The Republican rape problem

Just a friendly reminder that Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment was not actually an isolated gaffe. We’ve got Paul Ryan thinking that rape is just another “method of conception;” this yahoo out of Pennsylvania who thinks having your daughter get pregnant out of wedlock is about as upsetting as finding out your daughter was raped; Mona Charen defending Akin because the human body is, like, so weird you guys; actual GOP bills attempting to re-define rape as only including “forcible” assaults; actual elected GOP officials defining rape as something that only happens to “chaste women” by “some party not her spouse;” and several Republican and pro-life leaders being clear that rape only happens to sluts / rape is a gift / rape can’t result in pregnancy because “secretions” / rape can’t result in pregnancy because “the juices don’t flow” / rape can’t result in pregnancy because pregnancy requires “cooperation.”

But yeah sure, Akin was just a guy who phrased things poorly, and there’s no reason to believe that the GOP as a whole is packed to the brim with misogynists who have some serious issues when it comes to women and control and sexual violence. I’ll point out, as an aside, that Romney’s “abortion is ok in the case of rape” stance isn’t really any better than the Santorum-style “rape victims should see pregnancy as a gift.” Making a rape exception for abortion makes it pretty clear that you view anti-abortion laws as methods to punish “bad” women — if you had sex for pleasure and not procreation, and you got pregnant, you’re a Bad Lady who should be punished by being legally compelled to undergo ten months of pregnancy against your will. But if you were raped, and the experience was therefore traumatic and not done according to your own free will and definitely was not fun, then it’s ok for you to have an abortion because you shouldn’t be punished with a pregnancy, since you didn’t do the Bad Thing of wanting/liking the sex without being willing to have a baby.

Misogyny: a party-wide and movement-wide problem for the GOP, for pro-lifers and for social conservatives.

Hmmmm. It’s almost like someone should write a book about this.

27 comments for “The Republican rape problem

  1. jemima101
    August 27, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Also those who deny that woman can orgasm during rape, leading to further trauma for the victim.

  2. August 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    There’s a new one! A GOP pol in Pennsylvania just said that his daughter’s unplanned and unwed pregnancy was “similar” to rape. (Unspoken: You know, because someone invaded his “property” without consent.)

  3. FashionablyEvil
    August 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    SMITH: I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to.. she chose they way I thought. No don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.

    SCOLFORO: Similar how?

    SMITH: Uh, having a baby out of wedlock.

    SCOLFORO: That’s similar to rape?

    SMITH: No, no, no, but… put yourself in a father’s situation, yes. It is similar.

    I was going to write *headdesk* but this is so much worse than that. Good grief.

  4. August 27, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    SMITH: No, no, no, but… put yourself in a father’s situation, yes. It is similar.

    More like the implicit presumption that you own your daughter’s body. Sick fuck.

    • EG
      August 27, 2012 at 6:21 pm

      Right? I’m pretty sure my father would kneecap anyone who raped me or tried to (God forbid). I don’t think he’d feel any urge to do that to someone who’d had sex with me that resulted in an unplanned pregnancy.

  5. Houle
    August 27, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Making a rape exception for abortion makes it pretty clear that you view anti-abortion laws as methods to punish “bad” women

    I agree with about 90% of your post, Jill, but this line is wildly unfair. There are plenty of other justifications for a rape exception revolving around consent, negligence, assumption of risk, creation of risk, duty to rescue, and other well-established legal/moral theories.

    For instance: “If you willfully act in a manner that foreseeably results in a situation involving a risk of harm to a third party, you are responsible for any such harm that occurs, and you have a duty to act to mitigate or prevent such harm. Consensual sex is a willful act foreseeably resulting in pregnancy which involves a risk to the unborn child resulting therefrom. You therefore have a duty to prevent harm to that unborn child. Non-consensual sex, however, is not a willful act, and therefore no such duty arises.”

    You can disagree with that argument on a variety of points (not least on the question of whether and/or when the fetus constitutes a person to whom a duty may be owed), but it’s simply disingenuous to pretend that no such argument exists and that a rape exception thus necessarily reveals a misogynistic basis for the underlying anti-abortion law.

    • Kristen J.
      August 27, 2012 at 10:54 pm

      No. In no other instance does the law require you to mitigate harm in violation of your own bodily autonomy. You may be required to pay money damages, but under no theory of law is someone liable to *give up a part of their body* in order to mitigate harm. This is a bullshit argument.

      • jennygadget
        August 28, 2012 at 12:03 am

        Yes, exactly. This is what makes it sexist and misogynistic. Because this is a special thing that we ask only of (potential) mothers. It does not apply to anyone else under any other circumstances.

      • Houle
        August 28, 2012 at 12:24 am

        True, but there’s no other instance (outside of extreme hypotheticals that have never been tested in court) in which the “willful act” creates a situation wherein the harm to the third party can only be mitigated by the initial party surrendering a part of their body. There are, however, plenty of instances where the failure to prevent harm results in a loss of bodily autonomy in the sense of forced incarceration.

        In any event, my point isn’t that the “duty to mitigate/prevent harm” argument is necessarily right. My point is simply that, contra Jill’s comment in the OP, such argument exists, may be honestly accepted by some, and can serve as a basis for the “rape exception” to anti-abortion laws.

      • karak
        August 28, 2012 at 12:40 am

        But only women are punished by it. Consistently, the GOP has resisted efforts to make fathers pay for their complicity in sex.

        If you set up a system in which only people-with-wombs have consequences for their actions, even though it took two people, and act helpless when it’s pointed out someone else is skating, you’re not doing it because you love babies, you’re doing it because you hate women.

        I’m sorry. All other arguments are based on women being stupid, women needing to “learn”, women needing to “accept consequences”, to “know her place” and over and over, have a man teach her/control her/educate her/punish her.

      • Houle
        August 28, 2012 at 8:44 am

        In reply to Karak (sorry, can’t go down another level in the thread so had to reply to my own post).

        I definitely don’t deny that the GOP and the anti-abortion movement generally have serious issues about controlling women, punishing “bad” sex, etc. However, I feel like the pro-choice side often takes that fact as proof that all arguments for restricting abortion come down to such issues, and thus miss the reality that for many people, there is a genuine belief that a third party (the fetus) with moral claims is involved.

        I wonder if it’s partly a generational split. Among the older generations that dominate the GOP and the professional anti-abortion movement, anti-abortion attitudes are closely linked with anti-homosexuality, anti-sex, and “traditional” gender role attitudes. Among younger Gen X and Gen Y / Millenials, however, there’s much less of a linkage. Younger folks are much more likely to be pro-gay rights, pro-contraception, pro-sex, and comfortable with modern gender equality, but they are no more pro-choice (and in some ways favor more restrictive policies based on fetal development) than their parents’ generation.

      • EG
        August 28, 2012 at 8:50 am

        Yes, they have been making that claim about a third party for decades. Given that in no other situation does a fetus count as a third party, and that their proposed regulations do nothing but punish women, however, actions speak louder than protestations of intent.

      • EG
        August 28, 2012 at 8:53 am

        “Extreme hypotheticals”? There’s nothing more extreme than forcing a woman to undergo pregnancy and childbirth against her will. It hijack’s a woman’s entire body, causes permanent changes, opens up a world of emotional pain, and risks her health and life.

        Compared to that, forcing a poisoner to donate a kidney to his victim is bupkes. But somehow that one is beyond the pale.

      • Kristen J.
        August 28, 2012 at 10:07 am

        Untrue. Consider the least invasive restraint on bodily autonomy…rendering aid. You are not compelled to render aid to a person who you have harmed.

        Also, the moral claim argument is not new and is still misogynistic because it posits that (1) the fetus can have a moral claim to a other human beings body and (2) any moral claim by the fetus *trumps* the moral claims of the pregnant person. We discussed (1) above, but (2) is equally misogynistic for all the reasons that karak and EG covered. But from a slightly different angle, legal and ethical theories of negligence on predicated on risk sharing. The fundamental idea is that individuals should bear the monetary costs of their *unreasonably risky* behavior. That theory applied in this context would imply that any potentially pregnant person is engaging in unreasonably risky behavior whenever they engage in PIV intercourse (or other sexual activity that may lead to pregnancy). Which. If you look at it. Is still just good old fashioned slut shaming wrapped up in enough philosophical jargon to provide thin cover for the underlying misogyny.

      • Bagelsan
        August 28, 2012 at 10:12 am

        “True, but there’s no other instance (outside of extreme hypotheticals that have never been tested in court) in which the “willful act” creates a situation wherein the harm to the third party can only be mitigated by the initial party surrendering a part of their body.”

        Sure there are. And there’s certainly already the concept of surrendering a body part to make up for an equal loss; it’s called “an eye for an eye” and theoretically our society has moved past that.

  6. Sarah St. Saens
    August 27, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Eh. Bill Clinton raped Juanita Broaddrick and sexually assaulted several other women, yet he’s going to be a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention. You may find Akin’s comments repulsive, but they’re comments, not conduct.

    • Bagelsan
      August 27, 2012 at 11:26 pm

      You may find Akin’s comments repulsive, but they’re comments, not conduct.

      You’re absolutely right. I’m sure his comments in no way reflect and/or inform his conduct at all.

    • August 28, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      Sarah,

      Mitt Romney has raped over 5000 women*, yet he’s allowed to be the Republican nominee.

      *Romney has never been charged or convicted of any sort of sexual assault- I’m merely basing my accusation on my biases against him and what I read in the media.

      • August 29, 2012 at 3:26 am

        Sure. But Clinton has been proven to have engaged in sexual behavior that is dubiously consensual.

        Unless you’d like to argue that there’s nothing iffy or possibly coercive in the slightest when a 50-year old man with the highest authority in the country has sex with his 22-year old intern.

      • August 29, 2012 at 4:41 am

        Why would I argue that there’s nothing iffy or possibly coercive about that situation? There are plenty of iffy and/or coercive possibilities regarding a situation wherein a 50-year old man with the highest authority in the country has sex with his 22-year old intern. However, in this specific case, the woman has explicitly stated the sexual relationship was consensual, so we don’t have to draw our own conclusions.

    • Kierra
      August 29, 2012 at 10:10 am

      Akin is trying to get his anti-abortion, forcible “legitimate” rape, and fetal personhood ideas codified into law. That makes it fair game.

  7. August 27, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    First headdesk:

    actual elected GOP officials defining rape as something that only happens to “chaste women” by “some party not her spouse;”

    Second headdesk:

    SMITH: Uh, having a baby out of wedlock.

    SCOLFORO: That’s similar to rape?

    SMITH: No, no, no, but… put yourself in a father’s situation, yes. It is similar.

    Too dazed to headdesk:

    Is it such an outlandish idea? I looked it up, and it appears that there is no evidence that pregnancies are less likely in cases of rape, but it didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility to me. Many things about the human body are peculiar and amazing.

  8. Ledasmom
    August 27, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Mona Charen is deliberately promoting an idea that she admits, right there in the piece, is directly contradicted by every study ever done on the subject. Can’t get much more logically bankrupt than that.

    • August 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm

      The human body is mysterious and amazing and illusive and none of us truly understand it. I mean, who among us can really say for sure how babies are made? Have you seen an actual baby being made? No, I did not think so. And if I haven’t seen it with my own two eyes, it isn’t real. Like penguins. Who really knows if they exist? No one, that’s who. Nature is mysterious.

      Also, Ledasmom, “studies” and “science” don’t account for WITCHES and WITCHERY which, let’s be real for a minute, is how women have gotten out of a LOT of things throughout history. If anyone can make a little vagina shield, it’s a witch.

      • EG
        August 27, 2012 at 10:42 pm

        I totally saw it with my eyes–they made me watch The Miracle of Life in junior high! I saw it on TV, so it must be true, right?

    • karak
      August 28, 2012 at 12:44 am

      I like how these two thoughts go together:

      Men can’t help rape women! It’s instinct! Basic needs for reproduction! Women need to control their sexy sexy wombs lest they trick men into raping them!

      Also you can’t get pregnant when raped.

      These two thoughts can’t exist in the same continuum. Unless… unless they’re some kind of, I don’t know, COVER. For abling rapists! Probably because you hate women. Wait, I think there’s a word for that…

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