The Politics of Rape and Abortion

Most of you are aware by now of the comments made by Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri. But just in case you haven’t heard or read his statement, let me share it with you. (For those of you who have heard it and, like me, have it memorized, I think we can all agree that it needs to be repeated and shared so as not to be forgotten.)

So here’s what Republican Representative and candidate for Senate Todd Akin said during a televised interview after being asked about allowing abortions for rape victims who become pregnant as a result of the rape.

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Let that sink in for a minute. Got it? I’ll wait while you read it again. Yes, you read it correctly, he did say “legitimate rape” as opposed to, you know, illegitimate rape which, by deductive reasoning, must be the term that Akin would apply to the thousands of rapes each year that resulted in pregnancy. And, yes, he seriously believes that the female body is capable of deciphering whether or not the sperm had permission to enter the premises as if there’s some sort of muscle-head egg standing outside of the cervix, clipboard in one hand and velvet rope in the other.

So were you shocked when you heard those words coming out of a grown man’s mouth? Don’t be. Because the reality of it is that Todd Akin is not the first GOP member to spew such idiocy and, unfortunately, he won’t be the last. Oh, by the way, Rep. Akin is on the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Apparently, you don’t have to know much about basic human anatomy to be on a Congressional committee that has the word SCIENCE in it.

Anyway, let’s take a look at some other archaic and misinformed opinions that have been presented as facts and spouted off by other members of the Grand Ol’ Party, shall we?

Idaho Senator Chuck Winder said “I would hope that when a woman goes into a physician with a rape issue that that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage, or was it truly caused by a rape.” After being criticized, Winder explained his comment by saying that women “would want to find out if the pregnancy occurred as the product of the rape, or whether the pregnancy was unknown at the time.” Translation: If a woman claims she was impregnated by a rapist, she was probably already pregnant from having sex with her husband. Also, marital rape does not exist.

Republican Stephen Freind from Pennsylvania once said that the odds of a woman getting pregnant as a result of a rape were “one in millions and millions and millions” because the woman, while experiencing a traumatic rape, will “secrete a certain secretion, which has a tendency to kill sperm.” On a similar note, Rep. Henry Aldridge of North Carolina said “The facts show that people who are raped – who are truly raped – the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant.”  Translation: Women, like ducks, produce special baby-making juice that only works when a woman wants it to and doesn’t work if a woman is traumatized.

Businessman and political activist Foster Friess, who is not a politician but a big (financial) supporter of Republican candidates Rick Santorum and now Mitt Romney, once told Andrea Mitchell that Bayer aspirin was enough to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. According to him, “The gals put it between their knees”¦.” Translation: If those slutty sluts would just keep their legs closed, there wouldn’t be any reason to talk about all of this contraception and rape and abortion stuff. Good golly, girls! Control yourselves!

US Federal Judge James Leon Holmes wrote in an article that “concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.” Translation: Mr. Holmes would’ve been better suited for a career as a meteorologist because he knows absolute squat about justice.

And last, but certainly not least, is that whole thing about defining rape and allowing abortions only for victims of “forcible rape” as described by none other than Todd Akin and by Mitt Romney’s buddy and choice for VP, Paul Ryan, who co-sponsored the “˜No Taxpayer Fundung for Abortion’ Act.

Look, there are a ton of articles all over the Internet right now where you can find even more quotes that are just as bad, if not worse, than those I’ve added here. But as unbelievable as it may be that someone like Akin honestly believes this stuff about the magical power of the uterus, we need to be thankful that he publicly verbalized it. I don’t think most of us realized just how ridiculous and asinine some of these anti-choice belief systems and agendas really are. Like Abe Lincoln said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Well, they’ve spoken out and removed all doubt. They are indeed fools. And, ladies, we’re in some serious trouble if they get elected.

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April

If I had a dollar for every time I got distracted, I wish I had some ice cream.

12 thoughts on “The Politics of Rape and Abortion”

  1. “But as unbelievable as it may be that someone like Akin honestly believes this stuff about the magical power of the uterus, we need to be thankful that he publicly verbalized it. ”

    And this is the moral of the story, that Republicans are getting caught “thinking” with their mouths open. I REALLY hope it continues because it’ll finally get the public galvanized to vote out these tyrants.

  2. [Rape discussion]
    This kind of thinking is so prevalent, and as someone who has two children from what must have been ‘illegitimate’ rape, it at least gives me something to point to when people ask why I didn’t report what happened to me – because this is how the conversation usually goes when I do bother to talk about it.

    -I was raped for both of my children.
    -What happened?
    -Well, the first time… he was kind of obsessed with me. Used to come into my work and bug me. But I told him I wasn’t interested. But we had mutual friends, so I knew him socially. So I went to his apartment one night to…
    -You went to his place?
    -Yeah, to…
    -What were you wearing?

    There’s no version of this story where it doesn’t devolve into an attempt to figure out what I did wrong. He tied me up, with a knife by the bed. I just laid there, in shock, unable to do anything. But, if all of the arguments of “you should have done this” and “why didn’t you just [call the cops]?” don’t sufficiently shame me, well, then, there’s always “you shouldn’t have gone there in the first place.” Because if I don’t assume that every man is a rapist and stop leaving my house, then it’s my fault.

    He had this idea in his head that he could convince/force me to love him. He had it all planned out, that I’d get pregnant, we’d get married, and everything would just be super for him. Well, I did get pregnant. And I was in fear of him, and fear of having all of the opportunities I’d have in life taken from me because some dude figured that what he wanted trumped what I did. I was so depressed that I thought that having the baby was the only thing I had to live for. And if I was going to be miserable, why not marry the guy? I said I’d do it for the child, but that we’d divorce after the baby was born. We worked opposite shifts, so barely saw each other, even after he moved into my place. The plan was, I’d leave my job before the baby was born, take a couple of months off, then we’d work out separating. I was unhappy, but at least I thought I wasn’t in the danger I’d be in if I left him. A guy who ties you up and pulls a knife on you is not rational, so why should I die trying to get away? Of course, everyone always had a ‘you should have…’ to offer. Those ‘you should haves’ always seemed to assume that I had a family I could fall on, or a social network that could protect me, or some other variable that did not exist. But, I mean, it’s really easy to ‘you should have’ someone else, and assume that their frame of mind after being raped and impregnated is going to be non-traumatized and thinking logically.

    So, 8 1/2 months pregnant – he decided to up and quit his job; the one that would have provided medical benefits and so on. I have an emergency ultrasound out of town scheduled for the next day, so I’m worried about the health of the child. Now, I can’t quit work, during the busiest season of the year. So, I had a total of less than 1 week off of work, and when I get home he takes off, leaving me with 2-3 hours of sleep a night when I’m working 70+ hours a week. After two months have passed of this, the baby finally sleeps through the night, and so do I; only to wake up to him rolling off of me.

    Now, these guys might not get the biology of a female human, but you’re crazy-fertile after having a baby. So I was pregnant again. But now I also have to deal with being raped a second time where people tell me it wasn’t ‘real’ rape. Or that, since I stuck around, the first rape wasn’t rape either, or couldn’t have been ‘that bad.’ I went through years of blaming myself, thinking I ‘deserved’ to be unhappy, and trying to do what I could for the kids, while suffering pretty extreme physical and emotional damage with no break. And a lot of the reason I went through that – and continue to, really – is because of these attitudes that these (mostly) men and misogynists have, that treat women as such lesser-than ‘things’ that it’s normal to be told that your rights, your needs, are less important than a man’s. That rape is just something silly women make up to punish men, and men are the real victims – unless it’s the ‘right’ kind of rape, where a (hopefully minority) guy violently attacks a (hopefully white) woman in a park where she was wearing sweatpants during broad daylight and wasn’t, you know, daring to go out at night or not cover their body. It was over five years, until I even used the word ‘rape,’ instead of thinking it was just something I should have to deal with. Compound that with his mother’s desire to treat my kids as her own (and his parents had a lot more money than I did), so then his parents took the kids and threw lawyers around to make sure I couldn’t get them back, and then the court added a ‘support’ payment that was more than I even made in a year based on nothing (his lawyer’s state worksheets were about 20% of what they put in the papers), and the setbacks have been huge.

    And, of course, there’s supposed to be some sort of ‘nobility’ in overcoming being raped, like it’s ‘cool’ to be made stronger from being violated. Well, I’m tired of being strong and having to be strong. I’m tired of having my accomplishments pointed out like it’s okay that I was raped because I’ve overcome it. Well, how much more successful would I have been if I hadn’t have been raped? Or if the rapist hadn’t have been allowed to continue to abuse me in financial and socially-assisted ways that are too vast to even scratch on here? Ultimately, rape does not just violate your body, as if that isn’t bad enough. But there are too many men that feel that their fantasy notions about women entitle them to women’s bodies and justify them being ignorant on the facts about them. And it feels like every day more and more stories emerge where rape is just this accepted, matter-of-fact-of-life thing, a typical story arc for women to ‘deal with’ – or, to ‘make too big of deal of,’ because if a guy doesn’t think it’s important enough to understand, it must not matter.

    1. There are too many men that feel that their fantasy notions about women entitle them to women’s bodies and justify them being ignorant on the facts about them. And it feels like every day more and more stories emerge where rape is just this accepted, matter-of-fact-of-life thing, a typical story arc for women to ‘deal with’ – or, to ‘make too big of deal of,’ because if a guy doesn’t think it’s important enough to understand, it must not matter.

      THIS.  So, so this.

       

       

      I am so sorry that happened to you, and thank you for sharing your story.

       

    2. Jedi hugs if you’d like them.
      Thank you for sharing your story.
      It absolutely enrages me when I hear men like Paul Ryan and women like Nikki Haley call rape and abuse of women ‘side issues’ because it shows they really do think that, that women should just deal with it because men are the important people. Women should stop hurting men with their demand to bodily autonomy and shit.
      Sigh. No one should have to be as strong as you have been. I’m sending all my mental love and energy your way, since teh internets can transmit that stuff. Thank you again for sharing your story.

    3. First of all, thanks for sharing your story. You nailed it when you said it’s really easy to ‘you should have’ someone else. I ended friendships with people who told me what I “should have” done when I was raped. I “should have” screamed or kicked. I “should have” gone to the police (I did) and “should have”  gone through with pressing charges. I “should have” just gotten over it when the rapist was re-hired to work on the project through which I sort of met him.

      Secondly, I completely understand what you were up against when it comes to the court system, losing your kids not because you are an unfit parent but because you don’t have the money to keep fighting in court and paying 80% in child support because of a slimy lawyer who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what’s right.

      The fact that you’ve survived all of that and that you’re here right now, sharing your story, is just proof of how strong and resilient you are. I admire you and I wish I could hug you right now.

  3. It’s so hard to read the bullshit these men spew without wanting to seriously fuck them up. Rageragerage.

    And at this point, anyone who votes for any one of these assclowns is automatically on my list of enemies. They don’t care about me or my rights (or the rights of my daughters), why should I respect them in the slightest?

    But you know, I think what pisses me off the most is no matter how flat out ignorant they are, they are *still* lauded as great men and great leaders.

    Argh.

  4. Thank you for putting this article together, April. I had no idea quite how much this affected US politics, and to what degree. It’s something I find to be utterly mind-boggling.

    Out of interest, the BBC did an interesting article on Akin. There was one quote in particular I found hard to stomach: “He also continued to back-pedal from his comments last Sunday about “legitimate rape”, accepting that the views he expressed were “medically wrong”.” It’s the way it seems to come across that he still believes there is such a thing as “legitimate” rape. There are also some interesting figures on rape and pregnancy in the article.

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