Friday, November 02, 2012

An Unpleasant Topic

The Republican statements on rape remind us that rape is a political topic and a political action. It was used in the civil war in Yugoslavia, and it has been used in civil wars in Africa, among many other places. It demonstrates that women are powerless and, if the woman belongs to another ethnic group, it demonstrates that the ethnic group is powerless. It is the next-to-ultimate weapon in any conflict, the ultimate being murder. Because rape can result in pregnancy, it has an added result, which makes it especially powerful. Women can be forced to bear the children of the enemy.

Rape is an attack on women, families and the generations that follow. When it is used in war, the idea is to destroy communities. When it is used within a community, it may seem less devastating, but it still threatens individuals and families and the community.

(One can argue that rape within a community is a tool that men as a group use to frighten and control women. Yes. But it has consequences. Do most men really enjoy it when the women in their family are harmed? Do they enjoy losing a sense that their homes and lives are safe?

(Frederick Engels argued the oppression of women is the basis of all oppression. Violence toward women (and children) is -- most likely -- the basis for all violence.)

This is what the Republican candidates are talking about. This is not about the sanctity of life, it is about war. By harping on rape and insisting that women pregnant as a result of rape remain pregnant, the Republicans are threatening violence of the most extreme kind -- against women, first of all, but also against their families and communities.

The important thing here, I think, is to demonstrate that women are powerless, their families are powerless and entire communities are powerless. The rich will always get abortions. It is the poor who have to bear children they do not want or risk dangerous, illegal abortions. The message is, "We want you to live without self-determination and in fear. We want to be able to destroy your lives."


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