Author Zach Lorentz
Zach is the current Director of Public Affairs of the Secular Student Alliance at Missouri S&T. His interests include sexual freedom, reproductive rights, LGBT equality, and advocating for proper scientific education and understanding.
Content Warning: It’s an Akin story, so mentions of rape abound.
Todd Akin represents much of the outer St. Louis suburbs in my home metropolitan area. On a local Sunday morning news program, he was pressed about his opposition to a woman’s choice even in cases of rape. His response and his follow-ups immediately went viral, and his flailing has infected fellow social conservatives with Foot-In-Mouth disease.
If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. – Todd Akin
How ridiculously dangerous is the condition of the United States when its elected officials are this willfully wrong about female anatomy? And how did the state of affairs get to be this way? A national legislator’s stupid statement emphasizes the cresting wave of anti-intellectualism and opposition to critical thinking. This directly results from an intersection of populist decrying of “book-learnin” and objections to proper sexual education. Our country reaps the resulting rewards when bogus myths of uterine rape responses are allowed to quietly circulate unchallenged among pro-life circles. These claims then worm their way into the views of male elected officials and manifest in devastating public policy.
Quick memo to male policy makers: ignorance of the female anatomy does not give a man license to fabricate or propagate claims pulled from the bowels of his stupidity. If you do not know, defer to the experts. Be they medical researchers or, at least, women, they certainly have more knowledge on and at stake in this issue than your Y-chromosome ever will.
The Akin anti-choice stance finds or fabricates tenuous claims to back up pre-existing, dogmatic conclusions. Aborting a fetus may be bad, but in cases of rape, surely an exception must be made. Nope! The dogma is inflexible, and a handy pseudo-scientific claim comes to ease any cognitive dissonance. “A woman can’t get pregnant if she was ‘actually’ raped;” implicitly, all pregnant “rape” victims must be liars. Despite evidence to the contrary, the claim still permeates, like other pseudo-scientific claims (abortions cause breast cancer, etc), furthered by poor critical thinking skills and a willingness to embrace easy excuses.
This way of thinking is preposterously backwards but speaks to the need to silence the humanistic impulse to compromise. I contend that at least some people who buy into this soma, perhaps even Akin himself, do so because they are torn between their dogma and the desire to Do the Right Thing. They embrace the placation of “It’s not really a problem” and silently agree to inflexible answers to complicated problems. To those that accept this and other claims, I strongly advise to get the facts straight and closely examine every female anatomical claim made by anyone. I trust the science will bear out the truth.
On an opportunistic note, Akin’s remarks and stubbornness might be a boon to his opposition. His opponent in the race, Democrat Claire McCaskill, actually paid for ads backhandedly endorsing him. This effort maybe helped convince the conservative base to select him in the primary. McCaskill believed she had the best shot against him, and now Akin looks like an easier target than ever. Akin has lost support from various conservative financiers and is also dragging other foolish far-right social conservative Republicans (Mike Huckabee, Steve King) into the abortion quagmire just in time for an election. Could this statement induce a watershed of a rejection of unwavering anti-choice politicians? One can hope.