Back in August of 2012, Missouri Congressman Todd Akin insulted not just rape victims, but all women. In a television interview, Akin was asked about his position on abortion in cases of pregnancy resulting from rape. His response was "It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down."
When I first read his statements in the news, I had to look twice. How can a public figure (one of influence making decisions for our country, disturbingly) make such an outrageous statement based on fiction, not fact? I wonder if Akin believes in unicorns, leprechauns, and dragons too.
Aside from his ignorance about basic human anatomy and physiology, the damage Akin did to rape victims is enormous - despite his damage control apologies afterward. The question Akin should be required to answer is, what is a "legitimate rape" anyway? I shutter to think what his answer would be, but the correct answer is all rape is legitimate rape...regardless of whether the woman becomes pregnant, what the victim was wearing, where the rape took place, or whether the rapist was a stranger, a spouse, or an acquaintance. Rape is rape. The term legitimate rape implies there is also illegitimate rape, which in turn implies that women lie and "cry rape" or that only certain acts are "real" rape. Akin's comments perpetuate the myths that stand in the way of victims' healing. For one, pregnancy as a result of rape is notrare. His comments blame women and their bodies, and further support all of the negative messages and myths that already exist about sexual violence. Somehow I think if Akin's own wife, mother, sister, or daughter was a victim of rape no matter the circumstances, he would most certainly have a different opinion. As President Obama stated after Akin's offensive comments "...we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women." There is no such thing as legitimate rape, but there's no arguing that Todd Akin is legitimately ignorant about women's issues. Among other things, I hope he learns from this mistake what he should have learned in middle school health class.