This content appeared originally in "All That Jazz", a weekly column I write in the Siloam Springs Herald Leader.
Do you know Todd Akin? He wasn’t on my radar until recently when his comments about the magical stop rape button in my uterus made headlines. Akin seems to believe that a woman’s reproductive organs know how to prevent pregnancy in a situation like rape. We can “shut that whole thing down”, according to his remarks, which leave me stupefied and almost speechless. Therefore, pregnancies rarely ever result from rape. Akin upped the ante in the hot debate about abortion by using this explanation as why rape should not be made an exception in pro-life situations. Maybe we should start referring to Todd Akin’s comments as “The Rape Comment Heard Around the World”. Everyone had something to say about it, and rightfully so. The course of events went like this: Todd Akin made some really nasty comments about “legitimate rape”. The media went haywire with responses, rebuttals, rebukes, and raunchy jokes. The GOP quickly went on clean up mode nervously stuttering, “we SWEAR we aren’t with him” in hopes Akin’s comments wouldn’t impact the success of their upcoming campaigns. The Democrats quickly parlayed the comments by Akin, as well as other outspoken Conservatives, into a “Don’t Vote GOP Because They Don’t Mind Rape” campaign.
It has all been gross! I am disheartened by the reaction of both sides of the aisle. We are talking about rape, people! As a sexual abuse and assault survivor I am utterly aghast that Todd Akin or any other leader or educated person would make a statement like this. I fumed for days as I logged on to my social media platforms and could not escape all the news about rape. I was snappy and angry. “THAT MAN SHOULD BE SHUT DOWN,” I thought. My opinions and the opinions of others who are furious are very warranted. Akin, Huckabee, and Ryan are all very off base in their comments concerning women, rape, and their reproductive rights. But! But! But!
Mr. Todd Akin and I aren’t so different. You read that line correctly. I am just as guilty as Todd Akin about holding a misogynist, demeaning, and disrespectful view of women’s reproductive rights. One night as I was reading through people’s comments about the Todd Akin mess I saw my friend, Audra post this on her Facebook status:
There it was, staring me in the face. I have made jokes about Mrs. Duggar, I confess. Her choices baffle me and I have been very judgmental toward her. Reading Audra’s comment, however, I realized that my form of marginalizing women was a more acceptable form. As an outspoken feminist my platform has been women’s rights, and yet here I was joining Akin’s ilk in discriminating against a women, solely because of her exercising her reproductive rights. What Akin said was disgusting and what I have said about Michelle Duggar is disgusting. All women, regardless of how they choose, should have the right to choose what is best for their bodies. Bar none.
I consider Todd Akin an enemy to women and their rights. Todd Akin, your comments were horrific, ignorant, and inappropriate. Todd Akin’s comments were all those things, and still, they reflected back to me my own hypocrisy. Todd Akin and I aren’t that different, after all. I think the Dalai Lama said it best, “In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.”
What do you think? Do my comments about Michelle Duggar do the same thing that Todd Akin did in respect to women? Are you guilty of misogyny and limiting women based on your own bias, or do you think what Akin did was different?