It doesn’t much matter which side of the Atlantic you’re on. If you’re a woman in the UK or the US this week, you’ve been thrown under the bus.
In the US, a 60-something Missouri man running for the US Senate, Todd Akin, has put forth the most horrendous, ignorant tripe. He believes, it appears, that some rapes are “legitimate”, some rapes are not. And that women have a mysterious system enabling them to “shut down” their reproduction if they don’t want a particular man’s sperm to fertilize their eggs.
Number one. Rape is rape. It’s the entrance of someone else’s body into one’s own, without consent. Just as home invasion is the entrance into one’s abode by someone who does not have permission.
And, yes, that means each and every time. Over in the UK, some men are calling what Julian Assange (the Swedish Wikileaks guy – and you can admire Wikileaks without admiring Assange’s sexual behavior) is alleged to have done “bad sexual etiquette” but hardly rape. This, because he entered a woman’s body while she was asleep.
Look, why is this so hard for men to understand? You want to enter someone’s body, you ask. The other person needs to be alert enough, sober enough, old enough, to make an informed decision. After that, if s/he says yes, that “yes” holds for that particular time, but it doesn’t give you carte blanche to re-insert ad infinitum. Especially not when s/he’s not awake.
I believe men know this. They understand it – because when the situation is reversed, when they are the ones whose bodies are being entered, they want the right to say when and how. Oh, they understand, all right. They just don’t like it.
They don’t think they should have to ask each and every time. They believe they should be entitled to free entry if one entry has been permitted. In lots of places (Sweden and Israel, so unlike each other in many ways, are countries where this happens), men think they’re entitled to sex without condoms – leading at least one woman in Israel to give up sex entirely for the duration of her stay. She grew exhausted trying to argue with men who felt entitled to bareback and thereby infect her with more than sperm.
Let’s get this out of the way, too: No woman is able to shut down her reproductive system in order to prevent conception. Would that we were! But no. Akin and his ilk claim they were told this lie by “doctors”. They’re not naming names. But they need to. Because those doctors should be stripped of their licenses to practice medicine, for these falsehoods.
Why did Akin say this? Aside from believing it? Because he’s a Republican, and the GOP is trying to eliminate abortion. So if you can say that raped girls and women cannot conceive – because of an alleged “shutdown” during rape – then you eliminate the need for abortion. Because if a woman is pregnant, she has not been raped. No shutdown, no rape.
This is so false and outrageous it beggars belief. Particularly in 2012, stated by Akin, a member of the House Committee on Science.
You could not make this stuff up.
Some right-wingers are saying, “why are we talking about this, when we have so many problems with the economy?”. Because you right-wingers want people to think this is not happening. Because you want to disguise the GOP stance on abortion. And because this, too, is a problem. It’s a problem of attitudes and beliefs (and in Akin’s case, raw ignorance) about women, 50% of the adult population.
I’m not a Rudy Giuliani fan at all, but if you know what NYC was like before he as mayor began to attack “small” problems (graffiti; broken windows; guys who splashed suds on your car windshield and then demanded payment to clean it off; etc.), you know that attention to small problems means you prevent larger ones.
Even if attitudes toward rape were “small” — they aren’t, they go to the heart of what constitutes bodily integrity, just as attitudes toward burglary and home invasion go to the heart of what constitutes integrity of one’s abode — we would do well to pay attention to them simply in order to prevent wholesale destruction of the rights of women.
A story in today’s Telegraph reports that in the UK, 11% of rape complaints are simply “written off” and ignored. That’s 1 out of 9. Not investigated at all, 11%.
Compare that to allegations of other UK crimes, not investigated:
2% of reported burglaries
3% of drugs complaints
5% of robberies
6% of non-sexual assaults.
If you experience a sexual assault in the UK, therefore, your protest to the police is twice as likely to be ignored as if you were simply knocked on the head – especially since head-bashing can occur to men as well as women, but women are subjected to rape in far higher numbers than grown men. I wonder what the US statistics on ignoring rape are?
That’s why we need to pay attention to attitudes and beliefs. They direct one’s behavior. So, if Akin continues in his quest for a seat in the Senate – he’s declared himself ready to “rush to the gunfire” – we need to heap scorn on him. (It’s simple. This is the man who declared John Paul Jones, who died in 1792, an “old friend” of his.) Because it’s not just his beliefs in falsehoods. It’s not just that he stubbornly refuses to accept that females have the same right to bodily integrity as males.
It’s that he wants to turn his worldview into the accepted American worldview.
Which would be a slap in the face of civilization.