Sunday, August 19, 2012

Todd Akin, Misspeaking, and Political Posturing

As I type this, the top two trends on Twitter are "Todd Akin" and "#legitimaterape," so I'm going to assume you've probably already heard about Akin's deplorable comments about rape victims.

Just to make sure we're all on the same page, though, this is what the Missouri Senator hopeful had to say:
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
As a Missouri voter and as a woman, I am absolutely appalled that this man has a chance of being my representative. There is so much wrong with this statement that I barely know where to begin. The implication that someone who becomes pregnant during a rape is somehow not "legitimately" raped alone is enough to send shivers down my spine. So, what? If a woman becomes pregnant during rape she was somehow asking for it? She secretly wanted it?

But let's put that aside for a second. Even if we take out the disgusting use of "legitimately," Akin's grasp of basic human biology is absolutely shocking. And it might be important for someone who wants emergency contraception banned "totally, for everyone" to have some sort of grasp over sexual reproduction.

Akin has now come out to say that he "misspoke":
In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it's clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year," Akin's statement said. "Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve."
I call foul.

Akin did not "misspeak." Misspeaking occurs when you have a slip of the tongue. Maybe you accidentally say "Osama" when you mean "Obama." Maybe you accidentally ask a man in a wheelchair to stand up. To misspeak implies that you reacted quickly without fully grasping the contextualization of your statement. Akin did not misspeak. He very clearly outlines where his line of reasoning is coming from (a wholly ill-informed view that's not based on biology or medicine, but he still outlines it). He very clearly explains that "the female body" is supposed to "shut the whole thing down" during "legitimate rape." This is not one errant phrase or word that's out of line with the rest of his statement. This is an attack on women and an insult.

It's also right in line with many of his other comments. In addition to supporting the complete elimination of emergency contraception, championing extreme anti-gay rights agendas, and wanting to end the school lunch program (because protecting children's lives apparently does not extend to making sure they get to eat), he also made recent statements implying that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 should be overturned.

Akin's most recent "misspeaking" may have pushed a few more buttons than some of his previous ones, but they all point clearly to a man whose view of the world leaves no space for equality for anyone who is not like him. This is not a man I want representing me, and I believe in my heart he is not a man that the fair-thinking people I know would want representing them. 

Who we elect matters. Vote carefully.

1 comment:

  1. i'm with you. i cannot stand the whole "I misspoke" excuse, esp. when people come out with racial epithets. you don't accidentally use the N-word in public unless you regularly use it in private. and, as you say, you don't accidentally formulate a woman-hating assessment of rape without having given it some thought ahead of time.