No one should be all that shocked that Todd Akin believes that women’s bodies are biologically equipped to repel the sperm of rapists.
The Missouri GOP congressman does, after all, belong to a party in which ideology has been easing out intelligence for a long time. It’s the party that has, for example, long fought sex education in favor of teaching abstinence, even though numerous studies have shown that it doesn’t work and that many of the courses are rife with errors.
Big errors – like teaching that humans have 24 pairs of chromosomes instead of 23, and that a girl can get pregnant by touching a guy’s genitals.
So when Akin, who is campaigning to replace Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill told a St. Louis television host that,” If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” he didn’t just reveal his own ignorance and insensitivity toward women.
What he revealed was the ignorance that Republicans have been exploiting over the years to attract people who believe that the future of this country lies in bringing back a Puritanical past; a past in which women were almost always blamed for the bad things that happened to them sexually.
Like Akin and the abstinence pushers, they subscribe to outright lies, stereotypes and twisted logic; logic which says that a woman who becomes pregnant after being raped must be lying, because why else would she be pregnant?
Her body would have shut down the entire rapist-to-victim sperm transfer process, for cripes sake!
It’s scary that Akin, a man whose level of understanding about how the female reproductive system works rates alongside that of teenagers who believe that douching with lemon juice after sex can prevent pregnancy, is in a position to make laws that will impact people’s lives.
But what’s even scarier is that if Mitt Romney wins the presidency, Akin will have the ear of his vice-president, Paul Ryan – who sponsored a bill with him last year that reflected their insensitivity toward rape victims.
Their original bill would have only permitted Medicaid funds to be used for abortions in cases of what they called “forcible rape.” By inserting that term, it meant that poor victims of statutory rape – like a 15-year-old girl who was impregnated by her mother’s 40-year-old boyfriend – or a poor woman who was drugged and raped, would be out of luck.
In other words, unless it was a violent attack, most poor women would not be able to obtain an abortion under that law.
But even though Romney and Ryan have condemned Akin’s remarks and distanced themselves from him, the fact remains that his comments, as well as that odious proposal, show that the GOP doesn’t care about science or fairness when it comes to women.
All it cares about is making them pay for their sins.
All women – especially black women – should be wary of this. According to Justice Department estimates, for every white woman who reports her rape, five do not. Yet for every black woman who reports a rape, 15 do not.
And self-blame, like whether their clothes were too revealing or whether they shouldn’t have taken that shortcut home or let a certain guy drive them home, is one of the reasons why many rapes go unreported.
Yet Akin adds to that anguish by saying, in essence, that a woman’s bodily reaction to being raped is the ultimate test as to whether she was really raped. And if her body didn’t emit some sort of rapist sperm repellent, then pregnancy is her punishment for lying – and she should just deal with it.
It ought to worry everyone that people like Akin are in positions of power. Because if nothing else, a lawmaker like him ought to give victimized women hope that if they report being raped, they’ll get justice. Not judgment.
Especially judgment that eschews science for the sake of ideology.
Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her at tonyaajw@twitter.