Planned Parenthood attack: just another day in the culture of male violence against women

Colorado Springs, Colorado (TFC) – After a man viciously attacked Planned Parenthood and the women using its services, President Obama responded:

“The last thing Americans should have to do, over the holidays or any day, is comfort the families of people killed by gun violence — people who woke up in the morning and bid their loved ones goodbye with no idea it would be for the last time,” Obama said. “And yet, two days after Thanksgiving, that’s what we are forced to do again.”

Let’s be clear. A gun was indeed used to murder and injure both women and officers at the scene. But this is not another story about “gun violence.” It is, in fact, the story of a man terrorizing women with a gun. I would like to call it what it is: male terrorism.

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This act doesn’t stand alone; much like the attacks by Dylan Roof on a black church in South Carolina. Both instances of terrorism and hate violence exist within larger systems of abuse, where many forms of male aggression subjugate women.

All women live in a culture of male terrorism. Rape, rape culture, molestation, assault, objectification, violence in pornography, healthcare denial, FGM, and gun violence, are all methods of terror used by men to enforce female submission. Acts of aggression toward women reinforce patriarchal control, coercing women into compliance, or else. Not all men are required to be violent for the threat of violence from men to be credible, in the same way that other acts of terror instill fear in general. This was a political act even if the actor’s motives weren’t political.

While his motives are yet undetermined, it is clear that women’s reproductive services were his target, and at the core of women’s reproductive services are actual women who need them. Who wants to make a bet on this man’s opinion of females?

Women have every right to fear using Planned Parenthood due to consistent, targeted attacks on females and their reproductive autonomy by male supremacists. P.P. is a predominantly female safe space, where women go for non-judgmental education, medical care and family planning. Parents fear for their children’s lives and are buying bulletproof backpacks after school shootings. They ask, where are children supposed to feel safe? No one asks these questions for women in the midst of anti-choice rhetoric coming from Republican politicians for two presidential elections in a row.

As a matter of fact, people make our safe spaces LESS safe for political reasons, damning abortion providers, shaming the women who terminate pregnancies, and making and disseminating fake videos and falsely accusing Planned Parenthood (at a nationally aired debate) of selling fetal tissue for profit. What do they think will happen? Anti-choice activists are complicit in the war against women. Those contributing to anti-woman rhetoric bear responsibility.

Not only should a feminist be pro-choice, but pro-abortion. We know that women who don’t have access to abortions hurt and even accidentally kill themselves trying to self abort. We know that pregnancies happen due to lack of education and access to birth control.

Any woman who has sat, or will sit, in a Planned Parenthood seeking help and health care, has been violated by this act of terrorism. The deliberate spin by the mainstream media that purposely ignores this attack as part of a larger war on women, by men, and makes it complicit in the culture of violence against women– in the same way courts and cops are complicit to rape when they don’t believe the victims. It’s authoritarian control. It’s a rhetorical boundary set up to symbolically eliminate women.

Even as feminists point out our symbolic (and literal) erasure consistently, and the ongoing and systematic attacks on our rights and bodies, our own president refuses to call male violence what it is: male perpetrated. Sexism. Male terrorism.

The male officers shot and killed or wounded have been the focus of mainstream media, but they were there to serve and protect and assumed that risk when they took the job. Women have no such obligation.

We have no problem, as a country, reacting to extremism when it affects men. Can we have some reaction to acts of terrorism committed against women in the name of male supremacy for once?

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The ever-growing tally of attacks on Planned Parenthood.

Co-authors Charles Rae and Christina Adams are the founders and co-moderators of TFC’s new faction The Fem Column. Join the infiltration.