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Triple Shot

From: American Book Review
Volume 34, Number 6, September/October 2013
pp. 6-19 | 10.1353/abr.2013.0120

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Glamorized as it is with two airbrushed/ snipped/augmented/tucked bodies of the opposite sex, gender roles clearly defined, everybody having a good time, sex is rarely what we've constructed, seldom "normal," and can become an act of violence justified by norms, perpetuated by shame. Get Out of My Crotch! (2013) is the result of editor Kim Wyatt's realization that she felt like she "was living in a bizzaro universe, where choice was not an option and rape meant not rape, and the patriarchy was using the last tool left to them–legislation–to limit women's rights and agency." Beginning with essay's about abortions, this anthology moves on to rape to satisfy Wyatt's need to "make some noise.

To sound a call." While he is certainly not alone, Missouri's Todd Akin's statement about women's ability to avoid pregnancy resulting from rape is referenced several times throughout the book. While Akin claims to have misspoken, Kate Sheppard points out that his "remark was no gaffe. It was one of those rare moments when a politician says what he believes." As a belief, statements like Akin's go a long way in explaining (not justifying) how one side can be so distant from the other, how not really knowing is a dangerous game where victims digest blame. In Get Out of My Crotch!, Elissa Bassist works through definitions of rape, manufacturing a difference between "back-alley-rape" and what a male peer suggests is more a "Caffeine-Free Rape" or "Diet Rape" by a boyfriend because she didn't say, "No, no, no" and instead says, "Just finish" while her cervix is "torn in such a way that it looked like [she' d] given birth." Further struggling with rape, desire, and fault, Rebecca K. O'Connor explains how, at age ten, she "knew [she] was being damaged, but a part of [her] was proud. [She] was wanted." Years later, O'Connor finds herself in court testifying against a neighbor that turns out to be a stalker, breaking into her house. O'Connor is repeatedly asked if she enticed the stalker as he claimed she was "dancing naked in front of the window," which she hadn't. But what if she had? Would this have been a justification? We are led to believe so.

We are conditioned to blame the victim, to question her attire, to check her past, her level of sobriety, as if these things matter! As a former abortion clinic worker, Kari O'Driscoll describes patients as "ashamed, embarrassed, frightened. They peppered their dialogue with justifications and explanations." Perhaps some of the shame comes from the crowd of protesters O'Driscoll writes about walking through every day, but most of it seems to return to the reoccurring theme of victim shame/blame. In this anthology, several strong women tell their own abortion stories, not to shock, not to justify, but to say to politicians "Get out of my crotch!" Unfortunately, these stories might be viewed as a sort of overstated rhetoric. Lidia Yuknavitch explains how she listens to a man say, '"Enough with the sob stories, ladies. We get it. If I hear one more story one more story about some fucked-up sad violent shit that happened to you, I'm going to walk…. You win the Sad Shit Happened Award! On behalf of my gender, I decree: We suck!'" In other words, get over it: this man (like others) doesn't want to hear it. Hearing it would mean having to think about it, having to question the seriousness of the shit, having to own up to a history of dismissal. It isn't just women's rights that are at issue here. As a genderqueer individual, s.e. smith asks the movement to be more inclusive, writing, "Reproductive rights are a human rights issue. They matter to all human beings, not just women." Rather than focusing on the rights of cis women, smith believes "the fight for reproductive rights is often focused on achieving rights for the norm, not for everyone, and the liberation for some is justice for none." Fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ community as...

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