OxyMORONS: On the Absurd Idea of ‘Legitimate Rape’
Yesterday, Rep. Todd Akin (Mo.) made the internet nearly explode when, in response to a question about why he oposes abortion even in cases of rape during an interview, he said that “legitimate rape” doesn’t result in pregnancy. According to Akin, also the GOP’s senatorial candidate in Missouri, a woman’s body has some sort of magical defenses so that, if she is legitimately sexually assaulted, she does not end up pregnant. The flip side of that argument? If a woman claims that she was raped–and only women are raped, I guess–and tests show that she is pregnant? Well, I suppose she wasn’t raped, then.
Before my mind wandered to that small little corner where I think about why men like Akin are so obsessed with controlling and invalidating women’s bodies and determining the legitimacy of their (violent) experiences, my first thought was about a post I published here nearly three years ago. In that post, I discussed actor (and my lightweight beloved) Whoopi Goldberg’s defense of director Roman Polanski’s “exile” from the United States by saying that he didn’t commit “rape rape.” Goldberg irrationally, inexplicably, and yet again started defending a powerful white man–who probably didn’t need her help–for his horrific behavior. I don’t watch The View anymore (folks gotta work), but I’m curious to know what Goldberg, a known liberal, will say about Akin’s claims. (She’s still on, right?) It will also be interesting to know how the rest of the women, who said very little if anything as Goldberg defended Polanski, jump down Elizabeth’s throat should she attempt to clean up Akin’s remarks by reminding everyone that Akin claimed he misspoke.
I bring up the Goldberg incident not to necessarily compare her to Akin as a person or her platform on the show as having similar power that Akin, whose job is to create legislation in the state of Missouri, has. Rather, I want to push back a little on the impulse to politicize Akin’s position gives very little consideration to how the assault on women and their bodies is one that exists without politics. Although it will be (somewhat rightfully) framed that way since this latest, horrendous gaffe was uttered by a conservative politician, I want to serve as a reminder that whether a donkey or an elephant holds the seat, girls’ and women’s bodies will remain in danger until a shift demolishes the misogyny and patriarchy at the core our cultural lives.
If that doesn’t happen, well, if I may paraphrase the inimitable Oda Mae Brown, you in danger, girl.