Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why the Concept of "Legitimate Rape" is Evil and Todd Akin is a Bad Man

Todd Akin.  I did not know this man until he slipped up and spoke his mind on the topic of rape.  If you don't know who Todd is, well, let me help you out.  In an interview on August 20, 2012, he communicated his belief in the fallacious concept of "legitimate rape".  Here is a link to a video of the comments.

“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. 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.” [Emphasis mine]
Now, most reasonable people would probably perk up and say something along the lines of "WHAT  did he just say?"  However, he does a good job of adding in some language that may cause a pro-life person to let it slide.

But what he is saying is that in the case of a legitimate rape, a woman should be physically incapable of getting pregnant.  The concept of legitimate rape was advanced by some scholars...in the 13th century.

Now, you may think that sounds crazy, and I would agree with you.  But let's keep thinking about it and see where this goes.  Let's do some quasi-Socratic discourse here.

Why would you argue that a woman cannot get pregnant from rape?

Well, in this case, it's pretty obvious.  The discussion was around the candidate's views on abortion and if there should be an exception for rape, an exception that even many religious, conservative voters think is acceptable.  There has been a strong push among the staunch pro-life members of the GOP to create a constitutional mandate completely outlawing abortions.

In the discussions around how to refine the platform, the topic of exceptions is a common point of contention.  Two key exceptions have a great deal of support - 1) an exception to save the life of the mother and 2) an exception in the case of rape.

No matter how well you can craft a speech, it's pretty hard to convince someone that forcing a woman to risk death to have a child is not reasonable.  So, they may be stuck with that one.

However, if you embrace the 13th century concept of "legitimate rape" being unable to result in conception, then you can conveniently dismiss women seeking abortions for rape and you are one step closer to completely banning them altogether.

Consequence 1: If one accepts that a woman cannot get pregnant from a (legitimate) rape, then one can more easily justify foregoing an exception for abortions in the case of rape, under the presumption that, since rape cannot get one pregnant, all pregnancies must be from consensual sex.

Is it reasonable? Nope.

Does the data support it? Nope.

Does common sense support it?  Nope.

But it is mighty convenient if you want to ban abortions for rape victims and feel good about it.

However, the concept of "legitimate rape" is not new.  It apparently dates back to the 13th century.  I am pretty sure there was no Planned Parenthood back then, so why did they propagate this lie back then?  Well...it disenfranchises women in a big way.

Consequence 2: It gives rapists a "get out of jail free" card because if a rape victim gets pregnant, then, by their logic, it could not have been rape, i.e., if a rape victim gets pregnant, then she must have been lying about being raped.

That is a misogynistic and evil outcome, especially when you consider that, in the times when this concept was first formally advanced, women were often second-class citizens.  It's a sad, tragic thing to even ponder.

So, why do I say Todd Akin is a bad man?

Look, he very clearly advocated this "legitimate rape" belief.  He's old enough to know better, but it supports his political agenda, so he propagates it anyway.

When he was called out for it, he tried to pretend it was a matter of "mispeaking".  This is indicative of someone that actually does not understand why what he said was wrong.  He thinks we are getting bent out of shape because he said "legitimate".  He does not understand that he is 1) communicating a ridiculously incorrect idea of female biology and 2) effectively condemning women that get pregnant from rape as liars.

If this was some idiot sitting on his porch, spewing vitriol, it would still bug me, but it would bug me less.  Unfortunately, propagating ignorance is not a crime.

So why isn't Todd just an idiot?  Why is he bad?  Because he is in a job where he is dutybound to know better, especially if he is going to make laws based upon the idea.

When Todd Akin made those remarks, he was running for US Senate and had already served in the US Congress.  Our representatives are supposed to 1) represent the best interests of their constituents and 2) act as trustees when issues require more than the opinions of their representatives (e.g., a complex policy issues that defy sound bite discussions).

They make the laws of the USA.  They must be held to a higher standard.

The concept of legitimate rape is evil.  People who propagate it should not be given positions of power.