Todd Akin is not the problem. He is the symptom. The disease is the conservative American obsession with abortion, sexual violence, reproductive health, and equal rights. Most Americans see these issues as important and essential elements of a healthy society. “Pro-Life” Americans see these issues as one issue: the unborn, and how they may be protected from the feminist inspired evils of their mothers desires and intentions. Rape in the pro-life community is not a crime to be prosecuted and an evil to be fought and condemned: it is an opportunity to bring “new life” into the world. In the pro-life mind, there is no such thing as sexual violence. If a woman is raped it is not something to be talked about or dealt with. It is a chance to educate that poor, slutty woman about the consequences of “her” actions. Former Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle summed up this point of view quite succinctly:
“I think that two wrongs don’t make a right… look for some alternatives…[turn] a lemon situation into lemonade.”
Life is a means unto itself, that is, potential life. Once that life has entered the world the shame begins: shame that this life was brought into the world by a single mother, shame that it is poor or in need of welfare services, shame that it will be going to a godless public school, and if it is unfortunate to be born a female, shame on it for needing reproductive health services along with a natural desire for sexual fulfillment. Once that life is shepherded into the world by the pro-life Pretorian Guard it is immediately abandoned as yet another leech upon the liberty and the wealth of “job creating” and “hard working” Americans. And God help you if you are born anything but white.
In the eyes of the pro-life movement a woman is nothing more than a baby-incubating system at best, and a male-controlled sexual object at worst. Her sexuality is not her own. Hence the idea of “legitimate rape”.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Akin is only the most recent pro-life zealot to put forth this repugnant idea. “Legitimate rape” is a conservative idea that is used as a tool against women who have the audacity to be attacked by a man. The man is never at fault, at least not past the basic taboo against violence. He is merely acting out on his “natural” male inclinations. On the other hand, if a woman is raped it is only because she failed at some level. No “good” woman will ever be in a situation where she will be raped. No “good” woman is ever out of sight of a protective male authority figure, be it a father, brother, platonic boyfriend, or possessive husband. And remember, once she is married, a woman cannot be raped, at least by the man who is most likely to rape her: her husband.
These twisted views of sexual violence are being promoted as a new legal standard for all women. Akin authored and sponsored HR 3, co-sponsored by newly minted Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan, a bill that would redefine rape in a much more restrictive sense, only recognize rape as something that happens in a dark alley against a somehow “deserving” woman, and goes out of its way to protect the REAL victim of the assault: the unborn child. Yes, the real crime here is committed by the misguided little woman who wants to abort the fetus forcibly put into her by a man who decided he wanted to violate her. Remember, “life” and all that. No thought is given to the life of the woman who is actually alive and legally protected by the Constitution and US laws. A woman is worth less than a bundle of cells or a rice grain sized fetus in the pro-life world. And a newly born child immediately loses its holy aura and becomes yet another sinner and potential violator of the “rights” of the unborn. The fetus becomes a super-citizen: it has all the rights that human beings should have, and more besides. It has the “right” to live at the expense of its own mother.
Fundamentalist Christianity is at the heart of this macabre fetal recreation of the crucifixion: the woman is impregnated by the legitimizing paternal force, be it the husband or the rapist, and the highest ideal of the mother after this event is to die in the service of giving life to the fetus. Woman who die giving birth are called “heroes” and “true mothers” and their fates are held up as the ultimate feminine ideal. Think of that, a woman’s worth is defined by her ability to die for a baby that she may not even have wanted! What does that mean for the women whose pregnancies end in a miscarriage? Has she “failed” as a women then? Sadly, this is inevitably the case: if your only worth as a human being is as a living breathing nest for the holy fetus, then what else do you have to live for? Life itself becomes meaningless, only an end, and for a woman life only has meaning as far as the paternal authorities define and allow for. And invariably, they will define that life as subordinate to the male concern of “being fruitful” and filling the Earth with more and more and more and more life. God’s will be done, I suppose.
This, I believe, is legitimate insanity.