Friday, April 30, 2010

Odds 'n Ends

[Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault]

1) Oklahoma Abortion Law

Oklahoma has passed an abhorrent law forcing fetal vessels to undergo an ultrasound and listen to description of the fetus prior to having an abortion. From the Times:

"Though other states have passed similar measures requiring women to have ultrasounds, Oklahoma’s law goes further, mandating that a doctor or technician set up the monitor so the woman can see it and describe the heart, limbs and organs of the fetus. No exceptions are made for rape and incest victims."

To require an unnecessary medical procedure in order to undergo another procedure is an infantilization of women. The purpose of this law, which of course is to prevent abortion, is to show and tell women who seek abortions that they don't really know what they're doing. As though women, the ones carrying a fetus, don't fully understand the magnitude of what's at stake when it comes to abortion.

For women who have not been sexually assaulted, this law is enough of a manipulative invasion of privacy. For those who are pregnant as the result of rape or incest, this requirement will do little besides induce further trauma.

The Center for Reproductive Rights has already filed a lawsuit.

2) Non-Consent As the Default

Over at Alas, A Blog, Ampersand examines Duke's new sexual misconduct policy. In short, it turns the usual sex narrative about consent on its head:

"Rather than assuming consent until proven otherwise, Duke’s policy says 'Consent is an affirmative decision to engage in mutually acceptable sexual activity given by clear actions or words… consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, or lack of active resistance alone.'

Put anther way, our society should stop teaching that consent is the default state, until a sufficiently forceful 'no' is stated. Boys — and girls — should be taught that non-consent is the default, unless a person enthusiastically says 'yes' with words or action. Duke is trying to teach that, and they should be praised for that."

For reference, the Duke policy uses an example of a male-female couple wherein the woman says "no" to her boyfriend twice before silently acquiescing to his pressure to have sex. Under the Duke policy, this would be a violation. Generally, I think many people would have trouble seeing this as a violation, given that the woman didn't forcibly resist. Only by constructing consent as something that must be explicitly given, does this example demonstrate that the default in society is basically "sexual consent is assumed until a person is met with physical resistance."

3) State Rep Engaged

This week on the House floor, Illinois state representative Deborah Mell (D) announced her engagement to her same-sex partner. She made her announcement to bring awareness to the issue of marriage equality and highlight the inequality in Illinois' marriage laws. The couple will be marrying in Iowa, which recognizes same-sex marriage.

Congratulations to the couple.

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