August 20, 2012

For the Tea Party, a woman who gets pregnant can't have been raped

There is so much awful and stupid in this story:  GOP Senate nominee: Women don’t get pregnant from ‘legitimate’ rapes | The Raw Story.  As one person noted online, beating me to it, this is the pregnancy version of drowning a woman to find out if she is a witch.  If she gets pregnant, she must have actually wanted sex.

I would sigh, but that just seems too mild for this type of misogyny.  All from a guy who has a BS in "management engineering" and clearly didn't, as SOF noted, attend his elementary school "life science" class.  But worse than misunderstanding how reproduction works, this is the other side of the idea that women are asking to be raped.  "Look how she dressed," or "what was she doing walking in a dark alley," or "how dare she have breasts."

All to stop women from having abortions.  This really makes clear that this not about abortion, per se, but about keeping control of women and their fertility.  This is anti-women far more than anti-abortion.

And this guy isn't the first.  Here is a story from 1988, but that isn't the only one.  A doctor in 2006 said that "women are not fertile during an attack."   Nor is this the only stupid and hateful thing Akin believes.  He also believes the morning after pill causes abortions, even though the science says otherwise.

But here is the thing.  Todd Akin looks like a toad.  I am not trying to be mean, but he looks awful on tv and in print.  I am guessing that the American people, including my conservative evangelical friends will find his statements odious and wrong.  They will denounce them (oh Sweet Jesus, I hope so) and decide that Akin is not a good example of Republican thought.

Ah, but here is the rub.  Not only did Paul Ryan (does not look like a toad) endorse Akin in his primary bid and speak eloquently about Akin's leadership in the house, the GOP vice presidential candidate also worked closely with the toad to redefine rape downward.  To keep women from getting an abortion on Medicaid or other federal funding, Ryan and Akin worked together to redefine rape to only mean "forcible rape," which many observers noted would eliminate all sorts of awful situations.  Statutory rape, which can mean, of course, an 18 year old and a 16 year old, but can also mean a 30 year old man with a 13 year old girl--statutory rape wouldn't qualify as "forcible."  Nor would date rape or taking advantage of a mentally challenged woman.

So, while many conservative Christians will, undoubtedly, pat themselves on the back for standing up to Todd Akin this morning (and who knows how many will defend him out of tribal loyalty), they will all speak highly of Paul Ryan and not seem to connect that the difference between the two is not ideology or belief, but appearance.  One doesn't look like a toad.  He just advocates the same misogyny as the toad does.


Smitty said...

All to stop women from having abortions. This really makes clear that this not about abortion, per se, but about keeping control of women and their fertility. This is anti-women far more than anti-abortion.

That's it, plain and simple.

On top of that, what they're doing is trying to find ways around Roe v Wade. They can't just illegalize abortion, but they will beat around it and around it and around it until it only exists - in their minds - for the depraved few they can't catch and keep from it.

Well, that "depraved few" in this case would be the more than 83,000 rape victims (and that's just those who reported...).

Fucking sick. So ardent are these ass-hats to keep people from getting a LEGAL procedure that they don't see AND DON'T CARE about the (un)intended consequences of their proposals.

And yes...these sick bastards perpetuate the sexist myths about rape. Look, you fucking assholes...NOBODY wants to rape me or thinks about raping me or thinks I am a slut when I wear UnderArmor Compression shirts to the pool. So why must we think women are sluts and DESERVE rape because they wear a sports bra, a short skirt, or fucking...sandals? Whatever... Sick fucks.

You know what it is? "The bible says when I get a boner for seeing a woman's nipples through her shirt, Jesus kills puppies in heaven. Therefore, because I can't control MY boners, it's HER fault I'm getting one, because I think I saw her butt wiggle in her yoga pants."

steves said...

Everyone is throwing this guy under the bus. Even the right wing, kool-aid drinkers think this guy said an idiotic thing.

Streak said...

True, a lot of conservatives are upset with Akin, but again, we should note that his ideas are not that far from the rest of the party right now. This comment may have pissed them off because it was so inarticulate and stupid, but the sentiment is not far from Ryan's own.

Oh, and not everyone is throwing him under the bus.

Liz said...

His comments are reprehensible, but I’m surprised by the backlash, probably because I’ve seen the argument at least once before. I identified a lot with this article, in that after spending time in sub-cultures (mostly voluntarily, in my case), what surprises me is not people’s ugly behaviour but that people are shocked and outraged by it. While distressing, I’m more offended by his attitude that facts are optional then the raging misogyny that goes with the idea of “legitimate rape” (You know, as opposed to that weird thing where you have sex with a person without their consent >.>). You’re definitely right about the witch test – if she gets pregnant it was consensual, if she doesn’t, there probably wasn’t any rape to begin with, the lying slut. Everybody wins OH WAIT.

What bothers me much more is that I think drawing lines between what is and isn’t “real” rape reflects a more general willingness to override other people’s boundaries and treat consent as default. I liked the point here that consent goes much broader than just sex. If we’re comfortable with “you don’t feel that way” and “you’ll change your mind” and “I care about you so you shouldn’t make choices that I think are wrong for you”, then splitting hairs about whether or not a non-consensual act is reeeeeeally rape makes sense.

This doesn’t even need to be specifically about rape and abortion. Akin may as well be running around sticking “no gurls allowed” stickers on everything in sight. While the majority of women will never find themselves having to “defend” a post-rape pregnancy (god, I hope not!), there’s a broader message for women about where you belong. Statements like Akin’s, or any defence of rape culture, essentially carve out aspects of personal autonomy and civic life and mark them off limits. In this case, it’s telling women that a safe, robust and private sex life is Not For You. Natalie Reed blogs on it beautifully here (sorry for being so link-heavy, but I’m lazy and there are so many people on the internet who are smarter and more articulate than I am).

Streak said...

Liz, I think you are correct. I get that sense from many right wing anti-abortion types--to the point that many never even mention women at all when talking about abortion laws or restrictions. That was true with Akin too, his broader point was that rape should be irrelevant for abortion, as we shouldn't punish the fetus for the sins of the rapist. He only mentioned the woman in the context of her body somehow not getting pregnant in such a difficult moment. This entire GOP approach to women--and unfortunately carried by many conservative women as well--is that women only belong in certain situations. Her needs or desires are not relevant, nor is her mental health, or her control over her own body.

liz said...

No kidding. The language that gets used around sex and abortion sometimes makes me think that we're talking about disobedient whitegoods, rather than people. It's genuinely creepy.

Streak said...

Liz, I have been thinking more about that consent culture idea, and think that is really a big part of this. Just yesterday, I read this essay by a well-published woman, entitled, "Men explain things to me." Great essay. Then reading more stories about Akin and all of those Republican men who say that rape doesn't lead to pregnancy, and there seems to be that running current of, "why are you complaining about a little abuse or rape? No harm, no foul. Move on."

I think you are right. This goes well beyond just the rape comment.