For those playing along at home, Cycle Day 6 ultrasound and blood work updates/results will be posted at the very bottom of this post just as soon as I hear back from my clinic.
I grew up watching Blossom. I had my own Blossom hat. In fact, here’s proof:
(That pic, FYI, is from the Marriage Survival Handbook my bridesmaids and family made for Larry and I for my bridal shower.)
So it’s no surprise that at 30 years old, I’m still a fan of Mayim Bialik, the actress who portrayed Blossom, and her new blog over at Kveller.com. She’s Jewish, she’s feminist, she has her degree in neuroscience – what’s not to love about Ms. Bialik?
A couple of weeks ago, she was in a pretty serious car accident and finally wrote about the experience on her blog. Of all the little vignettes she shared, this part stuck out for me, emphasis mine:
“Last Woman on Earth: At the scene of the accident, I’m certain there were women standing around. For whatever reason, not judging, no woman came up to me to comfort me or console me at the accident site. As a modest woman and a feminist woman, I craved a woman to hold. Just as in labor, I believe women can give women special support and I missed out on that. I know it’s not for every woman but if you ever see a woman at the scene of an accident, please know that your presence might be helpful.” (Source: Kveller.com.)
There’s a lot to unpack in that paragraph. Mel over at Stirrup Queens does a great job of that here. For me, reading that quote was the tipping point I needed to get some very heavy stuff off my chest about women, womanhood and women doing right by other women.
And, to be completely candid, so you can take the last exit before the toll, this car is about to drive through Abortion Rights and Legitimate Rape Town. Want to bail? Click here for some lighter reading material.
I’m going to confess something here on this blog, something that perhaps even my family doesn’t know about.
I was not raped. I was not sexually assaulted. However, I did have an encounter that could be classified as “sexual coercion.” Nearly 15 years later, my memory of what happened is hazy, but I can say with certainty that I did not give consent to what took place; in fact, I very clearly said both “no” and “stop it” – and it would be another 15 minutes before he did. And yes, it was with someone I knew. I haven’t really spoken to him since that took place.
You can see how I might have trouble classifying this as sexual assault. (I can say with certainty it was not rape by legal definitions.) I use the term coercion because it more accurately reflects what I remember about the event.
You might say I have trouble calling it “legitimate.”
I have, however, lost count – as in, I literally cannot keep track of how many people I know who have been “legitimately” raped. The kind you read about in the news. The kind you see in movies and on TV. I know women who have been raped by strangers, boyfriends, family members. I know men who have been raped by other men.
To deny that rape culture exists in this country is to be blind to 25% of the population – and that’s just the women who report.
Was I shocked about Rep. Todd Akin’s comments about women’s inability to get pregnant in cases of “legitimate” rape? Totally. (What’s more shocking? This is a dangerous rhetoric that goes back YEARS.)
Was I shocked they were made by a white, male Republican? Nope, not in the least. As far as I’m concerned, statements like this tend to come from the same groups of people.
But knock me over with a feather when I read this last week from Missouri GOP Committeewoman Sharon Barnes:
Ms. Barnes echoed Mr. Akin’s statement that very few rapes resulted in pregnancy, adding that “at that point, if God has chosen to bless this person with a life, you don’t kill it.” (Source: The NY Times.)
Yes, because if it’s one thing a woman who’s been raped has been, it’s blessed.
And then there was this mind-fuck made by Wisconsin’s Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch when commenting on Rep. Akin’s statements:
Did you catch that? It was quick:
Kleefisch: “Rape is a rape. I don’t know how you can categorize it, and it’s disgusting that Todd Akin would have tried to categorize it.”
Reporter: “But Paul Ryan did cosponsor a bill that categorized ‘forcible rape.’
Kleefisch: “Well, I think there is a way to have a more forcible rape, the same way there are different types of assault.”
Lt. Governor Kleefisch said that all rapes are equal, but some rapes are more equal than others. Perhaps what some might characterize as “legitimate” even?
Okay, let’s move away from this talk of rape and diverge into Abortion Rights territory for a few minutes.
Personhood legislation: it’s apparently the new reproductive choice hotness of the moment. And it hurts everyone, especially the infertility community. We have become its often unintended victims.
So, again, it’s troubling when you realize it’s not just men proposing this legislation, but women too. Take Iowa Rep. Kim Pearson’s failed personhood legislation from 2011. Not only did it seek to criminalize/ban all instances of abortion, but to criminalize the destruction of a fertilized egg or embryo. Yanno, like is S.O.P. as part of the IVF process.
And then there’s the entire state of Arizona, which I’m convinced is just fucked beyond repair. First, there’s Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer, who is just an incompetent nutjob. But she helped enable State Rep. Kimberly Yee to sign her extreme abortion bill into law.
The Daily Beast breaks it down quite simply:
Did you catch what the real big issue is here? Not that abortions have been banned after 20 weeks in Arizona, but that the Arizona legislature just rewrote science by declaring – legally – that pregnancy begins on the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period, as opposed to fertilization, which, yanno, ALL OF SCIENCE AGREES is when pregnancy occurs. So in Arizona, you’d be considered pregnant two weeks before conception. Which means that access to medication abortion (what’s commonly known as the “abortion pill”) is effectively shut down in the state of Arizona.
The law “disregards women’s health in a way I’ve never seen before,” said Center for Reproductive Rights’ state advocacy counsel, Jordan Goldberg. “The women of Arizona can’t access medical treatment that other women can.” (Source: The Daily Beast.)
No matter your stance on abortion, I just can’t get behind anything that would deny a woman – or man, for that matter – access to necessary medical treatment and care. I just can’t do it.
Hey, remember when this post was about Blossom? Let’s bring it on home.
Bialik writes “I believe women can give women special support” – and she’s right. Read anything I’ve ever written about the Red Tent or the Red Tent Temple. Women just “get” other women: our struggles, our insecurities, our secret desires and dreams. Our biological clocks. Our blood.
So when I keep reading about women who would either themselves or come to the defense of those who would restrict, crush, and annihilate women’s rights to their own bodies – it hurts. It leaves me baffled. It makes me want to scream at these women: “Don’t you understand? Aren’t you outraged too? What don’t you get about how casual and misleading comments about rape and anti-choice legislation hurt you too? How this hurts you, your daughters, your sisters, your mothers!?”
Sometimes, I have to be honest: it feels like a betrayal. A betrayal to what I believe is a shared, common and often unspoken sisterhood that unites all women by the virtue of our repeated X chromosomes. I feel like we – the global We of Women – are obligated to look out for each other because throughout history, we have been browbeaten and literally beaten into secondary, submissive roles. We have had to fight for everything since the Fall of Eve.
I feel like it becomes hard to Trust Women when sometimes, I look around at women like these legislators mentioned in this post – and I wouldn’t trust any of them. I feel like now more than ever, given our current national discourse on women and women’s rights to their own bodies – I feel like this is when we should band together.
To be the woman that Mayim Bialik so desperately needed and wanted in her moment of crisis. To reach out and console one another. To fight for another and not against each other.
I feel like that we, as Women – as Women Together – as Women Who Understand the Uniqueness of What it Means to Be Woman – owe that to each other.