Monday, August 20, 2012

Legitimate rape

Legitimate rape (noun): 1. The Republican-confirmed act of a large, burly, often dark-skinned or poor (or both) male dragging a virginal, screaming, helpless female into a dark alley, holding her down, and having vaginal intercourse with her against her will; an act from which no unwanted baby results, so long as she is properly traumatized, was not “asking for it” and prays diligently to Jesus. 2. A travesty; like a Republican getting elected. 3. Something extremely rare, like a Republican with common sense.

Aside from the obvious problems with Todd Akin’s idea that women have some magical mechanism that prevents them from getting pregnant during cases of legitimate rape (1. It’s wrong, 2. It’s ignorant, and 3. Yeah, still wrong), the idea is part of a larger, hate-filled agenda targeted at marginalizing not only women but people in same-sex relationships as well.

Adding a qualifier to rape shifts the burden of proof to the victim; if there is legitimate rape, there must also be non-legitimate rape. If a woman was raped, but didn’t get pregnant, she must have been asking for it, or have subconsciously wanted it. It’s slut-shaming taken to an extreme, to assume a woman is always a sexual object, and therefore must justify any situation in which she did not want to be used as such.

This kind of hateful rhetoric only serves to codify and reinforce the idea that women are sexual, devious, and senseless beings, intent on causing harm to men. Rather than focusing on shifting the blame to a society that teaches men that it’s okay to sexualize and fetishize women, and to see women as an object rather than a person, it blames women for being that object of the male gaze. It reinforces the idea that most women are liars, faking rapes left and right just to … what? Damage some guy’s career? Salve their own bruised egos if a man doesn’t call them the next day? The man is innocent until proven guilty, but the woman is guilty until proven innocent.

In cases of male rape, by a woman or another man (3 percent of adult males, 5 percent of male children, and much higher within the prison population) (Coxell, King, Mezey, and Gordon, 1999) or woman on woman rape, pregnancy (of the victim) cannot result, so the rape must not be legitimate. Like the Republican version of the Violence Against Women Act, which protects only certain women (straight, non-Hispanic and non-Native American, primarily), this idea of legitimate rape encompasses only certain victims – the Republican-approved kind.

In a half-assed apology attempt, Akin says he misspoke, but he was simply parroting extremist right-wing views; views that are sadly becoming more acceptably mainstream. Good Christian girls don’t get raped because they know better, they dress appropriately and Jesus protects them; if you were more like them, you wouldn’t get raped either.

The very tenet of most religion is that morality and worth comes from being a member of that religion. Even if the religion preaches tolerance or love for others, it still creates the dichotomy of the other – the outsider who is not quite as good, or quite as deserving.

This current iteration of Republicans doesn’t care for equality; they openly campaign for a return to morality – specifically the superiority of their own twisted morality.

Mr. Akin, there is currently a legitimate rape taking place – the rape of American values such as equality and tolerance and progress – at the hands of the evangelical right who seeks to seize control of this country and govern by divine mandate. And this is one victim we need to save. 

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