The Female Sex and Punishment: rape fatigue and fear of the feminine

First, go to Jezebel and read Erin Gloria Ryan’s excellent article on “Rape Fatigue” (and equally excellent picture at the top–hehehe). I don’t always agree with everything that goes on over at Jezebel, but this article mirrors my own thoughts precisely. I am so sick of hearing about issues of women’s health, rape, and abortion being somehow–somehow–connected to politics. I get very angry sometimes when I read about some staunch conservative’s adoration of human life and how that extends to every zygote and every fetus, regardless of the welfare of an already-living, breathing, thinking human being with a uterus… despite that conservative’s hidebound convictions that weapons, war, pollution, corporate greed, poverty, and overpopulation are a-ok. I am nauseous about the fact that these upper crust white dudes think they have anything to say about what goes on inside my uterus, but that they can’t stand the mere suggestion that the sale of assault rifles be restricted or that gay people marry or adopt children. I am so angry that I’m exhausted by my anger and the neverending onslaught against my lady bits. And so is Erin Gloria Ryan. And you should read the article because it’s satisfying to know that you’re not the only one who feels like they’re beating their head against a massive brick wall that by all rights ought not to even be there anymore.

‘What needs to happen before spouting ignorant, anti-woman crap in public is uniformly met with the same sort of derision we now reserve for politicians who appeal to ethnic stereotypes during drunken tirades?’ she asks. And the answer is, I don’t know. I’m sick of it, too.

But I did get a bit of a chuckle out of the whole situation while reading Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire by Eric Berkowitz yesterday. In his examination of early laws regarding sex and sexual anatomy, he pondered ancient (and I mean ancient–going back at least 4,000 years) laws concerning the treatment of women during their periods and where the fear those laws clearly show may have stemmed from:

‘Until the sexual impulse was tamed and subordinated to common needs, civilized life would be impossible. For men, that meant trying to reconcile themselves to the mystery of the female. In primitive societies, men presumably regarded women with the same awe and terror they felt toward the natural world…. The core of the natural world was the female womb, from which newborn life tumbled out in a gush of blood and screams…. Children seemed to just appear in the womb. Even more incomprehensible, and perhaps horrifying, was the blood that periodically flowed from women’s bodies. Blood was life itself, magical an dangerous to lose, yet women bled freely for days at a time with no injury, and no one knew why… [P}erhaps the sudden appearance of menstrual blood reminded men that, despite their superior physical strength, they could not generate human life…. As time passed, men’s fear of women often evolved into outright hostility.’

Sound familiar? I can’t help but laugh a little bit when I imagine people like Todd Akin and Steve King dressed in some kind of primitive animal skin clothing, mumbling in a language so old it sounds nothing like any modern tongue, gesturing at the stars in confusion, starting away at the sight of fire, and making all sorts of hullabaloo over a woman’s magical, private parts. Their guttural utterances, I like to imagine, would go something like this: “No understand woman body! Me fear! Me make rules about it so me control it!” And some awkward white-guy chest beating, would of course, follow. Probably also some raw meat chomping and chest bumping.

It doesn’t really help to demean the person who demeans you and the billions of people like you across the globe, but it does feel good to laugh at them from time to time.

 

 

 

 

 

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