Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Legitimate Rape" and the Crazy Sheriff Candidate: Oh, What a World

Like most people with an IQ and a heart, I am still reeling from insensitive, untrue, and utterly disgusting comments made by Missouri Senate wannabe Todd Akin.  To wit, Akin basically analogized being raped to stubbing your toe.

And, according to Akin, those extremely rare occasions (sense the sarcasm here) where "legitimate rape" occurs almost never result in unwanted pregnancies because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Yeah, this ignorant, insensitive buffoon could arguably be elected to the legislative branch of the United States Government ... scary.

Let me tell you about rape.

It's probably the worst crime that can possible be committed.  Let me list the ways ...

1.  It hurts.  Unspeakably.  And, if you're unlucky, you deal with the physical repercussions for many years.
2.  It is arguably the most under-reported crime because, let's face it, how humiliating would it be to go to a police officer and say, "I was raped?"  It shouldn't be, but it is ... 
3.  Even if you do have the guts to go to the police, it's very difficult to "prove" rape.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but how are authorities to put a judgment call on consensual sex vs. rape when there are so many variables?  So even those who do come forward are often told by authorities, "Yeah, too bad, so sad, there's not a lot we can do."
4.  Years later, you still break out in a cold sweat and get nauseous and remember when it happened to you when you hear the word "rape" or read about it in a book or see a news story or whatever.
5.  You feel dirty, ashamed, and as though you did something wrong ... even when you know intellectually that the only mistake you made was getting a drink with a friend of a friend of a friend that you didn't know.
6.  It destroys your trust in everyone and everything, and it permeates its ugliness into all facets of your life.  If I have to deal with a male in a position of authority (a bank manager, a boss, a police officer) and it gets remotely acrimonious, I am back to being intimidated by a man ... and I do not act my best.

Yes, as you've probably figured out, I have some personal experiences with this subject.  I have alluded before, both on this site and on Zelda Lily, to the fact that I was raped when I was twenty-one, but this crap with Todd Akin has made it important to me that I don't just say, "This guy's an idiot" but explain why his words are so painful.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, by the way, have publicly stated that their ticket would not oppose abortion in cases of rape or incest (good for them, I say ... they did not hesitate to come down on what I believe to be the right side--pun not intended--and I commend them for that), and virtually every Republican in the country is calling for Akin to step down.

But this is a little bit more complicated than just some nutjob from Missouri making inflammatory remarks about rape victims and using them as pawns in the abortion debate.

See, New Hampshire has its own nutjob at the moment, and he's running for Sheriff of Hillsborough County.

[Sheriff Candidate Frank] Szabo may have inflamed the issue further when asked if he would use deadly force to prevent an abortion.

"I would respond specifically by saying that if someone is under threat, a full-grown human being, if they're under threat, what should the sheriff do? Everything in their power to prevent them from being harmed," he said.

When pressed about what he would do if he learned that a doctor was about to perform an elective abortion, Szabo replied he would do what it took to prevent that from happening.
"Absolutely," he said. "Well, I would hope that it wouldn't come to that, as with any situation where someone is in danger, but again, specifically talking about elective abortions and late-term abortions, that is an act that needs to be stopped."

So an abortion that happens as the result of a rape should lead to prosecution ... of the doctor?  Clearly Frank Szabo, Todd Akin, and their ilk have never been raped.  

I understand that abortion is a high-emotion issue; trust me, I understand that, and I would never judge anybody for their opinions on this.  I know and love people that are vehemently pro-choice, vehemently anti-abortion, and everywhere in between.  

Abortion is not the point of this post.  No, the point is the sick depths to which people will sink in politics ... and I guess the realization that it doesn't matter as much to you if it doesn't hit close to home.  When it does strike you where you live, so to speak, though, it is one thing to internalize it and be angry and bitter and so on.

It is something else entirely to say, "Not only are these men ignorant and dangerous in terms of the policies they would obviously be lobbying for, but they have no concept of the surprisingly large number of people they are hurting with this."

I didn't have the courage to speak out almost fifteen years ago.  It took me over ten years to tell anyone about what happened to me.  

But I cannot keep my mouth (or my laptop) closed on this one ... rape survivors have a voice, and I have kept mine silent for too long.  Out of honor and respect for those who are not able to do so, I say this now: speak out against Frank Szabo and Todd Akin, and certainly do not vote for them.  

Their insensitivity is telling of their leadership skills ... or lack thereof.

I had a pretty rough day yesterday ... with all of this on my mind (and the things it brought back), I guess it's no wonder ... maybe I should stop watching the news ;-).  Writing this has made me feel much better, though, even as I know I'm nearing the end of it and have to debate whether or not to hit the "Publish" button or just keep it to myself.  If you're reading this, I guess you'll know ...