Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thoughts on Rape and Todd Akin

This will be a departure for me, as I normally stay out of politics and stick to the cutesy, mom-type stuff (with an occasional rant about how circumcision is a travesty).  But, I (like many women) have really been appalled by the remarks made by Representative Todd Akin.  In case you've been hiding under a rock, in a discussion about the Representative's opinions on abortion, he made it very clear that he opposed abortion in all circumstances, including in the case of pregnancies that resulted from rape or incest.

And then he made the idiot statement of the  year:

"It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down."

And when I heard that, dear readers, I seriously had to stop myself from vomiting.  And it took a very long time for that urge to go away.

This isn't a post about abortion, or how I feel about abortion.  That's a whole different matter.  Instead, I want to attempt to convey how disgusting it is for me to hear these words spoken aloud.

First off, legitimate rape?  Or, as he later tried to "clarify", forcible rape?  Friends, there isn't any sort of rape that is not forcible.

One in four women in this country is a victim of sexual assault.  One in four.  Which means you know someone who has been raped, molested, or attacked.  You may not know her story, but you know her.

Sadly, I've been dealing with the disgusting rape culture in our country for many, many years.  When I was fourteen a girl who went to my church told me that her boyfriend (she was my age, he was two years older than her) had forced her to have sex with him.  When she went to our youth minister, he (and the other powers that were) convinced her that she must have been a willing participant, that she had sinned, and that it wasn't going to be spoken of again.  Then he asked her who she had told about this.

So then I got a talking-to.  I was told that I wasn't to tell anybody about what had happened, not even my parents, and how it wouldn't be prudent for me to be seen as someone who was attempting to smear other peoples' reputations.  And, I'm sad to say that my (very, very innocent) fourteen year old self took this to heart, and I kept my mouth shut.  After all, as our youth minister had pointed out, this was a girl from a troubled home, and perhaps she may have been embellishing the truth.  Perhaps, as he suggested, she had made it all up in her head--or worse, she was lying about the whole thing because she felt guilt about the sin that she had committed.

And then, a few years later, I heard that she was pregnant, and because of the snotty attitude I had adopted, I thought to myself that it had figured that someone like her would wind up in a situation like that.

But then, as I got older, I heard more and more terrible stories.  I learned from a friend that she was raped on prom night.  I learned from another girlfriend that she was sexually assaulted and when she went to request a rape kit, the tech at the hospital informed her that with the way she was dressed, she was clearly "asking for it."  I even had a friend's mom confide to me that she had been raped by a man who had given her an incurable venereal disease.  He had been a stranger and she had been lost in the wrong part of town, and he told her he was doing it because "spoiled little girls like you deserve this."

Were any of them "asking" for it?  Did any of these women "deserve" to be sexually assaulted?  Did my girlfriend whose grandfather molested her as a little girl ask to have that happen to her?  Of course not, but that's the culture we as women have to contend with.  The fact is, there are jerks out there who totally believe that women "cry rape".  I have news for you, folks:  that doesn't happen.  And if there are women who do that to an innocent man, they should be horribly ashamed of themselves.  But I don't know women who are like that.  In fact, all of the ones who I know who have been sexually assaulted have been attempting for years to stop blaming themselves, and many of them still can't.

The mere notion that we as women experience rape or other forms of sexual assault in a way that isn't "forcible" or "legitimate" is insulting and degrading, and it really gives you a clue into the minds of lawmakers who are trying to legislate what we can and cannot do with our bodies.  There are lawmakers out there who think that the "Morning After Pill"--Plan B--is some sort of magical abortion pill, but in reality all it is is an extra-heavy dose of birth control.  Some legislators want to take away our rights to contraception, even though it would leave many of us unable to support the families that we do have.  There are disgusting opinions about sex, our bodies, and the way women should be treated floating around out there, and I highly encourage you to listen long and hard to what some of these men are saying about us.

It's not pretty.


  1. As a rape & incest survivor, I thank you. My healing has given me a very big voice on this. We need to set free those who have been held in shame & darkness & brokenness, give them permission to tell their stories. There can be freedom, there can be healing, there can be love.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Laureen. I am glad you have been able to heal and I completely agree--we need to encourage women to speak up, not only to promote awareness but to also allow them to heal.

  2. Thank you for posting this. I, too, have been absolutely disgusted with the way women are being labeled and talked about. When ANY one -- legislator or otherwise -- tries to qualify rape, they are saying that women aren't trustworthy. Perhaps some women lie about rape. Some people lie about their homes being broken into, but we we don't talk about "legitimate theft" and treat everyone who reports a burglary like a liar who was "asking" for someone to come in and steal their stuff. The stories of girls and women should always be followed up on. We MUST stop protecting criminals.

    I live in Missouri. I don't know what I'll do if Todd Akin is actually elected.