Skip to main content

Melissa Harris-Perry's open letter to Richard Mourdock this morning.


Dear Mr. Mourdock,

Sometimes I still flinch when I’m touched a certain way, even if it’s the loving embrace of my husband. I can’t stand to watch TV shows where rape is the central plot line. Even some seasons of the year are harder for me. Those of us who are sexual assault survivors call these triggers. We spend our lives — the lives we lead after the attack — avoiding and managing these triggers.

A congressional debate shouldn’t have to come with a trigger warning. But apparently, Richard, yours should. Because in Tuesday’s debate for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat, you said this Tuesday night during a debate in New Albany, Indiana.

“I believe that life begins at conception…The only exception I have, to have an abortion, is in that case of the life of the mother. I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Rape and sexual assault are complicated experiences for survivors. Some of us fight, kick, scream, and resist at every moment. Some of us eventually give in to save our own lives or to manage the horror. Some of us know that what is happening is rape, others of us just know it is wrong, but don’t have the words to describe why. Some of us push the memories down and try to forget, others of us battle openly with the nightmares and scars every day. There is no one right way to survive. There is no one right way to feel.

As we heal, we learn not to judge ourselves or to judge our fellow survivors, because we learn that judgment can wound as deeply as assault. If a woman finds herself pregnant after a rape, we do not judge the choices she makes.

I am descended from American slaves. I have foremothers who found themselves pregnant with children whose birth increased the wealth of the very man who enslaved and raped them. Somehow, through the angst and misery of that experience some of those women found a way to love and embrace the children they bore from rape. So I do not doubt the compassion or judge the choice of a survivor who carries a rape pregnancy to term.

But the whole point is choice. Consent. You see, Mr. Mourdock, the violation of rape is more than physical. Rapists strip women of our right to choose, of our right to say no, of our right to control what is happening to our bodies. Most assailants tell us it is our fault. They tell us to be silent. Sometimes they even tell us it’s God’s will. That is the core violation of rape– it takes away choice.

Richard, you believe it is fine to ignore a women’s right to choose because of your interpretation of divinity. Sound familiar?

Let me explain something to you. When we survive sexual assault, we are the gift. When we survive, when we go on to love, to work, to speak out, to have fun, to laugh, to dance, to cry, to live, when we do that, we defeat our attackers. For a moment, they strip us of our choices. As we heal, we take our choices back. We are the gift to ourselves, our families, our communities, and our nation when we survive.

Now let me say this very clearly to you Mr Mourdock, and to all of your shameless endorsers: we did not survive an attack on our consent just to turn around and give up our right to choose to you. Not without a fight.

Are you sure you want to have that fight?

Sincerely,
Melissa

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

    •  Ms. HarrisPerry is the best part of Sat. morning (5+ / 0-)

      and she and Mr. Hayes keep me focused and alert. And these utterly ignorant hypocrites like Mourdock who say their "God" informs their belief about abortion and want it to apply to everyone else and then come out in support of capital punishment. Where is the sense in any of it. They make me want to puke!

      The shameless levity with which the most intractable problems (life, world, God, purpose of life) are spoken of, as if they were not problems at all but simply things that these little bigots KNEW!” ― Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power

      by figurine on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 10:29:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "God" had something... (5+ / 0-)

        ... to do with rape and pregnancy from rape..., eh Mourdoch...???

        “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
        Then he is not omnipotent.
        Is he able, but not willing?
        Then he is malevolent.
        Is he both able and willing?
        Then whence cometh evil?
        Is he neither able nor willing?
        Then why call him God?”

        Epicurus, Greek philosopher, 341-270 BCE

        Perhaps, "Mr." Mourdoch, you should find a new god if he is malevolent enough to "give" a woman a rapist's child when he could so easily prevent that unhappy consequence if he created men who respected women enough not to rape them, especially if it's a state that allows a rapist to claim parental rights (while not even paying child support).

        I'm afraid to ask what brutality Rethuglicans will say they favor for women next.  Does arbitrary murder of women come next for displeasing the patriarch of a family, be it a husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, uncle, nephew???  WHEN does this war on feminine contraceptives (some of which are used for medical problems that have nothing to do with birth control) and war against women in the form of rape or forcing a woman to bear a rapist's child start to end?  Damn.  I'm old.  We fought these battles once before.  Why do we have to do so again?  Is this particular kind of ignorant temporary insanity going to end after election day?  This is the 21st century, fer pete's sake!

        Rethuglicans and teahadists who think rape and forced pregnancy as punishment on top of the crime of rape perpetrated upon women is appropriate:  Evolve, dammit!!!

        I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

        by NonnyO on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 11:25:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've had it with "God" and his minions.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NonnyO, Joy of Fishes

          What do the mother's of these men say? Their sisters or daughters? We need look no further than today's GOP to find the taliban mentality perverting religion and it's beliefs. What about the separation of Church and State! Lincoln must be turning over in his grave endlessly!

          The shameless levity with which the most intractable problems (life, world, God, purpose of life) are spoken of, as if they were not problems at all but simply things that these little bigots KNEW!” ― Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power

          by figurine on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 01:55:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not to mention Jefferson... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            figurine, Joy of Fishes

            ... and the rest of the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution.

            If there were an after-life, they'd be sitting around hanging their heads in shame that the republic they devised with three co-equal branches of government (no corporations involved then!) had come to what it has with the Rethuglicans and corporations and Wall Street and Big Banks and unconstitutional and illegal wars draining our treasury.... among other things for which we should have sent certain Bushista individuals to prison for life for long lists of lies to "justify" unjustifiable wars and torture and war crimes.

            I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

            by NonnyO on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 02:36:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Exactly! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NonnyO

              If we are a nation of laws, where i s the justice!

              The shameless levity with which the most intractable problems (life, world, God, purpose of life) are spoken of, as if they were not problems at all but simply things that these little bigots KNEW!” ― Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power

              by figurine on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 03:08:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Melissa's words leave me speechless. (19+ / 0-)

    It is LONG past time for old white men--who don't know what the hell they're saying--to stop talking about women and start listening to us. Our bodies, our lives, our right to decide.

    Thank you, Melissa.

    Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

    by earicicle on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 09:30:26 AM PDT

  •  these old white Republican men! (11+ / 0-)

    What can we say about men who love the zygote but want to put women & children out on the street? Without food or medical care!

    And then they go to church and spout off about God?

    They are the same as the men of old who could see children worked to death in the mines and the mills and then talk about how God put it into the hearts of the Masters of Industry to provide these children with jobs. (Yes! they actually used to preach sermons like that!)

    Strange how their God doesn't stop rape but instead gives us women rape babies just like He failed to provide the children of long ago with schooling instead of jobs.

    PLEASE! Find us a different God!

    Your God doesn't seem to care at all about women, children, or even working class men.

    He seems to be only the God of and for the rich white man.

    WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Oct: Miners are cheaper than props.

    by JayRaye on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 09:58:29 AM PDT

    •  You might enjoy this quote, then.... (10+ / 0-)

      Tell this to Mourdock and the other d-bags who think the way he does:

      "You were too busy steering the conversation toward the Lord to hear the voice of the Spirit begging you to shut the fuck up". (David Bazan, performing as Pedro the Lion)

      -6.75,-5.51..."Governments can and must be questioned". --David Dark Pray for #Occupy!

      by alliehope on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 10:20:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Quotes by sensible women: (4+ / 0-)
      I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. -- Susan B. Anthony
      You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. -- Anne Lamott
      No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg. -- Frederica Mathewes-Green
      I declare to you that woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand. -- Susan B. Anthony

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 11:31:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And this by Mother Jones (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy of Fishes
      You women ought to be out raising hell, this is the fighting age, put on your fighting clothes.

      WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Oct: Miners are cheaper than props.

      by JayRaye on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 12:01:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One who has taken her power back! (9+ / 0-)

    Ms. Harris-Perry is a thoughtful, enlightened, passionate advocate for women, no make that for humanity!

    As a genetic male and an African-American, I feel the historic horror of rape and the terrible toll it takes on those who have been forced to undergo that de-humanizing experience as some women in my family history were forced to do.

    I also feel enormous gratitude that these women did not allow themselves to become hateful, bitter shells, but found ways to share love, light and even laughter.

    The idea that anyone has the right to dictate the proper and approved emotional response of a human to the brutalization of their body is repugnant and should have no place in the public discourse.

    Melissa demonstrates the courage and determination of those who refuse to allow themselves to remain victimized by those whose ultimate goal is not sex but power.

  •  This is powerful (12+ / 0-)

    I'm glad you posted it here in diary form.

    Leaving aside the ridiculousness of the fact that we now have different levels or definitions of rape thanks to these assholes, has it ever occurred to them what even having this discussion does to some people?

    It's a slap in the face.

    And yes, I attribute a lot of this to male privilege. Obviously, there are a lot of men to whom this does not apply, but the absolute privilege of knowing that you are eternally safe from some things because you are a man. (And let me be clear- I do know that men are raped, too, but in much smaller numbers than women. I'm not trying to dismiss their violations in any way at all when I say this.)

    Women are practically taught to expect it at some point in their lives, and the truth is that most women will eventually experience an assault of a sexual nature.

    Think about that for a minute.

    And then consider what it means when a man stands up and says, well, yeah, this kind of rape or that kind of rape is horrible, BUT

    Being stripped of all dignity and vulnerable in the most heinous way, only to be vulnerable to a bunch of men hell bent on stripping us of our rights, but we dare not call it a war.

    P.S. I am not a crackpot.

    by BoiseBlue on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 10:05:43 AM PDT

  •  Exceptionally powerful letter (5+ / 0-)

    To men of Mourdock's ilk, women do not exist as human beings.  We are not people to him - people with hearts, minds, thoughts, bodies, hopes, aspirations, or dignity.

    We are either toys - for male convenience and pleasure - or tools - for labor and child-production.

    Mourdock calls himself a Christian.  Well, maybe he'd better go back and read the Gospels, because Jesus - who lived 2,000 years ago - had more respect for the dignity and personhood of women than Mourdock and his cohorts have today.

  •  I honestly don't understand the point of these (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    figurine, NonnyO, Joy of Fishes

    letters.  Look.  Murdock is pro-rape.  Saying that God intended a pregnancy from rape is implicitly saying God intended the rape.  Sending Murdock a letter telling him his comments are "hurtful" does nothing but feed his sadism.

    Fuck sending "letters."  If a man told me he'd force a 13-year old girl to have a baby by her dad, I'd send the goddamned police!

    Barring that, I'd vote his ass out of office!

    Have you googled Romney today?

    by fou on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 10:22:07 AM PDT

    •  That is a good idea actually (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NonnyO, Joy of Fishes

      we should call the police on Mourdock, Ryan and Aikin.

      I've always felt that these Pro-Rapists were themselves Rapists.  They should be watched.  No woman or child is safe near them.  

      Or maybe have a Pro-Rapist Alert where you can look up on the map and see where the nearest Rapepublican is in your neighborhood.  

      This could be an action item!

      "Love One Another" ~ George Harrison

      by Damnit Janet on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 10:47:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just pay attention to the yard signs. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Damnit Janet

        Here in northwest Florida, it let's me know where the bigots and racists live.

        The shameless levity with which the most intractable problems (life, world, God, purpose of life) are spoken of, as if they were not problems at all but simply things that these little bigots KNEW!” ― Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power

        by figurine on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 02:09:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Mourdock also stated would force 13-year old (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BoiseBlue, JayRaye, love100, Joy of Fishes

    who was raped to have child. (maddow tape last night). Please don't anyone be taken in by his faux tears when he made his initial statement, this man has no heart.

    The reality is that if they succeed with laws banning, they know the laws will not apply to them. they have the $$ to go to different state or if needed, country.

    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 10:22:19 AM PDT

  •  Thank you. (4+ / 0-)

    I'm beyond words right now.  

    "Some seasons are harder"....  

    It is a war on women.  Right now.. with all the triggers going on I am a fucking nutcase.  I've been setting up arguments, I've been a wreck.  I've been angry during a time when I'm been trying to deal with anger.

    Right now... I'd really like to wage a REAL war on these
    Rapepublicans.  Not just with voting.  But letting them seceed from our nation.  Let them fight us for real.  

    I'm done with their hate.  It's time to put these criminals in bars or behind their own borders.

    We can't live with them.   At least I can't.  Voting and Marching has done what for me???  I'm seeing more shit thrown at us than ever before.  

    A march on DC won't even been on the media.. Been there done that.
    Voted all my life.  
    Raised my daughter to be strong.  

    It's time to fight back.  What do we do?

    "Love One Another" ~ George Harrison

    by Damnit Janet on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 10:41:10 AM PDT

  •  I didn't make it home from school one day (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes, malevola, figurine

    I lived in the country, and had to walk home from the bus. Half a mile up an isolated gravel driveway. One day a nutcase with a gun stepped out from behind a tree. The next few weeks were hell, ever been locked in a trunk? How about chained to a tree? Or chained to a radiator? Ever try and jump from a moving car? I'd have escaped if he hadn't grabbed my hair and beat my face off the dashboard. In the end it was a broken lock and a ball bat that got me out. I learned to fight, and I learned the true meaning of hate.
     Face your fear, fight your oppressors.

    "And while it was regarded as pretty good evidence of criminality to be living in a slum, for some reason owning a whole street of them merely got you invited to the very best social occasions."

    by Shippo1776 on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 11:32:33 AM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site