It's Not Shocking That Republican Senate Nominee Thinks Women Can't Get Pregnant From 'Legitimate Rape'

Earlier today, Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri, said he opposes abortion in all circumstances because rape rarely leads to pregnancy, since you can't get knocked up if you're "legitimately raped."


Akin then confidently backed his "magical uterus" claims up with SCIENCE.

"First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare," Akin told KTVI-TV. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

(At creationism medical school, students take "Intro to Legitimate vs. Non-Legitimate Rape" after "I Didn't Come From a Monkey 101.")

Naturally, Akin thinks that even in those crazy rare circumstances where a victim does manage to get pregnant without her consent — "Let's assume that maybe that didn't work, or something," he said — abortion should still be outlawed.


After his interview caused national outrage, Akin released a statement saying he misspoke:

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. Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve.


You guys, Akin is soooo sad about the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year! Legitimately raped and abused.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is running against Akin for Senate and currently losing by a margin of 41.3 percent to 49.7, tweeted that she was "stunned" by Akin's stance.


Let's be angry about what Akin said — really, really angry — but we shouldn't necessarily be shocked. Akin once voted for an anti-marital-rape law only after questioning whether it might be used "in a real messy divorce as a tool and a legal weapon to beat up on the husband." Last year, he co-sponsored a bill which sought to redefine the meaning of rape by using the modifier "forcible."

How do we stop influential politicians from slut-shaming? (Besides NOT VOTING FOR THEM! Come on, Missouri!) We can start by refusing to blame sexual assault victims for being assaulted. We can stop telling women they're sluts if they dress a certain way or take birth control. We can stop coming up with different kinds of rape — "gray" rape, "date" rape, "legitimate" rape, etc. We can stop differentiating between women whose actions "invite" rape and those who act in ways people like Akin deem appropriate. (Locking themselves inside with a chastity belt, perhaps?)


By the way, according to a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology in 1996, 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year. But some of those women were probably asking for it, right?



Okay, that statement is ridiculous and disgusting and certainly reinforces rape culture.

BUT - I think that ignoring the fact that there are real circumstances in which people feel uncomfortable about using the term "rape," as in a so-called "legitimate" rape, does a disservice to the victims of sexual assault who know that they were violated, and yet don't know how to talk about it. That is a very real thing - that awful gray area in which a woman is sexually violated and yet can't define what happened because the situation was perhaps ambiguous, or in which both parties are inebriated. Before you go saying that it doesn't matter, a rape is a rape is a rape and consent cannot be given if a party is drunk - I know that. I am a rape advocate and I talk to people all the time who are uncomfortable about the terminology and assure them that if they feel like they were violated, it is in fact a rape. Legally.

But, I have been in that "gray" area before. I was drunk, so was he, things went further than I really wanted to and I gave in because he kept trying to persuade me it was okay and I just didn't want to bother making a fuss. That was almost certainly a sexual assault (legally, it was, although in actual legal procedures sexual assault can be very tricky to prosecute). However, I am aware that he was not actually aware of how uncomfortable I was, he thought I was just flirting when I tried to leave, and when I finally asserted firmly that I wanted to stop, he instantly backed down. I cannot call it rape because I don't think he knew what he was doing. And, part of that is that I wasn't very clear about not wanting what was happening. And that, I would attribute to that unfortunate tendency of certain women, especially me, to please others and try not to rock the boat. That is definitely a tendency that perpetuates rape culture, but it is also an unfortunate one that can lead the other person in the equation not to understand what is going on.

I am not a rape apologist - I am not saying that men are victims in the rape equation and we need to be mindful of them. I am saying that we can't pretend women are women and men are men and ignore that we are all people and as such we fuck up somtimes and communication fails and something bad happens. And when something bad happens and the person who felt victimized wants to call the assault a "gray" rape - fucking let them do it. If it gives the peace of mind, let them fucking do it. There are enough people out there who are raped and can assert that they were raped and that it is a black and white issue that those people can go out and share their experiences and change minds. Let the other survivors have their psychological refuge, because assault can be a very damaging thing and to force someone to accept their assault for something more than they want can effectively end up re-victimizing the person and doing more harm than the initial violation.