By now, I'm sure you've heard about how Republican Senate candidate and current Missouri Representative Todd Akin said, "...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."
For further reading on this situation, I suggest you check out Shakesville's running coverage on the topic. If all of this doesn't make your head explode, I first must ask: WHY?! But I assume you are a decent human being and your head is thoroughly exploded. After you've picked your brains off the floor, I'd like to talk for a minute about why people attempt to narrowly define rape. As Ian Millhiser wrote at Think Progress, Akin (with our current republican VP nominee) has been in the business of trying to dismiss certain types of rape for a while:
Last year, Akin joined with GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as two of the original co-sponsors of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill which, among other things, introduced the country to the bizarre term “forcible rape.”HUH? What the hell does that mean anyway? What is forcible and what isn't? And what rape isn't forcible? Furthermore, why in the hell would a representative be in the business of categorizing rape types? Does that create JOBS?
OH WAIT...as Millhiser continues:
Federal law prevents federal Medicaid funds and similar programs from paying for abortions. Yet the law also contains an exception for women who are raped. The bill Akin and Ryan cosponsored would have narrowed this exception, providing that only pregnancies arising from “forcible rape” may be terminated. Because the primary target of Akin and Ryan’s effort are Medicaid recipients — patients who are unlikely to be able to afford an abortion absent Medicaid funding — the likely impact of this bill would have been forcing many rape survivors to carry their rapist’s baby to term.Aaaaaand there is it. This is ultimately about controlling people's bodies and forced pregnancy. Really think about that. Akin's policies and statements are made from such a disturbingly anti-choice place that they are aimed at forcing someone to carry their rapist's baby. But most people don't really like that idea, so of course he is trying to say "If you got pregnant you weren't really raped!" I mean, we all know that rape victims are really just lying hussies who wanted it. Duh.
Sarcasm aside, I've said this before and I will say it again: narrowly defining rape helps no one but rapists. It perpetuates rape culture. If we doubt and deny that women are raped unless some arbitrary standard is met (a stranger attacks a modestly dressed virgin in an alley way and she fights like hell the whole time and doesn't get pregnant) we allow for the continuation of rapes which don't fit this standard. And a majority of rapes don't meet that standard. So rape continues.
And who ultimately benefits when rape is normalized? Is it women?