I have to say that I feel very fortunate to be talking from a place of “I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.” At least, not from the personal experience of getting raped, as I have never been raped (Legitimately or illegitimately, though Congressman Todd Akin needs to explain to me the difference. Which he won’t do. Because there is none.)
I’ve been lucky, to have never been in a situation before. And don’t get me wrong… in college, I took self-defense classes to increase my safety when walking campus at night and carried a whistle and organized rape-defense classes for the girls who live in my residence hall.
And still… I’ve just been “lucky.” Lucky that it hasn’t happened to me. Yet. That despite these extra precautions I’ve taken over time to make me… braver? Confident? Hyper-aware of my surroundings whenever I walk outside? Some mix of all three, I think. Despite these actions, I’ve just been lucky.
Because most rapes don’t happen outside, behind a bush late at night when no one is nearby to hear your screams. Most happen when you’re in perfectly average situations. Situations where you feel safe enough to let your guard down.
My problem with Congressman Akin is I think he thinks rape only occurs behind those bushes.
And that kind of thinking is incredibly dangerous and demeaning.
I said at the beginning that I didn’t know much about this topic from the personal experience of getting raped. But I do know some things about what happens next.
I grew up in a generation of kids who knew about and most of whom were having sex long before that reached the legal age of 18. And I grew up in a generation where most people didn’t want to tell us anything about sex. No one wanted to teach us what it means to have sex. We were taught to “Just Say No” to drugs, but never taught the young men that “No means No” and never taught the women that “It’s okay to say no” and to report it if someone didn’t listen.
But my college experience changed everything I knew. As a resident assistant, I organized Rape Aggression Defense classes with our campus police department in our halls. I created bulletin boards with reminders about drinking the unknown and keeping yourself safe on campus. We all preached walking in teams, embracing the buddy system and had long discussions about calling home for help if you drank something and felt funny while at a party.
It was not my job to be a tattletale on my girls for their underage drinking or partying ways. And I made sure my girls knew that, because it’s how I built trust. (And because it wasn’t my job to bust them for underage drinking when they weren’t on campus.) Which is why I got many, many calls, on countless weeknights and weekends, from girls in my hall, who couldn’t get out of a party or a house. Girls that had been drugged. Girls who needed help to prevent being raped. Girls who weren’t sure where they were anymore or what had happened to them, but knew something wasn’t right. Girls who had already been raped and needed help getting home because they were literally too scared to move.
Along with my girls, I had great relationships with many of the boys in our hall and whether I was able to leave the building or not that weekend, I’d literally knock on doors and wake up a couple of sober guys up to make retrieval parties. One time, we had organized a group of 10, mostly men, to a frat house to retrieve three girls, one who was absolutely certain the other two had been drugged, but she couldn’t get them out of house nor protect them both herself. Like an army, they marched in together and carried our girls home, got other girls who looked like they were in trouble, out of the house. (And then I called the cops.)
Why not call the police at the first sign of trouble? Because with the police came consequences. Reports. Arrests. Possible school suspensions. And to most people, the worst of it was having their parents find out. And what happened the couple of times I’d gotten calls from girls who had already been assaulted? The absolute worst thing that could happen to someone who’s just been violated in the most egregious way is to force them to talk about it and sit through an exam because a police officer picked them up and dropped them off at the ER and asked them for details and she’s nothing but alone.
Once we got my girls home, all but once, I was able to convince them to keep their clothes on, (when all they really want to do is take a shower and peel off their skin), and let me or a friend or whoever made them comfortable, take them to the emergency room. This way they’d have support and a sense of protection while having to submit to a rape kit. Have photos taken of them. Have their most private areas swabbed for evidence.
And I’d get them to do it by telling them having the kit completed doesn’t mean you have to file a police report. It just means you have it, if you decide you want to say something, eventually. Most of the time, my girls were terrified of saying anything. Because saying something meant they had to relive it. It meant people were going to have questions and they were going to have to answer them. And sometimes, it was the pure mortification of knowing they had been raped, but having no idea who did it to them. Having no idea about who drugged them.
But the worst, the absolutely worst part of each of these situations for each of these girls that I’ve been present for? It was the doubt.
Whether the police or the staff in the ER, their parents… you name it. Someone always doubted the truthfulness of their stories. Someone always doubted her motives. They’d doubt these girls simply because of the outfit she chose to wear, or the decision she made to drink that drink she was offered. Her decision to go to a party. Or to follow a guy home.
Human beings make mistakes. But we live in a society where people assume most rape victims asked for it. And that disgusts me.
It’s this attitude, this doubt that women are telling the truth about being raped, that simply makes Congressman Todd Akin a dangerous human being, much less an elected official. Because to deem a rape as anything but disgusting and horrific hurts ALL women and he did just that by suggesting there are things such as “legitimate rapes.” And it’s a disservice, not just the women who have already been raped, but all of the women who will be raped.
Rape is rape. And most women will never say a word to anyone. I’ve never been raped, but I’ve heard my fair share of stories and seen first-hand the effects rape has on women that have lived through it. Some of have never told anyone. For some, I am their secret keeper. That doesn’t make them weak.
So this all comes up this week because Rep. Todd Akin said something ridiculously asinine: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
He later clarified his comments. What he meant to say?
Akin: You know, Dr. Willkie has just released a statement and part of his letter, I think he just stated it very clearly. He said, of course Akin never used the word legitimate to refer to the rapist, but to false claims like those made in Roe v. Wade and I think that simplifies it….. There isn’t any legitimate rapist…. [I was] making the point that there were people who use false claims, like those that basically created Roe v. Wade.
My point here is not to rehash this argument. The idea that a woman can will he body not to get pregnant when a man forces his sperm into her reproductive system is so out of touch with reality that anyone who repeats the point as truth or evidence should simply be punched in the face.
In 2010, Todd Akin, along with 158 other members of the House of Representatives, supported a piece of legislation, which introduced the term “forcible rape” in to legislation titled: HR 5939 – No Taxpayer Funded Abortions.
See the full text here: http://chrissmith.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hr_5939.pdf
Let’s get a definition for Forcible Rape.
Forcible Rape: The carnal knowledge of a person, forcibly and/or against that person’s will; or not forcibly or against the person’s will where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity (or because of his/her youth).
I mean… legitimately, it kinda sounds like it covers everything, right? Except for the use of the word’ forcible’ – because all rapes are forced.
(UPDATE: I heard in an interview on this issue today that the term the anti-choice folks use as a counterpart to “forcible rape” is”consensual rape”… insert your ‘what the f*ck’ here.)
The problem with inserting this term into this legislation is simple: In order to obtain an abortion for a pregnancy gained through rape, you have to prove that the rape was forced on you or against your will.
You have to PROVE your RAPE to the government.
What. The. Fuck.
My point in writing this is not to rehash ludicrous arguments with no scientific backing, or to write something that you haven’t heard thusfar, if you’ve been paying attention, or to highlight the plenty awful things I’ve dreamed might happen to Rep. Todd Akin’s own reproductive system.
My goal is that you get out and vote in November.
My body may not have magical powers of sperm rejection, but it does have magical powers at the ballot box. And I encourage you to review this list (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr3) and not just hold Todd Akin accountable in Missouri by sheer will, but hold every man and woman, Democrat and Republican, who supported this legislation accountable.
My list of people I won’t support is long. Rep. Paul Ryan supported this legislation and he’ll be on the presidential ticket this November.
And he won’t have my vote.
Rep. Mike Pence supported this legislation and he’s running for governor of Indiana this November.
And he won’t have my vote.
Rep. Joe Donnelly (a Democrat) supported this legislation. I may loathe his opponent in Indiana’s Senatorial race, but neither man will be receiving *my* vote.
(My representative, Dan Burton, also co-sponsored this bill, but is retiring. I’ll have to live with the fact that he’s never had my vote in the past.)
These guys aren’t getting my vote. My magical body rejects the hypocrisy of these men, thinking they have the right to demand a woman prove she was raped.
As if simply being raped wasn’t awful enough!
And this is not about whether you believe in the right to choose, the right to an abortion, whether in cases of rape, or not.
It’s about believing a woman, when she says she’s been raped and supporting her, whether you know her or not, whether you’ve been in her shoes or not, no matter what.
We need to unite in outrage.
There’s no such thing as Legitimate Rape and we are hurting women and discouraging them to report a rape, when we simply want women to prove that they weren’t asking to be RAPED. That those women didn’t kinda sorta want to be RAPED. And that, if they didn’t like being RAPED at least a little bit, they wouldn’t be pregnant because honestly, a woman’s body usually takes care of that for her.
Be horrified. Be outraged. Be disgusted. And don’t let anyone gloss over this issue and say it’s just this one guy with no idea about what he’s saying. There were 159 members of Congress who supported this legislation.
Tell these “people” that Rape is Rape. Say so with your voice. And, please, say so with your vote.
(This list actually list all 227 sponsors for the bill, additions from the original draft.)
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