Sunday, September 19, 2010


I read an interesting thread on a forum today.
So let's say a woman is lying on her back helpless, crying "no, stop!" while a man shoves his arm elbow deep into her vagina.
Rape, no?
Okay, now let's say that woman is in labor or has just given birth and the man is an obstetrician or a female midwife. Is it still rape?
I would venture 'yes.' I would consider anything done to one's crotch area by anybody without consent, regardless of occupation, is rape, or at the very least sexual assault.
Some people didn't even define it as rape because the doctor was simply doing something integral to his job, regardless of consent. They even brought sexual intent into the equation, which I found interesting since I thought most people knew that the largest component in the "intent" for most rape is not the sex itself but to wield power over someone. And as if doctors were somehow excluded from depravity, and it was impossible that maybe some went home with souvenirs to sexually gratify themselves to the memory of wielding that power.
Some people didn't define it as rape because there are no cases of felony rape against a doctor for a birth experience. As if the legal definition for something is the end-all-be-all. Some pointed out that until recently, date rape and spousal rape didn't fit into the legal definition of rape, but it was no less a crime.
And yet others didn't want the term used in reference to birth experiences because people would be too "loose" with it, calling any birth experience that was traumatic and not going as planned a rape. Because your pitocin drip turned into an emergency c-section and you might want to call it "rape," that means when my doctor forces an internal exam on me, manually dilating my cervix without my consent, I can't use that term. Hmmm.
I had never considered that things like that actually happen. I mean, I know that hospital births can often involve coercion into procedures that can create a domino effect that often turn into a nightmarish birth experience that leave one traumatized. That's a large part of why I chose home birth for my uncomplicated pregnancies(not that rape can't happen at a home birth, just that most of the procedures that are being used to assault someone aren't performed routinely at home births in my experience). But that someone could be in a hospital, with people witnessing the events, and be actively crying for someone to stop? That's horrible. I don't really care what you call it, but I hope those people are brought to justice.

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