Friday, January 22, 2010

What Does "Trust Women" Mean to A Funny Feminist?

I really love this year's Blog for Choice subject: What does "Trust Women" mean you? Meaning me. I love it because, in two little words, the entire foundation of reproductive rights, and feminism itself, is explained. "Trust Women" has more to do with more than just abortion rights; it has to do with all sexual health and rights to our own bodies.

I believe that all sexism is predicated on a distrust of women, and there's a long history of women's voices about their own bodies being dismissed. There was a time when women who complained to their doctors of menstrual cramps weren't believed. It wouldn't surprise me at all if some doctors still belittled the cramps that some women experience during their periods. And I can tell you from personal experience that there are men out there who don't see menstrual cramps as all that serious, even when they hurt like a bitch. That's because the patriarchy allows men to claim that women are emotional and overreacting, lest they actually care about women.

Women also aren't trusted when it comes to having sex. Whether women are saying they want to have sex or they don't want to have sex, it's all hogwash. The only one who really knows what the woman wants is the man who is intent on controlling her. We know this when men are told that "no means yes," and that women like rape. just listed rape as the third most common sexual fantasy of women. Except they describe the "rape" fantasy thusly:

Most psychologists believe this top 10 female sex fantasy allows a woman to have the wild, dirty sex she craves, without having to suffer the guilt that often follows. These female sex fantasies usually involve a gorgeous man carrying her off to his bedroom and quickly getting down to business. She’ll protest as he tears her clothing off and expertly arouses her body, but on the inside, she’ll love every minute of it. This continues to the point of penetration, and leads her to an incredible orgasm despite her earlier protests. This female sex fantasy allows a woman to be wanton and enjoy sex -- something society rarely permits.

Which means that some women like taboo sex, not rape. See how men turned that around to pretend that when women say no, you don't have to trust them, and men can just claim that he thought she liked being forced upon and assaulted? I mean, why ask if she'd actually like that -- it'll kill the fantasy! A similar phenomenon is the idea that women actually don't like sex. So when they say they do, they just have to learn that they're really just being conned by our crazy culture into thinking they want sex. Enter abstinence-only education. One goal for abstinence-only education is to deny young women knowledge about sexuality and validation to their own biological sexual urges. From a critique of the abstinence-only curriculum Sex Respect:

“[A] young man’s natural desire for sex is already strong due to testosterone, the powerful male growth hormone. Females are becoming culturally conditioned to fantasize about sex as well.” (Sex Respect, Student Workbook, p. 11) In a section dedicated to possible questions from students, the curriculum asks “but aren’t there many girls who really want to have sex, and so they pressure the guys?” The answer, “yes, there are. This is happening in larger numbers now than in years past, since the pop culture has removed the stigma from non-virgins and displays many role models of provocative women.” (Sex Respect, Student Workbook, p. 12)

There's nothing natural about a young woman's desire to have sex! It's all television's fault, which is why no one existed until a few decades ago. But abstinence-only education doesn't just tell young women that the tingly feelings they've felt in their nethers shouldn't be trusted. The Miss The Mess program teaches teens that certain young women who say they've been raped shouldn't be trusted either. In the part of the website that I linked to, there is a scenario where four friends are at a party together. A boy named Jason gets drunk after breaking up with his girlfriend, Monica. He meets a friend of his, Rochelle, to talk about it. After the sex act, Rochelle tells the police she's been raped. At the end of the story, students are asked if rape occurred:

“Unfortunately, we are left judging (Rochelle’s) honesty by her character and her actions"... “Monica implied Rochelle had a promiscuous reputation and the whole school seemed to know it.” (cite, I also have the original transcript in my e-mail for any who want it).

Because Rochelle might not have been a virgin (after all, the only evidence of this is a "friend's" rumor-mongering), she couldn't be trusted when she said she was raped. Of course, anyone who comes forward to report a rape must be trusted; they are also extremely brave. Only after a huge effort by the online feminist community did the website change the discussion portion.

But this day, which is almost over, is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that gave women their bodies back. Since then, a ton of legislation has been passed or proposed to limit this legal procedure that 1 in 3 women will have done in their lifetime. Thirty-three states require women to go through counseling, and 20 states require a woman wait 24-hour before having an abortion. Some are told misinformation or outright lies about pregnancy and abortion before they can consent to the procedure. And still some states have the patronizing ultrasound law that requires women undergo an unnecessary ultrasound and be told "Thar's a baby on thar!" before going through the procedure. This is all because people believe that women don't know what they're doing when they seek an abortion. They also believe that women somehow floated to the clinic by some invisible force, rather than make a conscious decision after a great deal of thinking. They just plain don't trust women.

So for me, trusting women means taking what we say at face value. Women don't speak a foreign language that needs to be translated by men before we get to do anything. Well, maybe we say things nicer to you as to not to offend:

Because when we say "No," we mean, "HELL no!"
And when we say "Yes," we mean, "FUCK yeah!"
And when we say "I have cramps," we mean, "Uterus, get the FUCK out of my body!"
And when we say "I've been raped," we mean, "Some DICK just fucking raped me, and if you don't believe me, direct me to someone who gives a shit, pig."
And when we say "I'm calling to make an appointment for an abortion, " we mean, "Goddamn, I wish it was easier to raise a kid in this country/That fucking deadbeat/Do anti-choice protesters, like, have jobs? Or do they just harass women all day? Maybe they should take care of their kids instead of policing my pussy."
And when we say we like sex, we mean we do it best to ourselves. You don't know what a clitoris is, do you, dude?

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