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Monday, August 20, 2012

WHEN STUPIDITY IS INEVITABLE . . .

I’ve heard a lot of politicians say some pretty stupid things in my time – but Todd Akin of Missouri really, REALLY takes the prize for stupidity.


In an interview that aired on Sunday, Representative Akin made what has GOT to be one of the stupidest, most misogynistic statements that I’ve ever heard (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2012/08/19/todd-akin-gop-senate-candidate-legitimate-rape-rarely-causes-pregnancy/). His statement, said in an interview airing Sunday that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy, is, frankly, beyond stupid. It’s egregious, it’s horrendous, and he is now reaping the reward that he so richly deserves, that of scorn, rage from women of all walks of life and disbelief. Off-the-cuff remarks, my ass. He was simply stating what he deeply believes, that only sluts get raped, and that rape rarely results in pregnancy anyhow, so why should there be legal abortions for the victims of rape to begin with?

His assertion that a woman’s body has ways to shut down and prevent pregnancy is all bullshit, not borne out by the FACTS. Fact is, if a woman is fertile, and a lot of times even when she isn’t, rape can and in about 35% of cases DOES result in pregnancy (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8765248). Now, admittedly, this is an old report, from 1996, but if even ONE unwanted, forced pregnancy results from an incident of forced intimacy, like rape, that’s at least a THOUSAND too many.

Regardless of anyone person’s position on abortion (and I am not an abortion proponent, but that’s a thought for another column), this crap is not something that should be part of the national debate on abortion. In point of fact, there shouldn’t BE a debate on abortion, since Roe v Wade is the law of the land, regardless of what the Republican Party and the ReThugs© that are running it nowadays think. I want somebody to explain to me what the difference is between “legitimate” rape and rape. Rape is the forcible physical penetration of an unwilling victim by a sexual predator, and it doesn’t matter whether the victim is a male or a female. The key word here is “forcible”. So, is this the thought process that all Republicans and Rethugs hold, or is this just the abberant thought process of one nasty man who doesn’t know what he’s talking about?

Well, let me make one thing crystal clear: Rape is not about sex, it’s about power. Period. Tell me, Mr. Akin, have *YOU* ever been forcibly penetrated? And, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” REALLY? In what alternate universe does this happen?

I’ve been raped twice. Both times, it took extensive psychotherapy to deal with the shame and the fears that came with this, even if I was the victim. Used to be, if you reported a rape, the first words out of the cop’s mouth were “and just what were you doing to cause this?” Most women rarely reported rapes precisely because they couldn’t deal with the scorn, the shame and the notoriety of being that sort of victim. I can’t even begin to imagine what I would have done myself had I gotten pregnant from either rape.

Politicians and activists who espouse this view often suggest that women who haven’t been raped will claim to have been raped in order to obtain an abortion. An Idaho state lawmaker apologized earlier this year after urging doctors to make sure women who claimed they had been raped were sure of that fact. Representative Akin himself has suggested in the past that women may claim to be raped as a strategy during divorce proceedings. Needless to say, this is territory that GOP leaders would rather not have Representative Akin wander into. Getting into the particulars of “legitimate rape” (as opposed to what? ILLEGITIMATE rape? do they mean spousal rape? Incest? WHAT?) and the female reproductive system has the potential to make this a headache for the GOP.

GOSH, I hope that happens. Really.

What a completely contemptible person he is – and I’ve got to wonder just how he would react if one of his female family members had been raped and impregnated as the result. Would he cast them out as unclean? Insist that they bear the “child of shame”? What WOULD he do?

Representative Akin should look up Clayton Williams and his run for Governor in Texas back in the 1990 race. During the campaign, Williams publicly made a joke likening rape to bad weather, having quipped: “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it”. That remark cost him both the race and his would-be political career.

We’re all supposed to just sit back and, like most chuckle-headed Republican women, pretend that there isn’t a war on women and women’s rights going on right now in this country. Of all of the hard-won rights that we’ve got, access to abortion is one of the most divisive – and the most necessary. As I said, I personally don’t believe in abortion, but, damn it, I am NOT the person that has been divinely appointed to point the finger of shame at a scared 13 year old whose father has raped her and who is now pregnant with a child that she not only doesn’t want but whose conception can actually physically threaten her health, not to mention what it’s already done to her mind. Eugene Robinson had this to say about the subject (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/eugene-robinson-todd-akin-comment-brings-war-on-women-back-to-prominence/2012/08/20/c4570fae-eafd-11e1-9ddc-340d5efb1e9c_story.html?wprss=rss_homepage):

“That “female body” line is not only a frightening glimpse at the dangerous nonsense rattling around inside the heads of some on the far, far right. It is also — in its sheer, befuddled, clueless anatomical ignorance — an illustration of why we need more women in public office. When Akin says “ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” what exactly does he mean? What does he envision happening inside that mysterious, unknowable realm? Is it sorcery? Witchcraft? Akin, by the way, is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. I am not kidding.”

IDon't know about y'all, but I personally find that fact to be even more frightening than I do the fact that this contemptible male person thinks what he has said in public. He’s on the House Committee on SCIENCE? So where is he GETTING his science? And there’s more: less than week after he won the Republican nomination in a three-way race, Akin was being asked repeatedly by high-level fellow Republicans to drop out of the contest. And that’s despite his attempt to back away his initial comments. About the only good thing that’s come out of this horror is that both the Republican candidates for President and Vice-President have openly condemned his remarks. And they didn’t even have the courage to do it in person, either. Nope, they issued statements through their spokespeople. Unlike President Obama, they didn’t have the guts to come out against one of their own.

President Obama said today (http://news.yahoo.com/president-obama-calls-akin-comments-offensive-declares-rape-182741585–abc-news-politics.html):

"The views expressed were offensive. Rape is rape and the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and it certainly doesn’t make sense to me. What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, the majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women.”

At this juncture, there is a huge outcry against Representative Akin. He’s being pressured at this point to get out of the race for Senator from Missouri. I hope that he does bow out of the race. And I also hope that he withers away as he deserves to, into a mean and dishonourable silence.

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