Liberals weren't the only ones who were horrified last week when Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey backed up Todd Akin's stance on legitimate rape; GOP strategists were, too. More astute Republicans are sick of watching their peers dig their own rapey holes by publicly expressing their misinformed and misogynistic stances on reproductive health. Why can't they just shut up and talk about how some women deserve to get raped in the privacy of their own homes???
"This is actually pretty simple. If you're about to talk about rape as anything other than a brutal and horrible crime, stop," Republican strategist/former Mitt Romney advisor Kevin Madden told Politico.
That means Gingrey shouldn't have tried to "provide context," as he later explained, by telling Chamber of Commerce breakfastgoers that Akin was "partially right" because OB/GYNS (such as himself, eeek) "tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating." But it's not so simple to get politicians who really do think that some women aren't capable of being sexually assaulted to shut up, because they don't understand that they're being insensitive. They actually seem to think they're being sensitive; Gingrey thought he was smoothing things over instead of spewing rape apologia.
Now the Susan B. Anthony list, an anti-choice group that loves to pretend it's feminist but isn't very good at it, is launching a training program to stop candidates and lawmakers from making dumb statements about women. Not launching a training program to educate them on why these statements are dangerous, mind you — the only goal is to get them to stop scaring their constituents by voicing their unsavory personal beliefs.
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said that lawmakers who speak out about "legitimate rape" are falling into a trap set by abortion rights advocates; "It's a tactic to [force pro-life lawmakers to] talk about this rather than the 98 percent of abortions because they know that they lose it," Dannenfelser said. But how is it a trap if these politicians so clearly believe in what they're saying?
Madden, clearly exasperated, said his best advice "is simply to stop talking."
"Our pro-life values as a party should be framed in terms of the culture of life," he said. "It's easy enough to do that. It shouldn't be conflated with other issues."
That's exactly why Planned Parenthood is dropping the misleading term "pro-life" — because legislators and candidates on both sides should be clear about where they stand when it comes to reproductive health and sexual assault. We need to know exactly how our politicians feel about rape because they are the ones who decide whether to reinstate the Violence Against Women Act and enact anti-abortion legislation.
It's disheartening every time yet another politician comes out as a rape apologist, but it's incredibly heartening to watch both liberal and conservative Americans freak out in response. Here's hoping Republicans who share Akin and Gingrey's beliefs fail at their "sensitivity training" and continue telling the country exactly how they feel about vaginas. We don't need any surprises on that front.