“A SYTYCB Entry”
Leaving the issue of how pregnancy actually works aside (since science and the 99% percent are in agreement on this one), it’s painfully clear that Republican Senator Todd Akin, the very same man who sits on the Committee on Science and Technology (insert eye-rolling and head shaking here), is confused by the minutia of all the many uteri he is trying to control because the term “legitimate rape” is an oxymoron and a slap-in-the-face-insult to women.
By putting the term “legitimate rape” out into the lexicon, Senator Todd Akin implies that there is only one kind of rape. And if you haven’t been “legitimately raped”, then maybe you’re a liar and even worse, a slut. (Here’s the Republican version of Screw, Marry, Kill: Would you rather be legitimately raped, a liar or a slut?) The public need to organize rape into clean, concise categories, implying that there is a difference between stranger rape, date rape and married rape, is a perversion of the different types of murder classifications (especially when you consider that being raped is, in many ways, experiencing a death: your own. It’s the death of the person you used to be, only there’s no funeral.)
Rape is rape–putting it in a neat box doesn’t change anything for the woman (or man) who has been raped; however it does provide the illusion of comfort for everyone else, a little bit of emotional and mental security, if you will. You get to put it out of your mind a little, tell yourself it can’t happen to you, maybe even wonder what she did to deserve it.
Bringing the term “legitimate rape” to the mainstream may have sounded the death knell on Senator Todd Akin’s political career (for now) and orchestrated much Republican pearl-clutching and panty-twisting, and while Akin has publicly backpedaled, claiming he “misspoke,” the fact remains that coupling the word “legitimate” with “rape” is frightfully ignorant and a horrific insult to women, especially rape survivors.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines legitimate as 1. Being in compliance with the law 2. In accordance with established or accepted patterns and standards, 3. Based on logical reasoning, acceptable. It also stipulates that rape is the crime of forcing another person to submit to sex acts.
What is a legitimate rape? And who defines it? A man who doesn’t understand how simple biology works?
Does a legitimate rape occur when a stranger attacks, brandishing a gun? But what if instead of a gun, there’s a knife? Or maybe there is no knife either, just brute force and threats. Threats so scary that they paralyze you.
Threats so scary that you know the only choice is to comply or die.
What if the stranger is replaced with someone you knew peripherally or someone you thought you knew so well? Someone you thought you loved? Is your rape somehow diminished?
Where does alcohol fall into this black and white equation of what is rape? Is it less of a rape if the victim had been drinking?
And what if, instead of being raped on a dark street (because we all know that’s the only place where bad things happen), you get in a cab because it’s late and you want to be safe?
I remember after my own rape, miraculously I had no bruises. All I could think of was, I am lucky (rape instantly changes the barometer). I am lucky to be alive; I am lucky I am not hurt worse than this. And then the lack of bruises seemed to deflate me because I was worried that people would think, well she didn’t fight hard enough.
And then I remembered that rape is rape.