A few days ago, I watched an interview with Angela Jolie about her new movie – first directed movie – In the Land of Blood and Honey. I was so deeply moved to witness her talking about wanting to open a discourse about the rape of women used as a weapon of war. It’s a much welcomed yet long overdue open conversation. I truly hope it helps bring the problem into awareness of our world and to heal the wounds that cause it and are caused by it.
Here in the U.S. we may agree that the rape of women as a weapon of war is horrible. Yet we have done our own atrocious acts as part of our participation in war – sexually demeaning and humiliating prisoners of war in Abu Ghraib, urinating on the bodies of slain enemies in Afghanistan, and who knows what else! But what about the use of rape in the war against women right here at home? “Not possible,” you say? Sadly, tragically, it is possible – and it is occurring.
A relatively new occurrence: There is a law recently passed in Texas – and also recently upheld by the appeals court in Texas – that makes it mandatory for a woman who seeks an abortion to have an invasive vaginal ultrasound . . . under the guise of educating her, say proponents, but in reality to intimidate her out of having the abortion.
Now most women I know would completely understand that is a form of rape . . . to be forced by your government and the law to have an object – even an ultrasound scanner – put into your vagina by your doctor . . . even if your doctor doesn’t want to do it, but more importantly, even if you don’t want it. And many of the men I know understand the truth of that, too. But there are many women and men who don’t get it . . . yet. And their not getting it passively, unconsciously allows and even helps it to go on.
Maybe this will help them get the reality of rape as a weapon in the war against women:
The FBI recently redefined rape. Now included in the definition of rape is . . . the use of an object. So, no matter the guises for the Texas law, it is in direct conflict with the FBI definition of rape.
I hope you care. I hope you care about your body being violated in that way. . . raped by an object at the hands of the government.
I hope you care about your mother’s, sister’s, daughter’s bodies being violated in that way.
I hope you care about your wife’s, girlfriend’s, fiancee’s body being violated in that way!
Too many of our women – not just in the US but all over the world – were sexually abused as children. This law and others like it would be a repeat abuse of the earlier violation and wounding.
We need to care – deeply – for if the government can force rape as a weapon in the war against women, then the people in our country who are afraid of the empowerment of women and of powerful women will be able to continue escalating the war against women . . . just like so many others have continued escalating other wars in our world.
I hope we will work together to protect our girls and women . . .
I hope we will work together to prevent the further escalation of the war against women . . . and in so doing, prevent the further escalation of war! and protect our world!
© Judith Barr, 2012