I’ve been writing about this issue for years, but it has finally made it in to the mainstream. In a piece on Time.com, Bonnie Rochman asks Is “Birth Rape” for Real? The answer is a resounding NO!
What is “birth rape” supposed to mean? It doesn’t mean rape during birth, although that is indeed possible, and no doubt has actually occurred.
As Rochman tells us:
In a post on Salon.com by Tracy Clark-Flory, Reed explains the phenomenon: “Fingers, hands, suction cups, forceps, needles and scissors … these are the tools of birth rape and they are wielded with as much force and as little consent as if a stranger grabbed a passer-by off the street and tied her up before having his way with her.”
According to Amity Reed, the Al Sharpton of birth activists, birth rape is:
an instance during labor “when an instrument or hand is inserted into a woman’s vagina without permission, after which the woman feels violated.
Like Sharpton who cries “racism” regardless of the circumstances, Reed cries rape regardless of the circumstances. But the circumstances matter.
We have a word for medical care without permission and the word is “assault.” But childbirth activists abuse the word “rape,” and demean the experience of victims of actual rape, because they are desperate for attention. The promiscuous use of language, as when people abuse the term “lynching” or “racism” any other shocking term, is a sure-fire attention getter.
They’ve figured out that “I didn’t like the way the obstetrician treated me when he was trying to save my baby’s life” is not particularly compelling, since anyone who has ever suffered a serious medical problem knows that doctors give priority to saving lives in life threatening situations, rather than respecting emotional sensitivities. Let me be very clear about this point: I’m NOT saying that doctors are always right. Often more compassion could be shown without compromising life saving efforts in the least. But lack of compassion is not rape, either.
What is the actual definition of rape?
the unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.
The legal definition has been expanded to include other forms of sexual touching that do not involve intercourse. And while it is true that we have come to understand that rape is often more about power than sex, we limit the meaning of rape to sexual contact. We have a different word for non-sexual harm; that word is assault. This is a critical point. We don’t discount any form of abuse or harm, but we do insist on precision in describing and punishing it.
And we do not determine whether a crime has occurred by referencing the feelings of the victim. The feelings of the victim matter not at all; what matters are the “feelings” of the perpetrator. We a name for the perpetrator’s feelings: intent.
All crimes require more than a physical act. They require intent, legally known as mens rea or the guilty mind. Consider the crime of murder. A person run down by a driver who was texting is every bit as dead as a person run down by a professional hit man intending to cause the death. But only the latter case is murder, while the former is manslaughter at most. Intent is absolutely critical to determining whether a crime has been committed and what type of crime has been committed.
It does not matter how the victim feels about the crime (or in the case of murder, how the victim theoretically would feel about the crime). It does not matter that the relatives of the victim run down by a texting driver “feel like” the victim has been murdered, and that’s not because we discount their feelings. We are actually quite sympathetic to the anger and sense of loss of the victim’s relatives.
Let’s look again at “birth rape.” Rape requires sexual touching. A man can punch a woman and it is not rape. It might be assault, but it is not rape. Why? Because it is not sexual touching.
And it’s not merely a matter of the identity of the body part that has been touched. A woman can kick a man in the crotch, but that is not rape either. It might be assault, but it is not rape. Why? Because intent matters.
The victim’s feelings about the matter are irrelevant. The woman who was punched can “feel” like she was being raped, but that doesn’t make it so. A man who was kicked in the crotch might “feel” like he was being raped, but that doesn’t make it so.
And, as I mentioned above, a woman in labor can actually be raped. Do childbirth activists actually expect us to believe that a vaginal exam without consent is the equivalent of forced sexual intercourse during labor? I can’t imagine they do. And if they can tell the difference between the two scenarios, then they are aware that they are misusing the term rape.
“Birth rape” does not exist. It is a promiscuous abuse of the term rape for the sole purpose of garnering attention. The term is legally meaningless and ethically suspect. It is morally wrong to insist that a rape has occurred when nothing of the kind happened. It is ethically unjustified to misuse the term rape regardless of how worthy the motivation. And it is insupportable to base the accusation of a crime on how the victim “feels” about it.