Naming experiences

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Bodies, Health, Science, Sexism
Tags: , , ,

Trigger warning for discussions of rape.

In the last post, I talked about the power of names on the personal name level. Well, about my name really. But still.

Technically this issue could be seen as nothing to do with me since I’m pretty sure I’m incapable (read whatever you wish into that, I know what I mean) of carrying a pregnancy and giving birth and am about 75% sure I don’t want to. Therefore if I slip up, ignore issues that people feel are important, I apologise in advance (that doesn’t mean you have to ignore them; if it happens, by all means tell me I made a mistake). But that doesn’t mean that I can stand by and not speak up.

The issue in question is birth rape, and the language policing in the discussion. There is a great post up on The Curvature about it, but basically birth rape is the nonconsensual penetration of the female-assigned body during childbirth by medical practitioners. It’s been going around a bit recently, which is how it came to my attention (I’d heard of it and strongly disapproved, but wasn’t quite stirred to write about it.)

I have never been raped – for which fact I am thankful – and therefore will try not to make it about me. Rape is a difficult term to define – I tend to use nonconsensual violation of a person’s body, generally based around the sex organs – but what is and isn’t rape is not, can not be, should not be based on the attacker’s motives. It’s based on the act and the testimony of the victim. The victim’s voice must be centred.

Just because it is a medical situation does not mean that the concept of bodily autonomy is invalidated. It doesn’t mean that informed consent is not needed. That makes it a violation, and it is the victim’s right to call it rape or not as the victim chooses.


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