comments_image Comments

The 8 Worst Things Republicans Have Said About Rape, Sex and Women's Bodies

It's not just GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin. It's practically a party tradition.
 
 
Share

A sign at a NYC rally for Planned Parenthood.
Photo Credit: Sarah Seltzer

 

By now you’ve likely heard -- and perhaps felt your jaw drop over -- Todd Akin’s interview, in which the Republican Senate candidate from Missouri admitted that he believes abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape, because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” If you follow that logic to its end, Akin means: Ladies, if you say you got pregnant after being raped, you’re probably lying about being raped.

Of course, the scientific facts are far from being on Akin’s side, which should be embarrassing for a member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. While it may be true that  female ducks have evolved in such a way that they now have a biological anti-pregnancy response to forced sex, human beings most definitely have not. As the  Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff notes, many scientific studies have proven that the you-only-conceive-if-aroused theory is complete bunk. In fact, one study from 2003 even showed that rape victims may be more likely to get pregnant than individuals on the whole.

Akin’s assertion doesn’t make sense in other ways, either. For instance, there’s no sensible reason for the vast majority of mentally stable women to ever “cry rape.” As Amanda Marcotte notes at the  American Prospect, “Why would a woman trying to put a one-night stand behind her invite grilling by detectives and defense attorneys? Why would someone so concerned about maintaining the illusion of purity subject her sex life to examination by a crowd of jurors?”

Akin responded to the firestorm over his comments by claiming he “misspoke,” while plenty of members of the media have characterized the incident as a gaffe. But harmless gaffe it is not. As heartening as it is to see  pressure for Akin to withdraw his Senate bid, there is a real concern that the situation will be forgotten when the news cycle eventually moves on. Because the reality is that this story is not merely about one inept Republican putting his foot in his mouth. Rather, Akin’s statement fits into the framework of the ongoing Republican assault on reproductive rights, and more broadly, our society’s pernicious rape culture (which is perpetuated not just by Republicans, but some self-identified progressives as well). Akin doesn’t stand alone.

The mistaken notion that one’s body can somehow elude pregnancy when not aroused  dates back centuries and is still a popular myth -- though one rarely shared in public -- among some anti-choicers today.

Within hours of Akin’s remark, journalists were producing detailed accounts of similarly absurd comments on abortion, rape and birth control from GOP officials and pundits, all of which showed a complete callousness toward science and women’s autonomy. To put Akin-gate in context, here are eight of the worst that we at AlterNet could find, past and present, but the full gamut of this sort of talk goes far, far beyond the following short list.

1. Other absurd Republican contributions to the “rape doesn’t lead to babies” myth. As Anna North reported earlier this year, other Republicans paved the way for Akin’s recent statements. In 1995, Republican Henry Aldridge stated that when a woman is raped, “the juices don’t flow,” and in 1988 another Republican congressman stated that women emit “a certain secretion” that stops pregnancy when they are raped. (Which has led many of us to wonder, which  is it, guys? Do these mythical juices flow, or do they  stop flowing, when a woman is raped?) 

 
See more stories tagged with: