In a “What the actual fuck?!” moment yesterday (possibly the leading WTF? moment of the year), Rep. Todd Akin (conservative Republican, of course) said:
“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” said Akin said of pregnancy caused by rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist.”
First off, “a legitimate rape”? As opposed to an illegitimate one? And what the hell kind of distinction is that?
Second, the notion that a woman’s body has some magical way of preventing a rapists sperm from swimming to her ovum is completely nuts.
Third, Akin was simply spouting the anti-choice, women controlling slut shaming party line.
The myth that “real” rapes don’t result in pregnancy is widespread among anti-choicers—and not just the fringe (Akin, for instance, used to be on the board of Missouri Right to Life). You can see a variation of this myth at the anti-choice website Abortion Facts:
To get pregnant and stay pregnant, a woman’s body must produce a very sophisticated mix of hormones. Hormone production is controlled by a part of the brain which is easily influenced by emotions. There’s no greater emotional trauma that can be experienced by a woman than an assault rape. This can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy.
As Marcotte explains:
Akin’s comment should serve as a reminder that despite its sentimentality surrounding the fetus, the anti-choice movement is motivated by misogyny and ignorance about human sexuality. In this case, what underlies the rape-doesn’t-get-you-pregnant myth is the notion that sex is shameful and that slutty women will do anything—even send an innocent man to jail to kill a baby—in order to avoid facing the consequences of their actions.
Kaili Joy Gray at DKos:
Yes, Rep. Todd Akin is the latest Republican to explain how rape just ain’t no thang, but he’s not the first. In fact, he joins a long and proud tradition of the Republican Party explaining why women who are raped are probably lying, are making much ado about nothing, and should learn to enjoy and appreciate the plus side of being raped.
Gray then offers a series of quotes from Republicans such Rick Santorum:
As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child. [...] I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you.As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life. We have horrible things happen. I can’t think of anything more horrible. But, nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation.
Akin’s statement is completely nuts, shows no knowledge of biology, and attributes magical powers to ladyparts . Santorum’s statement is equally an expression of the party line. “Oh it’s so awful but there’s a special magical gift – you get to have your rapist’s innocent baby to comfort you.” I find it offensive and dress it up in religious cant all you want, it’s still offensive. It’s about colonizing women’s bodies in the name of an abstract deity who commands suffering and it has nothing to do with the Christianity of the Gospels.