Gregory Paul: "What Todd Akin and His Fellow Bible Believing Travelers Like Paul Ryan Really Mean"
When House Repub and Senatorial candidate Todd Akin did what he could to boost the Dem’s chances of retaining control of the Senate and the presidency by saying that from “what I understand from doctors, that [women getting pregnant from actually being raped] is really rare, if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” he was also kind enough to help illuminate the following. What many theocons, lots but not all of them male, really think about women. How they are fixated on the Bible as the source of true truth. How they are correspondingly exquisitely ignorant when it comes to the results of modern science and biology. How this serves their purposes when it comes to banning all abortions and why they think that’s a great idea. How there most certainly is a war against women by elements of the right. And how many theocons are primitive psychopathic sexual perverts.
Some of the jaw dropping, aghast, outraged, and by many on the left who want to see the right shoot itself in the foot gleefully delighted reaction, has tended to focus on how Akin appeared to imply that some rape was “legitimate.” Actually he did not do so. Think about it. Theocons are opposed to all sex outside marriage, especially by women. Rape of any form is therefore ungodly and illegit. Akin was using the term legitimate to mean an actual rape that is legitimately claimed because it was truly and fully against the will of the woman. This is important because making the mistake risks diverting us reasonably decent folk from what the brilliantly depraved comment is telling us — in the tradition of a Freudian slip — what many theocons really think.
What Akin was sincerely saying is that women who get pregnant outside of marriage, particularly if they then are murderers who want an abortion because continuing the pregnancy is inconvenient, are when you get down to it sluts. While Akin did not use the word – even he realized it is hard to get into the Senate if you do that – other popular conservatives happily say it. Most famously Rush Limbaugh who has repeatedly pushed hard at using the slut word against a wonderful young woman – Sandra Fluke — who dared publicly disagree with his twisted world-view. And of course Rush has a large audience who delights in agreeing that liberal women are sluts. That this view of sexually active women is pervasive among hard right males was seen on the Book TV appearance of pioneer pro-choice activist Merle Hoffman (www.booktv.org/Program/13675/Intimate+Wars+The+Life+and+Times+of+the+Woman+Who+Brought+Abortion+from+the+Back+Alley+to+the+Boardroom.aspx). An angry male audience member gladly called unmarried females who have abortions sluts.
Here in the 21st century many cultures of many religions are still run in a traditionalist manner that is intrinsically sexually perverse. In hypertraditional patriarchal societies it is absolutely unacceptable for a woman to have any sex for any reason whether she wanted to or not because all honorable males only want to begin married sex with a virgin. Sluts need not apply. It follows that any nonvirgin female is gravely damaged goods. The theory is that any woman who is raped is at fault because she in some way allured the man into raping her – that’s a reason why women are enshrouded to a greater or total extent in some hypertraditionalist cultures – or did not fight back hard enough and was vaginally penetrable because she really wanted it. Better the die resisting than be raped. One reason that a percentage of American theocons believe in this perversion is because it’s right there in Bible. “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered…. He must marry the girl (Deuteronomy 28). Note how the Holy Book slyly implies she really wanted it with the line about if “they are discovered.” This is in accord with the fear that many women are by nature sneaky seductresses who cannot help design to entice men into sexual sin, i. e. sluts. The deeper premise is that women are the slave property of men. First of her father, then of her husband – that’s the other reason why women are enshrouded in some hypertraditionalist societies, can’t have other guys checking out the property. Since the rapist has ruined the father’s chattel, and because no other man will now want her, the rapist is then stuck with her. The Biblical godcould have done the right thing and instructed that the man who rapes a women is to be severely punished while the woman who is raped should be treated with respect and sympathy and be entirely suitable for marriage and so on, but that opportunity to improve societies was lost.
That the Bible was written by sexual perverts is made all more obvious when it says that if “a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death – the girl because she was in town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife (Deuteronomy 22). Again note the emphasis on the woman not doing all she can to avoid the encounter, followed by a vicious orgiastic punishment that gives the “moralists” their perverse pleasure.
Or how about this one. “When you go to war against your enemies and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her” (Deuteronomy 21). Now that’s just plain rape and forced marriage in which women are property in a godly slave society. (Many, even some liberals, try to pass the dark side of the Bible off as the beliefs of ignorant tribal peoples, but this does not change the fact that their sex policies were as depraved as the slavery they practiced.)
There is Deuteronomy 20 where a woman whose hubby dies must not marry outside the family but should hitch up with her late husband’s brother but you have gotten the point.
What the Bible does not mention in abortion. It’s not in there. Not a word.
Akin and his fundamentalist company (many of whom want the government to be officially Christian) have read the sexually perverted Bible, and as believers proudly accept as true those parts that they agree with – they especially adore the condemnation of same sex sex — at least what they can get away with openly believing these days. Since god says the woman who is raped must marry her rapist, it follows that the woman who is impregnated by her rapist should have no problem bearing the child. After all, god provides. Say a woman really is somehow raped, and that despite her complete horror and revulsion he somehow manages to achieve penetration and ejaculates into her reproductive system. Not to worry. In 1980 James Holmes explained in a letter arguing for constitutionally banning abortion that concern “for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately same frequency as snowfall in Miami.” Holmes was later made a federal judge by Bush II. In 1988 Pennsylvania GOP state representative opined that the chance that a woman who is raped will become pregnant are “one in millions and millions and millions,” because the trauma of the experience causes women to “secrete a certain secretion” that acts as a spermicide. But wait, there’s more. In 1995 North Carolina state rep and Repub Henry Aldridge offered how the “facts show that people who are raped – who are truly raped – the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”
What “medical authorities” are Aldridge and Akin referring to?
When the Akin statement emerged many on the left, E. J. Dionne Jr. among them, thought that Akin was daffy when he said that there were doctors who knew that rape does not get women heavy with child. Akin is daffy, but not about the doctor thing. In 1999 president of the National Right to Life Committee John Willke MD detailed the theory that an important reason real rape victims rarely get pregnant is “physical trauma…. To get and stay pregnant a women’s body must produce a very sophisticated mix of hormones. Hormone production is controlled by a part of the brain that is easily influenced by emotions. There’s no greater emotional trauma that can be experienced by a woman than an assault rape. This can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy. So what further percentage reduction in pregnancy will this cause. No one knows, but this factor certainly cuts this last figure by a least 50% and probably more.” After the Akin outing of this quack medical opinion, Willke came up with this one; rape “is a traumatic thing. She’s, shall we say, she’s uptight. She is frightened, tight and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic.” Please note that Willke is making this all up. You can tell because in the last century he said that it was hormones that protected women from the rapist’s DNA, but now he says that the tubing is smart enough to somehow contract to keep the nasty stuff out. And it is not just Willke. American Family Association medical analyst Bryan Fescher is backing Willke up.
That’s what Akin who is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology meant when he said that doctors say rape induced pregnancies are rare. It’s right wing MDs who know that your founders established a Christian nation say so. And for theocons that is all that counts. That there is no actual medical evidence that rape suppresses pregnancy compared to consensual intercourse is no way important. Godly doctors know that their perfect loving creator could not be so cruel as to allow women who have been attacked to get pregnant, so they invent some medical sounding statements to that effect, and all true Christians can and must agree. What those secular “mainstream” experts say is of no import, they don’t know how god always does the right thing. It follows that few if any women who get pregnant were actually raped. That means she must have been OK with it to some extant and did not do what she and her body could have to avoid the intercourse. In theocon land a women who decides to go along with being raped to spare herself injury and death and get legal justice later was complicit. It then follows that she bears some responsibility for her pregnancy and has no right to discontinue the inconvenience. Since truly good women do not get pregnant via rape, then it follows there is no need to allow escape clauses that women who are “raped” can get abortions. In other words, the desperate zealotry to make any abortion immoral and unobtainable has driven them to devise a faith-based medical belief that eliminates the possibility that rape can cause pregnancy.
There are those who dare disagree. That would be sane, knowledgeable, science-based folk. According to the official crime stats, around 300,000 women are raped in a year. It should come as no surprise that of those about 30,000 become pregnant according to objective research venues such as the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (this is in line with expected pregnancy rates during unprotected intercourse). But of course as far as the hard-line anti-choice folks are concerned those pregnancies could not have been the result of true rape because women who have been truly violated do not get pregnant because the loving god makes sure they don’t suffer from the assault. Ergo the pregnant women cannot be the victims of rape. This rejection of reality is the same illogic as the theocons’ belief that mere mortal humans cannot be raising the temperature of the planet because only the Lord Creator God can control the climate of an entire world that only He could create. Pay no attention to what the great bulk of the scientific community says about these things.
Theocons are not, however, consistent about this. The other line they offer to cover the bases is that when a women is pregnant from a rape, she as a supplicant person of god should and must understand that this a gift from her creator, a way that he in his loving wisdom is compensating her for her suffering of the rape with a wonderful baby she can and is obliged to love for the rest of her life.
That sounds patronizing because it is. The theocon anti-abortionists are working very hard at placing women back in their proper traditional place. As second class citizens with extremely restricted reproductive rights that must bow to the demands of the religious right – atheists are not behind this – who are the only followers of the perfect god that they not have sex outside marriage, use contraceptives, or have abortions and if they do that be treated as murderers. Theocons do not consider women mature adults able to make sound decisions in consultation with their doctors as to whether to have or continue a pregnancy, they must be protected by big government from their own sinful foolishness, and from the predatory abortion industry that women are too gullible or sinful to stay away from. That’s why anti-abortionists want the government to make sure women who are slutty enough to have an abortion first see an ultrasound of the fetus. They figure prochoice women are children who have to be taken by their hands and be educated by the god fearing wise right wingers against terminating their pregnancy.
And the cynical hypocrisy of the right is astounding. Take Limbaugh who denounces women who deign to have sex outside of Holy Matrimony as sluts while his mainly male audience eats it up. Has Rush been chaste all his life, engaging in sexual activity only with his four wives? That’s a huge stretch. What about all those slut despising men in his audience? Surveys show that while a third of Americans say sex out of wedlock is immoral, 95% have it. How about the man who verbally denounced the desperate women who have been helped by Ms. Hoffman as sluts? But hypocrisy is not just about theocon men being sexually active outside marriage while denouncing liberal females for doing it. Take Ann Coulter. She is middle aged, never been married. She is severely anti-abortion (and denounced Akin for putting the Repub victory in peril by not getting out of the race), but there is not the slightest evidence she is anywhere close trying to be chaste, or thinks folks should be. Far from it, on Rivera Live she said, “Let’s say I go out every night. I meet a guy and have sex with him. Good for me. I’m not married.” On the almost certainly correct presumption that Coulter is as right wingers like to say a fornicator it must also be presumed that she is using contraceptives of some sort or another. This is not a problem per se. Indeed good for her. What is a problem is that the profornicating Coulter, far from being denounced by Limbaugh and theocons in general as being the slut that she is by their standards, is instead a leading heroine of her fellow travelers – she is even a sex symbol for young male conserves — who are pushing for abstinence only education and the nonuse of the contraceptives that make nonmarital sex practical. The religious right has no shame. Really, they don’t.
The next question is who and how many traditionalists embrace these archaic perversions. As you read this much of the political right including the Mitt-Paul duet is fleeing like a herd of panicked wildebeest from the looming electoral disaster that is Akin’s politically stupid, stupid outing of what so much of the right really thinks smack in the middle of the election cycle, right before the glorious GOP convention that was supposed to be all about jobs, jobs, jobs, not rape, rape, rape and abortion, abortion, abortion. And the big-mouthed idiot refuses to abandon his race for Congress (it only makes it worse that the put upon Akin has since whined that his only mistake was the it-should-be-understandable-slip-up of using the “legitimate” word, he stands by all the rest of what he said). The conservative establishment such as it is including Romney now want the majority of voters to imagine it is just some fringy guys and gals way over there on the hard core right who have been for treating pregnant rape victims as complicit sinning fornicators who got what they deserve. Just as they want us to pretend that the right that loathes Medicare and Social Security and always will is all set on doing all it can to preserve Medicare and Social Security for generations to come. Fortunately, before the current stampede the theocons were kind enough to leave lots of tracks of their actual opinions via recent electoral actions.
Because the rape exclusion for abortion is such a stumbling block to their ultimate goal the right has been rather sneakily trying to legally redefine rape to get rid of the annoyance that stands in the way of an abortion free theocon utopia. This has forced the right to resort to three electoral “tells” that let the rest of know what they are actually up to. One is the redefinition of rape. Earlier this year House Repubs tried to rewrite the definition of the crime when it pertains to what procedures federal tax payers will cover. Had it gone into effect then only abortions resulting from “forcible” rape could have been paid for with federal monies. This crude attempt to begin to narrow down rape to only acts that cannot result in pregnancy raised such an outcry that it was dropped. But the revised bill was still boorish enough to exclude pregnancies resulting from statutory rape – that 14 year old being bounced by the 19 year old musta kinda been OK with it since her hormones or open did not reject his sperm. Every single House member of Lincoln’s Grand Old Party and a few blue dog Dems were sufficiently sleazy and depraved to vote for that perversion, and Repubs have pushed similar bills in state legislatures. Another tell is defining a fertilized egg as a person since that makes any abortion including those subsequent to any kind of rape murder. This is the ardent craving of a tremendous chunk of Republicans. Even as the Akin flap rages, the GOP platform committee has gone ahead and enshrined zygotic personhood in the party platform, a position Romney supports. The third tell is preventing access to the morning after pill that rape victims can resort to. That Catholic Church doctrine is all for making any abortion the unallowable murder of a person is embraced by a large minority of its members. And lots of Protestant sects agree. The portion of the population that does not want rape to be an excuse for obtaining an abortion is around a fifth. So the primitivism that “rape” pregnancies are for one reason or another not a big enough deal to be deserving of allowance by law is believed by 60 million Americans (see footnote).
Which as big as it is, is an electoral minority. Over three quarters of voters want post rape abortion to be legal. Fortunately for Romney who is already facing a scary gender gap of 20+%, because Mormonism is an outgrowth of the Protestant tradition he has some wiggle room to allow for abortion due to rapes, and to call for Akin to withdraw. Less fortunately for him he happened to make his absolutist anti-abortion Catholic running mate choice at the worst moment as his party exhibits similarly bad timing by proclaiming that post rape abortion is a no-no. Ryan co-sponsored with Akin and others the psychopathic House bill to bar statutory rape from being a reason for poor girls to get a subsidized abortion, and favors an amendment making fertilized eggs people. Ryan — who if he becomes Veep will be one step from the presidency he is shooting for — is Akin in a much more politically pleasing and savvy form. One so unprincipled and self serving that he is demanding that Akin quit his Senate race even though the two of them agree on how raped women have to put up with any pregnancy that the Lord Creator saw fit to come to pass (in fact the anti-abortion vote ratings for Ryan are actually higher, to be specific perfect, compared to Akin who slipped up a few times).
And there is the Willke-Romney tie this affair has wonderfully turned up. In 2007 the quack doctor said about Mitt’s running for Prez, “Unlike other candidates who only speak to the importance of confronting the major social issues of the day, Governor Romney has a record of action in defending life. Every decision he made as Governor was on the side of life. I know he will be the strong pro-life President we need in the White House. Governor Romney is the only candidate who can lead our pro-life and pro-family conservative movement to victory in 2008.” Instead of recoiling in disgusted horror Mitt replied that “I am proud to have the support of a man who has meant so much to the pro-life movement in our country. He knows how important it is to have someone in Washington who will actively promote pro-life policies. Policies that include more than appointing judges who will follow the law but also opposing taxpayer funded abortion and partial birth abortion. I look forward to working with Dr. Willke and welcome him to Romney for President.”
The anti-abortion movement IS a faith-based war on women, one that echoes the more extreme cultural wars on women being waged in many traditional religious 2nd and 3rd world countries. And it is not just a man against women thing. Many American females, Phyllis Schlafly being the leader of the pack, are all for keeping themselves and their sisters from being full sovereign citizens. I have heard theocon women happily state that they want their government to protect them from the choice to have an abortion lest they succumb to the temptation. It is all too similar to how so many women are actively striving to limit their own rights in Egypt, India, Tunisia and Uganda. So putting more women in government is always necessary and often good for multiple reasons, but it is not a panacea.
It is not possible for women to be first class citizens if the culture and their government treat them as lacking sufficient mature judgment to decide how to handle their reproductive activities before and after impregnation. All the more so when nonchaste conservative men are free from the pernicious slut charge, and don’t have to fret about whether or not to continue their pregnancy whether accidental or criminal in origin. Open access to contraceptives and safe and legal abortion is a fundamental liberty that a nation must honor if it is to be truly democratic and prowomen.
The real problem is not that the Republicans are working towards banning abortion outright as much as many of them would like to do that. There has been virtually no movement on opinion on the issue for decades, and if abortion became available so many women would turn against the GOP that the issue would be an electoral disaster on the whole, rather than the fund raising goldmine and base motivating machine that abortion is as long as it remains basically legal. The real problem is how access to what is a constitutional right is being effectively denied to a growing portion of the population as many hundreds of laws are passed to “regulate” it out of practical existence in as many places as possible (much as blacks had a constitutional right to vote that was denied to most of them in the south by voting “regulations”). In southern Texas low-income women are so lacking in abortion services with clinics being shut down and providers being intimidated that they are crossing the border to obtain drugs to induce abortions with dangerous consequences. Countless women always have and always will terminate their pregnancies, laws cannot come close to stopping women from controlling their reproduction (www.americanmoralspublicreality.org/index.php/why-abortion-will-always-be-common-why-no-god-is-opposed-to-abortion-and-why-the-anti-abortion-movement-is-just-picking-on-women).
The best thing about the Akin fiasco is that it is a huge national learning experience. It is giving a heads up to a lot of uninformed folks about just how barbaric and venal the anti-abortion zealots truly really are. It will never be their twisted little under the radar secret again. Until now the right has given most of the nation the impression that they want a post rape abortion to be a criminal murder because of their concern about the little life. Now that they have been outed we all know they also think that women who cry rape to get an abortion are ungodly sluts. The right wing war on women is correspondingly less deniable. Hopefully it will help wake up millions to how the anti-women movement has been succeeding in slyly succeeding in denying abortion to millions. The theocon project has worked because progressive women have been slack in organizing and especially in voting for prochoice candidates especially of the female variety. There is reason to think that Akin has done more than anyone in decades to get a lot of women madder than hell and get the electoral job done. It could be that Akin has lost the election for a party that should sail into the White House and capture the Senate on the back of a slowly recovering economy. That can happen of women get to the polls to defend and improve the ability of women to safely control their own bodies. If progressives sit on their hands they will be inviting the theocons to use the law to run their lives.
Footnote: One of the ironies about the allowance for rape abortions that some anti-abortionists would allow is that the exclusion is itself perverse. That’s because if abortions are allowed only for rape victims, then it will not be that a woman will just be able to say she had been raped and she will have that abortion thank you very much. If it were that easy then lots of women will be claiming to have been raped just to get the abortion. Instead there will have to be a very intrusive and traumatizing vetting process. A real rape victim will have to prove she truly was forced to have sex against her will as the protohuman her attacker left behind continues to reside and grow in her, making the abortion later term and more difficult and dangerous. Indeed it is not even clear how this would work. Wouldn’t the rapist have to be convicted to establish that the rape occurred? By that time the pregnancy will already have come to term. Which would be fine with the anti-abortionists. If the abortion is allowed before the trial for the alleged rapist, and he is judged not guilty, is the women then subject to murder charges? To channel Cenk Uyger, “Of course,” she is. The is the intent of personhood for fertilized eggs that Romney, Ryan and Akin are for. The reality is that the exclusion for rape will not be a practical long-term problem in the anti-abortion scheme because it is an illusion, it is a lie intended as a temporary stage on the way to the total ban. Once they have the other abortions made into murder they will go after the forced sex exclusion. The reality is that any system in which a woman who wants to have an abortion has to petition some form of authority means that women are not independent and sovereign mature adult citizens the way men are.
(By Greg Paul, for ESJRR)