October 9, 2006
Well, the pregnancy test came back positive. You know, I put on a brave face for my readers and many of them keep saying that I’m courageous and brave. But they’re wrong. I’m scared. I’m fucking terrified. I’ve never been in this situation before and, truth be told, I never quite ‘got it’ before now. I guess it’s something that you just can’t understand until you’ve actually been there, as I am now. But the fact of the matter is that I’m blogging about it and I’m getting the shitty comments and I’m getting the helpful comments as well. More kind comments than unkind and that, at least, is something.
But I’m still scared; I’m still terrified at what’s happening to me. Questions shoot through my mind like angry wasps buzzing in my ear.
What will the clinic be like?
How many protesters will there be?
Will I be strong enough to wade past them or will I crumble and be shamed as they so wish me to be?
What will the doctors be like?
Will they be kind?
Or will they try to guilt trip me?
Should I tell my friends and family or should I be quiet?
How can I keep pretending to be happy and brave when I’m actually terrified on the inside?
Will it hurt?
How will I get over my phobia of gynecologists?
Oh gods, I’m scared. I’m so scared!
Will I be able to get over the fear of the speculum?
Will I get that thing where everything clamps down from terror and they have to tell me to ‘relax’ over and over again?
Will the doctor be a male or a female?
Am I stupid to be afraid of all of it?
How can I deal with the resentment I feel at Dubhe for not getting any of this backlash?
Is it horrible that I feel resentment in the first place that he hasn’t been the target of hatred?
Will this affect our relationship for a long while to come?
Is it horrible of me that I’ve refused to have penetrative sex since this began?
If I have to have a surgical abortion will it be worse since my cervix is fucked?
When they start talking about hormonal birth control should I speak up and tell them that I can’t take it or just take a shot and deal with it?
Sure, I put on a brave face, don’t we all? And, when you write things of a decidedly radical feminist bent you’re subjected to quite a few negative comments. I get plenty of hateful, nasty comments, I’ve been threatened before and I’ve been screamed at and insulted and had horrible things said to me. To be honest, you kind of develop a thicker skin, or at least you pretend to.
Some days I can laugh in the face of it but other days I’m worried and scared and can summon little more than a half-hearted, insecure smile. Am I brave? No. I’m not. I’m the farthest thing from brave that I can be without moving into complete coward territory. But I sure can put up a big front sometimes, and even better, sometimes I even believe it.
I’ve asked myself countless times why I even mentioned this entire thing on the blog. What was I thinking? Where the fuck was my head? I chide myself and condemn myself for opening this seeming can of worms. I self-blame, telling myself that I shouldn’t complain about the hatred because, after all, I put it out there.
But see, the thing is that it makes me feel good to write. That is what I do. Writing is the medium that I love more than any other expression. I never in a million years expected it to blow up the way it did. I never expected the links and the comments and the helpful and not so helpful advice. What I expected was simply to rage at yet another injustice. To be frank I never felt fear when I wrote that first post about the EC fiasco. Hell, I’ve followed news stories of similar things. While I’ve been blogging I’ve watched the news as woman after woman had a hard time getting EC filled or failed altogether in their efforts.
I’ve read the stories of the pharmacists refusing EC to women who have been raped. I’ve read them and I’ve raged with them, I never, in a million years, expected my story, one more story among vast oceans of stories, to get the attention it ultimately got. And if that was a surprise then the larger surprise was the hate that was also doled out.
To be perfectly honest I haven’t focused too much on issues of abortion and so forth. In this blog I have explored, in detail, my abusive marriages and relationships, my rapes and the lens of feminism that they led me to. This space has been little more than a public sounding board, a way to tell the world that Yes, these things happen, Yes, they happened to me and Yes, I am trying to heal from them after so many years.
This blog was created as a place for self-exploration in a public forum; it is also something I never thought I’d do. I have always kept journals, but they have never been read by another soul before, and here I was spilling out all this shit and damnit, it felt good. But I only dealt with the stuff that hit very close to home. Those things that had directly impacted me and forced me to look at things through a different lens than I had ever used before.
So writing about the EC thing didn’t cause me fear or concern. As far as I was concerned it was simply one more story in a landscape dotted with similar stories. I reckoned that my regular readers would leave comments of support and that they would be, in a sense, a shoulder to lean on.
It didn’t actually turn out that way though. For some reason this story went bigger than I ever thought possible. Even though I have read countless stories in the newspaper and online and in other blogs about the very same thing, for whatever reason this story, my story, was elevated to attention status. And wow, did it ever get attention.
I have often wondered why a story that has been told so many times would get this sort of attention while so many others haven’t. I felt guilt, and actually still do to a certain extent. There is a not insignificant bit of guilt residing within me that the voices of so many other women were ignored but for whatever reason, mine was heard. My readers know that while reproductive choice is important to me, as it is with all feminists, my main focuses on this blog have been rape, defining it, redefining it and discussing it. As well as the exploration of pain that survivors deal with on a daily basis. I am also notorious for my anti-porn stance and I devote much of my writing to discussing these topics.
Abortion, EC and so forth have made appearances here but my focus has been pretty much limited to the things that I have personally experienced. So, here I was in this position that so many others have been in and, for whatever reason; my story was picked up and read. And goddamnit, that makes me feel like shit.
Anyway, after writing about the EC thing I saw another area of feminism that I had not previously seen on anything more than a superficial level. I saw hatred and misogyny that was every bit as vile and horrible as the standard stuff I get all the time. People left comments, many, many helpful and wonderful comments. People also got angry with me and acted in ways that were abhorrent, cruel and dehumanizing.
I was told that the people who wrote such horrible woman-hating sentiments were simply ‘being jerks’. It was suggested that there is a number of people out there who just get off on being assholes. It was also suggested that some of these commenters were even pro-choice but that they just enjoyed and thought it funny to randomly attack people.
I called bullshit then and I stand by that now. Quite frankly if there exists people in this world who truly have no stance on a topic, or even who support that topic, who say these sorts of things to other people just for giggles then this world is a far sicker place than I ever imagined. It has been suggested that some of the commenters were ‘just people who get off on this sort of thing’, and it has been argued that these same people just ‘get off’ on insulting, threatening and debasing all others ‘just for fun’. It has even been alluded to that these same people may even be pro-choice but just enjoy cruelty, debasement and degradation for the sheer enjoyment of it.
If this is true, then what it boils down to is this: These people get off on cruelty for the sake of cruelty. They need no agenda; they just get off on kicking people who are down. People who are in pain, or scared or people who just plain care about something.
I cannot think of a more terrifying individual to be around. I cannot, in my wildest dreams, imagine a person who agrees with abortion telling another person that they are worthy of death just to be cruel.
Anyway as I was saying before I got sidetracked. After the posting on EC I was surprised and shocked, yet I was happy to see that so many people were getting the message that this sort of thing is happening to so many women. I am but a drop in the proverbial bucket on this one, many women have gone before me on this and many will follow after me. I took the attention and all the knocks I received and told myself, “Well, at least this topic is getting more attention now”.
And with that I resumed my writing, always knowing that there was a chance that the EC didn’t work. I watched the days and wrung my hands. I read up on abortion protesters and on the stories of women who have braved these picket lines. I read up on herbal miscarriage formulas and hoped that the worst would not come to pass.
Last week I looked at the calendar and closed my eyes before sighing largely. I was late. The first day I thought that perhaps it was my nerves, when the morning of the second day came I decided ‘no more excuses’ and I got a test. I knew that there was a strong possibility that I was pregnant but I was terrified to face that reality, instead, I stalled that first day, hoping beyond hope that I was just nervous.
When that plus sign showed up I fell to the floor and cried. The EC had failed and I was facing down a dragon. I retreated from the blog for a few days, sobbing in fear and worry while I did more in-depth research on my options. I calculated back and knew that I was but a few weeks along, indeed, this last Friday was 3 weeks exactly since the condom broke. Dubhe tried to take as much time off as he could as did I, but eventually he had to go back to work and I sat here, alone, when I had work to do.
I wrung my hands some more when I thought about posting the story at
The Den. I remembered the bitter sting of the hateful comments that were posted over the EC and decided better of telling the story. Then, one evening I was chatting with Dubhe something became clear to me. I was being scared into submission by the same kind of people who place shame onto the shoulders of a rape victim while forgetting entirely the other party involved.
I asked myself a few questions, “Would it help or hurt if I write about it?” and I realized immediately that this story would very likely help other women while simultaneously hurting me. It’s likely that this is a story that has been replayed many times and if I was feeling alone and scared then surely there were others out there who felt the same. I looked back over my time blogging and came to understand that it was precisely the knowledge that I wasn’t alone in my experiences that helped me so very much.
Knowing that you aren’t the only person who has experienced something gives you an immediate sense of relief and begins to wipe away the shame caused by feeling alone. Understanding that my story may actually help someone else is what prompted me to write that last post. Of course, as part and parcel of the writing, I would be making myself a huge target. So I spoke to Dubhe and told him that I wanted to do this, I asked him to take over everything on the blog for a bit so I didn’t have to deal directly with it. He readily agreed and so it has been.
The nasty emails have been coming, along with the kind ones and, for the record Dubhe has said that there are far more kind emails than nasty ones. A fact for which I am eternally grateful. The same holds true for the comments, by far there are more kind comments than hateful ones.
This entire thing has brought so many things to the surface for me. In some ways I’m in a catch 22. I refuse to play the forced birthers game of “Prove why you’re an exception to my no abortion policy” while at the same time there are things that would invariably shed a completely different light onto the situation if people knew it.
The fact of the matter is that I’ve realized, through all of this, that there are so many factors in any individual situation that they almost become moot. For example: I’ve wondered, as has Dubhe, why he became completely invisible during all of this. It’s as if his dick completely disappeared from the equation and it does not escape me that if I were using the pill and still got pregnant I would be accused of being irresponsible or, more likely, having made a mistake taking it. Thus the pregnancy becomes my fault.
However, what if I said that the condom broke because of user error? What if I said that Dubhe didn’t use it properly? Ahh, but see, there’s the rub. I’m still at fault for not taking the pill. It’s still my fault because I should have known and the pregnancy is still my fault. More than that though, I’m playing the ‘prove why I’m an exception to the rule’ game.
What if I said that I can’t bear children without risk of death? What if I told everyone that I had some medical problem by which I couldn’t carry a child? Of course, that still becomes my fault because if I knew that then why didn’t I get my tubes tied? Why didn’t I succumb to expensive and invasive surgery that poses a whole host of different problems to women who undergo it? If I say that I do not believe that invasive surgery with massive side effects is an acceptable birth control method then I’m just asking for it anyway and thus, the pregnancy becomes my fault again. Not to mention that again I’m playing the ‘prove why I’m an exception to the rule’ game.
What if I said that for the last 18 months I did exactly what the forced birth camp says I should do and I ‘kept my legs shut’? What if I said that the risk of conception was too much a risk for me to take knowing that I couldn’t take hormonal birth control and didn’t have the money for invasive surgery? What if I said that I wouldn’t let Dubhe stick his dick in me for the last 18 months of our relationship? Of course, then I’m borderline abusive for withholding sex from him, and everyone in the world sympathizes with him. Then I’m a frigid bitch who wouldn’t put out and should have just used contraception anyway so that he wouldn’t have to suffer such a horrible fate as not being able to stick his dick inside his partner. Of course, then I’m pandering to the ‘I’m an exception to the rule camp’ once again.
I could go on and on and it may be that these stories are real, that these individual factors do indeed apply to me or it could be that these are factors that other women have had. Either way, I won’t be baring any of the details of what happened to me, even though perhaps those factors would indeed take some of the heat off of me they will serve no purpose but to undermine any woman who can’t ‘explain why she’s different’.
Instead what I’ve done is watch curiously as people act just like people and forget that Dubhe was involved and forget that the birth control was on his penis and forget that for each and every single woman out there there is an entire set of factors that you can’t even begin to grasp.
I can point out that forcing a woman to play the ‘prove it’ game is simply a trap crafted to make women feel as ashamed as they can be made to feel while explaining why they are ‘different’. The fact of the matter is that no woman is ‘different’. Each and every single woman who has ever found herself in these circumstances has an individual host of reasons that a pregnancy is a bad idea for them and all of those reasons are valid.
There are also those who have stated that my story is ‘too perfect’ to be real. To be honest there’s little that I can say to that but it doesn’t exactly surprise me to hear some stand up and say that I’m lying. Indeed, women who undergo traumatic, life changing experiences are often written off as liars. The default position is to disbelieve everything we say. A woman who has been raped is clearly a liar for some nefarious purpose and a woman who is impregnated is also clearly a liar.
It is a common tactic to say a woman is lying if she’s saying something that a given person doesn’t want to believe is true. It’s much easier to accuse a woman of lying and write her off completely than to admit that there are things that happen with stunning regularity that are just wrong. I suppose that I could send them a piss sample to prove it, but why the fuck should I have to do that? Sure there’s lots of things I could do to ‘prove it’ but I know this tactic, I’m quite familiar with it as it is the exact tactic that people (mostly men) will use to defame a woman who has accused a man of raping her.
Indeed, the similarities are stunning. I’ve heard that I ‘should’ have known to get online and get a prescription ordered. I’ve been told that I ‘should’ have kept my legs closed. I’ve been told that I ‘should’ have done more to stop it. That I ‘should’ have known better than to let a man near me. I’ve been told that if my story was real I would have done this, and this, and this, and this differently.
All of this sounds strikingly familiar to, “You should have done more to stop it”, “If he really raped you then you would have done X”, “If you didn’t really want to be raped then you would have done this, and this and this to stop it”, “If you had fought him more and kept your legs closed then you wouldn’t have been raped”, “You should have known what would happen if you went up to his hotel room”.
What all of this has in common is a desire to be able to put your hands over your eyes and not see what is happening around you. My story is not unique; I assure you that it is not some big conspiracy. If the fact that it is ‘too perfect’ for your liking unnerves you then think about this: Every time a pregnancy occurs it is ‘too perfect’. Indeed, a pregnancy can only occur under perfect circumstances.
I have been researching and it appears that the EC wouldn’t have affected this pregnancy anyway since it doesn’t do much if you’re ovulating. When the condom failed I was in that few day window of fertility and from what I understand EC wouldn’t have done a damn thing anyway.
The simple fact of the matter is that nobody has to believe me, indeed, I will offer no proof other than my word. This blog has always been a journey for me, in which I write down my experiences and look at them through a feminist lens. It was never intended to be anything but that but for whatever reason (I still can’t figure it out) people decided that they liked what I had to say and they began reading it.
When I started this journey I wanted to finally share with others the things I have been through and experienced but I was too frightened to share these same things with people I knew. I decided to use the blog as a kind of cloak, behind which I could tell all and someone might hear. I wouldn’t have to see the look of disbelief on their faces when I told my story and I wouldn’t have to hear the ‘well you should have known’ crowd when they stepped up.
This blog began because I was too frightened to talk about so many things. Indeed, I still possess much of that same fear and my guts are trembling right now as I think about crossing that line of protestors. In short, this space was created as a safe space for me where people just happened to like what I was saying. If anyone wishes to believe that this story is false then so be it, there is nothing I can do to tell you otherwise and, to be perfectly honest, I will not endeavor to ‘prove’ anything to anyone.
I know I said that I was on hiatus but I had an urge to write this morning and decided that I’d just go ahead and post it anyway. Heh, I haven’t even edited this as I’m pretty much exhausted from writing it all out and now, I feel the way I would feel if I spent a few hours sobbing. Kind of relieved, really tired, and for some strange reason, a bit cleaner if that makes any sense.
I’ll have Dubhe put in a proper update soon, or I’ll do it myself as I get more information. Oh and you’ll note that the beginning of this post probably reads like a journal entry. It was intended to be just that actually, an entry in my private journal I keep on the computer, until I got further in and decided that I would post it in the blog instead. In any case, I don’t expect this post to be much more than stream of consciousness writing kind of akin to vomiting onto paper and feeling less ill for the effort but I thought I’d stick it out there in any case.