August 21st, 2012at 09:04pm Posted by Eli
You almost have to admire the GOP’s courage in staking out a position that, if not exactly pro-rape, is not entirely anti-rape either. And emphatically not pro-rape victim. So far, I’ve counted three ways in which Republicans act as rape apologists:
1) De-legitimizing rape: In essence, Republicans believe that, come on, not all rapes are really rapes. That if it doesn’t involve a knife or a gun or physical force, well, it’s only rape in some abstract technical sense – it’s more like a date that just got a little out of control. It’s not only Todd Akin talking about “legitimate rape” as if there’s such a thing as fake rape, but most of the House Republican caucus, which tried to limit the rape exemption for abortion coverage to include only “forcible rape” last year.
(To their credit, the GOP has come up with an elegant way to eliminate this awkward rape caste system: Their 2012 platform calls for a constitutional amendment that would ban all abortions, with no rape exemption for anyone. So now all rapes are illegitimate. See also: Voting against the Franken bill to sever ties with contractors that force employees to settle on-the-job rape cases through an arbitrator.)
2) Minimizing the impact: This is similar to the first, but is more about the aftermath. Essentially, Republicans are claiming that rape victims rarely get pregnant. Again, you have Todd Akin’s now-famous claim that “legitimate rape” victims can “shut that whole thing down,” whatever that means. But you also have Rep. Steve King implying that statutory rape and incest victims (which I’m assuming Akins would not consider “legitimate rape”) don’t get pregnant either.
The funny thing about this line of argument is that it’s deployed as a justification for denying abortion exemptions to rape victims. But if they never get pregnant, why worry about the exemption at all? Oh right, because of all the abortion queens who will falsely cry rape just so they can have more abortions. Damn those abortion queens.
3) Accentuating the positive: This is the most perverse of all. You have Mike Huckabee going on about all the wonderful people who are the children of rape, and Missouri Republican Sharon Barnes saying, “if God has chosen to bless this person with a life, you don’t kill it.” I’m pretty sure most rape victims are not going to view their rape baby as an awesome parting gift, especially if they end up looking into the eyes of their rapist every day for 18 or more years.
Of course, it doesn’t really matter, since if they were legitimately raped, they wouldn’t be pregnant anyway, right?
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that there is a fundamental difference between the way normal people and Republicans perceive rape. Normal people think of rape as a soul-shattering assault, while Republicans appear to think of it as unwanted and not-particularly-good sex. At most, they may view it as something like a punch in the face, where the victim is completely back to normal once they recover from the shock and the pain.
Frankly, the only way I can think of to make Republicans as anti-rape as the rest of us is for Obama to declare that he’s for it.