I have been so angry about the Texas law that functionally bans abortion, I have not even been able to find the words to write about it. But alas . . . being angry without taking action is too often what we women do. So, I am forcing myself to focus and write this blogpost. I think the worst part of this law (although there are so many it is truly hard to choose), is how it isolates a vulnerable, pregnant woman. Can you imagine having an unwanted pregnancy and not being able to talk to anyone about it? This law puts a whole women’s support system into legal and financial jeopardy; a mother, sister, friend, doctor, staff at the doctor’s office, therapist, random neighbor and on and on. A woman’s only “legal” option is to talk to a crisis pregnancy center which comes with a hefty dose of political agenda. This is manipulation at this most virulent, cruel, and controlling.
As many of you know, I am survivor of both rape and incest. I didn’t get pregnant from either, but I can’t even begin to contemplate the compounded trauma of being forced to bring a rapist’s or relative’s baby to term, or any unwanted pregnancy for that matter. It is the body of human being reduced to the role of incubator and breeder! This law takes a process (pregnancy and birth) which at its best is one of great love and beauty as well as a display of women’s creative power and turns it into something so ugly it’s hard to fathom.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) estimates that in this country there is a rape every 68 seconds. I suggested to them that they put up a big digital billboard in front of Greg Abbot’s office ticking off the number of rapes that have occurred since he declared the end of rape on September 7th. That’s almost 1300 rapes a day! Over 9,000 a week. 39,000 a month. Just as a benchmark, the National Library of Medicine estimated there were 32,101 rape-related pregnancies in one year (they did their study in 1996).
***END OF TRIGGER ALERT
I have been trying to understand how is it that figures like Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Mario Cuomo don’t pay a criminal penalty for crimes of abuse? Or if any, a mild one. Larry Nasser and Harvey Weinstein are notable exceptions. And look how bad it had to get before they were forced to face criminal justice? The answer is a strong VERY, VERY BAD! It required a lot of victims over a long time period. And in space between the commission of sexual crimes coming to light and their arrests, these predators remained in positions of power for years, still able to continue harming others.
It breaks my heart. Gold medal winning gymnast Aly Raisman testified to Congress, “The FBI made me feel like my abuse didn’t count and it wasn’t real.” I think her statement could just as easily read, “Our culture made me feel like my abuse didn’t count and it wasn’t real.” We are constantly being gaslighted about the details and the import of abuse perpetrated on our bodies. And too many of us internalize the message that our abuse doesn’t count and isn’t real anyway.
I am particularly intrigued by the case of Roberta Kaplan; Ms. Kaplan was the chairwoman of Time’s Up and the co-founder of its legal defense fund. She successfully argued the Supreme Court case of the US v Windsor which legalized gay marriage. She is truly one of the good guys. And yet as a lawyer she advised Cuomo on how to discredit one of the women accusing him. For that she was forced to resign from Time’s Up. If Roberta Kaplan felt it OK to discredit an abused woman, can you imagine how far others who aren’t allies are willing to go?
I don’t have a complete answer as to why someone who is so involved in basic rights acted in support of an abuser. I do have a partial one. I believe that women are still foundationally seen as the sum total of our biology. That view is so ingrained in our culture that it is almost invisible until it breaks out into public consciousness. And that only happens when something big with particularly gruesome or horrific details happens.
I believe that Roberta Kaplan was just doing “business as usual” in relation to Cuomo and his accuser. “Business as usual” for the FBI was dismiss the claims of vulnerable girls in favor of the power establishment. “Business as usual” allowed for 2 men credibly accused of sexual abuse to be confirmed to lifetime appointments as Supreme Court justices. Unfortunately, this is a truly endless list.
I think that’s at least partially how we got to Texas and its anti-abortion law with the tacit approval of the Supreme Court. (No mistake that the two credibly accused sexual offenders voted to support the law).
Structural systems have grown up about “business as usual”; legal, political, financial, educational, even ethical systems. We see the same process with the systems of white supremacy. These systems have had hundreds of years in our country alone to have grown and harden around beliefs of racial superiority, gender superiority, religious superiority, etc . . . Even for those of us who see ourselves as good guys and allies, it can be hard to break out of “business as usual” because we don’t always see it. Same with misogyny. How can we change that?
Talk, yell, shout, write letters, make people aware. A billboard in front of Greg Abbot’s office might make a dent in women’s rights. The gymnasts speaking out are an excellent foundation. Based on history, I doubt it is enough. We need to change the basic foundational beliefs underneath the power dynamics. I wish I had an answer for how to do that.
Janet Maika’i Rudolph. “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE QUEST.” I have walked the spirit path for over 25 years traveling to sacred sites around the world including Israel to do an Ulpan (Hebrew language studies while working on a Kibbutz), Eleusis and Delphi in Greece, Avebury and Glastonbury in England, Brodgar in Scotland, Machu Picchu in Peru, Teotihuacan in Mexico, and Giza in Egypt. Within these travels, I have participated in numerous shamanic rites and rituals, attended a mystery school based on the ancient Greek model, and studied with shamans around the world. I am twice initiated. The first as a shaman practitioner of a pathway known as Divine Humanity. The second ordination in 2016 was as an Alaka’i (a Hawaiian spiritual guide with Aloha International). I have written three books: When Moses Was a Shaman, When Eve Was a Goddess, (now available in Spanish, Cuando Eva era una Diosa), and One Gods. In Ardor and Adventure, Janet.now available in Spanish. Cuando Eva era una Diosa.
Categories: Abuse of Power, Breaking News, Feminism, General, Justice, misogyny, Patriarchy, Rape, Rape Culture, Reproductive Justice, sexual harassment, Sexual Violence, Violence Against Women, Women's Power, Women's Rights