*Trigger Warning: references to rape*
I am not as surprised as I want to be about Todd Akin’s comments suggesting that women rarely become pregnant from rape because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” I’m just not shocked that Akin was ignorant enough to claim that “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy.
To be clear: I am disgusted. Frustrated. Endlessly irritated. Perturbed. Deeply offended. But, not surprised.
Even the media doesn’t seem to be too surprised. The Women’s Media Center was keen in pointing out the failings of the mass media to call out Akin’s comment as incorrect. See, the media jumped on the story, but few sources actually said that Akin’s claims were (nonsensically) wrong. Even the Associated Press didn’t say Akin was purporting misinformation. Most publications initially just indicated that Akin’s statements were controversial – not that they were also inaccurate.
Frankly, I don’t think these sort of wildly off-base statements irk newsrooms. They hear inaccuracies all the time, and maybe in the interest of appearing non-biased, they are unwilling to bluntly point out when those inaccuracies are wrong. Maybe they’re so numb to all of the ignorance that they have a hard time reacting like an upset civilian.
This year has been brutal for morale among reproductive rights activists. Frankly, it’s been brutal on morale for anybody. Unemployment is stagnant and too high. While families and young people are struggling to find jobs or keep jobs, our government is fighting old fights. We know that the challenges to women’s rights are used a political tactics. We know that Congress is ineffective because our politics have changed it from a governing body into a tug-of-war. We know that awful anti-common-sense people are still going to get elected into office.
So, it’s hard to feel astonished, let alone feel ready to take action. It can be hard to continue the fight against leaders who try to appeal to constituents with “traditional values” that are harmful and marginalizing.
I guess we can take solace in something. Even if the media was slow to correct. Even if activists are struggling to gather up energy to express frustration. There was still a huge outcry against Akin’s awful comments. Because what he said was so blatantly wrong and cruelly dismissive of victim’s experiences, our country reacted.
Even those who generally spout the same rhetoric as Akin (which stands behind the policies that go with this sort of attitude) are distancing themselves from Akin and his comments. Maybe we are finally hitting that absurdity tipping point where all the false notions and attempts to control the uterus break down. Maybe we’re finally at a point where politicians can’t get political points from attacking women’s rights. Maybe we can vote the infighting out. Maybe we can start focusing on the jobs and the economy.
That would be shocking.