The Audacity of Bodily Autonomy
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Surgeon sued for giving anesthetized patient temporary tattoo. The tattoo was not at all medical in nature. She had surgery for a herniated disc and the next morning discovered a rose tattoo had been placed on her abdomen below her panty line. The doctor doesn’t deny doing it. In fact he claims he does this with all his patients to lift their spirits after surgery. Now, the really interesting (and disturbing) thing about this situation is how people have reacted to this woman’s decision to sue. The comments on this article are just the tip of the iceberg. Many people seem to be outraged by this woman being willing to sue this doctor for marking her (however temporarily) in her pelvic area without her permission.
We’ve all gone the rounds about the politics of choice as it applies to reproduction. But the idea that women’s bodies are public property doesn’t stop there. Catcalling, comments on weight, comments on hair or makeup from strangers are all just symptoms of a larger societal delusion that women’s bodies are a commodity first. Somehow we’ve gotten stuck in this idea that a woman’s valuing of her body as a part of her self comes second because her first role is to belong to the world at large. Women who refuse to accept that paradigm and insist on being recognized as people first whether it be by yelling back at catcallers, refusing to let strangers touch them, or filing suit when they feel they’ve been violated are then castigated for having the temerity to think that they can dictate what happens to their bodies. Apparently we’re just supposed accept these “lesser” intrusions and not take steps to reclaim that sense of safety because nice girls know their place and don’t delude themselves that they have a right to feel safe and comfortable.
Well, I’m with the women who yell back, who walk away, who press charges and file lawsuits. Because it is past time we got past this idea that being nice = being a willing victim that never complains. I don’t want to live in a reality where people think marking an unconscious woman without her permission is a-okay because it’s temporary, or he didn’t mean any harm, or there’s no proof that he “actually molested her” so she shouldn’t seek legal recourse. I know I’m talking crazy, but wouldn’t be nice to live in a world where women were viewed as people first? Where people didn’t blame the victim, but instead celebrated her willingness to fight back?
Karnythia is a writer, a historian, and occasionally a loud mouth. In between raising hell and raising kids she usually manages to find time to contemplate the meaning of life as a black woman in America. Her posts on any topic can be found at her Livejournal.