i cannot overstate the impact the fistula foundation has had on my radical feminist awakening: it was the catalyst for it.
the fistula foundation is a charitable organization that works to prevent and treat obstetric fistula worldwide. obstetric fistula is a devastating birthing injury that causes urinary and/or fecal incontinence in women who experience prolonged, obstructed labor; it is frequently the result of young or malnourished women birthing where their pelvises are too small to safely pass the fetus.
when i saw the PBS documentary “a walk to beautiful” highlighting the work of the FF, it stopped me in my tracks. at the time, i had just begun blogging and i was still feeling my way through the gender-politicking and this “what makes a woman” post-modernist doublethink: i admit that i was still confused about it. what makes a woman? well, there are years and years of patriarchal abuse, including sexual abuse of girls and women, by men; grooming to be a wife and mother; fuckability mandates, etc etc. these things do appear to separate women from men (women experience them; men perpetrate them), and these things are problematic, yes. but the gender politickers have that covered: apparently, there are men who wish they could experience these things, as victims, and women who believe that they can overcome having experienced these things, as victims, just by wishing it. oh, okay!
and i admit that it can be difficult to separate the female “sex” from the female “gender” under certain situations (where somewhat-reliable contraception is available, for one) and particularly when internalizing certain dialogs that are deliberately meant to obfuscate the difference, like PIV-positive rhetoric and bullshit genderqueer tropes (see above). but once these obfuscating influences are removed, and we observe (and identify with — we are women afterall) what women experience both objectively and subjectively in the absence of these influences…well, see for yourself:
ah, okay. it suddenly becomes very clear doesnt it? what makes a woman…is female reproductive organs! and half of all human beings are born female, and they live and die as females, in a world where men routinely stick their dicks into female-bodied persons, which is objectively and demonstrably harmful to us because it causes unwanted pregnancy and resultant medical events, and a shared-fate which all female-bodied persons are subjected to, across time and place.
if we are very, very lucky, perhaps some of us, for some period of time, can mitigate the severity and frequency (but not the occurrence) of the female-specific harms perpetrated on us, by men. and female-specific harm includes the risk of female-specific harm…which is harmful in itself, because its stressful and requires behavior and thought modification, because we were born with babymakers in a rape culture, and that has meaning. oh yes it does.
and it doesnt *just* have meaning for female-bodied persons, either. men know that women are impregnable, as a sexual class, and thats why they rape almost exclusively girls and women, and almost exclusively *not* other men. raping female-bodied persons is like throwing spaghetti against the wall, and knowing some of it will stick: by raping women, all women, regardless of age, and not men, (individual men perhaps, but not men-as-a-class) they know that pregnancies will result. they just wont be around to see it. kinda like insisting on PIV-centric sexuality in fact! but i digress.
women as a sexual class, around the world, are defined by our ability to become impregnated by men. our biological reality, and mens exploitation of it, is our shared reality, and no amount of bullshit PIV-pozzie rhetoric will ever cure it. it may attempt to erase that shared reality, and it may well succeed. but it will not cure it, and it cannot change it. so why are they trying? this is not a rhetorical question.
for more information on the fistula foundation, or to donate, please click through to the FF website in the sidebar.