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Freedom from Sexual Violence

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Snake in the Grass

By Michelle Wolff, CCASA Blogger

Todd Akin’s statements don’t bear repeating here.  By now we’ve all heard them ad nauseum and while at first I was as horrified and enraged as the rest of the thinking population, now I am glad.

You read that right, I am happy that old Todd shot his mouth off and flew his Ignoramus flag proudly.  Now his PR people are scrambling to mop up the broken glass, but it’s far too late for that.  So why am I happy?  Because too many people are putting their head in the sand about what’s happening in this country lately.

Every time I get a link from a friend or scan Facebook, I am inundated with more stories about ripping away the rights women have fought so hard to obtain and retain.  It’s easy for people to look away, make an excuse or otherwise ignore subtleties or things that requite actually reading beyond the headlines.  However, when a mouth like Akin fires a shot into the air like that one it wakes even the “sleepers.”

You can’t ignore a flamer like that one.  You can’t make it go away either or claim the old “out of context” standby excuse.  Akin straight stood up and shouted, “Women of America: my Party is out to get you, to take what your mothers and grandmothers fought to give you as your birthright.  We’ve been creeping out of the shadows an inch at a time, and now here we are and we’re ready to tear you down. We’re ready to take you all the way back to the Stone Age. We’re systematically reversing it all so that we will be the ones to tell you when you’ve been raped.  We’ll be the ones to tell you if you can have birth control, and if we generously allow it, we will be certain that it costs so much you can’t afford to purchase it.  We’ll tell you what you can wear and where you can go and who you can spend your time with.  In fact just go on now and hand over those shoes, go get yourself pregnant and start cooking our dinners.”

What’s the answer? Rise up. Rise up, shout, reason, argue, march, whatever it takes.  Channel the spirits of Susan B and Sojourner Truth.  Find your voice and use it.  No one gets to tell you or anyone if they were “really” raped.  No one gets to tell you what you can do with your body or your pregnancy or your health. No one gets to grind your face in the dirt under their boot or enslave you or make you feel shamed and weak.  Unless you let them.

Don’t let them. Speak as your mothers spoke around their “burning bras.”  Shout for every woman out there who has had the make the excruciating choice of whether to raise a child conceived in rape or to have an abortion.  Shout for the sake of your own children if you can’t shout for yourself.  I know I will move heaven and earth to make sure that my daughter has more than what I had and this backsliding will not be tolerated.

So thank you Todd Akin.  Thank you for making it so clear and in our faces that we cannot turn away.  Thank you for laying out in the open what has been secret for too long.

Think about it this way – when you go walking in tall grass you want to hear that rattle so you know exactly where the snake is.  We know where it is.  Now get out there and make sure it doesn’t inject any more poison into our world.

Michelle Wolff is the Sexual Assault Response Team Coordinator for the 17th Judicial District.  She is working with a team of professionals dedicated to creating a seamless system for reporting and receiving services for sexual assault. She’s also an artist and blogger who frequently gets riled up about something and writes about it.  You can find her at www.wolffdenpress.wordpress.com.

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