Let’s Pussy Riot, girlfriends!

So much has happened this week while I’ve buried my head in the school preparation sands…

Punk rockers Pussy Riot got caged in Russia for denouncing the link between the government and the Russian Orthodox church.

Congressman Todd Akin made the incalculably ignorant remark that in instances of “legitimate rape,” a woman’s body shuts down to any possibility of being impregnated.

Drafts of the official GOP platform include an agenda item to add a Constitutional Amendment that would deny a woman’s right to choose whether or not to carry a fetus to term.

The war on women is not just being fought at home, which amps up the need for louder protest.

We, the women of the United States, have a right to interpret the Founding Fathers’ intentions when it comes to our physical health and well-being. I will NOT stand quietly while men in government toss around casually spoken misinformation about my reproductive liberties.

Ignorance should not be a tool for oppression (although it is commonly used that way). In sharp contrast to Akin’s statement that few rapes result in pregnancy, 32,000 rapes a year result in unwanted pregnancies, according to a 1996 study. Granted, this is a small percentage (5%) of all rapes, but the numbers are significant enough to dispel any rumors of a woman’s body “shutting down” its reproductive capabilities in the case of rape.

And what of Mr. Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment? What would he consider “illegitimate” rape? If I knew my attacker? (I barely did.) If he didn’t use a weapon? (Does superior size and physical strength count?) If I didn’t report it to the police? (Like thousands of women, I was too shaken and humiliated to do so.) If I wasn’t injured? (Does years of emotional scarring and therapy count?)

I turn to the Pussy Riot band members who are standing up for their right to speak dissent in a country that has too often silenced such alternative voices. Band member Yekaterina Samutsevich said this about the reasons behind their supposedly “offensive” protest and why it needed to happen in a public and religious forum:

“Implementing this thoroughly interesting political project (editor’s note: Putin’s agenda to link the “new” Russian politics with the Russian Orthodox Church) has required considerable quantities of professional lighting and video equipment, air time on national TV channels for hours-long live broadcasts, and numerous background shoots for morally and ethically edifying news stories, where in fact the Patriarch’s well-constructed speeches would be pronounced, helping the faithful make the right political choice during the election campaign…” (read entire closing statement)

Are the GOP’s political projects of oppression so different? Aren’t Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan “camera ready,” with their good looks and “aw shucks, I didn’t mean it that way” back paddling? Do not the politically faithful (Tea Party members, for example) follow in lock step, despite evidence that their platform has no legs to stand on? Do they not rely on ardent religious faith to compel their supporters to follow their leadership and the lies they spread?

In response to four years of misinformation and distraction politics, Barack Obama has released his long form birth certificate, further proving the falsehood of the so-called “Birthers” claim that he is not an American. (see PDF here)

Todd Akin’s off-the-cuff lies about women’s reproductive systems have been denounced by medical associations and fellow Republicans alike. (read a related blog post)

And the GOP continues its attempts to legislate for the “right to life” of a developing fetus that could not live outside a woman’s body, at the same time denying a living, breathing, independent woman’s right to control her own destiny. Which life deserves greater freedoms: the potential life that a fetus might become, or the one that actual lives in the present tense? If a fetus has all the rights guaranteed by the 14th amendment, should a miscarriage be considered “accidental homocide”?

This is not my idea of freedom. This is not the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness that I was promised by our Founding Fathers. This is not the America that I choose to live in.

Let us not wait until it is too late. Share your ideas, start a dialogue, provoke people to think about the answers to hard questions (despite the sarcastic tone of some of mine here).

If we don’t talk to those who think differently than we do, our viewpoints remain echoed back to us by like-minded compatriots. We may not change anyone’s mind (and that can’t be the end goal), but at least we’ve voiced our perspective, and perhaps given someone pause to rethink his own world view. Or perhaps not, but it is essential that we try. (read Eve Ensler’s open letter to Mr. Akin)

So in solidarity with Pussy Riot, I’m generating a riot of words of my own… join me!

(Read some creative ways others have stood up for the female punk rockers here.)

photo: Aleshkovsky Mitya/ITAR-TASS Photo, via Corbis

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5 thoughts on “Let’s Pussy Riot, girlfriends!

  1. Most of my friends and relatives believe as I do and as you do. I have distant friends or maybe they are really only acquaintances that are so called lifers and tea party supporters. I feel like it is useless to even open a conversation if I want to remain In contact with them. Maybe I am not giving them credit for being open to different opinions. I don’t know how you can start a dialog when it concerns religious and/or political beliefs. So many wars have been and are fought for religious beliefs. I hate what I hear about legislation to limit a woman’s rights to her own body. This is a good blog.

  2. I’m mostly talking about starting to talk to people who wield power, and the media who disseminate those messages. One has to gauge the social impact as well (the end goal being a complex thing to define). I wouldn’t risk close and closed-minded friends and relations. Strangers are a good place to start (Joanne has been canvassing; she’s the one to do it!). Clearly I hide behind the written word 😉

    Each person finds her own way.

  3. Pingback: the new Todd Akin | No mo' flow

  4. Pingback: threat to sexism everywhere | No mo' flow

  5. Pingback: sexism in dissent | No mo' flow

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