Those of you who read this blog with any regularity* know a few things about me. One is that I'm a total jerk. Another is that I have an ex-girlfriend who was raped. And a third is that, generally speaking, I'm pretty pro-woman. Not pro-woman in the sense of anti-man but pro-woman in the sense of, "Women and men are equals and no sex has the right to treat the other like chattel". It goes without saying that this frequently puts me at odds with the Republican party, which seems to view a woman's uterus and vagina as more appropriate targets of regulation than assault weaponry, but that's not the point. Okay, actually, that is the point because our wonderful friends in the Republican party have recently produced an individual of such cretinous over-achievement that it boggles the mind. I refer, of course, to this guy:
Allow me to introduce you to Representative Todd Akin, Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, who apparently fails at both high school biology and basic human decency. I have developed those twin opinions based on his recent comments
pertaining to the need for a rape exception to legislation banning abortion:
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
Now, there are several bits that are horrifying in here. First there's that "legitimate rape" bit. The phrasing is unfortunate as it makes it sound as though some rapes are justified or something, but I think it's more likely that Akin is suggesting that rapes that aren't "forcible rapes" under the FBI's definition, aren't "real rapes". In other words, if you're date raped, then you weren't raped. In order for it to be "Rape" with a capital R you have to be attacked by a stranger, who probably has a knife or something, fight back, be injured, and then report the assault immediately to the authorities. Any rape that is slightly more complex than that- like this heartbreaking case
, for example- just doesn't count. This is additionally revolting because of the apparent implication that many existing claims of rape are just women lying as, you know, women are wont to do. You know how it is- we men can't go ten feet without some evil woman (who probably took a women's studies class) leveling a false accusation of rape.** I don't know how we men can stand it- maybe our overwhelmingly advantaged position in society offers some comfort. Second, there's the spectacular biology fail involved here; "...the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down"? I suppose that's true if by "ways to shut that whole thing down" Akin means "going to a fucking abortion clinic" but, aside from that interpretation, this claim has absolutely no basis in fact.*** No, to the contrary, it shows such a spectacular ignorance of basic facts of human biology that I am STILL
trying to wrap my head around it. This is a grown man who does not understand how human reproduction works and he wants to be a Senator! Frankly, this level of ignorance should prevent him from being taken seriously in polite society, much less politics. And then, finally, let's just keep in mind that in the final analysis, he just doesn't care if it was rape or not- the bundle of non-sentient cells is worth more in his eyes than the thinking, feeling woman who was sexually assaulted and now has to spend nine very difficult months to bring her rapist's child to term. And so, as I said, Akin appears to be a failure at both biology and human decency.
Now, granted, he has tried to walk his statements back:
“In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview, and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year,” Mr. Akin, who has a background in engineering and is a member of the House science committee, said in a statement. “I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life, and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.”
* This shows considerable dedication of late given that "Total Drek" has been, for lack of a better word, estivating.
But, of course, the problem with that is not his misspeaking. He did not misspeak, he stated his position quite clearly. I'll grant that the reference to "legitimate rape" was probably an unfortunate off-the-cuff word choice, but the rest of it shows such an utter lack of knowledge about the world and total disdain for women that nothing short of a massive apology would be sufficient.
My father always taught me that I was never too good to shake another man's hand, but for Todd Akin, I think I might make an exception.
** It really is remarkable how few rape allegations one receives when one treats women like human beings who are worthy of respect, as opposed to tits and a hoo-haw on legs.
*** Similarly, the bodies of Republican candidates do not have ways of preventing themselves from uttering horrifying remarks in public. Other than using their brains, I suppose, but it's been a while since I've seen a Republican candidate who seems inclined in that direction.