Rape Culture this Week

With all the news this week about gender relations in Silicon Valley, an airplane crash, and various levels of unrest around the world, I almost missed the story of Teresa Fedor. Maybe you did too.

Teresa is a state representative in the state of Ohio. She stood in front of the Ohio legislature. She told them that she was raped while she was a member of the US military. She told them that she went through a pregnancy produced by that rape. She told them that she chose to have an abortion to end her nightmare.

Teresa”s audience did not hear that the military (among other places in the US and around the world) is saturated with rape culture. They did not hear the victim of a terrible violation of human rights and bodily integrity. They did not hear someone who went through unimaginable physical and emotional pain as a result of that violation. In fact, it does not appear that they heard anything.

Why?

The reaction was to laugh online casino at her. Audibly. On the floor of the Ohio legislature.

Not everyone laughed. But no one identified, removed, beat up, or mocked the people who did laugh.

The message?

Its okay to laugh at/during a rape narrative. The experience of being raped can be trivialized to something either comic in itself or okay to engage in comic relief during. Or both.

It does not matter your position on the abortion bill that Fedor was opposing (its possible to believe abortion is problematic without being disrespectful either to people who disagree or people who are raped). It also does not matter your position on abortion more generally. It does not even matter if you think that Fedor made the wrong decision having an abortion. (Just for the record: I oppose the bill Fedor was opposing, believe the state should make no laws regarding abortion, and believe that Fedor”s decision was hers and hers alone). But none of that matters.

None of that matters because it should NEVER be okay to laugh at rape victims talking about rape. To those who suggest that rape culture in the US does not exist (who I won”t give the dignity of links), … no one thinks stories of murdered friends and family members are funny. No one thinks that cases of kidnapping are funny. Ohio Representatives thought rape was funny.

You may say that”s an isolated incident. That people laughed at (or coincidentally during) Teresa, but people generally don”t find rape funny.

Say that. Then google “rape funny.”  Then join me in being ashamed of and looking to fight against rape culture. Instead of laughing at it.