Thursday, February 3, 2011

Give me something I can hit.

I would like to point out that, at the very core of my being, I am a geek. Why do I bring this up now, when I'm about to talk about a very personal, very serious subject? Because I, like most geeks, use fantasy and fiction to cope and deal with very personal, very serious things. I'll get back to this in a minute. But first, my actual point.

A couple weeks ago, a bill was proposed by Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey - H.R.3: "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." Now, maybe you don't think I get it, but I do. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, likes the fact that abortions exist. We can all agree that if we lived in a society where there are less abortions, it would be a more emotionally healthy place to live.

But let's deal with the harsh reality that right now, if the new healthcare plan goes into effect, taxpayers would help women afford abortions for rape and incest. These are abortions that, should the woman choose to have one, are going to put the woman's emotional and physical well-being first before anything else. And as much as abortion saddens me, I cannot look a woman in the eye who was sexually assaulted and tell her that she should not have access to the Plan B Morning After pill, that she should not be able to have an abortion if the pill is no longer an option, that instead she should be forced to carry her rapist's baby for 40 weeks, if she cannot mentally, physically, or emotionally do this safely.

Fortunately, Chris Smith of New Jersey agrees with me. Which is why he is sponsoring a law to legally re-define rape.

Were you drugged at a party and raped? Not anymore. Doesn't count as rape.

Are you mentally disabled and you were coerced into sex? That's not rape anymore.

Did your father, uncle, or grandfather rape you, therefore committing incest, but you're over the age of 18? You weren't raped.

Did your date rape you? Nope. He didn't. Because you weren't raped if he didn't beat you up.

Mr. Smith decided that instead of telling a rape victim she couldn't have an abortion, it would just be a lot easier if he pretended she wasn't a rape victim in the first place. Under this new bill, only "forcible" rape counts as rape if a woman needs her rapist's baby aborted. But if a woman had the ever-living shit beaten out of her, congratulations to her! The United States government recognizes that she was, in fact, raped. Everything else is a little hazy and gray. And the bill even takes it one step further and notes that "it would deny tax credits to companies that offer health plans that cover abortions and it would block anybody with insurance that covers abortions from receiving federal subsidies, even if the abortion portion is paid separately with personal funds."

PERSONAL FUNDS. As in, nobody else is paying for this abortion of a baby that a woman became pregnant with because someone physically forced her to have sex with him, just her - and she still wouldn't be able to get an abortion.

Dealing with the tragic reality of the existence of abortions is one thing. It takes sensitivity, kindness, empathy, and an honest look at the problems in this society that lead to unplanned pregnancies.

Punishing rape victims by violating their rights all over again is an entirely SEPARATE UNIVERSE.

So when I heard this, my brain exploded, my heart sobbed, and I immediately went to my safe little Geek heaven where I thought: Man. Wouldn't it be awesome if there was a superhero who fought rape? And better yet, if this superhero not only fought rape, but fought those who seek, unintentionally but mean-spiritedly, to keep rape victims even more powerless?

I wanted a superhero - a female superhero - who was strong and smart and kind, to fly around at night and kick the crap out of would-be rapists everywhere. I want her to have her day job as someone who testifies before Congress as a survivor herself of physical assault - and who changes minds daily about what rape really is, who it really happens to, and what we can do to prevent it. I want this superhero to talk not only to girls about defending themselves and staying in safe situations, but also to boys about what it means to really be men - and encourage them to never stand by and watch as a friend of theirs becomes a rapist, either.

And I thought about this particular comic. It's from The Ultimates, Vol. 1, issue #9, where Captain America is with The Avengers and he finds out that one of his "friends", Hank, has been beating his wife. Repeatedly. Since college. In fact, Hank once hit his wife Janet so hard he broke the upper part of her mouth into two pieces.

Captain America, being Captain America, goes out on a revenge mission. And when he finds Hank, who can change size and grow bigger, he says to him:

"Give me something I can hit."

No, this is not my art, buy it off Amazon, please don't sue me, Marvel.

And then he beats Hank down, even as Hank has grown twelve times his size, until he's nothing but a pathetic pile of bruised, terrified little boy under a bunch of pipes. And as Captain America walks away, he asks Hank over his shoulder:

"How big do you feel now?"

No, this is not my art, buy it off Amazon, please don't sue me, Marvel.

So let me ask you, Representative Smith: Now that you've told America what you feel defines rape, now that you've told the women of this country whether or not they've been raped or not, now that you've told rape survivors that you would like to have further say over what happens to their bodies:

How big do you feel now?


Rosaria Williams said...

WOWWWWWW! You are a smart geek, indeed! I'm surprised women, including myself, have not talked about this issue. So glad your eloquence is loud and clear!

Wilder said...

Recommended related reading.

Anthony Diecidue (dee-etch-eh-doo-eh) said...

You are one of my favorite people EVER! You know that? I fuckin' love you to death!!!

jenn said...

Beautifully said. Mostly because I'm adopted, I've never advocated FOR abortion specifically, but I do believe that a woman has a right to choose. I disagree with openly promiscuous women popping the Plan B pill like it's abortion candy. HOWEVER - in cases where a woman is forced against her will to have sex and gets pregnant - I simply can't imagine being told that that you have no choice and that you must have that baby. And Chris Smith is an effing moron. Seriously stupid. FORCIBLE rape???? Is there honestly ANY OTHER KIND? The whole concept of this just makes me livid.

And you know - there are superheroes who fight this kind of stuff everyday. People like you who speak out and say what they feel and educate others.

Dave said...

I'll just go ahead and state that I'm pro-life. Having said that, in regards to your post - Right On!

Jo said...

Wow! Powerful and well written, lady!

Anthony Duce said...

Thank you for elaborating on the recent bill. I had heard about the bill on NPR, but hadn’t heard the details.
I wish punishing the rapists, the bullies, the assholes in the world, was as easy as putting Captain America on the case.

kj said...

i am so glad to be here at your blog i could dance my way right into your heart (oh i think i mean you could dance your way into mine)

i love how you write, i love what you say, i love your passion.

amen amen amen.

and thanks ♥

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I need something to hit, too. Incredible post. Thank you so much for bringing up the issue and writing about it so powerfully.

Lira Kellerman said...

Beautifully written.
<3 <3 <3

Lori ann said...

you are awesome. this is defintely disturbing. but what i find most compelling is your deep passion and compassion for humanity.
thank you for sharing this here tracy, bringing light to dark issues can only be helpful.

i'm glad your back.

Elisabeth said...

Whenever people want to minimise the damage done, it seems they attempt to redefine it.

Rape is an act of violence, and to oppose abortion in such circumstances is as you say a continuation of that violence against another. Thanks for a powerful post.

Gisizee said...

Problem here is that men tend not to get raped nearly as much as women, and even if they do, they don't have the added bonus of the possibility of a living thing growing in them to remind them and everyone else of their degradation and violation ever after. This may well be another case when its apt to declare that if men could get pregnant, we wouldn't even be having this discussion. Men who go to war and sacrifice thousands of lives they have no connection to whatsoever, on the mere hint of potential aggression! Abortion - no questions asked about whether there was force or not - would be part of every standard medical benefits package.

Thanks for taking this one on, Phoenix!

Marion said...

This is a powerful post, Phoenix. The mind of if THEY were the ones being raped and made pregnant, then it would be a different matter...It's just not right. Rape is the most horrendous crime...

When I saw your quote, I thought of Steel Magnolias where Sally Field is crying at the grave of her daughter and she says, "I just want to HIT something!" and they push Shirley McLaine up to her and they say, "Here, hit Weezer!" It's when I laugh and cry every time I watch it.

Love you,

PS: You're the cutest, smartest nerd I know. :-)

Purple Cow said...

WOW! Yes, WOW!
This Smith guy knows naught about rape... It angers me when people twist things around to suit their own definitions. If we were to look at 'rape' a little bit more seriously I think there are more rape victims than we think.
As for abortion.
Both the issues you cover and link definitely don't spare punches and are serious and more complex with so many parameters. Definitely worth thinking about. Thank you for this post!

Bathwater said...

It amazes me how far some people will go to interfere with other peoples lives.

You have stated the obvious so well, I can't imagine anyone being able to justify such an absurd bill.

I think y already make a pretty good super hero on this subject.

TeaLeafWind said...

Well written article Tracy. You knocked that out of the park and then some. I have been floored on this issue since spying it on TDS - and I just can not wrap my head around it. This is one of your best written posts yet. I hope smarter heads prevail in congress and the lunatics get their heads out of their asses.

Indigo said...

You're my hero! As someone who became pregnant not long after I had been raped, I can tell described everything perfectly. As it turns out my daughter wasn't a product of that rape. Honestly, I've never forgotten my rapist name and wonder if I would have seen my daughter in a different light.

To think I might not have had a choice...

It's bad enough when you live through a violent rape, but to have someone question your integrity and worthiness - ugh! Of course this choice is put in the hands of someone whose never been there. (Hugs)Indigo

Snowbrush said...

I'm ever appalled by such people. Did you know that the Patriot Act is up for renewal? Funny how we are only hearing about bad weather and Egyptian street fighting on the news.

Wine and Words said...

GAWD! Can politicians get any more f*cked! Arrrrgh! Abortion is a tricky issue, but a re-definition of rape is ludicrous!

Gwen said...

So while I'm against abortions as a form of birth control I am for them in cases of rape and incest. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Going to read more about it now. Have a good weekend my friend. XOXO

drollgirl said...

there was a segment about this issue on the daily show. it was hard for me to watch. it was done in "fun" and to educate and expose the situation, but it was just so hard for me to hear it all. i can't even fathom the need to re-define what is "really" a rape and what isn't, and/or the idea that some women that have been raped should not have all options on the table, and financial assistance if need be. it just makes me sick.

Ida/FarEastLogbook said...

You write with such honesty and power! I wish Smith would read this!!

krista said...

you should write that superhero story of yours. just sayin.

Barbara said...

Excellent post, Phoenix.
Personally, I am Catholic, pro-life and don't approve of abortion. But, this does NOT include rape and incest.
What bothers me are the figures that came out recently from the Board of health. 39% of all pregnancies in NYC were aborted--with the figures much, much higher for African- American women. I'm upset by the fact that abortion is being used as birth control and personally don't want to pay for it.
But rape and incest are a different thing.
It's a shame someone can't get this right...but when has Washington EVER gotten anything right?

Heather Taylor said...

You should seriously look into getting this post published on Jezebel or maybe even the Huffington Post. I am 100% right there with you on this one, sister. I can't even imagine what goes in the minds of politicians sometimes. Should we ever have a superhero to defend women against rape, I believe this country would be a much safer and educated place.

Dionne said...

WHAT? This definition of rape is ludicrious! I want your new superhero to go bust his butt. What a jerk!!!

Snowbrush said...

Barbara said: " I am Catholic, pro-life and don't approve of abortion. But, this does NOT include rape and incest."

I need clarification, Barbara. If I understand Catholic teaching, abortion is essentially the taking of an innocent human life, i.e. murder. If you accept this teaching, how can you support abortion in cases of rape and incest?

Eric W. Trant said...

Ironically, my Word Verification is "unterapo."

I'm so mixed on this topic that I lay off it more than not. The bottomest bottom-line is that a FEDERAL one-size-fits-all law on something this personal is the problem.

You ask me, and nobody has, a woman wanting an abortion should go through a legal proceeding not unlike a divorce or small claim, and have a judge/jury decide case-by-case. It's a life, and the one-size federal stamp doesn't fit every case, not when a life is involved.

That over-generalization is the true friction.

I also believe the father should be involved. I'm not talking about rapes, but the abortions of convenience.

The father is persona non grata in all cases, even in consensual cases. It's her body, sure, but it's his baby, she helped put it there, and maybe he doesn't think the baby is so inconvenient.

Anyway. Hot, hot topic, and I swayed off the rape redefinition because I don't think that's the problem at all -- it's the callous federal jurisdiction over something so personal.

Be good, breathe, and have some coco, Supergirl. Don't go beating up anybody or slamming your head in the fridge.

How do you even do that anyway? I hope at least there was some ice cream involved...


- Eric

ps. Loved the Avenger excerpt!

kj said...

tracy, are you okay sending me your email address? if not, no problem.

i have been through the unreal unimaginable experience of someone just walking away. i think there is a special club for those of us who don't know where to put the caring and the confusion....


my email is

no pressure, just if you want


Robin said...

Some people when they get angry, they write carelessly. Their brains just go bezerk and they are all over the place. You are the opposite. The madder you are, the more focused you become. And the better your writing is. You make your point so eloquently that I don't think anyone who can formulate a thought can disagree with you. I have seen you in costume. You make a mighty fine superhero. You already have the day job for a disguise. Go kick butt and take names. This was an excellent start!

Deech said...

What is interesting to me is that after doing a look up on Congressman Smith, there is no reference to his family..anywhere on the net. Is this guy single? Is he married? I wonder what the female side of his family thinks of all this?

JJ said...

What surprises me is that with all the agreement among your blogging friends about this post, how could politicians propose sheer stupidity? Either we are all nuts, or popular opinion favors rationality, not political agenda or sexism. Great job, Phoenix!

Kristin Quinn said...

It seems to me that all too often sexual offenders get away with so much. Like the crime isn't that big of a deal. I've never understood that and it pisses me off. And all this that you've shared is just another example...

Ms. Faustus said...

Wow, this post struck a chord in me as I have often imagined what it would be like to form a vigilante group that could pick up the slack when the system fails. It's sad that this thought even had to make an appearance in my brain.

Powerful and well written, thank you.

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