Posts Tagged ‘war on women’

Why did I want to be part of this documentary project?

Good question and one that I have asked myself repeatedly since agreeing to be part of it. There are many reasons.

There are the typical, expected reasons.

As a feminist and activist, I felt I had to do this.

I wanted to give a voice to the people affected by the War on Women.

I wanted to expose injustice and hypocrisy.

There are the professional reasons.

I’ve always wanted to break into documentary making, but never knew how or thought I could.

I thought it would be a good start for a career in documentary making.

I’d get the all-important experience under my belt.

There are the personal reasons.

I faced extreme sexism from a very early age.

I am a rape survivor.

I am related to rape and sexual abuse survivors.

I am friends with rape and sexual abuse survivors.

But what was the real reason? What made me jump at doing this instead of the dozens of other projects I could have joined or started? What is that hidden, driving reason? It took a LONG time to figure this out. In the end, I realized that it was the most basic, visceral of reasons: I was angry. I wasn’t just angry; I was pissed – filled with a slow burning rage that roiled at the very core of my being.

After the decades that countless women had spent fighting for equality; after the years I had spent fighting equality; after people in the U.S. seemed to think that “feminism had won”; I realized that women had won precious little and even that was being threatened. It was a hard slap to the face. Reproductive freedom, equal pay, protection from violence and rape, assistance for pregnant women and young children, – it was all being attacked and dismantled bit by bit. Hell, I even heard some people suggesting we repeal the 19th Amendment (that’s the amendment that gave women the right to vote)!

It’s as if collectively, we women looked away at other issues and the instant we did – BAM – an all out assault on women’s rights exploded. But it was an insidious assault. Brilliant, really. The attacks came camouflaged at first. Sneaking in at the edges. Oozing into political cracks. Like ninjas in the night, opponents to women’s rights gathered and before we knew it, they had taken out our defenses and had women surrounded and backed against a wall.

Maybe it was the way I was raised. Maybe it’s the time I spent in the military. Maybe it’s the result of all my life’s experiences, but I do not take well to being backed into a corner. In fact, that is the quickest way to get me to fight. Ferocious and relentless, I will fight for myself, my family, my friends, for all women. I will fight in all the ways I know how. I will fight to regain the ground women have lost and will continue fighting until we achieved equality or I draw my last breath.

Women’s rights opponents thought they had found a way to roll back all those “feminist laws” and briefly, they did. But they didn’t count on women waking up and fighting back. And wake up we did! There have been hundreds – thousands – of sleeping warriors shaken from their slumber. I am but one among many. And this documentary is but one weapon I will wield in the War FOR Women.

~ Sara B. Free


*******Trigger Warning*******

While the Rape Election waged on, people living with women who were experiencing stress and trigger states were also impacted. Women who experience criminal violence of a sexual nature are all kinds of women. We have husbands, wives, daughters, sons, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, grandfathers, grandmothers, and friends who love us. All of these people in our lives are considered co-survivors. When these attacks on rape and incest survivors came out with such graceful precision, survivors were not the only ones listening. We were not the only ones hurt by it.

When someone goes into PTSD trigger states, it is almost like the person disappears and emotions become the person. This manifests in many ways depending on the level of the trigger state and the level of the trauma as well as the extreme nature of the trigger itself. Being shamed by the people of my nation for not wanting to have my rapist’s baby was severe trigger. I felt like the people responsible for these things were saying in code, “Boys, rape away. We got your back.” This is rape culture – or one aspect of it.

My husband had to live with me and watch me cry, go silent, cry some more, start to freak out about how we need constant 24/7 video running to some security company and a panic button. He also had to relive watching me deal with sexual assault that occurred while we were a couple. It wasn’t easy to rebuild a sex life after that, and I know he loves me because he stayed through it. We are not unique. This is how many co-survivors have had to live during this campaign insanity entitled the War on Women caused by greedy men and women in power who believe in nothing.

Making this documentary is a cathartic way for me to build the armor that I need to deal with this in the next election if there are people dumb enough to run campaigns on rape in 2016. It is also a way for us to get to know each other – all survivors. Feeling alone is one of our biggest battles. All of the women and men participating in this project are forming a community. Communities have power in many ways – voice, unity, self-reliance, and hope. That’s how I see it, anyway.

It is because the War on Women hurt men as well that we are interviewing men. Not only are men co-survivors, they are also survivors. In this election, male survivors were invisible. Yet, male survivors need as much support and community as females. Including them in this community is important because it is right, but also because it is with division that we are conquered.



Posted: February 21, 2013 by jenniferallen1976 in Lady Parts Documentary
Tags: , , , ,

*******Trigger Warning*******

In the 2012 presidential election, things came to light that I had not fully comprehended before. Part of the reason that I did not see many of these things is because I live with white privilege. There are aspects of the world that I had believed to be inherently fair because for me, they were. Life has not been perfect, but I thought that most people think of women as regular human beings with rights equal to our masculine counterparts. People in the world around me tend to be kind, respectful, and, at worst, aloof, ninety-nine percent of the time. This is not to say that life has been entirely fair. It has been incredibly painful in many ways that are not easy to talk about. They are not even easy to think about alone in the dark, late at night, with the safety of my husband’s arms embracing me.

These things that I do not like to even have a hint of a memory of a memory of were forced upon me by strangers during this election campaign as well as the 2008 campaign cycle. 2012 saw an escalation of these trigger words, but I began to notice and be triggered during the 2008 campaign. Rape was used as an attempt to catapult men into power in politics – not in some dark corner of some woman’s life where only offender or offenders are witness. Rape and abortion as a result of rape rained down upon us in the media. Incest was mentioned as much.

As the wretched speculations by people who clearly had no idea of what they spoke continued, from the perspective of a woman inundated with these words from every source of media from mainstream to social, months went by. When Akin said that our bodies “have a way of shutting that whole thing down,” I was so stunned that for two hours after I read it, I was in a state of anxiety that overwhelmed me. I found myself in tears at the end of that two hours, but I was not sure why. My husband was at work. I was afraid of being alone in my house suddenly. I was so afraid that my hands shook, my heart raced, my thoughts raced, and I had to work through a process to recognize that I was, most likely, as safe as I would ever be in my home at three in the afternoon with my doors locked and curtains drawn. I was happy with all aspects of my life, but I was sobbing on my couch crowded by feelings I thought I had long ago worked to overcome and let go. It confounded me.

I realized that what this man said had triggered post traumatic stress symptoms; Akin’s wife even said that people asking her husband to drop out of the race for his statement was “like rape.” It occurred to me that it is a privilege not to understand that being asked to resign from your job because you do something very stupid is not a violation of your mind, body, and soul. I have lost a job for doing a bad job. I have been raped. The two are worlds apart. Being fired is being held accountable for your actions; being raped is being the victim of one of the most disturbing and sociopathic crimes known to humanity. How are they even similar?

Why, I asked myself, would someone think that attacking rape victims would garner political and financial gains? At first, I thought maybe it was a ploy to make other Republicans seem more woman friendly. Maybe Akin was a pawn they were willing to lose in order to keep the bishop. Yet, there were more behind him. That didn’t make sense. Each party wanted as many seats in each legislative body as possible on both the national and state levels. So, why, then, would rape victims being exploited, targeted, dissected, and discarded be something that even a rapist would think would make the world respond well? Even more disturbing, I saw that it did, in fact, make more than a small minority of people listen and respond with yes votes.

After Akin’s disturbing comments, I saw people on Facebook talking about rape as if it is something to talk about without regard to the people who have experienced it, as if women make this up all the time, as if these armchair quarterbacks who have never been raped are entitled to decide how rape victims handle rape, and as if rape is something that women are responsible for happening. Conversely, I saw women who have survived trauma expressing their frustrations and, at times, agony, over what they were seeing in all forms of media. I made a decision to stop reading the news. This, in a sense, disenfranchised me because I was also not reading relevant information to the voting process. The more this went on, the more it seemed like a grand and brilliant conspiracy on the part of the Republican Party.

I kept waiting for someone – a journalist, an activist, a survivor – to take the microphone on this issue. For whatever reason, I did not really see anyone come out and take the lead on this national conversation. I saw bloggers doing this, but not really anyone in mainstream media. I mean, you would think that someone like Oprah or Rachel Maddow would put a spotlight on this, but if someone like that did, I never witnessed it.

This is why I decided to make a documentary about what a bunch of strangers said to win an election I had little to do with other than as a general voter. So, if you are wondering why I would want to make this documentary, here are several answers as to why: Because I was traumatized to the point of not being able to watch the news, read the news, or even check Facebook for days on end just to avoid nightmares, flashbacks, tears, and anxiety attacks. Why was I traumatized? Because PTSD trigger words were used so much that I have to wonder how much of it was by design to pander to a certain group of voters in the society I have to live in. Because this is my country, too. Because I am that woman that opponents of female freedom in the area of reproductive health love to talk about as if I am not in the room. Because I have a voice, a choice, and I matter too. Because there are millions of women like me, and we all matter. We all deserve to have a voice. We do not appreciate being exploited and traumatized by trigger words used for political and financial gain (politicians don’t work for free, do they?).

If people want to talk about the plights of people they have never met, never considered beyond black and white, right and wrong, then they can be prepared for those people to rise up and speak out about how it feels to be exploited for political gain. I am using my voice to do just that for all of us – including my mother.

This documentary is meant to give the microphone to the people who were robbed of a voice during this nightmare election cycle.