as it turns out, women don’t like to be raped

I just read this NYT headline four times. I read it out loud, to Bear. And then I started yelling. Which was bad, because my friend from Australia is staying here for a couple nights and she was trying to sleep.

Health Experts Dismiss Assertions on Rape.”

Do you guys know about this? You probably do. Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, defending his stance on abortion (none at all, under any circumstances!) broke it down for us really simply: if a woman wants to get pregnant, she will. If she doesn’t want to, she won’t. So if she’s raped and she’s into it, she’ll let herself get pregnant. And if it’s a “legitimate” rape, and, you know, she doesn’t like it as much, she will just shut down her special woman hormones and her egg production and get all tight and unwelcoming in there. No sperm allowed! It’s basic biology.

I saw that. I read the quote. It made me die a little inside. Because that whole thing, where you blame women for everything, even their own rape pregnancy, it is so dangerous. It is terrifying. That whole set of logic that starts at “well, she was wearing those sexy tight jeans” and pauses briefly in the middle with “if she wanted to take care of her kids she would get another damn job and stop whining” before concluding with something about how she died of the cancer she got from the toxic fumes in her unregulated factory work and couldn’t afford to pay for any of her frantic, hopelessly expensive treatments– it’s bad.

(it looks so venerable. I want it to be. source)

But what made me yell was the New York Times‘ headline, and then the article. Patiently breaking it down for us. With the usual quotes from both sides. No, no, we’re pretty sure rape is bad. We’ve interviewed some experts. We’re pretty sure women can’t magically decide exactly when and when not to get pregnant.

It was suddenly easy to imagine other headlines and pieces, from other times. This expert says that black people are totally inferior to white people. And he has some good points! Let’s be fair! And then this other expert says, no, black people are not totally inferior to white people. They could be a little inferior, though, let’s not get carried away…


Sometimes I am stunned. I know, it’s a cliche. I live in Brooklyn. I grew up in a Jewish family in NJ. I live in a bubble. So of course I think that people should not think things like the things that apparently people think about rape and women. It goes without saying. But I have to say it, because I am still worked up:

WHAT THE HELL? Why is this where we are? How is this a headline that even deserves to be printed? Was there really any doubt? Is there any doubt among people who read the New York Times? Why is there any doubt for anyone, anywhere?

A reporter friend of mine is researching a piece about date rape. She shakes her head sadly over dinner. “It’s amazing. But the police almost never seem to handle it right. They just say ‘she was drunk.’ It’s amazing how many women are turned away, not given the proper care, not given a rape kit. Rape kits are expensive, you know. And rape is extremely underreported anyway. Those are just the women who come in.”

“But–” I sputter. I don’t want to believe things like this. I want them to be totally ridiculous. I want this to be a story about one police officer, once, before the mandatory session on responding to rape.

When my friend was raped in college, I begged her to go to the police. I thought that they must be able to somehow fix it, help it, start to make it better. She refused. She refused and refused and refused. She said she thought it might be her fault. She had gone to the party. She had drinks there.

Now I wonder what the police would even have done.

Somehow, on the topic of general oppression I guess, we end up talking about transpeople, and my reporter friend is saying that they still don’t have the same basic rights in most states. In most states, transpeople aren’t really people, apparently. 

“We’re just not ready,” says another friend. “We’re not there yet. We’re barely at gay marriage.”

We nod and murmur agreement.

But why? Sometimes this enormous anger collects in me and it pushes up against all of my surfaces. Why are we supposed to be reasonable about this? Why are we supposed to open our New York Times and nod and murmur assent as we read that experts generally conclude that women do not want to be raped? Why are we supposed to have careful conversations and make balanced arguments and listen to everyone’s perspective, even when they think that this entire group of people should never be able to make any decisions for themselves, ever, because actually it turns out that they might not be as human as the rest of us? Why should we take our big, fancy educations and hang them on the backs of our chairs as we sit around the seminar table and have a civilized exchange about it all?

I am a squirming mass of questions. I am desperately indignant. I am wildly offended.

“Are you offended?” I ask Bear, over and over, gesturing at him with my phone, on which I’m reading the article. “I am so offended. Are you offended?”

“I am offended,” he says. But I don’t think he’s really offended. I think he’s tired.

“Maybe a lot of people believe this, about rape,” he says. “Maybe they’re trying to explain.”

They might be, out of kindness. Or it’s just a hot topic, and that’s how news works. It’s a business. I know. I know.

But god. It makes me feel like things are tilting towards the edge of madness. But maybe the whole world is always balanced there, teetering.

*   *    *

What is your reaction? Are you calmer? Are you shocked?

Unroast: Today I love the way I love the way jeans and a white t-shirt look, every time.



Kate on August 22nd 2012 in feminism

43 Responses to “as it turns out, women don’t like to be raped”

  1. Janet T responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    I cannot believe that we as a society are still blaming the women for rape. I think I should be able to walk down the street naked and not get raped, groped, fondled etc.

    Rape is a violent crime- maybe shooting victims that really don’t want to die can somehow deflect the bullet from their person?- the people who advocate that not all rape is Bad (???) think it is about sex. Thinking won’t change until the fact that it is about violence gets through.

    Sometimes I just want to weep at the wrongheadedness of those “in charge” of our country- from our police to our courts to our elected officials. Women are not incubators. I do not understand how we can still be treated like second class citizens.

  2. lik_11 responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    People are idiots. Too bad that so many of them get such a platform to spout off their nonsense. SO many people have relevant things to say- and no way to say it.

  3. Kate responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Such a very tall platform, too.

    I actually felt sort of bad even writing about this. I don’t want to pay it more attention. But I was so upset I had to write.

  4. Melanie responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    This article pissed me off, but sadly didn’t shock me. People will make up all sorts of lies in their heads for why what they believe, is the right thing to believe. It’s frightening.

    As for the trans community, I was walking to work the other day and there was a trans woman. A guy on a bike yelled out loudly, “Is that a man or a woman?” I responded, “Why sir, that’s the most beautiful woman in Sacramento.” He quickly replied, “Well, I think it’s a man!” and I said, “Well, fortunately no one on this street right now gives a fuck what you think!” I abhor ignorance, and bullying. Sometimes I keep tight lipped, but mosty I do not. There have been two trans women found floating in our river, murdered, in the last few years, and no one seems to care. I care. And I’ll be damned if I won’t scream about it.

  5. Mary responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    Don’t feel apologize for writing this. We women need to be talking about this — because it is so wrong! Not talking about this doesn’t make it go away, it just seems to spread this 19th? 18th? century way of thinking. What is going on in this country is ridiculous, and if we shouldn’t sit back and take it. Thank you for speaking, and even yelling about it. It is truly the right response.

  6. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    mmmm…Yes, I am offended and find the headlines and verbal exchange over this subject to be ridiculous…I know from my own personal experience that women, indeed, do NOT want to be raped…and when they are, they are often made to feel like it was their fault…it goes back to appearance and being naturally flirty…interesting subject for me personally, because i spent the better part of my adult life reclaiming my sexiness in a way that says “I own it!” Not YOU, but me. I think it’s important for all women to own their feminine mystique…where would life, love, romance and the thrill of the chase be without it? However, the thrill and the chase, is NOT on the same playing field as RAPE.

  7. Lisa F responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    As a rape survivor who did all of the “right” things to earn her status as a “victim” – wasn’t partying when it happened, wasn’t drunk, wasn’t on a date (i.e., it was stranger rape), I still was subjected to horrific questioning by the police (as in “hey, we found your diary and it says you are having problems with your boyfriend – are you sure you didn’t make this up just to get back at him?”). We have a long, long, long way to go before we handle this correctly, I hate to say, even in cases of so-called “forcible” rape.

    You’re so right, Kate, to be so outraged at all of this; I am, too. I’ve been obsessed with my rage about this story ever since it broke. We shouldn’t have to keep proving that rape is real and that women are to blame for violence against them, etc. But since this ignorance and misogyny continues, we need voices to combat them – even if we have to keep saying the same things over again.

    But one thing I have really appreciated after this whole Todd Akin debacle is how many news outlets have slammed him! I was glad to see an article, quickly, in the Times that explained how insane this was. There was a time when this might not have even made the newspaper at all. I’m grateful that you and other writers, in various venues, are taking it up.

  8. Lisa F responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    Sorry, it should have read “and women aren’t to blame for the violence against them”

  9. Liz G-D responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    Yup. Unbelievable!
    I have current heated discussions about this on my facebook page and have found the following links to be useful in our support:

    Letter to Akin from Eve Ensler:

    Actual Pregnancy Statistics from Rape:

  10. Katherine responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    Yeah, another one of those “I can’t believe this is what we’re doing things” that sort of make me want to crawl back in bed and not look at people. I had a ranting post today too. Sometimes it feels nice to rant.

  11. katilda responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    one of my very best friends was raped a couple years ago by a guy she worked with her took her out a couple times and she decided not to go out with him anymore, because he was a creep. he showed up at her house late one night, drunk, and she let him in because he was yelling and she didn’t want to wake up the neighbors. then he raped her on her bathroom floor and repeatedly asked her if she liked it. she never told the police, for a couple reasons…1) she had let him into her house in the first place, and 2) she was living in the middle of a bad bout of alcoholism and was so ashamed of herself that she thought she had brought it all on herself anyway. it was horrible….and you’re right, would the police have done anything? who knows. so awful.

  12. Kristina responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    I had the same reaction, and honestly, am still reacting. My weekend basically consisted of me watching CNN and yelling at my TV, “What are they talking about? Is this for real?”. I live on the AZ/UTAH border and I personally can attest that there are TONS and tons of people in our country who have such backwards thinking. I had a local recently come up to me and tell me that I don’t have a job anymore (i work in behavioral health) basically because Obamacare is going to take my job away. I was like “WHAT, do you even read the news or anything relevant?” So many people are misinformed and sometimes I don’t know whether to be angry at them or feel sorry for them.

  13. Jeremiah responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    “Sometimes this enormous anger collects in me and it pushes up against all my surfaces.”
    That’s maybe the very best description of getting really mad about something I’ve ever read.
    Insert “admiration” in place of “anger” and you have my response.
    You do put some righteous words together, Kate.

  14. Anna responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    I have to say it. I laughed the first time I heard about the congressman. It is so blatant that he cannot comprehend the other side. He cannot walk a mile in women’s shoes.

    We need balanced arguments because sometimes that is what people need to be influenced in their thinking. Think about it.

    How do you react when someone screams and shouts about their *insert your controversial topic of choice here (i.e. right/left-wing politics, religion, etc)*?

    Now, how do you react when someone comes forward with a calm and logical justification for their reasons and beliefs?

    As ridiculous as it may seem we NEED those articles as a society. The United States media feeds on fear and ignorance and the best way to combat that is by taking the time to give a balanced approach so they are better able to understand both sides of the spectrum, regardless of the ludicrousness.

    Unroast: I love how I am making a conscious effort to improve myself mentally, physically and emotionally one day at a time.

  15. Kim responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    I am deeply offended. For all the reasons you stated and from the point of view of someone just like your girlfriend who wouldn’t go to the police. I get it, because that was my response as well – I thought it was my fault (party + alcohol).

    It’s been 24 years since I was gang raped (3 men). I thought I had moved past all that stuff but since Akin offered his ‘opinion’ – and the ongoing fall out from it, I actually am feeling traumatized. Like it has stirred up all that old stuff of feeling less than and horrified that I almost died – that I was lucky to get out of that room alive. And that it took years to recover…

    Anyway – what you’ve said is brilliant. I can’t tell you how much your words helped me – it’s good to know that others are just as outraged and offended as I am about all of this.

  16. Krystina responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    It’s still a man’s world.
    I think birth control should be free. Can you imagine if a man had to deal with a period. Yeah right. There are so many ways in which women are not treated equally as men. I wish I could say I was shocked at the article but I’m not. It just goes to show you how much ignorance there really is in the world and running the show. It’s sad and pathetic. It bothers me a lot but hopefully things will get better for ALL of us. We have come so far…

  17. Krystina responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    @ Kim ((wishing peaceful calmness for you))

  18. Wanderlust responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    This whole thing has just made me feel sick. I don’t think ‘offended’ was part of my response. Just disbelief, repulsion, sadness. Sadness at the level of disconnection and denial so many people are willing to live with, to make their own lives more palatable. It makes me despair for the future of our race.

    I hadn’t seen the NYT article. It reminds of the whole creation/evolution debacle here in Kansas. The papers felt they needed to write balanced articles that gave equal weight to both ‘theories’. It’s such a farce. You would think the NYT would know better.

  19. ozarkgirl responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    Offended is what we as a society should feel. And shocked. Unfortunately, living in the Midwest, I hear this sort of thing alot. The sad thing is, these folks believe it. Thanks for writing this post. You and your readers responses keep me from feeling so alone.

  20. Shaba responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    I’m offended too. And enraged. And exhausted from being so damn angry all the time. Seriously, as much as I would love to dive into a Ph.D. in women’s studies and make it my life’s work, I don’t think my pysche could take it. It infuriates me that so much of the women’s movement has stalled at the same place it was 40 years ago, sometimes I think the passing of time has only made things worse. I feel like every where I look there’s another news article about someone or some party or some country doing horrible things to women and most of the time it’s met with a shrug and a “sucks to have a vagina, I guess.” The fact that there are people who believe this kind of crap, and some of them are trying to make decisions for me by running for office!? It’s as scary as it is maddening.

  21. Beth responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    I had a professor who worked in law enforcement who discussed why rape is such a problem in class once. He said that for each step taken, about half are lost. Here’s how he broke it down: Out of every 100 rapes, only about 50 (or half) are reported. Of those 50 that are reported, only half of those result in an arrest. Of those 25 arrests, only about 12 go to court. Of those 12 that go to court, only half result in a conviction. Of those 6 convictions, only 3 result in any time in jail.
    I’m glad you are talking about this. As a society we need to discuss this more. It is a huge problem that gets swept under the rug. Many victims/survivors feel embarrassed or ashamed (which they shouldn’t), and don’t want to talk about it. And some people prefer to keep blaming the victim because it makes them feel safer. The belief of ‘it won’t happen to me or my loved ones because we do all the “right” things’ is unfortunately quite pervasive.

  22. Isabel responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    I know this isn’t a popular opinion. But I do agree that abortion is wrong in any case. The baby didn’t have a choice in whether or not his father raped someone…

    With that said. I do not agree that it is the women’s fault that a man raped her. Although I do feel we should have a responsibility to dress with some decency and not walk around in underclothing. The fault does not lie with the woman. She didn’t ask the man to rape her. So yes this article does make me angry. Especially knowing someone who has been raped. They didn’t chose for it to happen, and very often they don’t go to have it reported because the world makes them feel like they have some role in this happening, that somehow it is their fault. It’s sad that we make rape victims feel this way, cause honestly we should be doing more about this atrocious crime.

  23. Dot responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    You are absolutely right to be outraged, as we should all be! This whole debate and the way it is carried on (by men!) is leaving me completely seething with anger as well. When I switched on my computer today and started reading, after just three articles I was ready to give up again out of sheer desperation over the fact that so many people are so stupid and horrible and self-righteous in their harmful, backwards beliefs. Akins’ “slip-up” was the first of these articles. The fact that he even seems to think that there is such a thing as “forcible” or “legitimate” rape, and that he and men like him get to define it, and not the women who have actually experienced rape, is horrifying in itself. How many more things are women going to be made responsible for?
    Wow, now I’m even angrier than before.

  24. Michelle responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 8:16 pm #

    This makes me angry, too. What makes me angrier are these idiots who spout crap about rape, want to shut down Planned Parenthood, don’t want birth control covered under insurance, want to ban abortion… aren’t women. Yet they all have mothers, wives, daughters, sisters. Maybe they’re under the delusion that their women don’t need these things or won’t get raped or won’t ever have to or want to get an abortion. But it happens. The rampant misogyny is terrifying; Akin’s form of biology just makes me shake my head in disbelief and disgust.

  25. Marisa @Margaritas In The Rain responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    Amen. Thank you, Kate.

  26. camelshoes responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 10:55 pm #

    Shocked, angry and sad:

    - that a doctor thinks this way. He is 87 and worked mostly in general practice – fair to say that he is not as up-to-date, and doesn’t have the same level of authority as the other doctor, who is a clinical professor in obstetrics and gynaecology.

    - that the newspaper article quotes a book written in 1985 (which likely means it is no longer accurate as it is more than 20 years old), and an article published in 1999 (but doesn’t properly bring to our attention that the article was in a publication that Dr Wilke is the president and publisher of, and is therefore essentially meaningless, as it was NOT published in a recognised scientific peer-reviewed journal!!)
    - by crappy journalism standards where articles are more focused on sensationalism than facts!

  27. T.K. responded on 22 Aug 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    I feel just like you do. This whole thing has made me feel so upset/angry/exhausted that I am not even looking at articles anymore. i’ve pretty nmuch just shut down at this point. it’s like beyond words…

  28. Val responded on 23 Aug 2012 at 1:32 am #

    I’m appalled. I’m with you. How has the conversation regressed by 50 years???

    Back in the day, Jay and I had a conversation about what constitutes date rape or consent. He was unsure–could there be crossed communication?

    I told him, “You could have raped me.”

    He said, “Oh, I would never.”

    “Yes, I know this. But I went places with you alone. I liked you and trusted you–and you were bigger and stronger and could have done anything you wanted and claimed it was consent.”

    He was shocked by the idea, and how true that fact was, stunned.

    Sigh. I’m so grossed out by the everything Aiken said. It’s so revolting. love, Val

  29. Alpana Trivedi responded on 23 Aug 2012 at 9:27 am #

    Hello, Kate. I was just having an argument about that with a friend two days ago. My point is, why are we, in this day and age, LOOKING for ways to point toward blaming the rape victim? There are SO MANY factors that go into a woman becoming pregnant. Hormones, which days she’s fertile, whether or not the man is infertile, etc. This had absolutely NOTHING to do with rape.

    When someone gets raped and ends up pregnant as a result, the first thought should never be “Well, is it possible that the rape didn’t cause this pregnancy?” I mean, come on, people. Priorities!!! The care and concern should go toward the live victim who’s suffering NOW as a result of the rape.

  30. Alpana Trivedi responded on 23 Aug 2012 at 9:32 am #

    And what about the times someone is too drunk or has been slipped a date rape drug before being assaulted? That’s still considered rape and it’s a matter of not being coherent enough to give consent. According to Akin and his dumb theory, if it’s “forcible” or “legitimate” rape, the hormones to get pregnant supposedly “shut down.” But do they also shut down when it’s a situation like this where it’s not “forced” but still rape?

  31. Dawn responded on 23 Aug 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    This is totally and completely ridiculous. If women could just decide not to get pregnant when they didn’t want to, we wouldn’t need birth control. *sigh*

    On the note of “women should be able to walk down the street naked and not get groped, etc.,” that I’m seeing in the comments (and splashed all over the internet)…that’s really nice, but we don’t live in an ideal world. People seem to think that just telling men “don’t rape,” will eliminate crime or something. Even if we managed to totally eradicate acquaintance/date rape, there will still be violent crime, because sometimes people are horrible people. And while no one “asks for it,” I still think women should learn self-defense techniques, because sometimes people are *crazy,* and you should also learn how not to make yourself a target for the crazy people who you are never going to fully eradicate. Crazy people look for certain traits (being drunk and alone, wearing skimpy clothes that will attract their view, etc. etc.). And you can’t get rid of the crazy people, so you may as well apply as much anti-crazy as is reasonable. (No, I’m not saying “wear a full body suit and carry a gun” or something.) It’s not a blame game; it’s self-defense. It’s why I do martial arts, for example, so if some crazy person does try to hurt me, I have a better chance of escaping/surviving. I wouldn’t walk alone in a dark and sketchy-looking neighborhood wearing hard-to-move-in shoes and a purse at 3 AM if I knew what was good for me and didn’t want to get mugged. I wouldn’t get horribly smashed at a bar and then decide to stumble home at weird hours wearing a tiny miniskirt and a shirt cut down to there if I didn’t want all kinds of unfortunate attention drawn. There *is* a line between “she asked for it, so we shouldn’t help her” and “here are some unwise decisions that people should generally avoid, but if you do end up in a bad state, we’ll still help you.” One is assigning blame, and the other is living in the real world.

  32. Kate responded on 23 Aug 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Yes, absolutely. What ABOUT those times? When a woman looks “drunk” because she’s been given a rape drug, or because someone keeps feeding her drinks with the intent of raping her. We have to have a police force that listens to women.

  33. Kate responded on 23 Aug 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    I read a piece in which the researcher interviewed this college guys and most of them got the definition of date rape wrong. And it turned out that many of them had raped someone. They just didn’t somehow know it.
    I’m always amazed that this is where we are, with rape. But I guess we just have to deal with it and make sure we keep explaining and making things as clear as possible.

  34. anya responded on 23 Aug 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    Being a central-europe Gal , I am shocked! God, this is horrible ! Our medical system, while blamable and imperfect doesn’t act on “moral ” puritan values. I’m not sure how much of everything is covered ( thank god i did not have to do it) but when the hospital can’t help you, it’s because they simple can’t do it ( lack of medcine/equipment/doctors) not lack of will. Also, abortion is pretty easy (and relatively cheap) to get. This kind of choice is seen as a precious liberty, since the previous communist regime banned abortions ( and most of contraception available) in an effort to increase the population. It’s weird to see that kind of horrible reactions in US. It reminds me of the handmaid’s tale.

  35. morgaine responded on 23 Aug 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    “I was glad to see an article, quickly, in the Times that explained how insane this was. There was a time when this might not have even made the newspaper at all.”

    This is how I feel as well. In a perfect world, sure, we would never need to articulate something so obvious, but in the face of such bullshit, I’m glad someone did articulate it. It’s especially important because Akin claimed to have gotten his information “from doctors” – I can imagine many people taking that at face value and actually believing it. I’m glad the Times brought in some actual doctors to debunk it.

  36. Kristina responded on 23 Aug 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    @Isabel, I especially liked your response because you admit that you are not in favor of abortion of any kind, but you can still agree that putting partial blame on women for rape is comletely wrong. This is the kind of forward thinking I can dig; we can agree to disagree but when it comes to human rights, we need to agree that we should not feel responsible for being violated.

    @Dawn, “Crazy people look for certain traits (being drunk and alone, wearing skimpy clothes that will attract their view, etc. etc.). ” I am not sure how to feel about this remark. Crazy people look for any type of person they can attack, not just the weekend-sluts. I totally get the point of being safe, safety with numbers, don’t leave a bar alone with a strange man, but when I wear a short skirt it’s not because I am being unsafe, I just happen to look good in a short skirt.

  37. Michelle responded on 24 Aug 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    Yes! YES!
    “Back in the day, Jay and I had a conversation about what constitutes date rape or consent. He was unsure–could there be crossed communication?

    I told him, “You could have raped me.”

    He said, “Oh, I would never.”

    “Yes, I know this. But I went places with you alone. I liked you and trusted you–and you were bigger and stronger and could have done anything you wanted and claimed it was consent.”

    He was shocked by the idea, and how true that fact was, stunned.”

    This needs to be taught to everyone; just like this! This puts the onus on the rapist, not the victim. Maybe, if we started looking more at who/why rapes are committed, instead of at why the victim was a target, we could get a lot further. Saying that a rapist is a “bad person” really doesn’t help at all.

  38. Annie responded on 24 Aug 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    I am a little late to the conversation, but I agree with Isabel. I think that Akin’s comments were stupid and offensive, and what’s worse, they delegitimize the belief that abortion is wrong in any case. I personally believe that a fetus is a human being, and that killing a human being because of the actions of his or her parents is wrong. Trying to resolve the results of one crime by attacking another innocent party seems wrong to me. I realize most people will disagree with me on this, but I hope that they can at least understand where I am coming from. However, instead of focusing on the rights of the child, Akin insulted and blamed the victim, and that is more than insensitive, it is completely inexcusable. A woman who has been raped has already gone through one of the worst things a woman can experience in life, and she deserves better than to have her trauma be dismissed by one of our public figures in such a way.

  39. Rosa responded on 26 Aug 2012 at 4:14 am #

    This makes me sick.

    I “developed” fairly early and, having a D-cup since the 8th grade, received unwanted, sexually inappropriate attention and advances from a very young age. Since I looked somewhat older than I was, apparently perverted men found it justifiable to grope me, harass me, or proposition me for sex. I never “asked” for this kind of treatment, and much of my adolescence was spent being terrified of men and how they viewed me.

    While part of me is shocked that a modern nation can harbor such ignorant, misogynistic claims, another part of me isn’t surprised at all. During my freshman year at a small liberal arts college, I overheard two female classmates identify themselves as “anti-feminist” to each other; I turned around in my seat and begged them to explain how, as women, they could possibly oppose feminism. One girl replied by saying that women “just aren’t treated badly anymore,” to which I could barely catch my breath to tell her how lucky she was, as she must have been very sheltered. I’m currently entering my senior year and will be leading the sadly miniscule Institute for Women’s Leadership on campus in efforts to combat the growing prevalence of Akin’s brand of self-righteously skewed excuse for reasoning.

    I am doubly sickened by Akin and right-wing extremists because I do believe that surgical abortion is, in itself a violent act upon both a woman’s body and the unborn fetus’s body. On the other hand, I understand why a woman would resort to abortion, especially in light of a society who still gives the scarlet letter to “unwed mothers.” Several women in my life have had abortions; although not all of them openly “regret” their abortions, from what I’ve witnessed, the abortion experience has been traumatic for each one. As an underrepresented liberal with pro-life sensibilities, I am extremely frustrated with a political system that offers two main courses on the voting platter, both of which taste bitter to me.

    Women, and the good men who respect and support our sex, need to band together to combat Akin’s toxic and ludicrous statements. Clearly he is not a credible source for the way the female body operates, and the fact that ANYONE could heed his words makes me want to bang my head against a wall.

  40. Beth responded on 27 Aug 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    I’m leaving another comment, and maybe I shouldn’t, but here goes. I’ve seen several people remarking that women shouldn’t wear certain clothing items, go to bad parts of town, get self defense training, and so on. This bothers me for several reasons. One is that is starts to go into the area of belief that ‘if you just do the “right things”, you won’t get raped or have anything bad happen to you.’ This is completely untrue. Given the fact that many rapes are committed by someone known and trusted by the victim (spouse, relative, friend, person they’ve been dating for some time, etc.), many of those “right things” don’t even apply to the situation. Another reason it bothers me is because these “right things” are often used against the victims to claim that they ‘deserved it/asked for it’ and thus it isn’t really a crime. Having friends and relatives who work in jobs that aid victims, I can tell you that lawyers still raise these questions in court on rape victims as young as seven years old. The idea that had they not worn something, been in that place, and so on, is still used very frequently to dismiss these crimes. The final reason it bothers me is because it shifts the focus. Many people of all ages are raped, and instead of asking ‘Why would the perpetrator rape someone?’ the focus is shifted to what the victim was doing (‘Why were they there?’ ‘Why did they wear that?’ ‘Why didn’t they have pepper spray?’, etc.) If we as a society really want to do something about rape, we have to stop focusing on the actions of the victims and start looking at the actions of the perpetrators.

  41. Jiminy responded on 28 Aug 2012 at 10:10 am #

    I’m sorry, I just got stuck at the point in the article where the association of `legitimate` with `rape` seems to be a mental category used in this debate. I know I don’t live in the US and the whole pro-life lobby sounds to me like a faraway rumor, but how, for the sake of every conceptual and moral category in any language, can any person in their right mind accept these two words put together – to describe anything whatsoever??? Is there then also `justified drug selling to minors`? (and that’s just because I’m afraid to walk the path of `unavoidable torture`)

    But Kate, yes, even though this feels far away, it scares the hell out of me – and brings dragon smoke through my nostrils.

  42. magpie responded on 28 Aug 2012 at 10:59 am #

    i am still sputtering. also, the way you so clearly broke it down ( if a woman wants to get pregnant, she will. If she doesn’t want to, she won’t) made me sputter more, because, hello? infertility? i WANTED to get pregnant, and it didn’t happen without a lot of money and a lot of sterile equipment and a lot of modern technology. gah. men. mr. akin is probably anti-IVF, don’t you think?

    (btw, i liked the times piece by the man who posited that men were unnecessary:

  43. Eat the Damn Cake » electrolysis responded on 29 Aug 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    [...] And then we actually did. Well, we talked about electrolysis. Because that is what comes to mind, I guess, when one thinks of a vagina these days (the part was before the whole Akin thing). [...]