Over the past few weeks, Representative Todd Akin of Missouri has been the target of a full-fledged public hate-fest over a supposedly “unforgivable” series of remarks he made during an interview with a local FOX news station. The fashionable thing for anybody even remotely involved in politics was to disown the man, save for a few pro-life organizations and devout religionists who rallied to his cause. And, what precisely, made the collective beehive that is mainstream journalism and the Washington elites transform into beastly, fire-breathing, groupthink dragoons ready to snuff out anybody who would dare pounce to the beleaguered congressman’s defense?
If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. If pregnancy does occur, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment should be on the rapist, and not attacking the child.
Taken at face value, this is crazy talk. How could any person who isn’t a cold, calculating tin-man justify sexual assault of any sort as “legitimate?” Was he really taking his cues from stone-age patriarchs of yore who blamed the victim for enticing her assailant?
If the talking heads and pundits who rushed to condemn Akin to the pits of Hell actually took the time to chew this quote over, maybe they would realize how insanely unreasonable it is to paint this family man, God-fearing Christian, and humble Flanders archetype as some kind of sadistic, woman-hating monster. To automatically assume that Akin – whose pastors, ministers, neighbors, and friends describe him as one of the most sincere, warmhearted individuals to ever grace the face of the earth – as some knuckle-dragging swine unfit for political office is more absurd than the phrase “legitimate rape,” clipped and edited for maximum “shock” value, could ever be.
Yes, Folks, There Is A Difference Between – Gasp! – “Legitimate” and “Illegitimate” Rapes
Akin, of course, was not dismissing any act of genuine, authentic rape as “legitimate.” His choice of words may have been awkward (if not slightly off-putting), but everyone knew what he meant – even if they didn’t want to acknowledge it out in the open, for fear of having daggers pierced through their hearts by the self-professed bounty hunters who lurk among the pages of the New York Times, the airwaves of NPR, and the bipartisan political vulture nest that the modern Democratic and Republican party embody today.
Our pal Todd was merely drawing a very understandable distinction between legitimate claims of rape and illegitimate ones. Even that is too hard for some people to swallow. For the “grrrl” power academics and man-bashing PC armadas of the world, a female could never, ever possibly lie about being raped, and anybody who would suggest such a thing must have a deep-seated, seething resentment of the “fairer” sex (a phrase, by the way, that is sexist in and of itself).
What Todd Akin was saying, although he may not have been as straightforward and clear about the meaning of his linguistic acrobatics as he could have been, is that there is a difference between, say, someone who is either pinned down to the bedsheets and has their private parts maliciously torn to shreds, someone who does unequivocally say “no” but caves in because they are threatened or blackmailed by their assaulter, and, on the other hand, someone who gets wasted at some frat party, enthusiastically gets under the covers with some adorable hunk she’s been eyeing up from head to toe the entire evening, wakes up in the morning, and says to herself, “What the hell was I thinking?” … then cries rape because she regrets doing the deed with that person. (If he or she was passed out cold and had someone help themselves to his or her unconscious body, that’s a different story, of course. Or if he or she wasn’t compliant and never gave consent in the first place, that can also be classified as a “legitimate” rape.)
There are also other variations of “illegitimate” rape claims as well. Say the pregnancy test turns up positive, and she had been sleeping behind her boyfriend’s back during the moment of conception. When he confronts her about her despicable act of infidelity, she then may say, “Sweetie, it wasn’t what you think. I never said yes to him. He forced me to have sex against my will.” That way, he’ll think it was involuntary and nonconsensual, and she won’t have to deal with being given a one-way ticket to Splitsville. (Talk about giving genuine victims of rape a bad wrap, especially those who really were raped while dating somebody else on the side.) Then, of course, there are the “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” types (another dangerously sexist cliché endlessly repeated on Facebook statuses the nation over) that, seeking their sweet revenge on some guy who did them wrong, lie about him raping her just to soil his reputation, rather than taking the high road and moving on with her life. I could rattle off a list of other real-life examples, but for the sake of space, I leave it to the readers to use their imagination (if their brain cells haven’t been completely fried by “American Idol” or “The Talk” yet).
Akin even clarified that he was referring to false rape accusations in a follow-up interview with Mike Huckabee, who, though wrong on a rather extensive patchwork of important issues (in my opinion anyway), has been on a roll lately with his sterling defense of wounded Christian warriors on the political battlefield. This man is the reason so many people lined up outside of Chick Fil-A to show their support when the intolerant zealots on the Homosexual Left practically called for CEO Dan Cathy’s head.
Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The left-wing blogosphere flipped their lids over Akins’s modified version of the “legitimate rape” flap as well, expressing righteous indignation at the very suggestion that even a tiny handful of women could be lying about something as disheartening and tragic as the sexual violation of an innocent victim.
In Before Someone Screams Rape Apologist…
No one – and I mean no one – is saying that the vast majority of people who file rape charges are dishonest shysters with ulterior motives. Neither are they saying that sexual assault is something anybody could possibly deserve or have coming. Rape victims from all walks of life deserve nothing less than our deepest sympathies. In most cases, we should at least give those who seek refuge in victims’ shelters the benefit of the doubt, listening intently to their tales of despair and doing our very best to heal their aching wounds. We can’t turn our back on people whose spiritual scars run so deep. We need to let them know that there are decent human beings out there who feel their pain and want to make things right again.
But that doesn’t mean false accusations are a non-issue, and that those who are victimized by it deserve any less attention. As much as the “hear me roar” lionesses want to sweep it under the rug, false rape claims are more than just another inconvenience in our flawed legal system. They literally ruin lives and bring innocent young men to the brink of suicide. In this tipsy-turvy, upside-down world of ours, a rape accusers’ dignity is considered untouchable and sacrosanct, his or her name left unpublished in the paper and his or her anonymity protected by the full power vested in the U.S. Government – while the name of the accused, even if he or she has yet to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, is allowed to be mentioned everywhere at all times.
This grave injustice leaves those exonerated of the crimes they never committed to fend for themselves – enduring the onslaught of their peers, having the doors of universities and employers slammed in their face, unable to find a crying shoulder in their hour of need, and shunned by virtually the entire world – all because our courts, and culture for that matter, operate on the assumption that anybody accused of rape is guilty until proven innocent. Several decades from now, this systematic mistreatment of the falsely accused will go down in our textbooks as one of the blackest stains in American history – as the Jim Crow of our era.
Not only do false rape accusations harm those who haven’t laid the slightest finger on anybody, but they also drag genuine rape victims down with them. When enough people cry wolf and later recant their spurious allegations, either because their conscience gets the best of them or because the so-called “evidence” doesn’t add up (they know their odds of winning the case are stacked against them), it gives people the impression that women (or even men) who seek help after having been mercilessly raped can’t possibly be trusted. Why, she must be an attention whore trying to win sympathy for some contrived event that never happened. Why, maybe she’s trying to get back at her boyfriend for not getting her the stereo set she wanted for Christmas. It fosters the attitude that we need to constantly second-guess possible rape victims, maybe even calling their bluff before knowing all the facts.
Not only that, but law enforcement officials and judges are sidetracked by liars trying to game the system, when they could be helping real rape victims get the justice they deserve – you know, the folks who are telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Crisis centers, victims’ shelters, and mental health professionals are also sucked into the charade, and resources are squandered on the wrong people. So even anti-sexual assault victims need to organize and fight these injustices if they wish to change the world we live in for the better.
Psychological Trauma Makes Pregnancy Less Likely. Imagine That.
Unfortunately, Todd Akins’s “legitimate rape” faux pas wasn’t the only thing that got the unthinking masses’ panties in a bunch. It was also his confident assertion that pregnancies in the case of rape are an abnormality – “rare” as he put it – and that the body, after a traumatic incident like rape, is less likely to carry the baby to term. One, of course, can disagree with this scientific argument without concluding that Akin must be some kind of misogynistic wife-beater for even daring to utter it. Unfortunately, though, everyone from the flaming left-wing Jacobins at the Daily Kos to libertarian standard-bearer Judge Andrew Napolitano, raked Akin over the coals for the remark, saying that such an opinion positively, absolutely has no place in political discourse, and implying that anybody who thinks there might be some truth to it should be locked away in a high-security, military-guarded lunatic asylum somewhere.
Even the self-proclaimed “pro-lifers” in the Republican Party tried to lump Todd Akin in with the most repulsive, reprehensible human beings on the face of the earth for this alleged “transgression.” The side-splitting irony in all of this is, well … the first National Right to Life president ever, a physician and medical expert in his own respect, was the “wretched” mastermind behind this supposed “backwards” theory. “Why, anti-abortionists need to disavow this craziness once and for all for the sake of our cause!” I guess they should forever swear off one of the movement’s founders, too, right? Way to throw a true-blue, fervent defender of life under the bus, you spineless, election-obsessed twits.
Dr. John Willke published a paper a great many years ago advancing a rather controversial, but nevertheless scientifically plausible, thesis that a rape victim’s body has naturally built-in defenses against unwanted pregnancy (or as Akin described it, “ways to shut that whole thing down”). Without even taking a look at the numbers and statistics that Willke crunched together, the political Establishment’s breathless retort was almost instantaneous: “What!? When a sperm and an egg meet, it doesn’t matter what is going through the mother’s head at the moment! Her body reacts to the fertilization process and – poof! – there’s a flesh-and blood human specimen (or “clump of cells” as the pro-baby killing forces would have you believe) growing inside her belly.”
In case you think it’s far-fetched that emotional trauma could mess up a pregnancy, even the Mayo Clinic, a reputable agency whose indispensable online library of medical information is read and cited worldwide, will admit that stress releases hormones that make it harder for the body to carry out many of its proper functions. It screws up your digestive tract, raises your blood pressure, makes your heart rate soar, weakens your immune system and – get this – has reproductive ramifications. In other words, a ravaged spirit and a broken heart make it harder to a) conceive and b) successfully complete a pregnancy. What a startling, unfounded revelation. Who are these radicals at the Mayo Clinic, and what’s their agenda? Damn ideologically blinded witch-doctors! To the dungeon with them!
Willke merely elaborates on these medically uncontested series of pure, unadulterated facts. In a sense, you could say, as he puts it, that the results – and odds – of a successful pregnancy are largely determined by hormones that swing from one extreme to the next depending on a person’s, well … emotions. Is it really so unthinkable that cortisol, a byproduct of depression and mental instability, could make ovulation, fertilization, and everything else related to the reproductive process that much less likely?
Neither Willke nor Akin are saying that rape victims can never become pregnant under any circumstances whatsoever. But, whether you agree with their reasoning or not, they’re merely suggesting that it’s not completely inconceivable that emotional distress and severe psychological trauma could render one’s reproductive system unable to function as nature intended.
A Refutation to the Refutations
The corporate, dinosaur media networks, of course, went into overdrive and tried to throw a wrench into this supposedly “absurd,” “right-wing fundie” “propaganda paper” once and for all. Frantically, they pulled out a series of documents from the political file cabinet (which is apparently stuffed with ammunition that can be used against anybody, at any moment, who dare dissents from the Officially Established Opinion™ of the politically approved, taxpayer-funded scientific intelligentsia), namely the Holmes study – which supposedly “refutes,” root and branch, the notion that rape pregnancies are not exactly as common as the sun shining down upon the earth every morning at the crack of dawn. According to this study, which you’ll find in virtually every article discussing the merits of Akins’s claims, gynecologists and physicians, in collaboration with government researchers, found that over 32,000 rape pregnancies occur each year.
A blogger at American Vision, however, raises some very pertinent objections to the credibility of the Holmes study’s methodology. The so-called “findings” are mostly based on pure anecdotal testimony gathered from ringing anonymous strangers at random and running with whatever answers the survey-takers received from there. There is almost no scientific, legal, or medical foundation for any of it, as American Vision notes. And in case you don’t trust pro-lifers to get their facts straight (seeing as ideologues, even if principled, are often blinded by the sheer conviction of their moral and philosophical underpinnings), it was a peer reviewer – whose evaluations were practically paper-clipped to the original paper – that first raised an eyebrow to the way the research was conducted.
The reviewer notes that the lines are often blurred for a pregnant mother when she engaged in intercourse with multiple men, most of whom sought her consent, but perhaps one or two who sunk to the low level of indulging in their sexual fantasies with her screaming and wailing all the way. In other words, we don’t know who the father of the baby is. Maybe she had been molested near the moment of conception, but we don’t know if the sperm that fertilized her egg was that of the rapist. It could have been her boyfriend, it could have been her assaulter, or it could have been any number of males, given that she slept with more than one person during that timeframe.
There have been documented cases where a woman thought the rapist was, indeed, her baby daddy, but paternity tests showed it was someone (not her rapist) who hadn’t coerced her into anything. It’s also not unfathomable that, in some cases, a boyfriend or husband who was the rapist sometimes sought consent and sometimes didn’t. In those cases, it’s hard to conclude whether the baby growing inside the womb is a result of rape or voluntary intercourse. This is not to diminish the sheer agony one might suffer from having to carry an assaulter’s offspring, but it does make it difficult to trace what led up to the creation of that infant.
Willke’s paper, on the other hand, is based on the cold hard math, and complex calculations derived from those numbers. From his perspective, if you take into account the number of women who use birth control pills, the chances of miscarriage, the number of people who are sterile or unable to bear children, the days out of any given month when conception is usually most likely to occur, the likelihood of “seed planting” during the act of defilement, and a number of other variables, only about 500 pregnancies result from rape each year, a very small fraction of the recorded number of annual pregnancies. I don’t know about you, but my gut trusts head-oriented logistical research over science-by-anecdote.
Look Over There … A Republican Who Actually Believes In Something! Get Him!
Joining the wine-sipping, redneck-hating elitists at the New York Times and Slate Magazine, the so-called “conservatives” in the GOP Establishment, along with the Murdoch-controlled political pundits on FOX News and HotAir, nearly pecked Akins’s face out like the cult-minded flock of crows they are. The National Republican Senatorial Committee withdrew every last red cent of campaign money they were betting on Todd Akins’s victory in his Missouri Senate bid against the devious political, bait-and-switch maneuver Claire McCaskill, as did Karl (aka “Darth”) Rove and his bloodthirsty, imperialist cronies at Cross Roads GPS – the latter threatening to “kill” Akin, then claiming it was all in good jest.
Sean Hannity unsuccessfully tried to whip Akin into line on his syndicated television program, urging him to drop out of the race for the good of his levelheaded moderate overlords at GOP Headquarters. Ann Coulter went into one of her trademark hysterical hissy fits and insisted she would “hate” Akin if he didn’t cave into the demands of the Cantor Bunch in Washington D.C. The RNC itself effectively gave the whole “you are no longer part of our family” schpeel, and Scott Brown – whose true calling should be, in my humble opinion, the Playgirl swimsuit calendar, not the United States Senate – joined the chorus of right-wingers who took the supposed “high ground” and denounced Akins’s “junk science” in no uncertain terms. Truth be told, these people want to “elevate” themselves above partisan politics just to appease the “Why won’t those stubborn-minded congressmen just compromiseeeeee!?” crowd and making total jackasses out of themselves in the process.
After all, Akin has received perfect or near-perfect “conservative” ratings from most of the leading right-wing, Beltway think-tanks, as well as some pretty high marks on his defense of the unborn. Is a one-time, one-sentence misstatement more important than where Akin has stood in the face of rigorous political pressures to do the “expedient” thing rather than vote his conscience? Really?
Two Stark Pro-Choice “Visions” for the Country
Romney and Ryan’s reaction to this mess, however, is the real icing on the proverbial shit-cake. It wasn’t enough that Imitation Ron Paul (who could never live up to the real thing, by the way) dialed Akins’s number and personally “asked him” to crawl back into the cross-bearing, Jesus-worshipping hole from whence he came. Romney, the titular head of the modern GOP himself, righteously screeched that Akins’s comments were “inexcusable” and “wrong.” But that’s not all. A spokesman for the campaign went so far as to emphasize that a Romney-Ryan administration couldn’t possibly gripe against mutilating babies while in office, as long as that baby was conceived by a rapist.
Oh, hell naw. You can’t claim to be a champion of the unborn and, at the same time, make exceptions for legalized abortion in the case of rape. What did the baby ever do to deserve being practically knifed, severed, and dissected alive? The baby didn’t rape anybody. As Judge Napolitano puts it, killing an innocent human being for the crimes of his or her father is right out the Third Reich’s playbook. Only a totalitarian state could allow for such merciless slaughtering on that basis. The child’s only crime was having a dirtbag father who violated the mother’s sexual integrity. The mother deserves all the tender love and care she can get, but butchering a helpless child doesn’t erase what happened to her. Most rape victims who do end up carrying their assailant’s child realize this, which is why most of them are pro-life to the core. Their number one grievance isn’t that the progeny of their rapist is growing inside their uterus. It’s that they are turned away and not given the spiritual guidance they need to enter parenthood like everybody else – all because the child wasn’t conceived the way normal children are. It is our uncompassionate, unfeeling society that is the problem, not the child who did absolutely nothing to deserve our wrath!
Male victims of rape still have to pony up child support payments to the rapist, even if they choose not to bring that child under their custodianship. The courts often rule that this in the “best interest of the child.” Let’s see David Furtrelle and his man-bashing harpies sound off on that.
Peter Schiff, by no means the most pro-life guy on the block, raises some practical issues with the whole “it’s okay to kill a baby if it’s a byproduct of rape” stance that the pro-life-in-name-only crowd take. If you really believe that the baby is a flesh-and-blood human being from the moment of conception, why does it matter how that person came into being? I mean, I can’t pump my kid with lead after the doctor cuts off the umbilical cord, even if that child has the rapists’ DNA in it. And think of the bad incentives this creates for expectant mothers who want to murder their children! Any girl could just walk through the door of Planned Parenthood, turn on the waterworks, and claim to be have been raped, even if it’s just a complete fabrication made up on the spot.
I mean, you can’t place a requirement into a rape “exemption” provision of an abortion ban saying that there has to be documented evidence, filed by courts and the local police station, substantiating your allegations. As he puts it, you can’t wait around for a judge to make a ruling in your favor, as there’s only nine months before the child is born. All you can do is ask people if they were raped, and take their word for it. Can you imagine the explosion in false rape accusations that would occur as a result? And who would be harmed by it? We’ve been through this before: innocent do-gooders and genuine rape victims whose testimony is questioned before she (or he) gets so much as a millisecond to speak.
Todd Akin vs. the Death Merchants
The only word to describe Todd Akins’s backstabbing former “allies” on the Political Right is traitors. Not only have they betrayed a man whose overall donations far exceed his previously assumed “fairy tale” pledge requests, but they’ve also effectively abandoned the genuinely pro-life position – that an unborn child doesn’t deserve anything less than the full protection of the law just because of his or her developmental stage, appearance, or inconvenience to the lives of the parents. They’ve done all this in favor of some politically expedient concessions to the baby-killing crowd in the so-called “tough” cases. Akin did the honorable thing and refused to compromise on his most fundamental moral convictions, and for that, he should be commended, not viciously ostracized by those who claim to care about this issue. A real statesman stands up for what he believes in, even if he has to thumb his nose at the mob and risk alienating the all-powerful American Politburo – the two major political parties whose only distinguishing mark is their rhetorical stage performance, not substance.
Akin was right. Cold-blooded murder by any other name is still murder. Anybody who rationalizes it away just for the sake of winning an election can forget ever calling themselves a “conservative,” let alone a God-fearing Christian. Shame on the GOP, shame on the presidential hopefuls, shame on the “pro-choice movement,” and shame on America for their thoughtless political blitzkrieg against one of the most righteous men who ever lived.