In defense of his anti-abortion stance, Rep. Todd Akin (R – Mo.) made a statement that makes even pro-lifers cringe.
In his Sunday interview with KTVI-TV, Akin said, "From what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape is] really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist."
Not only does the Republican nominee for Senate show his ridiculous lack of knowledge of how the human body works, he also participates in victim blaming, an incredibly detrimental trend in our society that keeps many rape victims from ever coming forward.
Let’s be honest, Akin obviously fell asleep during that part in health class where they explained the basics of menstruation, conception, and pregnancy. Regardless, his words are still irreprehensible. Whether he realizes it or not, Akin is saying that there is something wrong with any female that gets pregnant from rape. Obviously, if her body worked “correctly” she wouldn't get pregnant, right?
Aside from that being patently false –– a woman’s ability to get pregnant is based on a variety of factors, none of which are emotion, fear, or juice-based –– it ignores the real issue of rape. When a woman is raped, she is violated to her core; losing her sense of trust, security, and sometimes belonging. It can take years for her to get over that feeling of insecurity and regain her confidence. But for some, the (sometimes) negative public reaction that comes along with being known has a victim of rape –– or any kind of sexual assault –– keeps them from ever stepping forward.
No one likes to think they are taking in part in victim blaming, but it happens all the time. Whenever a woman’s actions are judged pre-rape as reasoning for why she was attacked or post-rape for how she deals with the consequences, that’s exactly what we’re doing. Akin’s comments insinuate that a woman is at fault for something she can’t control, and although he adds there should be a punishment to the rapist, he doesn’t acknowledge that an unwanted rape pregnancy can be a type of punishment for the victim.
Akin’s words are ignorant at best; but sadly, his beliefs are shared by too many. For the thousands of women out there who deal with this kind of idiocy on a daily basis, we can’t erase their past, but we can let them know we’re not blaming them in the future.