This piece first appeared on HG 8/20/2012
Your Body Is Doing It Wrong: The Todd Akin Story
Aging pterodactyl and biology student of the year (1073 — BC) Todd Akin is running for Senate. Unless you spent yesterday under a rock, you were, at some point, exposed to the following statement by him on the The Jaco Report (in a lovely display of two old men talking about what I should do with my vagina): “First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare… If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
“That whole thing.”
I’m assuming this guy has yet to crack a medical text written after the invention of papyrus, which is a shame, considering that the above “medical” “theory” is one of his arguments against legalizing abortion. I find it reassuring that with all the socio-economically pressing issues that affect the general population, there are still politicians who find the time to focus all their energy on legislating their personal beliefs and oppressing women — or as I like to call them, superheroes of multi-tasking!
Akin has more deep thoughts than Jack Handey, as he went on to share, “but let’s assume that maybe [auto-eject enabled by the uteran rape alarm] didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.” Funny how the only person missing from that statement is the woman herself. She’s probably somewhere in the kitchen, being seen and not heard. I hope she bakes some cookies while she’s back there (and makes it snappy!).
In case you were wondering, Akin also opposes criminalizing marital rape (which finally made its way around to all 50 states no sooner than 1993), because he believes it gives women a legal tool to “beat up on the husband” in divorce proceedings. Because that, clearly, is the biggest issue in a divorce that involves marital rape. Won’t someone think of the children? Oh right, a woman’s uterus can tell when husband-sex is unwanted and shuts “that whole thing” down, right? The amount of time this guy is prepared to put into legislating my vagina is making me want to learn another language while teaching myself how to play the violin on a mountain climbing expedition.
Conservatives worry that women will lie about having been raped in order to get an abortion, because apparently we’re all just lining up to get our jollies by having our wombs vacuumed. There’s nothing like that week of pain and nausea, we’ll lie and cheat our way to get our fix! In fact, conservatives seem to spend an awful lot of time worrying about what women do with their lady-bits, and even more energy trying to legislate lady-bits, or else coming up with brilliant wisps of reasoning, like Todd Akin, as to why their efforts are justified. There are various theories as to when an abortion might be acceptable, and when it isn’t.
No. Just no. Why are we making up rules about when it is and is not okay to get an abortion, when the issue at hand is whether or not a woman has jurisdiction over her own body — the body she gestates a child with, the body that she sacrifices and has torn asunder in order to grow life? Anyone willing to have their uterus vacuumed rather than bear a child should probably avoid raising one [at that point in their life*]. As someone sacrificing her physical, psychological and spiritual self, a woman is the only person visionary enough to decide how much of her own life she can pump into another.
It takes far more wisdom to understand whether or not you’re responsible and capable enough to care for a child, than it does to yammer on in abstractions while citing bogus medical “data” and using it to restrict the rights of half your constituency. There is no such thing as “legitimate rape” as Mr. Akin put it, because there is no such thing as “illegitimate rape.” There are no gradations; rape is not a color swatch from Home Depot. Every single word uttered by Akin yesterday was an affront to women and brain cells alike.
If only Akin’s hilariously ignorant comments were an anomaly. The guy is running for Senate. What’s more, he represents part of a larger whole of the barrage of oppressive sentiment and legislation that conservative politicians nationwide have been throwing at women. This past April, Scott Walker repealed the Equal Pay Act in Wisconsin, putting an entire state full of women at an economic disadvantage. The Georgia House recently approved a bill prohibiting women from having a stillborn fetus removed, on the basis that if livestock can carry a deceased fetus, so can a woman — aside from it being inhumane, life-threatening, and just plain insulting, it also skims over the fact that most livestock owners call in a vet to have the stillborn fetus removed. And while there is perpetual argument over whether or not rape justifies an abortion, sexual assault perpetrators rarely find themselves doing time even though 1 in 4 women will experience assault at some point in their lifetime.
How about instead of trying to mandate what women should do with their bodies, government works to protect them? Instead of telling me not to walk home alone at night as rape prevention, “safety officials” crack down on rapists and prove that it is, indeed, a punishable offense. Because as long as we keep up such a fervent public dialogue about what women should and shouldn’t be able to do with their person, we’re perpetuating the idea that it is up to others, not ourselves, to make our decisions for us. It takes power and balance away, which not only indirectly empowers anyone intending to take advantage of a woman in any way, but takes power away from us a whole. It inhibits our workforce and stagnates our creativity. Perhaps, as a start, we can ensure that aspiring congressmen pass a basic health studies class.