Women’s Bodies and Texas

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.  

***TRIGGER ALERT

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.

Bio

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 ShamanWhen 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

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32 replies

  1. I wanted to note that between the time I put this up in the “drafts” folder and it posted, another man was called to account for abuse – R. Kelly. Following the pattern, however, it took decades and the testimony of many women to happen.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is exactly right, Janet: “We need to change the basic foundational beliefs underneath the power dynamics.”

    Changing our world-view comes about slowly. I don’t think there’s one way to do this. And really, don’t think anybody can change anybody else’s worldview. People need to get to the point where their way of “seeing” doesn’t work for them anymore. At least, speaking for myself–that’s how my shift came about.

    I’m frustrated, along with you, with the Texas’ near-ban on all abortion.

    Thank you for writing this piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point Esther that there is more than one way to change our world view. Yes, yes, I agree it is important for people to get to the point of “seeing” that their ways aren’t working. I just hope there isn’t too much violence, destruction and pain for the rest of us while the world works it way around.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I may sound like an extreme radical, but all I can think about is the continued use of suppression to protect power and money. Since the beginning of time women have be suppressed and controlled by reproduction. Barefoot and pregnant is not a joke but a controlling, suppressive mindset of males with any facade of power.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Janet, thank you for this essay! You express the boiling-over fury of all of us. We need to create a network, while abortion is illegal, of ways to distribute the morning-after pill, the mifepristone + pill, and anything else available in each state for vulnerable women and girls.

    The only conclusion I can draw from the Texas law is that men hate women. That is to say, authoritarian males (of ALL religions), and authoritarian philosophies (in this country, all political parties except Democrats and possibly Greens hate women and want to control us. As Germaine Greer once said, “Most women have no idea how much men hate them.”

    To know is to be forewarned. Although we can keep on running for political office and working to make legislation more fair, we should empower women and girls under the radar. And yes, we should use ugly words on posters outside the patriarchs’ houses: “RAPE IS MEN’S PROBLEM, NOT WOMEN’S.” We should stop using passive constructions such as “I was raped.” Change this to “A man raped me. His name was…”

    The same stupid, vile people that control the legislature also make sex education unobtainable. These are the problems we must deal with.

    Liked by 2 people

    • All good points goddessfiction. I like your idea of actions to get pills into the hands of those who need them. More personal to the woman and less societally involved. Although I think I heard that Texas is trying to limit those as well. Ugh!

      Interesting point about the active voice: “a man raped me.” I have to think about that for myself. I still sometimes find it hard to even say the word. Great way to step out the stigma part and put the responsibility where it belongs.

      I also have to think about the men hating women part. I do think that men fear women, perhaps that is what gives rise to the hate-filled laws and rhetoric. More to think about. Thank you.

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    • Good point about the passive voice – rape is a MAN’S problem -When Hillary Clinton was supposed to win the presidency I believed she wouldn’t and wrote about why – BECAUSE WOMEN HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH MEN HATE THEM

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      • Wow Sara, Hard to miss that point. I think women also have a problem with other women ascending to positions of power. My husband was still in practice during at this time (he’s a podiatrist) and so many of the women who came into the office put Clinton down as well: “She can’t handle the enormity of the presidency.” That was a red flag warning to us. I didn’t believe it however.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Many women hate other women and this is a sad fact…They embody patriarchy in drag.

          Like

          • I am actually saddened by it. I am reminded of Cinderella and a little commented on part. The mother is willing to cut her daughters’ feet to make them alluring to the prince. At a certain time in China, footbinding was the tradition and it was the mother’s who did it do their own daughters so they would fit in. What does it take to get a mother to mutilate her own daughter for the sake of a patriarchal system? And yet the patterns are so powerful, there are mothers who do.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Brava!!! I’m totally with you in your anger. Boy, am I glad I don’t live in Texas. I’ve never been raped or abused, but I know women who have been, and I’m angry not only for them but for every woman who has been attacked by Cosby, Clinton, Cuomo, and the big, orange T. Rex, not only them but every other woman who has been “under” men who think they have privilege over us. I’ve been signing petitions and making donations. I hope that helps.

    Yes, I also believe that men hate women. All over the world. It’s time for the Goddess to reappear. As Durga and other fierce goddesses.

    Bright blessings to us all. And to organizations that work to protect all of our sisters in all ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for this essay that speaks so clearly to the moment we’re in. I remember life before Roe v Wade and I am horrified and outraged that women need to experience this again. There have been societies where rape was almost unheard of because it was simply unthinkable. Scholarship on Societies of Peace by Heidi Goettner-Abendroth describes one or more, I believe. I think that getting to a place where rape is unthinkable in our own culture will take tremendous effort by lots and lots of people working together. It shouldn’t be this way in the 21st century.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Wonderful essay… I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s this normalizing – business as usual that make me feel crazy – and isolated. I think what’s happening is unthinkable and yet I also see it as a symptom of cultural breakdown. The fact that “these predators remained (remain) in positions of power for years, still able to continue harming others” is a symptom of the darkest side of patriarchy – there are simply no consequences. Unethical behavior is acceptable. I believe that all of us have been victims of this system one way or the other. This is also when we see that Carol’s perspective on patriarchy IS about controlling women’s sexuality. We are going in the wrong direction and for the life of me I cannot see a way out of this present horror.

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    • Thanks Sara for reminding us of Carol’s perspective. Totally on point: “patriarchy IS about controlling women’s sexuality.”

      Its hard to know which parts to be most outraged about but yeah, that predators have managed to stay in power for so long and thus in a position to hurt so many others. Infuriating!

      I recently read an article about the R. Kelly trial and apparently his lawyers strategy was to use the “tried and true” method of making it the women’s fault they were sexually abused (how were you dancing? What were you wearing . .. etc . . .). It didn’t work as evidenced by his conviction. This author felt it was a turning point of juries not accepting that anymore. Boy do I hope that’s right.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello Janet and all,
    I marched today, in Knoxville, Tennessee. We were bold and loud but I was struck by how spectators, tourists and shoppers, seemed to respond like it was a “cute” demonstration they could add to their vacation posts. We were angry, they were smilng and snapping pics and videos. I was getting sick to my stomach as I yelled, “WE WON’T GO BACK!” Texas has initiated this backwards movement and we all suspect Tennessee will soon follow. So, I am finally motivated to get my blog up and running, with this experience being my first published post. I am Ph.D., abd finishing my dissertaton and degree in Philosophy and Religion, Feminist Studies, Women’s Spirituality. I also teach at the graduate level, speak (pre-covid) and present at national and international events on women’s justice, specifically related to the intersection of spirituality and sexuality, and the oppression women (and others) via organized, patriarchal religions. So, time to get my words out there in another format. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you rhonda for your comment and for contributing in such a meaningful way. I love that you are getting your blog up and running. Please let us know what that link is when its live.

      Bold and Loud! You go! Although I am sorry you were demeaned and felt that pressure. We clearly have to get louder and bolder.

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  9. Thank you for this blunt, insightful essay. I agree, we need to be loud… we’ve made progress, but there are always those forces that want to take away the progress we’ve made. Power imbalances always want to reinforce themselves. I’m so sorry for what you suffered, and grateful to you for sharing it in this context of female solidarity. I think the worst part for me is the lack of female solidarity – rich, entitled women who can basically get their needs met and don’t use their privilege to help poorer, less fortunate women. Straight women who don’t stand up for lesbians. White women who don’t stand up for black and indigenous women. Thin women who don’t affirm and uplift plump women. Etc. We’ve all been so trained to be afraid and have a mentality of scarcity. I wonder what will give the oppressed female class the courage to stand together as one? <3

    Liked by 1 person

  10. There was a well-publicized sexual abuse trial in Canada of a misician/broadcaster named Jian Ghomeshi. He hired one of the top women lawyers in Canada to defend him. She says that everyone deserves a defence (which I agree with). She calls herself a feminist and says that other women don’t support her because she wears high heels. She doesn’t seem to realize that dragging the complainants through the mud, attacking their credibility because, for example, they contacted him after the alleged abuse, is not an appropriate tactic to get an abuser off. (In a situation of abuse, not sexual, I contacted the abuser afterwards, in the futile hope that perhaps things would change. They didn’t.)

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    • I hadn’t heard of that case. I did a quick google search and yep – that is the template of how these things go. Thanks for drawing attention to it Judith. A lawyer has to go with their best defense. I see the underlying problem to look at is why that tactic of dragging complainants through the mud is such a successful one. I think that is because the ground has been softened by thousands of years of patriarchy and it is so easy to feel the women have “asked for it” in some way. Stomach turning here. We have so much work to do!

      Like

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