Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Repubican Recasting Of Rape


I have watched for years now as Republican politicians at the state and federal level have worked to do things like redefine rape and enact stricter anti-abortion laws that also act to imperil women’s rights and freedoms in this country.  Legislation is passed that defunds everything from education to health care to fighting hunger and poverty in our own country.  I think these workings collectively and actively endanger us all.

This week, Rep. Todd Akin put forth the noxious view that furthered the on-going work of redefining rape and he said that in cases of “legitimate” rape,  “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” while disingenuously claiming that rapes resulting in pregnancy are exceedingly rare.   We women are supposed to have that ability, but that is not the reality.   The NIH says upwards of 5% of pregnancies a year occur as a result of rape.  That's over 32,000 pregnancies.  That's not rare.  30,000 is the population of a small city.  So every year in America the population equivalent of Frankfort, KY or Dover, DE or Helena, MT or Juneau, AK is being created every year by rape. 

However, Rep. Akin does not stand alone in his views.  He has the company of the Vice Presidential nominee, Paul Ryan with whom he co-sponsored HR 3, a bill that - ignoring the Hyde Amendment again - banned federal funding for abortion for victims of ‘forcible’ rape and then went on to try to redefine rape.  These seem to assume that if rape is not accompanied by the physical attributes of violent attack – deep tissue bruising, bruised or ruptured internal organs, lacerations, and broken bones, then it isn’t forcible at all.  They’re wrong.   All rape is forcible whether or not it is accompanied by violence, coercion, intimidation, threats, demands, drugging, immobilization or anything other method of control by the perpetrator.

This last week I read that Rep. Ryan is trying to walk back the wording of that legislation and the phrase “forcible rape”, by saying “Rape is rape. Rape is rape, period. End of story.”  Funny.  That “Rape is rape” phrasing takes directly from what Pres. Obama said, but it wasn’t the end of the story and isn’t the end of the story.  President Obama went on to say, “the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and it certainly doesn’t make sense to me.”  He continued stating,  “What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, the majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women…”   And he is correct.  They shouldn’t be, but they are.  And they’re using every lie and subterfuge imaginable to do it.   Just today a Ryan spokesperson said Ryan was using "stock language" and not intended "limit the definition of rape."  Do we see the hand of ALEC's boilerplate for legislation in this then?   Don't kid yourselves - that language use is  intentional and fully meant to limit the definition of rape.  The goal, it seems, is to drive women out of public life.  The goal, it seems, is to turn women into people without rights.  The goal, it seems, is to reassert male domination and ownership over women.

These views on women, our bodies, reproduction and more don’t happen in a vacuum.  Reps Akin and Ryan also joined not only by the majority of their Republican peers in the House.  The sheer number of lies these men and many Republican women have spoken about women and our bodies is outrageous and borders on the medieval.  Surely scientific knowledge has progressed since the 1300s which is where their belief in “immaculate rape”, the idea which Mr. Akin trotted out again for us with his pronouncements, comes from.  Unlike the 1300s however, our medical science tells a much different story about human physiology and makes many distinctions about bodily functions and responses in both female and male subjects.   For example we know that seminal fluid has a protein that encourages female ovulation.[1] [2] We know women can not turn off their hormones when they’re raped in order to prevent pregnancy.  Rep. Ryan is even on record in an interview with Christian station WJLH saying he believes, “Rape is just another method of conception.”   If women could “turn off things”, then we would be able to volitionally and knowledgably control exactly when, where and whether or not we got pregnant and we’d be able to do so at any time!  The need for birth control would not exist.   The need for abortion wouldn’t exist and under adverse circumstances, we could even selectively miscarry and abort the fetus without outside intervention.  I suspect possibly even many of the complications from pregnancy wouldn’t exist either.  And yes, rape is a means through which women conceive.  It is the ugliest way.  After all, rape historically has been used as a tool of conquest and war.  It has been used to break not only the identity of the individual victim, but the identity of families and nations as well.

But why are doctors silent on these lies?  And why are our public prosecutors silent on these lies about rape and the victims of rape?

I’m not voting for anyone who is complicit - directly or indirectly - of supporting the crime of rape against women and who seek to punish women for being raped by forcing them to bear their rapist’s child.  Thirty one states allow rapists to assert their parental rights in the event their victim carries the fetus to term – including New Mexico[3].  It seems we don’t even have the moral and political will to safeguard women and children of rape from the men who’ve caused them such grievous harm and choose, instead, to exacerbate it.

These same men who lie about what our bodies do after being raped clearly intend to give rapists further access to their victim’s lives without penalty.  Do you really want a man who has raped your wife, your daughter, your sister, involved intimately in your family life?  If you do, by all means, vote Republican, but I sure won’t.

[1] http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/all-about-sex/201101/attention-ladies-semen-is-antidepressant
  “…semen also contains two female sex hormones, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). FSH spurs egg maturation in ovary. LH is involved in triggering ovulation.” 
[2] http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/343130/title/Ovulation_spurred_by_newfound_semen_ingredient
  “Semen doesn’t just ferry sperm. It also bears a mystery ingredient that turns on ovulation in some animals and may even pump up fertility in humans as well. The molecule, nerve growth factor, kick-starts egg release and revs up pregnancy-protective hormones in llamas, researchers report online August
 [3] http://georgetownlawjournal.org/files/pdf/98-3/Prewitt.PDF


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