“Legitimate Rape” – Not So Funny








This year’s republican platform is against legal abortion even in cases of incest and rape. This position has opened up a whirlwind of controversy in both the democratic and republican parties internal, and external debates and discussions about a woman’s right to “choose”, and the devastating fact that every 2 minutes a woman in the United States is sexually assaulted. One of the biggest scandals of the year involved republican representative Todd Akin who stated that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant. The outcry from democrats was tumultuous, but the situation was handled with less grace and humanity than seems necessary given the subject at hand. The truth of the matter is, almost half of the victims in the United States who experience sexual assault (44%) are under the age of 18. These are America’s children who are being molested and, here, during this election, the almost zealot-like partisanship that defines both the democratic and republican parties’ actions at this point in time, turned the truth into an ‘issue’, and turned the ‘issue’ into a talking point divorced from the reality and humanity of small children being hurt and injured across America. ‘Rape’ has become an issue of contention, and sexism has run rampant throughout many debates and televised discussions.

When Michelle Obama, Lilly Ledbetter, and Tammy Duckworth all spoke during the first night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, CNN commentator Erick Erickson tweeted, “First night of the Vagina Monologues in Charlotte going as expected.” The sexism reflected in this tweet was offensive on every level. For one, ‘The Vagina Monologues’ is a powerful feminist production that Erickson trivializes in this flippant remark.

Similarly, in attempt to be funny, this YouTube video trivializes rape and turns it into an issue without giving weight to the emotionality and trauma women who have actually been raped actually face. The offensive nature of both Erick Erickson’s remarks and this video should transcend party lines.

-Austen Dake


About rowlanda12

This is a blog about the 2012 presidential election. Content is generated by students in Professor Heldman's Politics 101 class. She does not necessarily endorse the views expressed here.
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2 Responses to “Legitimate Rape” – Not So Funny

  1. Rev. Ed Bolella says:

    I hear these remarks about rape and I wonder, Did I wake up in the 12th Century? Can I have lunch with Thomas Aquinas? The remarks from these politicians are just disgusting

  2. Austen,

    I do not find fault with any of your claims – I agree that the “legitimate rape” concept is horrendous, as sexism in politics (and in general). And I agree that these issues are clearly connected. Sexism from men and internalized sexism from women may contribute to the belief that rape is not a problem or that not all rapes are worthy of recognition. In fact, only 31% of women believe that a war on women exists.

    We both believe rape should not be a political issue. The question is now, how can we get the rest of the country to see our side?

    One of the first steps could be education. (“Juices,” anyone? Apparently grown-ups need education too.) In my opinion, abstinence only education should be the first thing we fix. Did you know that states with abstinence-only education also have the highest teen pregnancy rates? Frustration is a legitimate response to concepts like the “legitimate rape” meme. However, it would be extremely productive to channel this frustration into more tangible projects.

    -Rachel Baer

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