- Politics and Social Issues
Will Todd Akin Win His Bid For US Senator After Illegitimate Rape Comment?
By now, everyone has heard about Todd Akin’s “Illegitimate Rape” comment. For those who haven’t, here is the quote:
It seems to me, 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. 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.
What’s Akin Really Saying?
Let me break down what he’s saying:
- Some rape is not legitimate (i.e., women like to make this stuff up to get what they want)
- There is no biological basis for pregnancy - women have control over it. (Did you hear that everyone? Next time you don’t want to get pregnant, just repeat: “Go away, sperm. Stay away from my eggs!” Shut down that “whole thing.”)
- When thinking about “punishment,” the rape victim should not be considered. Let's forget about the fact that forcing a woman to carry out a pregnancy and give birth to a child who is the product of an extremely violent sexual act is undoubtedly one of the cruelest forms of punishment just about any woman could possibly imagine. (But, really, if she didn’t want to be raped in her heart of hearts, she should have just magically willed the pregnancy away.)
What do you think?
Should Akin Be Elected?
Should Akin Be Elected?
To their credit, the Republican leadership has responded swiftly, with Romney denouncing the comments as “insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong.” (Glad we need a presidential nominee to point out that the comments were “wrong.") Even Karl Rove has denounced the comments. Some Republicans, such as Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown and Wisconisin Senator Ron Johnson called for Akin to resign from his nomination.
Indeed, Akin has issued a meager apology, but has not withdrawn from the race (yet).
Akin is not the first politician to say something this asinine about rape. In 1990, Republican nominee for Texas Governor said, “Well, bad weather is like rape: if it’s inevitable, you might as well relax and enjoy it.” He lost the election to Ann Richards after this comment, despite an impressive lead before it, and it is his most enduring legacy.
Some may call this type of comment a “gaffe,” allowing Akin some leeway. Just about all politicians occasionally fub some language here and there. The problem here is that this gaffe belies a harmful belief system about women and rape, suggesting that some rape is more legitimate than other rape, and that women are somehow complicit when rape happens. While Akin may wish he had never spoken those words, it’s difficult to imagine that he doesn’t actually believe them.
Now it is up to Missouri voters. Will they tolerate this type of ignorant, inaccurate, and many would say, misogynist, rhetoric from their politicians? Or, will they send a message by electing Claire McCaskill for U.S. Senate instead?