I'm the Shame Monster

6:12 AM Edit This 20 Comments »
I got a wonderful night's sleep. As in ten hours. And I'm raring to go, which means you get a taste of my politics this morning! Before you continue, please note the words "flaming liberal" in my profile. Haters may comment elsewhere. This is my blog. You choose to read it. So if you're a meanie, please go suck it.

South Dakota is the most conservative state I've ever lived in. My doctor doesn't prescribe birth control - it's against his beliefs. It's a toss up whether or not the kids are learning about evolution at school. My head kind of exploded when one of the pastors I worked with suggested I take "our young ladies" to a Purity Conference. We had our Obama yard signs defaced on a regular basis during the election. And abortion comes up at every single opportunity to vote. Whereas I'm sick and tired of even thinking about other women's girlie parts and what they do with them, I will stand firm on abortion rights. FIRM. And I WILL fight. And when I found this in the news the other day, my blood started to boil once again.

Virginity fetishism has even made its way into politics and legislation. In 2007, Republican South Dakota representative Bill Napoli described his support for a ban on abortion that allowed no exceptions for rape or incest by relaying a (quite vivid) scenario to a reporter. He explained under what circumstances the procedure might be warranted: “A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated.”

I found this moment so telling: Napoli couldn’t help but let his misogyny and paternalism seep into his abortion sound bite, because, to him and to so many other men (and other legislators, for that matter), there’s no separating virginity, violence, and control over women’s bodies. When it comes to women who are perceived as “impure,” there’s a narrative of punishment that underscores U.S. policy and public discourse — be it legislation that limits reproductive rights through the assumption that women should be chaste before marriage, or a media that demonizes victims of sexual violence. And, sadly, if you look at everything from our laws to our newspapers, Napoli isn’t as far out of the mainstream as we’d like to think.

I can only have an abortion if I was a virgin? If I was religious? If it was a brutal impregnation? If I was sodomized as well? If I was a young girl? And furthermore, if I am an unchaste woman, I am perceived as impure?

I am militant about shame. I can't pull many statistics out of my head at any given moment, but one that I hold firm to is that 75 percent of female alcoholics have been in a sexually abusive relationship during the course of her life. The women that I relate to, the women that befriended me, the women that I work with today in recovery - seventy five percent of them have - at one time - felt the shame that is represented by this news article. And part of my life's purpose today is to undo that shame - one woman at a time. My worth is not based on my physical being. Or any of my sexual activity. No one's worth is. And I will show you in any way that I can, that your worth comes from inside of you.

I have seen first hand, the women who have been the victims of sexual violence become, in a round about way, forced to view themselves as the perpetrator. When I first got into recovery, I noticed that there were certain women giving the "I came into recovery a whore and ended up a lady" speech. Well, they don't give that speech in front of me. I will take them to task. And pretty much everyone knows it. If you buy that speech, you buy the fact that the abuse you endured was your "fault." And that in order to "get better" you should start acting "like a lady." What is a "lady?" Who gets to decide what a "lady" is? And who the hell are you to judge someone in the first place? I get to decide what my body does and does not like. I get to decide what actions I am comfortable taking. I get to decide what my morality looks like.

I didn't know that such things got me so worked up until I moved here. I was always surrounded by people of like mind. And I like that I stand for something. And something as important as making sure that women get to choose. Not only abortions, but choose how they view themselves. Not as pure or impure. Not as chaste or unchaste. Not as damaged goods. Not as objects. But as a woman. Full of life, no matter the past, present or future choices she makes. As a woman. And that it's okay to be proud of that woman. All the time.


BrianAlt said...

I love it.

Lemmonex said...

"I get to decide what my morality looks like."

Thank you, a thousand times thank you. I was a women's studies major in college...something that surprises some people. I am a feminist.

I am a feminist that likes porn and rough sex and shaves my legs and believes in a women's right to choose and that we should make the same amount as men. I like to cook and I want to have children one day and maybe I will take time off but I want my partner to as well.

That is my morality and I should not have to justify any of it. We are all nuanced.

Sarah said...

Honestly, I think men ought to stay out of the abortion discussion when it comes to legislation. If they're the father? Fine, they can talk to the mother and try to change her mind on that particular case. But when it comes to all women? Just stay out. Please.

LiLu said...

I don't know how you do it in a place like that, Chapel Hill was hard enough for me and it's nowhere near that bad... but I'm glad there's one of you out there, sticking up for our rights to our bodies.


Anonymous said...

As a libertarian (with a small "L"...i.e., NOT the Libertarian party, who are a bunch of whack jobs), I believe the government should stick to issues like the economy and national security, and stay the hell out of people's personal business. So it follows that my view on abortion is predicated on the central theme of libertarian ideology, which is that you have the right to do whatever you want, as long as it doesn't interfere with someone else's rights. So, while I personally would choose NOT to have an abortion (I know, I know, I'm a guy so shut up), I fully respect and support, and will fight to the death for the rights of others to choose differently.

And as a side note, I admire and respect people who stand for something and are willing to fight for it, whether I agreee with them or not. So thanks for taking a stand.


carrster said...

I agree with you one thousand percent. Abortion is SUCH an intensely personal choice. One that most people do not enter into lightly that it rankles me to think of a bunch of lawmakers (mostly men, of course) are out their making this decision for people. The quote that you have in your blog makes me just sick. Unbelievable.

Summer said...

Oklahoma is the same way. I get so tired of defending an issue that was solved 36 years ago! And the Purity thing really annoys the shit out of me. Not saying, teenage girls need to be screwing everything that walks, but when they do-- there's usually an underlying problem! We need to be teaching these young women confidence and difference between love/lust, not Save Your Self for Marriage. Like that's the damn answer! Save yourself and then get married at 19 years old. Yeah, that'll be great. *sarcasm*

I can't even get into the shaming of rape victims. I get way too angry. It's only a rape if the girl was a virgin? Am I the only one would feels like punching someone?

Steps down from soap box

SoMi's Nilsa said...

Merely reading this post, I still feel the energy that you put into it. It's so clear how strongly you feel (and rightly so!). I witnessed similar types of women when I volunteered at a domestic violence shelter. And you're so right - that mentality means these women asked for it. And that's one of the first things they are taught - no woman, no matter what the circumstance, deserves to be treated like that.

Kristen said...


Your doctor doesn't prescribe birth control?

God I love Rhode Island. Love. It.

Shania said...

*stands and applauds - LOUDLY*

f.B said...

The thoughts of that guy you quoted are probably reason number one why I don't believe in Western religions. The struggle to make everything dichotomous -- it's either heaven or hell, good or evil -- ignores the nuance Lem mentioned; flatly ignores it.

Your life doesn't have to satisfy their impression of life. It just doesn't. Your life has nothing to do with their beliefs. It just doesn't. It's not about telling people like that guy what they can and can't think. It's about telling them that they can't impose what they think on you; they can't make it illegal not to meet their "standard."

There are very good people who believe in a god. But they always seemed to be drowned out by these people who don't believe in basic decency.

melissalion said...

And this is why I need to be on a coast.

I think the lady whore thing is so disruptive to all women. I mean, there are women who don't love sex. I mean, they lie there and act pretty and have sex, but they don't enjoy it. Because it involves getting sweaty and mussed and making odd faces. And it's not real lady-like grab a guy's crotch in public and inform him you're ready to have sex now. NOW!

I think I was that person for a long time. Worried that I didn't look genteel enough. OMG, we only get a limited time on this earth. Fuck being a lady. Be yourself!

Sorry, this has been on my mind lately.

Also, I'm glad you got sleep.

Jules said...

Sing it, sister! I couldn't agree with you more and good for you for sticking to your values and opinions even though you're the minority in your area.

Just A Girl said...

God just reading that description of an "ok" time to have an abortion made me furious. But I think you said pretty much everything I was thinking, and Lem finished my thoughts so I won't rant.


stoogepie said...

You rock!

Did I tell you that I came to your blog a boy-whore and ended up a boy-whore? Yeah.

Anyways, bravo!

*Akilah Sakai* said...

Say it loud, Kate! I agree and I cannot believe that imbecile actually said that! Does he have a daughter? Wife? A friggin' mother?

What. The. Hell?

JoLee said...

Amen Sister!

Anonymous said...

your awesome!!

t2ed said...

If SD is too conservative for you, I really hope you get to visit Utah some time. Set your watch back 1 hour and 25 years.

Sweetly Single said...

You rock hard core!

I'll fed-ex you some birth control pills k?