In 1990, businessman Clayton Williams unwittingly established the timbre of the Republican platform with regard to rape when he quipped during his bid for the Texas gubernatorial vote:
Rape is kinda like the weather. If it’s inevitable, relax and enjoy it.
He was immediately and uncompromisingly shamed and disowned by the Republican Party.
However, the following twenty years offered a nearly endless repeat of his remarks from nearly every other Republican representative from every corner of the country! Clearly, this was a talking point and emphasis of the Party. Not something they wished to have too much distance from, this was rather a position they were very enthusiastic about.
The Rape Party
What follows is just a small sampling of reproductive wisdom offered by the American Republican Party.
When asked why abortion should be banned even in the case of rape, incest, or endangering a woman’s health, Paul Ryan, Wisconsin 1st District Republican Congressional representative replied:
I’m as pro-life as a person gets. You’re not going to have a truce.
When asked about jailing women for having an abortion he said:
If it’s illegal, it’s illegal.
James Leon Holmes, Federal judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Bush appointee offered:
Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.
Holmes, citing Buck v. Bell 274 U.S. 200, compared the abortion movement to the eugenics of the Nazis, coincidentally and ironically unaware that the Nazis eventually targeted women for “lifestyle crimes” against the State! This is precisely the actions Republicans are institutionally taking against American women, brown-skinned people, gay men and women, and atheists! Who is more closely emulating the Nazis then?
Henry Alderidge, North Carolina House of Representatives, Republican, offered his take about bodily emissions and the biology of reproduction:
The facts show that people who are raped — who are truly raped — the juices don’t flow; the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant.
Briefly, I can’t help but notice that Alderidge began by referring to women with the generic people. Did this help him qualify the idea of what it means to be “truly raped” and make reference to “juices” and “functions” not working? After all, men can be raped too, I suppose. He ended with a pregnancy note, demonstrating that while he is sympathetic with people who are “truly” raped, he is not sympathetic to women who are raped: Is this because women cannot be “truly” raped?
Stephen Freind, Pennsylvania General Assembly, Republican, gave his statistical analysis of rape-related pregnancies:
The odds that a woman who is raped will get pregnant are ‘one in millions and millions and millions’
Freind is the author of God’s Children (Beech Tree Books, 1987). The odds are actually approximately 5% (five percent); that is, 1 chance in twenty, to put it in more statistical form. This is far from the suggestion in Freind’s opaque statement, of being on the order of millionths of a percentage!
It may be worth noting here that the odds of becoming pregnant as a result of rape are greater, not less, as dictated by the Republican platform. I will refer you to two studies:
- Jonathan A. Gottschall and Tiffani A. Gottschall, Are per-incident rape-pregnancy rates higher than per-incident consensual pregnancy rates?
- Rape-related pregnancy: estimates and descriptive characteristics from a national sample of women.
Continuing on then, Senator Chuck Winder, Idaho Senate, Republican wanted the state to be sure to be involved in the marital relations of a woman by offering:
I would hope that when a woman goes into a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage: Was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape.
Todd Akin, Congress, Missouri 2nd District, Republican summarized the extent of medical knowledge understood by his Party:
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.
What is happening in America?
Three issues are at work in the abortion “debate”:
1) Opponents to abortion focus their attention on the fetus almost exclusively. If it seems to be strictly arbitrary it is because it is. Discussion is often deliberately kept away from any mention of the woman and never involves the man.
2) When people talk about the two parties of interest, woman and fetus, the fetus is referred to, frequently and spontaneously, with the adjective innocent, as in “innocent child”.
3) Women are implicated in their own rapes. Indeed, in America, most victims are implicated in their own suffering. It is only after the convoluted and ritualistic story-telling we have in our culture that a person can hope to vindicate themselves and turn themselves into a right and proper Victim.
Maybe you, too, have noticed these features and thought nothing of them. Consider additionally, that these seem to occur without the slightest thought or premeditation. Believe me, I’ve asked! Drilling down into the replies offered by respondents, I found (informally) that they are at a loss for words and often attempt to back track and explain, retro-actively, why they mention the man, why they would describe a fetus as “innocent”, but not the woman, or why they put so much emphasis on the responsibility of the woman.
Incidentally, the above three do tend to cluster together and respondents are hardly aware of all three if they even are aware of just one. Also, I don’t think this is a Republican/Democrat, Conservative/Liberal divider; I think it is fairly universal and affects the quality of discussion on both sides, not to sound too agnostic about it all of a sudden.
The words you choose don’t affect reality, but do affect your conception of reality. I don’t have formal training in psychoanalysis, but I’ve begun to think that this is some sort of widespread, culturally embedded Freudian, subconscious block. A pathology of sorts. [I’d like to hear from sociologists or anyone else who may have studied this in depth]. It seems sick to me because it is ideological and therefore not easily amenable to the debate process. One who is not only practically-minded but also sensitive to issues of well-being can only respond with revulsion, being hardly aware of the invisible ideology embedded in American culture.
These examples are a fairly good indicator of the level of discourse in America. The incompetence and stupidity hasn’t quite descended to that depicted in Idiocracy, but ‘water cooler’ chit-chat rarely rises much higher than many of the political statements cited earlier. The political representatives cited in these quotes have tapped into all three of these aspects of American ideology.