I’ve been reflecting a lot over the last few days about what I could offer to the firestorm of discussion and controversy about this statement:
Man after man has stepped up to respond to the controversy. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) defended Todd Akin while essentially claiming that pregnancy as a result of incest or statutory rape doesn’t exist because he’s never met someone affected by such a horrible act. Mitt Romney condemned the statement, as did Paul Ryan. Barack Obama waded in with the statement that “rape is rape.” Hannity, Limbaugh, Man after Man after Man…
My voice is not needed in this conversation. We’ve heard enough from the men. So this week’s post will be used to highlight some of the powerful statements from women on the controversy.
Dear Mr. Akin, I want you to imagine…
You used the expression “legitimate” rape as if to imply there were such a thing as “illegitimate” rape. Let me try to explain to you what that does to the minds, hearts and souls of the millions of women on this planet who experience rape. It is a form of re-rape. The underlying assumption of your statement is that women and their experiences are not to be trusted. That their understanding of rape must be qualified by some higher, wiser authority. It delegitimizes and undermines and belittles the horror, invasion, desecration they experienced. It makes them feel as alone and powerless as they did at the moment of rape.
When you, Paul Ryan and 225 of your fellow co-sponsors play with words around rape suggesting only “forcible” rape be treated seriously as if all rapes weren’t forcible, it brings back a flood of memories of the way the rapists played with us in the act of being raped — intimidating us, threatening us,muting us. Your playing with words like “forcible” and “legitimate” is playing with our souls which have been shattered by unwanted penises shoving into us, ripping our flesh, our vaginas, our consciousness, our confidence, our pride, our futures…
I am asking you and the GOP to get out of my body, out of my vagina, my womb, to get out of all of our bodies. These are not your decisions to make. These are not your words to define.
Why don’t you spend your time ending rape rather than redefining it? Spend your energy going after those perpetrators who so easily destroy women rather than parsing out manipulative language that minimizes their destruction.
PLEASE read Eve’s whole piece here. It’s absolutely incredible. However, it should come with a Trigger Warning: Strong description of rape contained in the piece.
Founder: Pretty Fiesty, Safe Dating Advocacy Programming
Most people, even some of our elected officials today, have no idea how prevalent sexual assault, rape, and incest actually are. If you’d like to get technical, look up some statistics; the stats alone speak for themselves. But to give you a more personal point of view, every single time I speak, I am approached by at least one survivor… Who, more than anything, is just grateful to be understood.
I have heard story after story after heartbreaking story, of how the crimes of sexual assault, rape, and incest, have torn innocent lives apart. And I assure you, each and every one of the crimes committed against those tear-filled faces was “legitimate”. Representatives, I have had the privilege and honor of sharing my story in 300 schools across the country, to hundreds of thousands of young people. My inbox is routinely filled with feedback from even MORE students, who were too shy to come up and talk in person.
Their notes are filled with the broken phrases of teens who are hurting, and desperately want to know that they will be okay, in a world filled with inappropriate rape messages and with leaders like yourself that cannot comprehend or acknowledge the severity of these crimes…
I know the likelihood that you will see and hear this message is slim… because you simply believe your comments were taken out of context, and this is not a reflection of the larger societal issue. Because you will do everything you can to make sure this ‘blows over’. Because you think all you did wrong was “get one word out of place”… But while you are doing that, and are busy backpedaling to save your career, the rest of us will continue working diligently to un-do the work you have done.
Todd Akin: One More Male Politician Clueless About Female Biology
Put aside for the moment the horrifying reality that Akin feels that some rapes are more “legitimate” than others. And let’s focus on the fact that so many men in positions of power over women’s health are so clueless about female biology.
Perhaps this is the result of decades of diluting sex education in schools? Have we created an entire generation of men that truly don’t know the basics? Yes, Mr. Akin has apologized, though his cluelessness persists. Did he really have to say his words were “ill-conceived“?
Yesterday President Obama had many women cheering when he said, “I think these comments… underscore… why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women.” I was one of those who cheered, and tweeted, his words.
But I think that needs to be refined a bit. I don’t mind some men being involved in decisions about my reproductive health. I very much want my husband’s thoughts, for instance, and I welcome the input of my doctors, male and female.
It’s not that men should not be allowed to pass laws about women — rather STUPID men should stay the heck away. Know your facts, please. Respect the reality that you can not fully inhabit my experience.
Only then are you entitled to an opinion.
Please read Lisa’s whole piece here.
And lastly because sometimes you just need to laugh to keep from crying:
Bria and Chrissy, “Lesbian Duo”
“Legitimate Rape” Parody Song
In all of this, though, let’s not forget that this isn’t the GOP’s first rodeo in redefining rape.