By Jessica Ensley
The pro-life movement has once again proven that pro-life feminism is a lie, and just another cynical right-wing tool for controlling women and their sexuality. Feminism is the fight for social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. This stands in contrast with the latest remarks of Serrin Foster, President of Feminists for Life.
Here’s what she said Wednesday on EWTN’s Morning Glory: “I still find it problematic that schools are put in the position of acting as judge and jury against men who are sometimes falsely accused of rape.”
The false rape narrative is a tool of patriarchy. Rape is actually underreported, and that holds true in schools as well. Only 20 percent of female students report their rape. If Foster wants to have a feminist conversation about false rape accusations, she should actually examine racism in the United States. In our country’s history, false rape accusations by white women against Black men were used as excuses for lynchings.
Today, the false rape narrative is largely an illusion to sweep rape and sexual harassment accusations under the rug. There is plenty of room for Foster to explore these issues within the conservative movement that her organization belongs to. From Roger Ailes, to Bill O’Reilly, to our very own President Donald Trump, victims are accused of lying. In fact, many people believe this narrative, with college students believing that half of all rape accusations are false.
There aren’t statistics for false rape accusations, but there are for unfounded cases. Let me be clear: An unfounded rape does not equal a false rape. An unfounded rape includes people who report rape, and later recant their story out of fear. A case could be considered unfounded because there simply was not enough evidence to convict. The actual number of unfounded rape accusations? Around two to eight percent.
Back at the Feminists for Life interview, Foster touted the false rape narrative while discussing her belief that rape survivors should not have an abortion. In this, she is hitting two birds with one stone: using the word “feminist” to reduce women’s autonomy and perpetuate rape culture.
Pro-lifers continue to co-opt progressive language by claiming they are “pro-woman” and saying “unborn lives matter.” For decades they have used what they believe is a mixture of civil rights and feminist messaging to try to restrict the right to abortion. This is offensive.
Feminism without abortion rights doesn’t work because feminism’s core value is equality, and you can’t have equality without autonomy. The pro-life movement wants to cement inequality for women and now, too, shame survivors with the false rape narrative. As we have said time and time again, you cannot be pro-life and feminist.
If the pro-life movement were really advocating for life and feminism, they would speak out against the false rape narrative, not perpetuate it. They wouldn’t shame survivors of rape and sexual assault. They would address toxic masculinity and victim-blaming, which are at the core root of rape culture. They would encourage consent and comprehensive sex education instead of telling women to remain abstinent. They would support reproductive health care including STI testing, contraception, and abortion services.
But the pro-life movement has done none of that, and its work is certainly not feminist.