White, my dear friend and sister-in-struggle, recently
died of an aneurism; she was only 51 years old. A
rape survivor and a respected psychology professor,
she was a fierce warrior for the reproductive rights
of women, particularly African American women.
Attacks on women - whatever
form they take-- will not be tolerated.
During the 1980’s in St. Louis, Aaronnette organized black women (and
some black men) to take out a full page ad in the
black weekly newspaper condemning rape in the black
community. It was a bold move that pulled the covers
off an issue that had rarely received public scrutiny
in black communities, leaving many rape victims to
suffer in silence.
I was reminded of that campaign and
many other community events about rape when Congressman
Todd Aiken (MO-R) gave his stunning explanation about
Aiken said, “If it’s a legitimate rape,
the female body has ways to try to shut that whole
The Aiken comment was a stinging slap
in the face of rape victims. Apparently the 32,000
women who become pregnant each year didn’t have the
magic power to stop their pregnancy. In the U.S.,
a woman is raped every two minutes and it’s still
the most underreported violent crime in America, according
to the Rape Trauma Services. The underreporting may
be linked to the fact that only 25% of reported rapes
result in arrest.
VP contender Paul Ryan called the remarks
“outrageous” and “indefensible.” I found this retort
to be quite hyprocritical as Ryan (and many others
on the far right) share the identical viewpoint. Ryan
and Aiken have been co-sponsors of many bills (40
and counting) that are tearing away at the right to
a safe and accessible abortion. The last time I looked,
abortion was still the law of the land but Republicans
are destroying or ignoring laws they don’t like while
demanding that the 99 Percenters respect the laws
that protect the interests of the ruling class.
In the U.S., a woman is raped every
Last year, nearly 1,000 anti-abortion
bills were introduced across the country. The laws
have teetered on the absurd, such as forcing women
to endure vaginal ulttrasounds before abortions or
redefining the moment of conception. An Arizona law passed this year declared that pregnancy begins two weeks
The laws prohibit federal funding of
abortion, birth control and other vital services,
resulting in the demise of groups like Planned Parenthood.
Abortion clinics have been bombed and doctors who
performed abortions have been assaulted or killed
- acts that have successfully contributed to the Republican
strategy to end abortions.
The detrimental bills passed by Republicans
have attempted to also redefine rape. In addition
to terms like illegitimate rape, they have coined
new and confusing terms like “forcible rape”and “consensual
Groups like SisterSong Women of Color
for Reproductive Rights have helped launch initiatives
such as the Trust Black Women Campaign. The campaign
is designed to organize women (and men) to fight for
women’s right to control their own bodies but also
to send a message to the anti-woman camp that attacks
on women - whatever form they take-- will not be tolerated.
Although the conservatives
holler about getting government out of our personal
lives, it seems that women’s bodies are the exception
to the rule. This brings me all the way back to the
work of Dr. White and countless others who have worked
tirelessly to educate the general society on the issue
of rape, to end the attacks on women’s reproductive
rights and to protect the personal and psychological
security of women. We who believe in freedom and women’s
rights should not rest until the lives, choices and
dignity of all women are fully restored and protected.
Editorial Board member and Columnist, Jamala Rogers, is the leader of the Organization
for Black Struggle
in St. Louis and the Black
Radical Congress National Organizer. Additionally, she is an Alston-Bannerman
Fellow. She is the author of The Best of the Way I See It –
A Chronicle of Struggle. Click
here to contact Ms.