Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A few thoughts on Akin

   Everyone and their dog is discussing Akin...so I'm not sure what I can add of value to the conversation, but there are a few thoughts I want to share:

This isn't new.

   First, many conservatives have been frequently saying similar things within the last year. Second, they have a history of making similar remarks. In fact, I recall a moment from high school (so over 10 years ago) of a classmate saying that a woman can't get pregnant unless they enjoy it, so any woman who claimed to be raped that ended up pregnant was proof they enjoyed being raped. While I don't recall if he said it directly, there was certainly the implication that such a rape wasn't a "real" rape. (I wonder what these people think about date rape drugs.) Being that this was high school, I figure he would not have come to this conclusion on his own. It would be more likely that he was parroting something he heard from somebody else without giving it much critical thought.

He didn't "misspeak."

   It is crap to say that Akin "misspoke." He meant what he said and said what he meant! The only reason he "misspoke" is because what he said has become politically damaging. So he wants to take it back like it never happened.
UPDATE: A source from 1999 has been revealed by far-right loon Bryan Fischer as to where this idea may originate. /UPDATE

This isn't even that radical per our culture.

   I'm going to be blunt: we live in a culture that is not hostile to rape. In fact, there is often a lot of victim blaming. If a woman claims she was raped, people go about asking if she was drinking, what she was wearing, and where she was when or immediately before the rape occurred. Because, see, if she was drunk, wearing revealing clothing, and/or hanging out in a frat house or bar, she totally got what was coming to her. It's like she was begging for it to happen! Filthy SLUT! Or so our culture tends to claim. So if women are responsible for their own rapes, then it only seems to be a small step to add on the additional claim that many women enjoy being raped.

So why the outrage?

   This puzzles me a bit. Our culture isn't that hostile to rape, yet, such a comment gets a lot of bad reaction. I suspect there may be some sort of doublethink going on here, where most people are opposed to rape in theory, but this opposition fails to translate in practice. Since Todd Akin was discussing rape in theory, his comments are then on the fringes of society. I also suspect that his use of the word "legitimate" had some effect on people's reactions.

How is this different than "forced rape"?

   Conservatives, in an effort to limit rape exceptions to bans on federal funding for abortion, tried to use the term "forced rape." How does "forced rape" differ from just plain old "rape"? I'm not sure, but people have been wondering if plain old rape isn't "legitimate."

An unpopular issue. So Akin has got to go.

   While what Akin said isn't much different than what conservatives have been pushing for years, more attention has been paid to their language...I would say particularly since March when contraception became an issue. Republicans have since not been very popular with women, an issue they have been trying to since correct. Not by changing their stances on the issues, of course! But by staying on the down-low, hoping people will forget by November. But Akin had to open his mouth and stir up a hornet's nest. So Republicans are condemning what Akin has said and asking him to drop out of his Senate race. All the while likely* still agreeing with what Akin said.

* OK, I can't read minds, so I can't be certain that Republicans are lying when they condemn Akin. But given the point above about how they have a reputation of making quite similar comments, this change of heart seem quite odd...and quite convenient.

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