Leading up to the election, we had a spate of politicians making stupid and inaccurate remarks about rape. Then things calmed down for awhile, and it was kind of relaxing not to deal with the constant stream of inanity. Well, it turns out that this was just a commercial break, and the regular programming has now resumed.
Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia recently made a valiant attempt at clarifying Todd Akin’s infamous “legitimate rape” comments:
“In Missouri, Todd Akin … was asked by a local news source about rape and he said, ‘Look, in a legitimate rape situation’ — and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’ That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He’s partly right on that.”…
“And I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, ‘Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.’ So he was partially right wasn’t he? But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you’re not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman’s body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak. And yet the media took that and tore it apart.”
Ah yes–the old false rape accusation bugbear! If you want to make an argument about false accusations, you might start with an example that isn’t already a potential statutory rape.
Rep. Gingrey, the horrible thing about Akin’s statement is that it supports the notion that girls and women routinely lie about sexual assault, even though rape is a drastically under-reported crime, even though survivors around the world face stigmatization and ostracization, and even though rape is a difficult crime to prosecute.
Counseling couples on infertility isn’t remotely comparable to rape. Women under extreme stress may stop ovulating, but this is hardly a universal truth. If it were, women living in war-torn countries who have been displaced into refugee camps, seen their families slaughtered, and suffered extremely high levels of violence probably wouldn’t get pregnant from rape–and yet, they do.
Also, if my doctor told me not to be so “uptight,” I’d get another doctor.