raped in order to terminate their pregnancy? Women are victims of rape at levels highly exceeding those of men. Additionally, over half -about 54%- of sexual assaults go unreported, often because “women fear repercussions from their abusers.” How, then, can a policy such as this one as espoused by leading conservative politicians today be seen as progressive at all?

If we students are serious about fighting for women’s rights and combating patriarchy, we must do more than simply sit in class and break down these issues; we must actively engage ourselves in the political process. Bell Hooks’ piece, “Seduced By Violence No More,” points to our collective participation in “rape culture” as a major obstacle to meaningful progress in the feminist movement, specifically citing the severity of the issue among African-American men. While this is arguably a social problem which would be impossible to solve politically, I can’t imagine that electing officials such as Tod Akin and Paul Ryan (both white men staunchly opposed to abortions) to represent us signifies a step in the right direction. Doing nothing to educate likely voters about candidates’ stances on reproductive rights, and of course not voting, are tantamount to passively supporting the advancement of patriarchy and the further marginalization of the feminist movement.

 

Citations:

http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates

http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims

“Seduced By Violence No More,” Chapter 10 in Bell Hooks’ book “Outlaw Culture”

“The Problem With Rape Exceptions,” The Atlantic web version, 2 November, 2012. (http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2012/11/the-problem-with-rape-exceptions/264470/#)

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2 Responses to A Responsibility to Be Politically Active

  1. nbsc128 says:

    I completely stand with you on this issue. There are few clear cut decisions when it comes to politics, but on the topic of women’s bodies, giving way to one issue brings an avalanche of archaic values onto our political system. You bring up a valid point when you ask how exactly women can “prove” they’ve been the subjects of rape. If over half of committed rapes (rainn.org) already go unreported to the police, how many would make it through the “proof” process? Any sort of ruling requiring proof of rape for an abortion, assumes women will try to “cheat” the system by selfishly attempting to have an abortion when in fact they haven’t been raped. These women are survivors and have been subjected to enough without this “guilty until proven innocent” mentality.

    http://www.rainn.org/statistics

  2. javellys says:

    I definitely agree with your point on getting involved, especially with the 2012 election just around the corner (literally). No matter what our stance is, it is our responsibility to make our voices heard by voting and encouraging others to vote. We may not have a position in office, but the one simple yet effective right we do have is the right to vote. This especially true when it comes to women who were oppressed in this way for so long, up until 1920. It is just as Simone de Beauvoir brings up the idea of women viewed as the “other” (The Second Sex). If we want women to be taken seriously and have a voice then we need to stand up for what is rightfully ours, and change the things which we still do not have rights to. If not, then how will the feminist movement ever be taken seriously? Abortion is just one of the issues that women need to take a stance on.
    Source: Beauvoir, The Second Sex.

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