Two stories have really caught my attention this week. The first story comes out of Tampa, Florida -- my hometown. A 21 year old woman attended Gasparilla with some friends last weekend, and decided at about 1:30 p.m. to head back to her car and go home. On her way home, she was brutally raped. In broad daylight. When she finally made it back to her car, she called the police, who then took her to get medical help. While she was being examined, the police discovered she had an outstanding warrant and arrested her. The victim went to jail for two nights and was denied the second dose of her emergency contraception, because the jail nurse had a religious conflict.
The second story is out of Kansas City, Missouri, where a pregnant woman was arrested while having a miscarriage. She had stolen a car, and in the process of whatever it was that she was doing, she started to miscarry. The police disregarded the fact that she was having a miscarriage and hauled her off to jail anyway. The female officer asked, "How is that my problem?" The woman gave birth, and the baby died shortly after.
These two stories have been around the feminist blogosphere a lot, and they have a lot of obvious facts in common that I won't get into here. One thing that I haven't seen discussed is that there is a strong culture in this country of seeing women as hysterical and freakish children. In the case of the rape victim, the officers apparently didn't know what the big deal was. In the case of the miscarriage, the officers apparently thought she was having her period.
Why aren't women given more agency in this culture? Why are we not believed even when there are obvious signs of something wrong?
I think it's simply because women are still unconciously (or maybe consciously by state officials) classified as the sex class, as sub-human. The lack of sex education in this country is also contributing to a lack of understanding of how the human body works. If a woman says she's been raped, take care of the medical needs and evidence first, then worry about her criminal history. Being raped requires medical attention, and a violent rape can cause serious damage to a victim's internal organs, not to mention her psyche. If a woman is bleeding vaginally, or bleeding from anywhere but a paper cut, when you arrest her, investigate it before you get blamed for it. Duh!
This reminds me of a recent story where a man in Australia was arrested for vaginally and anally raping his wife with foreign objects. I talked to a man I know about this case, and he didn't understand what the big deal was. When I suggested that he be anally raped by his wife in his sleep, he cringed. "That's different," he said. How is it different? Most men just don't acknowledge the invasive nature the sex act for a female. So it's okay to shove something up my ass, but not up yours? M-kay.
But that's a topic for another post.