legitimate rape

Susan B. Anthony List to Provide GOP "Sensitivity Training"

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said the lawmakers are falling for a trap set by proponents of abortion rights who want to focus the debate on extremes such as rape instead of other abortions.

“It’s a tactic to [force pro-life lawmakers to] talk about this rather than the 98 percent of abortions because they know that they lose it,” Dannenfelser said.

She said that SBA List is working on a new training program for candidates and lawmakers to “make sure that in future elections, a candidate can never with a straight face say, ‘I never thought about that or I got caught flat-footed.’”

Marina Ein, whose public relations firm does crisis communications, said the party needs some kind of “sensitivity training” for its candidates if it wants to do better in the next elections.

“It all boils down to whether or not the Republican Party thinks this is a problem,” she said. “If they want to make inroads with women, then they need to subject every one of their candidates to sensitivity training—not to mention reality training."

The training would have to “educate politicians on subjects that are absolutely taboo, except to say, ‘I sympathize with the pain of anyone who goes through fill-in-the-blank,’” she said.

While learning to shut up about sensitive subjects would be a huge step forward for many GOP politicians, I think this is a band-aid. Providing sensitivity training to clueless power groups is like teaching someone to be a high-functioning sociopath instead of the kind who turns into a serial killer.

Gingrey's Bad Science and Bad Logic

When I responded to Rep. Phil Gingrey’s “legitimate rape” remarks on Saturday, I focused on the subtle misogyny underlying the statement. William Saletan at Slate wants to make sure we don’t miss the bad science behind Gingrey’s claims that stress can cause infertility and that doctors frequently tell women to “Just relax. Drink a glass of wine.”

If Gingrey is telling this to his patients—and prescribing alcohol for it—he’s a quack. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “While chronic stress, for example from extreme exposure to famine or war, may decrease a woman’s ability to conceive, there is no scientific evidence that adrenaline, experienced in an acute stress situation, has an impact on ovulation.” The American Society for Reproductive Medicine agrees: “There isn’t any proof that stress causes infertility.” Another infertility organization, Resolve, says “stress does not cause infertility.” Dr. Gingrey might also benefit from reading this 2010 paper in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology: “Acute stress may induce ovulation in women.”

Saletan also isn’t letting Gingrey slide on his reinterpretation of Akin’s original statement as a warning against false rape accusations by teenage girls afraid to admit they had consensual sex:

Really? That isn’t how Akin explained his remark. On Aug. 20, a day after the gaffe, Akin went on Mike Huckabee’s radio show. Huckabee asked Akin: “What did you mean by ‘legitimate rape’? Were you attempting to say forcible rape?” Akin replied: “Yeah, I was talking about forcible rape.” If that’s truly what Akin meant, then he was using the term legitimate to suggest that any woman impregnated by rape must have suffered statutory rape, not forcible rape.

As I’ve mentioned frequently, I grew up Republican and retain strong nostalgia and sympathy for the party. So I believe I’m decently-positioned to be fair in thinking this incident illustrates that many of the GOP establishment have gotten lost in uncritical rhetoric and thereby become incapable of not sounding like racist, misogynist, homophobic fear-mongers scrabbling to retain their dwindling vestiges of power.

Because of my also—by this time—well-known belief that most people are pretty decent and have good intentions, I think the Republican party needs to take a good hard look at itself and get educated about the true needs and perspectives of women, gays, and minorities, very quickly.

"I Don’t Find Anything So Horrible About That."

I assume it’s now some sort of GOP hazing ritual to have to make an ill-advised remark about “legitimate rape” in an interview, so it doesn’t really surprise me much that Rep. Phil Gingrey, chairman of the GOP Doctors Caucus, said this on Thursday:

“I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true,” Gingrey said, according to the Marietta Daily Journal. “We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, ‘Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.’ So he was partially right wasn’t he?”

I pretty much expect that of Republican legislators now. Call me cynical. But the [more?] outrageous part of Gingrey’s remarks comes when he tries to interpret what he thinks Todd Akin actually intended to say:

What he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’

Here are two reasons this is still offensive: 1) It reinforces the patriarchal culture that tells women they need to be ashamed to admit they’ve been sexually active, and 2) perpetuating the trope of the woman who lies to cover up her sexual indiscretions betrays an underlying mistrust of women and assumption that they lack integrity.

This is what the Republican party seems not to get about the entire conversation. They keep focusing on whether Akin’s remarks about women’s bodies and rape were medically accurate when it almost doesn’t matter, because the misogyny at the root of this thinking is what’s actually costing them the female vote.

Stop Saying the Word!

Rep. Todd Akin’s wife recently invoked rape as an ill-advised analogy for the Republican Party’s disassociation from Akin:

“Party bosses dictating who is allowed to advance through the party and make all the decisions – it’s just like 1776 in that way.”

That was when colonists “rose up and said, ‘Not in my home, you don’t come and rape my daughters and my… wife. But that is where we are again.”

That analogy doesn’t even make sense, Lady. Here’s something to consider: apparently every time you or your husband mention the word “rape”, you’re going to end up regretting it.

My thanks to the Monty Python gang for suggesting the mantra I think the Akins should adopt from now on.

MD Republican Decides He Doesn't Want His Job Anymore

Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) last week responded to a question about abortion in cases of rape by forcing his Campaign to kneel facing away from him, then putting a bullet through its head:

“If you really – there are very few pregnancies as a result of rape, fortunately, and incest – compared to the usual abortion, what is the percentage of abortions for rape? It is tiny. It is a tiny, tiny percentage.”

Bartlett is reportedly running a pretty close race against two challengers. So while he was technically correct in that the percentage is small, trivializing the issue seems like a pretty stupid thing to do. Does he not remember the last guy who said something like this?

What to Say If Your Best Friend Tells You She Was Raped

#1 on the list is “Believe Her”:

One out of every six American women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. If you look at that statistic (and we all know how under-reported sexual assault is), is it truly possible that all rapes happen in dark alleys? If it were, we’d be seeing knife-wielding maniacs everywhere.

The terrifying truth is that perpetrators of sexual abuse can be anyone—a family member, a coach, a spouse, a babysitter, a friend—and the scariest thing is, they’re not all evil people. They can be accomplished, otherwise law-abiding citizens who seem perfectly normal. So if your best friend tells you she was raped by a regular guy you both know, you can’t immediately turn away from the idea just because it doesn’t fit your notion of what rape looks like.

The Legitimate Children of Rape

One rape survivor, in testimony before the Louisiana Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, described her son as “a living, breathing torture mechanism that replayed in my mind over and over the rape.” Another woman described having a rape-conceived son as “entrapment beyond description” and felt “the child was cursed from birth”; the child ultimately had severe psychological challenges and was removed from the family by social services concerned about his mental well-being. One of the women I interviewed said, “While most mothers just go with their natural instincts, my instincts are horrifying. It’s a constant, conscious effort that my instincts not take over.”

Whatever your views on abortion, I dare you to read this without your heart breaking a little.

Via Feministe.