America is home to a misogynistic sect that holds women in such low esteem that, despite making up over half the population, women are systematically treated as second-class citizens and complicit in their maltreatment are Republicans and evangelical Christians. Although women are subjected to institutionalized discrimination in the labor force, teaching, healthcare, and insurance industry, it is the nation’s love affair with the culture of rape that defines America’s hostility toward women. Rape culture is a concept which links rape and sexual violence to the ethos of a society in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone rape in all its forms. Since teabaggers helped Republicans take control of the House and several state legislatures, they have established themselves as the primary progenitors of America’s rape culture with their words and deeds.
For two-and-a-half years Republicans sought to assuage the crime of rape whether it was redefining it to prevent women from abortion services, claiming it is a blessing from a malevolent deity, or legislating medical instrument rape to teach women their place and dissuade them from choosing their own reproductive health. This week another form of rape was exposed and it is little surprise it occurred in Texas where Republicans have made it their business to insert themselves into women’s vaginas against their will and deny them the right to choose when they give birth.
There are multiple reports of Texas highway patrol officers captured by dashboard cameras performing unconstitutional cavity searches on women’s genitals during traffic stops that lawyers and civil rights advocates claim are all too common. In two separate cases hundreds of miles and six weeks apart, women reported, and video-tapes confirm, that Texas state troopers pulled women over for questionable traffic violations and summoned female troopers to perform anal and vaginal cavity searches hunting for marijuana. To make matters worse, the trooper-rapes were committed on camera on public highways, and are deemed illegal by Texas law and any civilized human being outside conservative misogyny circles. According to the Texas Penal Code Section 22.011, Sexual Assualt; “(a) A person commits an offense if the person: (1) intentionally or knowingly: (A) causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person’s consent.” In the Penal Code it specifically cites the illegality of a “public servant who coerces the other person to submit or participate,” and it makes both the physical rapist and the trooper directing the rape guilty of what Texas Penal Code labels “sexual assault” that is legalese for “forcible rape.”
The particulars of why the Texas troopers called in reinforcements to commit the actual rape are inconsequential and dubious, but suffice it to say the rapes were committed without the women’s consent and under “color of authority” that makes the crimes all the more heinous. There is also the violation of the women’s 4th Amendment rights at play and in each case the trooper who directed the sexual assaults clearly had no reason to believe the women hid marijuana in vaginas or anal cavities. The fact that the incidents were not isolated and committed by different troopers at different times and locations across Texas suggest a pattern despite there is no written policy directing troopers to forcibly violate women during traffic stops.
In one graphic video taken from a state trooper’s “dash cam” two women are probed in their vaginas and rectums by a female officer wearing gloves after a routine traffic stop near Dallas. Within a week a second video surfaced revealing a similar scenario during a traffic stop just outside Houston and with completely different Texas state troopers; there are at least five other reported incidents. In the first incident the women were pulled over for allegedly throwing a cigarette out of the window, and in the second two women were pulled over for allegedly speeding; all four women were subjected to body cavity searches by a female officer summoned to the scene by a male trooper. In the second video with clear audio, the women can be heard yelling as the female trooper shoves her gloved finger inside one woman, and in both rapes the female troopers did not change gloves between probes.
It is possible that the Texas troopers were devotees of the Republican belief that there is such a thing as “legitimate rape” and regarded rape under color of authority legal. Obviously if they were comfortable putting the sexual assaults on video, they truly believed they were well within their authority to summon and direct a female trooper to conduct the actual rape. For some reason, the culture of rape in America is much more prevalent than people living in a modern society want to believe, and there is a segment of the population (mostly men) who consider it their holy right to violate women. Last year when the Steubenville rape gang’s crimes were exposed a phalanx of men came to the rapists’ assistance to defend their actions and slander the victim; it is a common practice Republicans have spent the past two years encouraging.
Besides Republicans in Congress attempting to redefine rape as either legitimate or spurious, several Republican-controlled states have mandated medical professionals conduct “rape by medical instrument” or face the prospect of losing their license to practice as well as face possible jail time. In fact, Republicans have made inserting themselves into women’s vaginas their primary responsibility at the urging of the religious right, and it is all predicated on their belief that women are commanded by their deity to subject themselves to a man’s will. The deeply-held belief that women must subjugate themselves to men is part and parcel of the culture of rape a frightening number of men subscribe to, and is perpetuated by Republicans who could barely be bothered to pass the Violence Against Women Act while they promoted the vile concept of “legitimate rape.”
What is astonishing, and incomprehensible, is the number of women who vote for and support Republicans convinced their authority as men justifies mandating intrusion into a woman’s body as if it is their dog-given duty. One is hard-pressed to understand why any woman would support Republicans who regard women as livestock to be manipulated and abused, and it may be that they are so entrenched in the “women are subservient” mindset that they fail to see the atrocity of men violating women. It is also a mystery why any man would support and condone Republicans legislating that their wives, sisters, daughters, and mothers are free-game to other men, but it is possible they too are mesmerized by the thought that women exist as mere objects for men to abuse.
The incidents in Texas are not isolated and are rape under any interpretation of the law regardless it is during a traffic stop on a public highway, or in a doctor’s office to satisfy perverse Republicans and their evangelical support group. The culture of rape in America is but one expression of the ideology that men have a right to dominate women and it is high time that decent men stand up and fight alongside America’s women for their rights. Regardless it is the right to equal pay for equal work, equity in healthcare expense, or freedom to drive in Texas without fear of being raped by state troopers, the misogyny and culture of rape plaguing America must end