Julia Gazdag
writer | producer | photographer

If You Are A Human, This DOES Affect You

This piece first appeared on HG October 26, 2012

If You Are A  Human, This DOES Affect You

By now you’ve probably already heard the latest conservative politician rape-pop hit, Richard Mourdock’s ‘Rape Is Also God’s Intention.’ Right out of the gate, let’s just avoid the whole comment thread about attacking conservatives and Republicans and whatnot. Not all Republicans are conservatives, and not all conservatives are religious zealots intent on putting chastity belts over every uterus they can. But the folks who seem to be spouting the most oppressive and uneducated ideas against women are almost all men who also mostly identify as conservatives and Republicans. If you have an issue with that, take it up with your congressional reps and let blog comments roam free from the tyranny of caps lock.

I think the time has come for Republican candidates to recognize that mentioning any stance on rape will inevitably lead to people being angry over having to hear more of the stupid, ignorant crap that keeps spewing out of these peoples’ mouths. I, for one, have hit my limit with listening to creepy old dudes talk about vagina rules like they have any business doing so, while balking when the medical term is used on the Senate floor in reference to the private body part they are so aggressively trying to publicly legislate. In the past few months, we’ve heard about legitimate rapes (shut it down!), girls that rape easy, and rape babies that are a gift from God. While one of the biggest issues in this presidential campaign is women’s rights, the topic barely got discussed at any of the three presidential debates, or the vice presidential debate. Women’s rights are one of the most prominent topics in this election, yet none of the candidates or moderators found it important enough to go into deeper discussion on. That’s cool, bros, we’re just half the country’s population. No need to pay any attention to us, we’ll just leave work early to tend to your sandwiches and babays.

This election is not about Republicans or Democrats. It’s not about whose team will win, because – surprise! – it’s our future, not the World Series. I don’t give a sh*t about whose party affiliation is what (I personally have none), and if it were up to me, we would have no politics, we’d just listen to Sam Cooke all day and eat pie. What I do care about is someone trying to legislate all up in my uterus. Because I like to maintain it and not potentially die because some misogynistic old man who couldn’t pass sixth grade health class decided that the hormone regulator pill that could save me from ovarian cysts is bad, because I may also take it and then have the secksie times without making babies. And heaven forbid I not fertilize all the eggs my ovaries are pumping out, because I might have time to think for myself and work and be independent.

And where would we be then? What kind of world would it be where a man penis isn’t the only deciding factor in the direction a woman’s life takes? Because that’s what all of this women-politicking comes down to: aging legislators with patriarchal entitlement sprouting forth like ear hair, feeling scared that their old-timey comforts are being taken away. They’ve had the run of things for, oh, most of known Western history, so I understand how that can be intimidating. Which is a really sad story, because yawn. Moving on with civilization.

Several times over the past few weeks, I’ve heard women utter the phrase, “whatever, it doesn’t affect me.” Fun fact y’all: everything affects you. All of you. All of us. Even if you aren’t having premarital sex. Even if you aren’t on birth control. If you’re a woman, then these men, who talk about rape like they have any business making decisions for sexual assault victims, are attacking your freedoms. Even if you support them, and even if you aren’t currently taking advantage of said freedoms.

First of all, you’re getting paid less than you would if you were a man, so you’re being affected right there. I don’t know about you, but I like getting paid. I also like the feeling of being respected enough to be treated as an equal. What I don’t like is the expectation that I should be spending an egregiously larger amount of money on my appearance than a man, while getting paid ¾ the amount he is.

More importantly, you never know what your body will throw at you. You may support anti-abortion legislation now, but when it goes to the extremes it has in Georgia (and several states are working on making that happen), where even a deceased fetus cannot be legally removed by a doctor, then you’d better hope you don’t miscarry or have a tubular pregnancy, because the Republican legislators behind these laws would rather you die from an infection than abort a fetus which is already dead. And the second you’re diagnosed with, say, ovarian cysts or endometriosis, you’ll realize just how much more than birth control that little hormone regulator pill is.

Even if you’re lucky enough to avoid these awful experiences, chances are, one of your friends will go through them. In fact, your friends may make different choices with their bodies than you altogether. And that’s what all of this comes down to. It’s not about religious convictions (which, separation of church and state, so kudos for having a lot of feelings, but that does not a constitutional amendment make). It’s about having power and control over a massive chunk of the population. A woman who is forced to bear children, who is raped by the legal process after she is raped by a man, who is paid unequally and marginalized by every system in every way, is a woman who is forced to be Betty Draper when she could be so much more as Peggy Olsen. And a woman without the freedom of choice over her life is a woman who is miserable, in a society that loses out on what she could have contributed to it.