So if you haven’t been around the internet lately, Todd Akin is running for the US Senate in Missouri and like many before him he decided to dip his toe in the deep end and try to justify banning abortion outright, even in cases of Rape. What’s staggering about his world view is that he’s had to lie to himself so much to fit into a cosy, easy philosophy. Because it’s easy to be anti abortion. It’s really goddamn easy. It’s really easy to believe that only women who really want to be pregnant, who have the means to have a child are the ones who get pregnant. It’s really easy to believe that even when a pregnancy is unexpected or not quite wanted that the woman will find the STRENGTH inside to just battle through and have her baby and everything will be happy. It’s really easy to say that when you’ve been legitimately raped you’re unlikely to get pregnant because somehow your body will magically shut down it’s processes, because of course no child would ever be made under circumstances so horrible, would they?
The problem is the world isn’t simple and shit is really complicated but one thing people seem really keen on making even more complicated is our definition and treatment of rape. Guys, as a culture we are so fucked up about rape, seriously. Can we get this sorted out? No more of this ‘Forcible rape’ bullshit- This wording was nearly included in abortion legislation. Many people asked at the time ‘What kind of rape ISN’T forcible?’ but I can decipher what that wording meant. It means a rape that was violent and was resisted. It wasn’t a ‘she’s really drunk so she was asking for it rape.’ The ‘Legitimate rape’ comments are of the same flavor; it’s a concentrated effort to hem in and constrict what we consider to be rape. Rape is a really strong, striking word. It churns up the most violating, terrible images whatever context it’s used it. That’s why it’s so fucking important as a word.
You can’t go splitting hairs on this. You can’t say to somebody that their rape was illegitimate because she was drunk, or she was wearing the wrong clothes or she was being a tease. I can only imagine this is what Akin was on about when he made the distinction. I don’t like living in a world where I’m sternly told to look after myself when I go out, not to drink too much and to dress modestly- I’m not told to watch my drinking because that’s healthy, I’m told it with deep concern because every woman has to be on her guard. You can’t be seen to have had any reason to ‘provoke’ your rapist. We in the western world gape in horror at the rape laws in hardline Islamic states but much the same thing happens here on an unconscious, internalized basis. Rape and sexual assault shouldn’t be a feature of modern life that women need to actively take steps to avoid.
I’m not even going into the abortion side of this farce- Really, it’s the comments about rape that are telling. It’s nothing new from the far right on their abortion policy- They will always try and justify an outright ban on abortive procedures. It’s the moronic and blatantly untrue statement from Akin about rape that is the most damaging here. There isn’t a magical safeguard against rape built into women. Women have been raped for centuries- In marriage, by relatives, by strangers- and there have always been pregnancies resulting from it. The difference now is that we are becoming a kinder, less hard world- We don’t allow women to be claimed as property of their husband anymore, and we absolutely abhor any invasion of a person’s body. The world isn’t always magical and sometimes awful things happen and you can’t just brush that aside when you’re drawing up legislation for somebody’s reproductive freedom, or lack thereof.
Niamh ‘My uterus does not have a fail safe clause’ Keoghan