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Posted at 08:04 AM ET, 08/20/2012

‘Legitimate rape’ and Todd Akin’s myths


Legitimately? (Jeff Roberson - AP)
Todd Akin, the Missouri Republican candidate for Senate, told a TV interviewer on Sunday that, “First of all, 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.”

Wow.

And this from a member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Who are these doctors?

Perhaps we should cut Mr. Akin some slack. If his doctors have told him this, then he is surely addled from being bled constantly with leeches and urged to adjust his humors. “Don’t walk in the sun, Mr. Akin,” they tell him, soberly, “lest Zeus catch sight of you from above, take a fancy to you and spirit you away to be his cupbearer.”

This is just as likely, after all.

But science? Myth? Who can tell the difference?

“If it’s a legitimate rape”—what a phrase that is! It goes miles beyond oxymoron into a netherworld of terms that should not exist. It is the embodiment of the strange idea that it is only rape if there are horsemen seizing people by the hair, when of course this is not what rape looks like, by a long shot. It stinks of the appalling and widespread notion that some man, with no more knowledge of medicine than a visitor from the 18th century not blessed with exceptional intelligence, knows better than the victim what has occurred — “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

It couldn’t have been rape. You’re pregnant. “Look, ladies,” Mr. Akin might as well have said, “if you didn’t want it, you no doubt would have turned into a tree or something. Or maybe a cow. I was just reading a science text where this happened to a lady who had an unpleasant encounter with the god Apollo. At least I am pretty sure this was a science text. Hang on, I have a headache, which means the goddess Athena is about to emerge from my skull. Isn’t science remarkable?”

He must be a real pain at Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearings when he suggests that the reason the rockets are not working is that a virgin needs to be sacrificed before takeoff. (“From what I understand from doctors.”)

Akin continued, to the TV interviewer: “But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Yeah! Uh, turn him into an oak or something! Given Mr. Akin’s grasp on science, I am confident that this is on his list of solutions.

His comment has been mocked nine ways to Sunday by men and women alike. No one has defended him. The Romney/Ryan campaign even distanced itself.

And shortly afterward he issued a statement apologizing for misspeaking.

But he failed to, well, point out what in his prior statement was wrong. “In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview, and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year," he said. I think he is using the new modern definition of misspoke: “said something in total sincerity that terrified everyone who heard it and which therefore I must not have meant.”

If only the female body did what Mr. Akin thought it did. That would be awfully handy. Zero people, instead of an estimated 32,000 each year, would be left pregnant after rape.

If only he were alone in this. But his comment, as several articles pointed out, is part and parcel of the idea that Underage Women Whose Bodies Clearly Wanted It Or They’d Be Trees Now keep claiming rape so they can get abortions. It’s the sort of thinking that gets “forcible” added to pro-life bills.

All these perfectly able-bodied child-carriers trying to wangle out of it! Heavens! There is another word for child-carrier — voter, or person, or something, but it keeps slipping my mind.

The idea that even after statutory rape, you should be obliged to carry a child as long as you are physically fit to do so! Mr. Akin is physically fit to give me six kidneys, right now. How about it? At least this is what I understand from doctors. I am not taking the trouble to find out how his body actually works, because that would be crazy.

By  |  08:04 AM ET, 08/20/2012

 
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