Rape can not be categorized

Elizabeth Ramirez

Congressman Todd Akin seems to have decided to re-define rape for the nation. Apparently, a raped woman can prevent pregnancy if it is a “legitimate rape.” And this is when everyone might say, “Whaaat?”

When some politicians decide to re-define a word – in this case, rape – it can bring upon more confusion than clarity. It becomes offensive and shows their lack of knowledge.

On Aug. 19, Todd Akin, Republican nominee for a U.S. Senate seat for Missouri, was asked on an interview on KTVI-TV if he would support abortions for women who have been raped. Akin responded with a shocking statement that shook the nation – particularly women.

“It seems to me, first of all, 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,” Akin said.

Once Akin blurted this out, the negative uproar for him to drop out from the Senate race was nonstop. The reason for the outcry is pretty obvious: Akin choose the wrong words at the wrong time.

It is not acceptable to hear an educated politician make such lunatic statements on national television. There is an expectation for politicians to know what they are talking about. Most of them, after all, have studied at top schools.

Akin and politicians alike answer questions in stupid ways because they are asked questions on the spot. So, they might get nervous and just utter anything related to the topic – his answer sounded similar to information found on Wikipedia. Akin clearly is not a medical expert and had the opportunity to say it in the interview but failed to do so.

Words like “legitimate rape” and “shut that whole thing down” are the most unforgettable out of Akin’s statement because they sound offensive and show ignorance of women’s anatomy and biology. The words just do not go together.

Jessica Heskin, the violence and sexual assault support services coordinator at Sacramento State, said she has been involved in hundreds of rape cases and has been a victim advocate for 15 years. She said “legitimate rape” does not exist in any dictionary.

“When someone is raped, they’re raped. It’s legitimate. If someone is robbed, they’re robbed,” Heskin said.

Essentially, there is no way out when a woman is raped. No one should view the ability for a woman to get pregnant as an on-off switch. There is no alert system for a vagina to stop a pregnancy. It just doesn’t exist.

Opinion writer for feminspire.com, Savannah Thomas, questioned the same notion in her editorial.

“Exactly how does a woman’s body have any idea that a fertilized egg resulted from consensual sex or from rape?” Thomas wrote.

Later that Sunday, Akin apologized saying he “misspoke.” Well, the apology did not seem heartfelt. He did take his words back but he should not have said anything along the lines of “legitimate rape” or “shut the whole thing down” because those words should not describe rape or a woman’s body. If he is pro-life, then he could have said “I’m pro-life” and left it at that. It should be pretty simple.

Politicians should do their homework when it comes to medical issues or any other issue at hand. Talking to doctors, women and women activists will make for a well-informed politician. Politicians need to learn how to speak and answer question on topics they advocate. Taking speech or communication classes might just do the job. The abortion issue has always been a hot topic – not just the downward spiral of the economy in the United States – which should be acknowledged by all politicians, especially those like Akin.

No politician should make assumptions about hot topics, such as rape. If Congressman Todd Akin did not have a concrete answer for the question he was asked, then he should not have assumed what rape, a woman’s reproductive system and abortion are or are not. He should have not re-defined rape and offended many individuals – especially women. He should have shown he knew what he was talking about.

There are no excuses for his actions.


Elizabeth Reached at: [email protected]