I wish I knew what "legitimate rape" is. I know what it is to dorks like Todd Akin: sexual intercourse with a woman who really means "no", not "no, but.."
All the brouhaha really centers around two issues. One is stupidity, and the other is related to the way men perceive women.
I would have found the "you can't get pregnant from rape" comment merely laughable except that Akin's ignorance of biology is very widespread. When I taught preparation for childbirth classes to Manhattan yuppies in the 70s, I was appalled at just how little my college-educated female students knew about the their own reproductive system. I was asked about wandering uteri, whether swallowing semen could result in pregnancy, whether it was "safe" to have sex during the menstrual period, could one become pregnant without having an orgasm, if urinating immediately after sex would "wash out" the semen and could therefore be contraceptive, and a lot of other fascinating questions. [Remember, this was all pre-AIDS, and a woman who kept a spare condom in her handbag was undoubtedly "looking for it"]
Here in Israel, dealing with infertility issues in the clinic where I worked until a few months ago, since the majority of clients were haredi, sexual ignorance was more to be expected. So maybe fundamentalist Christians, even married ones [I presume Akin is both fundamentalist and married] still think storks bring babies and words like estrogen and ovulation are "dirty". I've written before that the most sexually-obsessed men I know are haredi men. Literally everything in their lives is sexualized.
But it is the "you could tell she was up for it, even though she said no, by the way she walked/dressed/spoke" etc. which shows just how shallow the much-vaunted "political correctness" really is. What the man is really thinking is "I'm such a stud, she [and by extension, all women] really can't resist me" -- in other words, he is reeeeely insecure about his own sexuality. Or he is reeeely angry, because rape is ultimately about control and power and not about sex. ["My penis is really a sword and I'm killing you"] It is exceptionally easy to project onto the woman the man's own desires; indeed, this is the rationale for keeping Muslim women sequestered. Women are thought to be weak-minded and insatiable and so have to be protected from the male gaze lest men will be driven mad with desire by their seductive wiles.
On a list I'm on, which discusses Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" novels, there have been reams of opinions relating to an incident in which The Hero is blackmailed by an infatuated teenage girl into relieving her of her virginity before a marriage to an old man arranged by her parents. As The Hero actually begins to penetrate her, she cries out "No!" and the discussion is about whether The Hero should have stopped at that point or whether, because he did continue [and of course, ultimately, she loved it] it was a rape. The whole thing's a bit absurd. Even in this PC world of ours, there comes a point when men are not going to stop, and say, "you've changed your mind, sorry, I won't bother you" without considerable distress. She arranged the rendezvous, made absolutely explicit her desires, and up to the minute when it became slightly uncomfortable, was 100% consenting. Beyond a certain point, if one changes one's mind, one has to live with the consequences and not cry rape.
I have no idea whether Akin, weird sexual beliefs aside, is an effective Congressman and is worth re-electing. He is no more representative of Republicans than Strom Thurmond was of Democrats, and the current Democratic glee at having a "hot topic" to use as a club with which to beat the Republicans is just silly. It only shows how desperately they are trying to deflect attention from the real issue of this election: the state of the US economy, Obama's total failure to deal with it, or his bankrupt "lead from behind" [since the IDF motto is "follow me" it is particularly contemptuous] foreign policy. "Legitimate" or "illegitimate" [???] rape is not an election issue.
Barry Rubin, who should have a refuah shelayma*, has written a couple of very good posts, here, and here, on what is really at stake in the America of 2012. Check him out.
*Barry has been diagnosed with cancer, and is in treatment, but he says the prognosis is not good. I hope he responds well; his is a voice that we in Israel need badly and for a long time to come.
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