“Drowning. Strychnine. Self-cannibalism. Scabs. Scarab beetles. Soul-abortion. God-divorce. Apostasy. Voice box autopsy. Hydrogen peroxide. Why can’t I scour below the pores? Possible cracked scapula. I didn’t dare go to the doctor. The X-ray would show no bones like the mirror confesses no reflection. Broken camera. Slow shutter speed; same photo over and over. Alchemy. Blood. Heart pumping mud. Black magic. Skin turned to stone. Slaughterhouse. Should have known better. Should have known better. Inadequate gravity. The earth cast off its axis; I’m fighting for an atmosphere somewhere in Andromeda.” ~ Deanna Larsen, from “What Rape Is Like”

I ran across this incredible article on my tumblr dash a few days ago, and I really want to share it. It’s too long to post in its entirey, so I’m giving a link. It’s a good read, but I have to include a trigger warning.

Prey

By Kathleen Hale

In the aftermath of rape, and throughout the two-year-long rape trial, I was obsessed with dangerous animals. This is how I went from prey to predator.

My obsession with animals preexisted any trauma in my life. As a five-year-old I wrote a fully illustrated book titled Tigger Maskkir about circus animals that revolt and eat the clowns. My teachers thought I was becoming deranged but my mom explained that it had been going on since before the divorce. I interviewed neighbours about their dogs. I put my teddy bears and stuffed lions to bed every night under blankets of washcloths—I couldn’t fall asleep until they were safely arranged like Tetris pieces on the floor, covering every inch of carpet. I once stood for an hour with my face against the glass at Sea World, trying to make meaningful eye contact with a manatee.

My ritualistic obsessions are no longer limited to animals (currently, they include Diane Sawyer, The Slender Man Stabbings, and eating bacon every day for lunch). I never look for things to grab me. They just do, and once they do, the obsessions usually continue until I’m so sick of them—or of myself for enacting them—that suddenly, and with a sense of great relief, I’m repulsed.

On other occasions, it’s as if I can’t stop. Like on my 18th birthday.

The night was raucously fun—I must have stolen the karaoke microphone 11 times—but as dawn broke, my friend asked if I could please stop singing Limp Bizkit. She needed to sleep.

“Believe me, I’d love to, but I physically cannot.” I was tired, too. I’d sung “Faith” twice, but five was my number and I was halfway there.

And sometimes I worry that telling the story I’m about to tell you is a compulsion, like counting. Giving testimony under oath was supposed to bring closure. But here I am, so sick of my own voice. The urge persists.

“There is nothing more provocative than minding your own business.” ~ William S. Burroughs

CNN, you used to be about news. What happened to you?

I’m so glad that Mallory Ortberg skewered the CNN coverage of the Steubenville Rapists. “Such promising futures . . .” Blah, blah, blah. Let us not forget that they raped an unconscious girl and then posted pictures of the acts on social media. To me, that does not bespeak intelligence or promise, rather blatant stupidity and a clear lack of character.

The full article follows:

CNN Reports On The ‘Promising Future’ of the Steubenville Rapists, Who Are ‘Very Good Students’

One way to report on the outcome of a rape trial is to discuss the legal ramifications of the decision or the effect the proceedings may have on the life of the victim. Another angle reporters can take is to publicly worry about the “promising future” of the convicted rapists, now less promising as a direct result of their choice to rape someone.

Reporters at CNN today chose the latter technique. General correspondent Poppy Harlow, speaking to anchor Candy Crowley, had this to say about the verdict:

“Incredibly difficult, even for an outsider like me, to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believed their lives fell apart…when that sentence came down, [Ma’lik] collapsed in the arms of his attorney…He said to him, ‘My life is over. No one is going to want me now.’ Very serious crime here, both found guilty of raping the sixteen-year-old girl at a series of parties back in August.”

CNN also played footage of both convicted rapists tearfully apologizing in court. Harlow went on to describe in detail an emotional exchange between Ma’lik Richmond, one of the defendants, and his estranged father.

Candy asked Paul Callan, a legal expert, to elaborate on the future of the two young men, stressing their youth and emotional vulnerability.

“Sixteen-year-olds just sobbing in court, regardless of what big football players they are, they still sound like sixteen-year-olds…what’s the lasting effect, though, on two young men being found guilty in juvenile court of rape, essentially?”

“The most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders. That label is now placed on them by Ohio law…That will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Employers, when looking up their background, will see that they’re registered sex offenders. When they move into a new neighborhood and somebody goes on the Internet, where these things are posted, neighbors will know that they are registered sex offenders.”

Yes, that is how the sex offender registry works. People who commit acts of sexual violence (rape, for example) and are convicted in a court of law are required to register with the national sex offender public registry, so that future employers and neighbors might do things like check said registry.

For readers interested in learning more about how not to be labeled as registered sex offenders, a good first step is not to rape unconscious women, no matter how good your grades are. Regardless of the strength of your GPA (weighted or unweighted), if you commit rape, there is a possibility you may someday be convicted of a sex crime. This is because of your decision to commit a sex crime instead of going for a walk, or reading a book by Cormac McCarthy. Your ability to perform calculus or play football is generally not taken into consideration in a court of law. Should you prefer to be known as “Good student and excellent football player Trent Mays” rather than “Convicted sex offender Trent Mays,” try stressing the studying and tackling and giving the sex crimes a miss altogether.

It’s perfectly understandable, when reporting on a rape trial, to discuss the length and severity of the sentence; it is less understandable to discuss the end of two convicted rapists’ future athletic and academic careers as if it were somehow divorced from the laws of cause and effect. Their dreams and hopes were not crushed by an impersonal, inexorable legal system; Mays and Richmond raped a girl and have been sentenced accordingly. Had they not raped her, they would not be spending at least one year each in a juvenile detention facility.

It is unlikely that Candy Crowley and Poppy Harlow are committed rape apologists; more likely they simply wanted a showy, emotional angle at the close of a messy and sensationalized trial. Since the identity of the victim is protected, and the rapists obliged the camera crews by memorably breaking down and crying in court, they found an angle to match: extremely gifted young men were brought tragically low by… mumblemumblesomething.

That isn’t how rape trials ought to be discussed by professional journalists.

Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond are not the “stars” of the Steubenville rape trial. They aren’t the only characters in a drama playing out in eastern Ohio. And yet a CNN viewer learning about the Steubenville rape verdict is presented with dynamic, sympathetic, complicated male figures, and a nonentity of an anonymous victim, the “lasting effects” of whose graphic, public sexual assault are ignored. Small wonder, then, that anyone would find themselves on the side of these men—these poor young men, who were very good at taking tests and playing sports when they were not raping their classmates.

“America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember” ~ John LeCarré

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“O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;
No more of that.” ~ Shakespeare, King Lear (III, iv)

The Legal Definition of Rape (as taken directly from legal-dictionary.com):

Rape is the commission of unlawful sexual intercourse or unlawful sexual intrusion. Rape laws in the United States have been revised over the years, and they vary from state to state.

Historically, rape was defined as unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman against her will. The essential elements of the crime were sexual penetration, force, and lack of consent. Women who were raped were expected to have physically resisted to the utmost of their powers or their assailant would not be convicted of rape. Additionally, a husband could have sex with his wife against her will without being charged with rape. Beginning in the 1970s, state legislatures and courts expanded and redefined the crime of rape to reflect modern notions of equality and legal propriety.

As of the early 2000s, all states define rape without reference to the sex of the victim and the perpetrator. Though the overwhelming majority of rape victims are women, a woman may be convicted of raping a man, a man may be convicted of raping a man, and a woman may be convicted of raping another woman. Furthermore, a spouse may be convicted of rape if the perpetrator forces the other spouse to have nonconsensual sex. Many states do not punish the rape of a spouse as severely as the rape of a non-spouse.

Many states also have redefined lack of consent. Before the 1970s, many courts viewed the element of force from the standpoint of the victim. A man would not be convicted of rape of a competent woman unless she had demonstrated some physical resistance. In the absence of physical resistance, courts usually held that the sexual act was consensual. In the early 2000s in many states, the prosecution can prove lack of consent by presenting evidence that the victim objected verbally to the sexual penetration or sexual intrusion.

Lack of consent is a necessary element in every rape. But this qualifier does not mean that a person may make sexual contact with a minor or incapacitated person who actually consented. Lack of consent may result from either forcible compulsion by the perpetrator or an incapacity to consent on the part of the victim. Persons who are physically or mentally helpless or who are under a certain age in relation to the perpetrator are deemed legally incapable of consenting to sex. (emphasis mine)

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“Today’s milestone is human madness. Politics is a part of it, particularly in its lethal outbursts.” ~ Julia Kristeva

I’ve been doing a slow boil* for a few days now as a direct result of those anti-choice pecker-heads in Congress, you know, the ones behind the proposed No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act (follow link for full text of bill as well as list of sponsors), which would effectively set back women’s rights over three decades to a time in which it was considered impossible for a husband to rape his wife, a time during which women who didn’t fight tooth and claw weren’t considered to have been really raped, a time in which saying no could be construed as really meaning yes, a time during which a woman’s wardrobe could be construed as code for “come and get me.”

I’m plenty pissed people.

Essentially HR3, which bone-head Boehner says is “one of our highest legislative priorities,” redefines rape as “forcible rape.”

No knife, no gun, no bruises, no wounds = no rape

Wee bit antiquated? Ever hear of Rohipnol people? But this is the kicker: 173 members of Congress,** including 16 women, support this bill. Boehner claims that current law “does not reflect the will of the people.”

Excuse me? The people? You mean the ones with penises? The ones who can never ever ever get pregnant against their will? Oh, right, those people.

According to Steph Sterling, a lawyer and senior adviser to the National Women’s Law Center, “It speaks to a distinction between rape where there must be some element of force in order to rise to the standard, and rape where there is not . . . The concern here is that it takes us back to a time where just saying no was not enough.”

At stake is the Hyde Amendment (enacted and renewed since 1976), which “prevents some federally funded health-care programs from covering abortions. For years, it has allowed exemptions in cases of rape and incest, and when the life of the woman is threatened.” In sum, Hyde excludes abortion for people receiving Medicaid (with exceptions as noted). Hyde also excludes coverage for federal employees with government-provided health insurance, (e.g., the military).

According to thinkprogress.org, by narrowing the Hyde Amendment language, “Republicans would exclude the following situations from coverage: women who say no but do not physically fight off the perpetrator, women who are drugged or verbally threatened and raped, and minors impregnated by adults.” The measure would also raise costs for businesses who want to offer employees insurance plans with abortion coverage, by eliminating health care tax deductions and benefits that have long been a part of federal law.***

One of my personal Congressional faves, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), wasted no time in letting her GOP colleagues know how “absolutely outrageous” she views this intrusive bill: “To have H.R. 3, the Republicans’ third most important priority, say that rape cannot be an exception to federal funding for abortion . . . sends an incredibly strong message to women.”

“To suggest that there is some kind of rape that would be okay to force a woman to carry the resulting pregnancy to term, and abandon the principle that has been long held, an exception that has been settled for 30 years, is to me a violent act against women in and of itself . . . Rape is when a woman is forced to have sex against her will, and that is whether she is conscious, unconscious, mentally stable, not mentally stable,” the four-term congresswoman added.

Consider, if HR3 were to pass, victims of of incest and statutory rape resulting in pregnancy would be unable to use Medicaid to pay for an abortion, and if the victim were covered under her parents’ health insurance policy, HR3 could effectively make it impossible to use that private insurance by not allowing the parents to “use money from a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA) to pay for the procedure. They also wouldn’t be able to deduct the cost of the abortion or the cost of any insurance that paid for it as a medical expense.”

As for the incest exception under Hyde, the proposed bill would only allow federally funded abortions if the woman is under 18. Grandaddy’s little secret could remain his secret under the ambiguously arcane and archaic language of HR3.

I’ve said it before, and I will scream it to the rafters if I have to: People with penises have absolutely no right to make decisions for those without said appendages, especially when it comes to matters of health.

Keep your frigging laws of my body.

No peace tonight. Sorry. 

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*If you want to skip the ranting and just go to the sources, here is a list of the ones consulted in writing this post:

http://womantribune.com/hr-3-taxpayer-funding-abortion-act-offensive-women

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/rape

http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/republican-plan-redefine-rape-abortion

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/gop-introduces-%E2%80%98no-taxpayer-funding-for-abortion-act%E2%80%99/

http://amaditalks.tumblr.com/post/3009672649/h-r-3-co-sponsors-on-twitter

http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/01/dws-rape-language/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/31/AR2011013105207.html

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/wasserman-schultz-gop-rape-violent-women/

http://www.nwlc.org/our-blog/abortion-overreach-could-raise-your-taxes

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**Unfortunately, as had been reported in some sources, Daniel Lipinski is not the only male Democrat (no female dems) supporting this appalling rewrite on the definition of rape under the guise of federal funding for abortion. Here is the most recent list found, which was found on Amadi Talks

Dan Boren (OK)
Mark Critz (PA)
Joe Donnelly (IN)
Daniel Lipinski (IL)
Collin Peterson (FL)
Nick Rahall (WV)
Mike Ross (AR)
Heath Shuler (NC)

If you wish to contact any of these cavement (dems or repubs), you can go here to find contact info. If I have omitted any names or listed anyone in error, please let me know.

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More from Steph Sterling clarifying this aspect of HR3:

So what would this mean for a real family?  Take a father of three working as an assembly lineman who loses his job when his manufacturing plant closes.  Right now, he’s eligible for the Health Coverage Tax Credit to help with the costs of his $13,770 premium.  But, because his insurance plan included coverage of abortion—even though he never knew about this benefit and no one in his family ever used it—H.R. 3 would suddenly make him ineligible for the benefit and would cost him $11,236.

Other tax benefits are on the line, too.  Right now, a woman who makes $25,000 is eligible to deduct any amount over $1,875 she spends on health expenses, including her insurance premiums, from her taxable income.  If H.R. 3 were enacted and her health insurance plan includes coverage of abortion, she would lose a $1,731 deduction.  More than 7.5 million families claim this particular medical expense deductions—and each of them would lose the deduction if their plan covers abortion.