Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of Congressman Akin’s horrifying remarks regarding pregnancy and ‘legitimate rape’:
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare… If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
I’m disappointed and angered that such an ignorant remark can be made by an elected official in my country in 2012. While Akin later apologized and stated that he ‘misspoke,’ that kind of apology simply sounded fake — it is unlikely that he ‘misspoke’ but rather that Akin is one of the profoundly sexist Republicans in office today. So sexist that his beliefs cause him to believe in ‘facts’ that are simply ludicrous, beyond comprehension for anyone who has taken a 9th grade biology class.
Today, I wanted to simply highlight some of my favorite responses to Akin – by women and activists who have experienced rape themselves. This traumatic experience has been trivialized by Akin and his supporters, causing pain to the millions of women who have been raped or sexually assaulted. One of the most courageous and eloquent responses, as expected, comes from Eve Ensler:
Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to close your eyes and imagine that you are on your bed or up against a wall or locked in a small suffocating space. Imagine being tied up there and imagine some aggressive, indifferent, insane stranger friend or relative ripping off your clothes and entering your body — the most personal, sacred, private part of your body — and violently, hatefully forcing themself into you so that you are ripped apart. Then imagine that stranger’s sperm shooting into you and filling you and you can’t get it out. It is growing something in you. Imagine you have no idea what that life will even consist of, spiritually made in hate, not knowing the mental or health background of the rapist.
Then imagine a person comes along, a person who has never had that experience of rape, and that person tells you, you have no choice but to keep that product of rape growing in you against your will and when it is born it has the face of your rapist, the face of the person who has essentially destroyed your being and you will have to look at the face every day of your life and you will be judged harshly if you cannot love that face.
I don’t know if you can imagine any of this (leadership actually requires this kind of compassion), but if you are willing to go to the depth of this darkness, you will quickly understand that there is NO ONE WHO CAN MAKE THAT CHOICE to have or not have the baby, but the person carrying that baby herself.
There was absolutely no “legitimacy” or “illegitimacy” about that night, and there never is in any case of rape. Not mine, not theirs. It is an act of power, cowardice and fear. It is wrong, on every level.
With all due respect, Congressman, you do not have a woman’s body. And as far as I know, you have never been raped. Your job is to speak for your constituents. You have a very public platform. Whether or not you continue your campaign for the Senate seat, you owe it to those you represent to be informed about the statements you make, the issues you debate, the votes you cast.