To write this post, I watched the original video clip of U.S. congressman Todd Akin making an utter fool of himself on the subject of rape way too many times. The very first time I saw it, days before the resulting international furor, my mouth dropped open. Now, well, my head’s just gonna explode.
Answering a question about whether he’d support abortions for rape victims, this Republican senatorial candidate from Missouri implied that rape victims have little chance of becoming pregnant.
“It seems to me first of all from what I understand from doctors that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Mr. Akin said.
How many women stopped listening after “if it’s a legitimate rape”? Please tell me – what’s an illegitimate rape? Using an object instead of a penis? Who are the “doctors” he’s supposedly learning this stuff from? Even children visiting KidsHealth.org know more about the female reproductive system. The pushback he’s getting isn’t about abortion per se; it’s about inaccuracy and myth.
Congressman Akin went on to say that he’d prefer a punishment for rape that focuses on the rapist and not “attacking the child.” At any spot in this man’s brain, is there consideration for how his ideas might re-attack the victim?
His opponent, Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, is seeking a second term. I wonder if she already knew her competition was certifiably stupid. “It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape,” Ms. McCaskill said.
Now, the entire GOP is demanding Mr. Akin remove himself from the race, although he’s been tied with her in the polls. The party was already having trouble with women voters. Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s effort to undercut an exemption from the ban on using federal money for abortion in cases of rape doesn’t help matters, as he chose to limit the exemption to cases of “forcible rape.” That’s as redundant as a “true fact”.
Regardless of whether Mr. Akin drops out or not, this entire episode only makes me wonder, how many other people, men and women, are so stunningly ill-informed on the subject of rape?
Let’s start with understanding that at no time can a woman simply look down at her abdomen and command it to nip an unwanted pregnancy in the bud. Miscarriages are not self-selected, as illustrated by this stat from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
“More than 32,000 pregnancies result from rape every year in America.”
Just a few minutes searching online reveals dozens of sites listing common stereotypes and misperceptions about rape, rapists and rape victims. Many are posted on collegiate websites to load up both female and male students with facts, not BS.
I wanted to find just one site where others might share Mr. Akin’s sentiments, but after a while, I gave up. That’s why this is such a big news story: Who the heck thinks that when it comes to conception, women can actually “shut that whole thing down”? Do people still believe these old myths?
- She didn’t struggle, so she wasn’t raped. (Gee, perhaps she was terrified.)
- Men can’t be raped. A woman can’t rape another woman. A husband can’t rape his wife. (Yes, they can. Yes, they can. Yes. They. Can.)
- Women who dress sexy are more likely to be raped. (Kardashians, Ke$ha and hootchie-mammas in your hometown prove this is so not true.)
- More than half of all rapes happen on a date or by someone known to the victim. (I learned this one the hard way years ago. I escaped, but just barely. My rape crisis counselor explained that parties are notorious for this because people assume what’s happening is consensual.)
- Women are always crying “rape” just to get back at a guy. (Men have believed this for generations. A lie is the only “illegitimate rape” there is.)
Truth: Across America, false reports account for less than 10% of all reported rapes. More people lie about their car being stolen. In reality, the majority of rapes are never reported because women don’t think they’ll be believed, or they’ll be negatively judged and slandered. By people like Congressman Todd Akin.