I have a lot of unpublished blog posts about Todd Akin and rape culture in general. And I have a few publish posts about the subject of sexual violence, usually around the concept of street harassment. I’ve had a difficult time publishing a blog about Akin’s comment that women can’t get pregnant if they are legitimately raped because while attempting to write on the subject I turn into a monster rather similar to the Hulk and want to smash everything around me.
A little background – I’ve spent over a decade advocating for women’s rights, specifically in regards to religious rights (and rites!) but also in regards to women’s sexual independence. I’ve volunteered for crisis hotlines, organized fundraisers, handed out educational materials at concerts and festivals etc…
And I haven’t done all of this because I hate men. I’ve done all of this because I believe women are people.
Rape culture and patriarchy in general is the idea that women aren’t people. It’s okay to take what you want from them via intimidation and even physical force because they are not like you – and ‘you’ of course, always means ‘men’ because that’s the normal.
In the culture of patriarchy, rape is not something that dishonors women, it is something that dishonors men. In the logical world, it would dishonor the rapist but in the world of patriarchy, it dishonors the male relatives of the victim. Why? Because a woman’s sexuality is property and currency. A woman is a vessel of that property. She’s nothing more than a wallet that carries a golden cherry and then when you invest in her she gives you more currency in the form of children.
This isn’t a liberal or conservative issue. The terms liberal and conservative are based on how our government spends it’s money. Members of both political parties view women as accessories. Likewise, members of both political parties view women as people.
This is also not a religious issue. I’m going to reference Christianity here because it is my background and the most popular religion in this country. Christ believed women are people. In fact, it’s one of the reasons he was widely hated. His belief that women were people confounded his followers who had a difficult time viewing women as equals. We still have a difficult time with it today. We cannot simply allow Mary Magdalene to be a person. No, instead she must be a reformed prostitute or Jesus lover. She cannot simply be a person.
Why do we even talk about the Magdalene’s sexuality? It is not even relevant to the teachings of Christ. Why does history treat her differently than John? I don’t recall there being a slew of sensational books about the sexual life of the Apostle John. There aren’t. History and society view John as a person. Poor Mary, even in New Age interpretations of the Bible she’s still not a person – instead she’s an object – the metaphorical grail.
Christ didn’t talk about Mary that way. She was a person to him.
People want to use Akin’s statements that there are varying degrees of rape to illustrate how Christianity subjugates women. But misogyny isn’t native to Christ and it existed long before he was born and exists outside the world of religion, as well.
While trying to prove that men were the dominant biological sex, Darwin compared the skeleton of an adult male to the skeleton of a teenage girl. Additionally, he did not consider that women have a higher pain tolerance than men or that women have stronger immune systems. He didn’t consider much, except the fact that he did not believe women were people.
And let’s not forget the father of modern psychology, Freud, who believed that women were either lying about their assaults or really meant ‘yes’ when they said ‘no.’
Last night via Twitter, Todd Akin blamed the liberal media for his downfall, disregarding the fact that the majority of republicans have also denounced him. *Note that he has since deleted these tweets. If you delete it from the internet it didn’t happen!
He wants to blame someone for exposing his delusion and as a society we want to do what we can to show that he’s not like the rest of us.
But he doesn’t get to do that and neither do we.
It’s not the fault of the liberal media. It’s not the fault of the conservative party. It’s not the fault of religion.
It is the fault of a variety of cultures made up of power hungry individuals that fear those that are slightly different from them. They control and assert power by denying Others their personhood.
But no one can deny me my rights as a person. My rights as a person are not up for debate. My status as a person, equal to any other human, are not granted to me by man. I was born a person. Whether given to me by God or by nature, I was born a person, equal to all others. This equality exists regardless of my sex, gender, sexuality, disabilities, personality, religion, clothing choices, intelligence or wealth.
I feel very sorry for Todd Akin and all others who thrive in the illusion of patriarchy. They are so disconnected from reality that they believe rape only happens when someone steals your favorite toy. They are so disconnected from reality that they do not understand that rape is a tiny war, a war that happens every 3 minutes. A war that decimates the lives of real people.
If you’ve been a victim of any kind of sexual violence do not let anyone tell you that it didn’t happen or that it only happened because you allowed it to, because in some small way you asked for it. That is dehumanization. Do not believe in it. You are a person, a human and no one else can ever take that from you. The actions of another person to not invalidate your existence.
The goal of sexual assault is to assert dominance and to take away power, to take away your humanness. In America, we hold ourselves up as bastions of freedom for all people. We should not allow this to happen. As women are people, we should not allow their humanness to be categorically taken from them through violence, silence and intimidation.