Yes Missouri republican senatorial candidate Todd Akin just gave everyone another reason to fear the conservative Kool-Aid when on a political talk show he was asked his stance on abortion as it pertains to cases of rape, in which he responded if it was a legitimate rape a woman’s body had ways of shutting that whole thing down; thus rape rarely leads to pregnancy according to Akin. Soon after the jaw dropping statements there was a clamor of both disgust and opposition to his comments and loud calls for him to get out of the republican senatorial race; everyone all the way up to newly minted VP candidate Paul Ryan urged him to remove himself in the interest of what was better for a party plagued by gaffes, outlandish ideas, disorganization and all the wrong kinds of media attention. Statements reaching everyone’s ears just as the federal definition of rape was broadened earlier this year from its archaic 1927 parameters; updates include calling it rape no matter the gender of attacker or victim, defining rape as all types penetration or penetration of mouth by sex organ without consent. However Akin’s comments go so much deeper than the kooky, off the wall things we have come to expect from the GOP during the election season; his comments serve to be a huge boost to eroding years of progress against the objectification of women, the debasement and marginalization of women to say nothing of dealing with issues surrounding rape, awareness, prevention and treating its devastating aftermath.
This is far from the first blow to women’s rights via the fundamentals of the republican base, but now it has gone past basics like prolife, antiabortion, anti-acceptance of homosexuality, pro traditional family values to an extremism including personhood bills that would more than outlaw abortions but prevent certain types of birth control even fertility treatments, one bill proposed to force women to undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound before receiving an abortion, fights over women’s right to birth control took on a whole new dimension in 2012 as a new healthcare provision sought to give women full access to all types of healthcare regardless of the religious or moral compunctions of employers. The result, a conservative radio shock jock calling the female speaker to a congressional panel on the issue a slut while conservative advocacy groups and politicians alike attempted to turn it into a debate on religious freedom accusing the Obama administration of attacking religious rights; that is after 4 years of tea party antics beginning with Sarah Palin as a VP candidate exuding down home, family values, Christian religiosity promoting a concept of the best place for women is at home, barefoot and pregnant, Mike Huckabee, one time republican nominee hopeful’s comments on Natalie Portman’s pregnancy. Now enter Mr. Akin and his thoughts on rape; in addition to his statements having exactly zero scientific, medical accuracy, in addition to him either making doctors everywhere look bad by misrepresenting what he was told or foolishly trusting a doctor not worth their medical license, his lack of definition of what he considers “legitimate rape,” the surrounding discussion context implies it isn’t rape unless it can and does lead to pregnancy. The problem, rape defined as forcible penetration can happen with objects, other body parts such as fingers or tongue, and is not limited to the vagina; if he has trouble believing such things do happen he should talk to the woman speaking on a talk show stage whose perpetrator made use of a knife leaving her with the bowel control of an 80 year old or the Dr. Phil guest whose husband or boyfriend tried to penetrate her with a shampoo bottle. No matter what form it takes, forcing someone into sexual activities is still rape, period, still illegal period, and still mentally emotionally and psychologically devastating, period.
What Akin might have been referring to as a woman’s way to “shut that whole thing down” is the sometimes tendency of muscles surrounding the vagina to clinch when a woman is forced, resulting in decreased penetration; however that is by no means a preventative or guarantee against pregnancy. Inexperienced teens having sex for the first time are rudely awakened to that reality when the act wasn’t great, the guy wasn’t that good at it and still the girl finds she is indeed pregnant; why, because anyone having attended a health class understands pregnancy is a result of egg and sperm meeting, timing of normal biological functions. It has nothing to do with if the woman was raped or had consensual sex; both can lead to pregnancy, something he might know if he spent less time around his conservative cronies, a majority of whom champion abstinence only sex education, and actually got educated on the subject. Returning to the possible muscle reaction, often said phenomenon leads to polyps, pain vaginal scarring and painful intercourse long into the future. And just because the muscle spasm doesn’t happen, doesn’t mean a woman wasn’t raped; many factors play into how a woman’s body reacts to including but not limited to circumstances of the attack, pervious sexual experience, recent sexual activity. In fact some unfortunate women have been known to orgasm during rape, because their mind, their emotions, their soul registers the violation when all their body knows it it’s being touch a certain way that is supposed to produce pleasurable physiological responses. Following up on his “understanding” of rape he continued saying there should be stiff punishment for those who commit the crime but that that should not extend to the child. Apparently forgotten in said equation, purported as a way to save innocent lives, is the punishment subsequently exacted on a woman not only trauma from the attack, the taint of being burdened with such a huge reminder of something so horrible, but the physical and emotional toll enduring pregnancy takes on the body and mind if they are forced this time to carry a child to term due to the inability to get an abortion. According to would be conservative policy we as a society are going to victimize a woman not once but 3-4 times; first being subjected to the attack to begin with, then enduring the humiliating rape kit exam to try and catch the scum, assuming, they catch the person, lasting though the grueling testimony at trial, and now we want women to carry the offspring, because that’s a life and life is sacred? Abortion may not be right, but neither is doubly robbing a woman of the choice to decide what happens to her own body, especially when that choice has been taken away once already through no fault of her own.
Compounding the social impact his words could have, Akin’s use of his own term “legitimate rape” also diminishes the effect of established social categories putting a sharper definition to rape such as spousal rape, acquaintance or date rape, categories put in place to give both men and women clear parameters describing what rape truly is, because prior to the acceptance of all scenarios it can encompass, people’s view of rape centered around a guy in a ski mask jumping from an alley to assault a woman. Consequences stemming from such narrow minded thinking repeatedly lead doctors, authorities in the past to think if a woman knew her attacker, never mind if she was dating him, she was simply a tease who cried rape to save her reputation; wrong, most rape cases involve women who knew the assailant, whether it was a former friend, coworker or someone they currently, formerly dated. The distinction of spousal rape came out of repeated cases where some type of domestic abuse was occurring and men thought because they were married they had the right to take their wives whenever they wanted, because they were married women had no right to say no; courts too began to recognize the detrimental psychological effects of this social mindset as an increased number of women were on trial for killing their husbands, increased domestic abuse cases where both women and mental health professionals testified to the effects of forcing what many believed was a marital duty. Said definitions were meant to send a clear message to sexually active public no still means no, no matter if you’re married, dating, if you are or were friends with the person who attacked you, whether you are homosexual or heterosexual; they were not meant to be used by right wing politicians to parse examples in order to impugn on the rights of specific individuals based on what the politicians view as their lack of moral character. It was not meant to spread the concept it’s only “legitimate rape” if it was a male on female crime where the man came out of an alley, everything else is a domestic dispute where a woman is trying to save her questionable morality, homosexuals are engaging in something immoral to begin with so who cares about their deviant domestic issues, if they lived right it wouldn’t happen. All of which is absurdity on the level with saying men can’t get raped because they don’t have a vagina, an utterly ridiculous notion male rape victims would vehemently disagree with.
If that wasn’t bad enough, he then goes on Shawn Hanidy speaking about public backlash saying he really thought they were overreacting making a bigger deal out of it than it was; however, it is a big deal. Not only does he make the outrageous comments, then he comes off as much worse for failing to grasp a monumental screw up, a monumental error in reasonable thinking, making him seem every bit a male chauvinistic pig who needs to attend every sexual harassment, sensitivity training and sex education class available in the surrounding area. It is a big deal not only because his statements display a profound level of ignorance considering he is running for an office that can and will have a drastic effects on public policy, but likewise because his words have an even larger cultural impact upon his viewing/listening audience when he makes aforementioned appearances. Ultra conservatives who don’t watch local, national news either because it’s all negative or because they see the media as promoting a leftist, liberal, propaganda agenda, will listen to a fellow conservative, someone who shares their values, speaks their language, thus walking away thinking women have a biological, physical way to prevent pregnancy during rape, coming to the defacto conclusion that if a woman does get pregnant during an assault it must not have been rape. Unfortunately these are the same type of individuals who get their sex education from the bible, their church leader, same gender family members instead of their doctor, a basic sex education class or a blended approach that gives medical fact and leaves the cultural mores to the religious sector, meaning we have whole sections of society who don’t know any better. Our senate hopeful might not want to believe women can get pregnant from being raped; maybe it helps him sleep at night holding such a callous view toward victims of sexual violence. Yet that isn’t reality. Our family values candidate might not want to believe sex acts exist outside of penis connecting with vagina for the purpose of procreation, because anything else is seen as unnatural to him, yet that isn’t reality. Further the topic is rape; if someone is depraved enough to sexually force themselves on another person, then there is, at minimum, the possibility they are depraved enough to engage in sex acts deemed unnatural, attempt sex with someone of the same gender, whatever category you choose to classify that in.
You don’t have to be pro-abortion, you are not anti-pro-life because you understand the need for exemptions to laws prohibiting abortion in the cases of rape and incest; you are not lacking conservatism if you actually understand basic workings of the female body comprehending that vaginal sex can lead to pregnancy sans circumstances. You aren’t without principles, compromising those principles because you passed a biology class and understand rudimentary genetic complications that can result when two first degree relatives conceive a child, possible results of incest. You haven’t lost your claim to being family values representative when you recognize the social implications of forcing women to carry the product of rape for nine months, when they feel they can’t give the child up for adoption without revealing their shame, when they try and raise the child and do so poorly or abusively because of what that child represents. Neither are you without values, principles, conservatism if you exercise enough humanity to understand no matter what sin you think a person has committed, it doesn’t mean they forfeit the basic human right to decide what happens to their bodies, to be free of sexual violence even when their preferred sexual partner is the same sex variety, and have the courage to say so. Instead politicians today want to talk about going back; they say going back to our founding principles, back to family values. But truthfully it’s back to the 1950’s where a woman’s “place” is at home barefoot and pregnant, where sex is a marriage duty period end of sentence, while abortions and birth control don’t exist, only this time by law not by shortcomings in medicine or technology, where women have no substantial rights. Meanwhile criminality, cruelty and psychopathy have grown with the decades and going back to the 1950’s model leaves people who subscribe to conservative thinking, pass that thinking onto their children vulnerable in a 21st century world. Framing everything above in that context, the scariest thing about Todd Akin isn’t his comments, isn’t his erred thinking, it isn’t even that there are people who will vote for him, the scariest thing is he has two daughters and this is the mentality he’s passing to them.