Monthly Archives: November 2015

Law, womanhood and forced psychiatry

It makes me angry to have to write about this.  I wish it hadn’t happened to me and I wouldn’t have to put my suffering in your face to join all the other suffering that we are confronted with knowing about.  But it did happen.  I didn’t get or expect justice.  I hid from my anger and lived it at the same time.

In the end I found an ability to ride on the edges of the system that had invaded my body and stamped me as being nameless and wordless in a world where the reality of who I was, could not be abided.

I got tired and gave up, before they drugged me I dissociated by taking a view of myself from outside and thinking, look at what you’re doing, you really are crazy.  I couldn’t reverse that and it wasn’t intentional, but it kept me from experiencing in my whole body and self the terror, the swallowed anger, of having to take the pill and put it in my own mouth.  After that the drug did its own work of dissociation and I learned that it was possible to feel that one was disintegrated and yet something else, some other “I” continued to be alive.  I rejoiced in that knowledge.

When I talk about this – in the system I have learned to ride on, which is law – I can’t always put all the pieces together.  Or so I feel.  It always seems there is more to the reality, that I forget to say something, I can’t communicate it enough to make you understand what I understand.

My body was always marked for violation, as a female.  Meaning we are supposed to dissociate.  To have sex with men as a mechanical thing to produce babies, to prostitute ourselves, to give in to rapists, to shut up about hating men, to play a game to please everyone but ourselves.  I recently, for a school assignment, took on the challenge of writing comments to a draft UN document that proposes to accept as legitimate that states (governments) can recognizes fetuses in a pregnant women’s body as “having the capacity to exercise the right to life.”

You have to take that in deeply, especially the term “exercise” there – the capacity to *exercise* rights is precisely what has been contentious in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  So, when I am forcibly drugged, threatened into cooperating with their violence, these lawyers aren’t sure they want to recognize *my* capacity to exercise rights, the right to control my own body and health by refusing unwanted toxic drug.  But they are prepared to accommodate what is largely a belief based in patriarchal religions, by accepting that, if I were to get pregnant, the unformed life inside me has that capacity?  A fetus – the product of my own choice, or rape, or forgetfulness, or failure of contraception – has the *capacity* to exercise rights, against me?

Well, no.  So I’ve written the paper and will send in my comments, and will write a different kind of blog to share the proper lawyerly view.  And I also wrote comments about how they deal with disability issues in the document, how they contrive to leave room for forced psychiatry.

I found myself getting angry as I wrote the paper.  Experiencing a towering rage.  I put that anger into the paper, writing out why the document was not only wrong but in bad faith, and then I took out the parts about bad faith; word limit, unnecessary, and not really what I needed to say.

The anger that way is new.  I didn’t realize that I wasn’t feeling the anger when I felt it, it became an energy that drove me.  To actually recognize it as a feeling is pretty amazing, because it can be honored and lived, and passes through me.  It enlivens me and lets me know I am worthy of getting angry over.

It makes a difference to come at these issues having returned to my roots in feminism.  Which again in some way I had dissociated from.  I think that I absorbed a liberal feminism in a way, where I thought I had to measure up to something to be a feminist, and I was simultaneously annoyed with feminism because I didn’t see it speaking to my life.  In the past year or so, having been energized by being asked to give a presentation on legal capacity from a gender perspective and then coming to an awareness of the need to defend Michfest, which I had always needed to be there even when I wasn’t going…. I’ve come back more to a sense of my own ability and responsibility to use my skills to articulate the bridges and the space of the intersectionality of patriarchy and forced psychiatry.

Love, and looking forward to all the intersectionalities, including what it means to be a survivor lawyer.