Back to the future

A SYTYCB entry

I don’t want to write about rape anymore. Or abortion.

I want to write about the fact that Iran has just banned women from several university-level courses, making them ‘male only’ and denying a generation of women the education they need to get jobs, provide for their families, empower themselves and gain some semblance of power and respect within their families and communities.

I want to write about how it’s interesting that in the NGO sector, the majority of the workers are women, until you get to management and executive director level – where it’s almost all men.

I want to write about the amazing-ness of my feminist community here in Belfast, about how it allowed me to grow not only into a feminist, but into someone who felt like she belonged in a new strange city (and country), offering us a bit of hope in this increasing dim-colored sexist world.

But I can’t. I can’t stop writing about rape, and about abortion, because it’s everywhere, and even though I want to write about something else, I just can’t.

I can’t because I keep thinking: “We shouldn’t be talking about this anymore.”

We legalized a woman’s right to choose in the United States (and the United Kingdom, but hey, Northern Ireland wants to be the quirky cousin, apparently). We made spousal rape illegal (despite a case in Africa where, when a spousal rape bill was working its way through government, a legal advisor became so outraged he said the bill should actually make spousal refusal of sex illegal, because that was ‘the greatest violence one spouse could do to another[1]), allowing millions of women worldwide to reclaim ownership of their bodies and relationships.

I am particularly reminded of just how much has changed as I sit here watching Mad Men (season 2, I know I have a lot of catching up to do) with every sexist-laden (though beautifully written) sentence hitting me like a baseball bat, thinking “thank f$*k it’s not like that anymore!”

But now…

We are being forced to re-fight battles we have already fought – and won. Issues that have already been decided. Time is marching backward when it comes to women’s rights, and I for one am sick of being drawn into arguments about whether or not there should be a ‘rape exemption’ in the criminalization of abortion. I’m sick of trying to convince people that women are allowed to go out and get drunk with their friends too, and it is not an excuse to rape them, and it is not an excuse to not vigorously investigate their allegations of rape, and it is not an excuse to develop a so-called ‘anti-rape’ campaign that effectively blames women for getting raped if they go out and have fun with their friends – like millions of men do every day of the week with no penalty at all.

If we keep allowing ourselves to be sidetracked by these ridiculous arguments, we are going to lose. The line is being redrawn, and as of right now, we are going to be left on the wrong side of it.

Abortion was the beginning. It was already legal, and very soon it probably won’t be. Now they’re redefining rape as ‘legitimate’ or otherwise. Plus, if you listen to George Galloway MP, once consent is given once it doesn’t ever need to be sought again (except out of ‘sexual etiquette) – every so slightly cracking open the door to the repeal of spousal rape bills that our dear friend the legal advisor so abhorred.

How many more doors will be opened that ought to remain shut until this is over?

[1] The Means of Reproduction, Michelle Goldberg.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

Join the Conversation