Tuesday, August 21, 2012

An Angry Rant

I try, for the most part, to keep this blog about parenting and my personal experiences as a well-intentioned but relatively clueless mom (hence, the name). You will occasionally find me commenting on current events or pop culture—specifically if I find them funny or particularly ridiculous. I recently wrote about the Olympics. I sometimes write about television shows. Or celebrity antics. Rarely, however, do I enter the political arena. I find politics to be mentally exhausting. And they piss me off. The more brain power I lend to politicians and their power games, the angrier I find myself becoming. Then I begin to feel sad about the political landscape my children will inherit in this country. Then I get pissed that I allowed the politicians to sadden me. Then I get sad at the realization that I am such an angry person. It’s a vicious cycle of emotional upheaval. And really, who wants to read a blog about an emotionally unstable, mood-swinging momma?

Today, however, I find myself in a state of mind where it is difficult to avoid writing about politics. A specific political event this week has me particularly outraged and I feel the need—especially as a parent—to speak up.

Missouri senate candidate Todd Akin sparked an outrage this week with his comments about rape. The comments that initiated the fury aired Sunday on a St. Louis TV station. Akin was asked about his staunch opposition to abortion even in the case of women getting pregnant after a rape.

“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

What?? Huh??

My initial gut reaction was that he was abhorrently lacking in basic 7th grade biology education. But then I thought to myself, “No…he is a wealthy Republican. I am sure he went to “the best” schools and got “the best” education money can buy.” So what’s the deal?

Here’s the gist of it. Todd Akin is an idiot. Really. He is an offensive little man who, in towing the line of the Republican party, spoke out of turn. The leaders of the Republican party have turned against him and are calling for him to pull out of the Senate race. But really, Akin was simply taking their argument to its logical conclusion. He, along with Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, basically said the exact same thing last year when they cosponsored two measures restricting the definition of rape. The bills would have prohibited federal funds from being used for abortion, except under certain conditions, with both bills as initially drafted using the term “forcible rape” as an exception to the funding ban. While the legislation didn’t explain the difference between rape and forcible rape, the word “forcible” was later removed from each bill following criticism from Democratic lawmakers and reproductive-rights groups.

So what is the difference really? Both the terms “forcible rape” and “legitimate rape” imply the existence of non-forced and illegitimate rapes. Why in the hell do politicians—male politicians—believe they have the right to define a woman’s rape experience? All rape is forcible. Physically, mentally, psychologically—all rapes are forced upon a woman one way or another. No woman wants to be raped. All rapes are legitimate. Why are these people spending so much energy attempting to redefine rape? Shouldn’t that energy be put toward stopping rape instead? Is this what we elect our officials to do?

I have a daughter. She is six years old and is beginning 1st grade next week. She is beautiful. And sassy. And smart as a whip. She is altogether lovely, in my completely unbiased opinion. The thought of anyone ever hurting her is the nightmare that keeps me awake at night. I want to protect her with every fiber of my being.

But one day, my little girl will be out in this big, scary world on her own. Chances are pretty slim that she will be living in the Congo or South Africa where rape is a fact of everyday life. She will likely, however, be living on a college campus somewhere. She will probably have a boyfriend. She might find herself at a frat party one night. She may even have the audacity to walk to her car in an empty parking lot. I pray with all of my heart that she will be safe. But so did the moms and dads of all of the women who were raped yesterday. And today. And those who will be raped tomorrow. All of their parents prayed for their safety. And they were still raped.

It’s ideology like that espoused by Mr. Akin that makes all of our daughters unsafe. By implying that the experience of a woman who is raped is somehow illegitimate, aren’t we excusing the rapist? It’s the old ploy of blaming the victim again. Saying that she was somehow “asking for it.” That she really “wanted it.” These words—even when implied and not overtly spoken—empower rapists. They provide fuel to the man waiting in the parking lot to attack MY daughter. To attack YOUR daughter. When we imply that a woman was asking for it, we establish ourselves as a people who think rape is okay. A nation who condones the physical, mental, and psychological ravaging of our daughters.

I don’t want to be a part of that nation. I do not want to be those people. Until we all stand up to the ignorant Todd Akins of this world, our girls will not be safe. We must speak with a unified voice and declare that rape is NEVER okay. It is NEVER acceptable. It is NEVER wanted. It is NEVER asked for. And it WILL NOT be excused here. It WILL NOT be justified here. It WILL NOT be condoned here. Until we do, none of our daughters are safe.


Anonymous said...

I agree with all that you say Shannon the subject of rape. I am going to use a term I heard yesterday. Mr. Akin is a fucktard and if that were not enough a rich white guy once again speaking out of his ass. I would love to see where he stood if it was one of his daughters or granddaughters. Somehow, until it is a family problem do these white, rich assholes change their tunes. I would probably kill someone who touched my nieces or granddaughters and raped them. I can't control the rage inside me right now over this. Our country is going so backwards it hurts my insides and my soul.

Jessica said...

Fabulous post! I know what you mean about politics as a topic--I'm so there. Also glad I've been tuned out. I had no idea about that statement. I'd see some references to it here and there, but didn't know the story. WOW! What a moron. Truly heartbreaking. I would love to know what "doctors" he was citing. Also wish he would look up the definition of rape. Can't believe we let people that dumb run our political system. Yikes!

Just Margaret said...

Yes. Exactly what you wrote, Shannon. This Akin guy is scary, and quite frankly, so is Ryan. I've been shying away from political this time round (politics was much more prolific 4 years ago on my blog), but this totally bears repeating.

And Science. Science matters. Period. Idiots like this guy can't just SAY something and have it be true.

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