Thursday, August 23, 2012

Todd Akin - The Irrational Elephant in the Room

The recent 24/hour news cycle overkill finally comes to be useful covering reaction to Todd Akin's idiotic comments on why abortion isn't even necessary.  His full quote below defines everything I find reprehensible regarding conservatives in general and the Republican Party in particular.

Just in case you've been buried under a rock or haven't had time to read the full quote yet, here it is (video here at Crooks & Liars)

 "It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's 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 that maybe that didn't work or something. You know, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child."  - U.S. Representative Todd Akin (R-MO)

This issue is deeper than the fact this his view on rape is offensive; it is deeper than the fact that his information about the female body is factually wrong.

It's that, until recently, this man was seen as a right-thinking, responsible and knowledgeable person. Largely, I suspect, by the mere fact that he is a relatively wealthy white male. How much credit Americans assign to others with only those credentials is still woefully real. That this man became a United States Representative and could go on to become a U.S. Senator without middle-school level knowledge of human sexuality - a matter that he has the power to make policy on- is terrifying.

White privilege and male privilege have the power of life and death over women in this country. Yes, in the United States of America - not some country where women walk veiled head to foot in extreme heat. Right here in the good old U.S. of A. men make policy and believe all kinds of crazy things that mean women at best will be ostracized and demonized for their decisions and daring to believe they have autonomy over their own lives; at worst, women die..

I talked to a friend of mine, who is black and male, and this issue came up. Despite having heard in the past few days that Akin was wrong, he admitted that not only had he heard the myth that a woman has a hormone or chemical that will allow her body to reject a pregnancy resulting from rape, he still kind of believed it was possible, it just couldn't be proved.

It's not true.

But I have heard that before.

But it's not true, I insisted. There is no such hormone or chemical. It does not exist.

Ok, I'm wrong.

He only conceded after I insisted. He only backed down after I refused to.

I'm still not sure he believes me. He is one of the smartest, kindest men I know.And yet he could believe something like this. He reminds me of the white people I work with daily who believe the most outrageous things about black people - it somehow escaped my notice that men believe the most idiotic and stupid things about women.

How this myth has shaped American views on abortion is downright scary. It is related to every double and triple standard we hold women accountable for. If she "doesn't" she's a prude. If she uses birth control she's a "slut". If she has an abortion she's an irredeemable whore.. If doesn't drown she's a witch, if she dies, she's innocent.

If she got pregnant, she must have enjoyed it, otherwise she wouldn't have gotten pregnant.And if she enjoyed it, then she doesn't deserve to choose whether to be pregnant or not. Every woman who gets pregnant should be forced to scrutiny as to how she got pregnant and how the pregnancy ends.

Akin finally exposed the elephant in the room - that much of Republican policy is based on myths, lies and old-fashioned beliefs that have no place in the modern world. It is not enough for Republicans to deny science and statistics and facts. They must replace them with lies - false science, wives tales or really any rumor will do.

It's not just this bit about abortion. (Read: 12 Republican Myths that are Killing Us) Republican myths and Republican money set policy on so many issues - from Global Warming to Healthcare; Wildfires to Lyme Disease; There are entire website to debunking Republican lies and yet they never quite lose an audience who wants to believe them.

Republican myths and lies put us all at risk, women in particular.

It is vile and disgusting to look in the face of the American people - to look in the world's face- and lie. Whether they are lies you truly believe in through determined ignorance or lies you tell because your party must win at all costs.

They are still lies. We elect these people to not only represent us, but to represent the truth. To find out the best ways to help us all.

And what we get are lies and damned lies. People who are willing to line their pockets with lies and our tax money.

To be, and vote, Republican is to be delusional.

It is to ignore the elephant in the room.

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