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The Mamafesto: No. It is never a good idea to compare vaccination to rape

Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer whose work places a feminist lens on a variety of topics, including motherhood, maternal health, gender, and reproductive rights. Her work has been featured in Bitch magazine, Cosmopolitan.com,...

Anti-vax group compares vaccinations to rape; justifiable outrage ensues

When it comes to vaccinations, it's no secret that it's a hot topic, usually causing quite the stir, especially on social media. And, like anything else on social media, there's always a meme to help support your cause. Unfortunately, when you use that opportunity to compare your platform to something like rape... you end up doing a huge disservice, both to your own cause and to those who have been raped.

The anti-vaccination Facebook page, Dr. Tenpenny on Vaccines, recently posted a meme that compared vaccinations to rape. Nope. That is not OK. While there may be those who have very strong opinions and feelings regarding vaccines, it is never OK to compare it to something as violating, violent and personal as rape.

The picture shows a man covering a woman's mouth from behind, and the woman looks terrified. The text reads: "FORCED PENETRATION. Really - no big deal, if it's just a vaccination needle, and he's a doctor. Do you really 'need' control over your own choices?"

I understand that some people are cautious about vaccines. I do. Personally, I'm totally thrilled that we have access to vaccines that help lower the rate of or even eliminate many terrible diseases, but I also understand the wariness some people possess about them. However, that doesn't give anyone the right to compare something like vaccines to rape. With rape, there is force, power differential and complete violation. I'm sorry but that is nowhere near the same as vaccines. Especially because, for the most part, people do still have a choice when it comes to vaccines, whether that's a good idea or not.

If you need to go this route in order to "shock" people about vaccines, you need to take a look at yourself and your priorities. There are just some things that are completely off the table for comparison's sake. Slavery, the Holocaust, rape. Just don't go there or do that. Most likely, whatever you're talking about is in no way on par with these things and your comparison only weakens whatever argument you're trying to make in the first place. Plus you come off as an insensitive, awful, horrible person for even attempting to make the connection in the first place. So stop. Stop right now.

I understand that when it comes to arguing on the internet that those with the most shocking memes or status updates get the most attention. But there is no reason to ever capitalize on sexual assault. Ever. Thankfully, the comments section of that post proves that people will not stand for lazy and offensive tactics like these. Even one woman who professed to not vaccinate her children was offended as a sexual assault survivor herself. When you start alienating your own community, perhaps you should think twice about your efforts, because soon nobody will be left listening (although maybe that's not such a bad thing...).

More from The Mamafesto

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The Mamafesto: Why do we always blame Mom?

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