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PORTSIDE  October 2012, Week 4

PORTSIDE October 2012, Week 4

Subject:

The Real Republican Rape Platform

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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Date:

Thu, 25 Oct 2012 23:01:56 -0400

Content-Type:

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (195 lines)

The Real Republican Rape Platform

	It's no accident GOP candidates can't stop talking
	about rape: the party view is women are mere vessels
	subject to men's will

by Jill Filipovic

October 25, 2012

Guardian (UK)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/25/real-republican-party-rape-platform

Dear GOP candidates and party members,

I'm going to give you some free campaign advice: stop talking
about rape.

The latest Republican rape commentary comes from Romney-
endorsed Indiana senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock, who
tells us:

    "I think even when life begins in that horrible situation
    of rape, that it is something that God intended to
    happen."

Cue outrage, then cue "apology" from Mourdock - not for his
comments, but for "any interpretation other than what I
intended". National Republican senatorial committee chairman
John Cornyn voiced his support for Mourdock and added that he
also believes "life is a gift from God."

I would hate for Mr Mourdock to think I'm misinterpreting him
here, so let's be clear about what he said: he did not say
that rape is a gift from God. He did say that an unwanted
pregnancy is a post-rape goodie bag from the Lord. And that
the Lord intended it to happen that way.

Perhaps God should rethink his delivery system. And perhaps
Mourdock should rethink his interpretation of divine will.

What this umpteenth rape comment tells us isn't that the
Republican party has a handful of unhinged members who
sometimes flub their talking points. It reveals the real
agendas and beliefs of the GOP as a whole.

These incidents aren't isolated, and they aren't rare. Sharron
Angle, who ran for a US Senate seat out of Nevada, said she
would tell a young girl wanting an abortion after being raped
and impregnated by her father that "two wrongs don't make a
right" and that she should make a "lemon situation into
lemonade". Todd Akin said victims of "legitimate rape" don't
get pregnant - an especially confusing talking point, if God
is giving rape victims the gift of pregnancy. Maybe God only
gives that gift to victims of illegitimate rape?

Wisconsin state representative Roger Rivard asserted:

    "Some girls rape easy."

Douglas Henry, a Tennessee state senator, told his colleagues:

    "Rape, ladies and gentlemen, is not today what rape was.
    Rape, when I was learning these things, was the violation
    of a chaste woman, against her will, by some party not her
    spouse."

Republican activist Phyllis Schlafly declared that marital
rape doesn't exist, because when you get married you sign up
to be sexually available to your husband at all times. And
when asked a few years back about what kind of rape victim
should be allowed to have an abortion, South Dakota Republican
Bill Napoli answered:

    "A real-life description to me would be a rape victim,
    brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was
    religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she
    was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as
    bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I
    mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and
    psychologically, that carrying that child could very well
    threaten her life."

Rape lemonade. Legitimate rape. The sodomized virgin
exception. A rape gift from God.

Some Republicans, like Mitt Romney, have tried to distance
themselves from their party's rhetorical obsession with sexual
violation. What they're hoping we won't notice is the fact
that their party is politically committed to sexual violation.

Opposition to abortion in all cases - rape, incest, even to
save the pregnant woman's life or health - is written into the
Republican party platform. Realizing they can't make abortion
illegal overnight, conservatives instead rally around smaller
initiatives like mandatory waiting periods, transvaginal
ultrasounds and mandated lectures about "life" to make
abortion as expensive, difficult and humiliating as possible.

Republicans bow to the demands of "pro-life" organizations,
not a single one of which supports even birth control, and the
GOP now routinely opposes any effort to make birth control or
sexual education available and accessible. They propose laws
that would require women to tell their employers what they're
using birth control for, so that employers could determine
which women don't deserve coverage (the slutty ones who use
birth control to avoid unwanted pregnancy) and which women do
(the OK ones who use it for other medical reasons).

Mainstream GOP leaders, including Mitt Romney, campaign with
conservative activists who lament the fact that women today no
longer fully submit to the authority of their husbands and
fathers, mourn a better time when you could legally beat your
wife, and celebrate the laws of places like Saudi Arabia where
men are properly in charge. Senate Republicans, including
Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan and
"legitimate rape" Todd Akin, blocked the reauthorization of
the Violence Against Women Act. And Ryan and Akin joined
forces again to propose "personhood" legislation in
Washington, DC that would define a fertilized egg as a person
from the moment sperm meets egg, outlawing abortion in all
cases and many forms of contraception, and raising some
serious questions about how, exactly, such a law would be
enforced.

Underlying the Republican rape comments and actual Republican
political goals are a few fundamental convictions: first,
women are vessels for childbearing and care-taking; second,
women cannot be trusted; and third, women are the property of
men.

Mourdock's statement that conceiving from rape is a gift
positions women as receptacles, not as autonomous human
beings. This view of women as vessels - vessels for sex with
their husbands, vessels for carrying a pregnancy, vessels for
God's plan - is a necessary component of the kind of extreme
anti-abortion legislation most Republican politicians support.

So is the idea that women are both fundamentally unintelligent
and dishonest. Akin's "legitimate rape" comment and Rivard's
contention that "some girls rape easy" rely on the idea that
women routinely lie about rape and shouldn't be believed;
blocking VAWA relied partly on similar logic put forward by
men's rights activists, that women lie about being abused in
order to secure citizenship and other benefits. Hostility to
abortion rights similarly positions rightwing lawmakers as the
best people to determine whether or not any particular woman
should be legally compelled to carry a pregnancy to term.

Women, they seem to think, don't know their own bodies or
their own lives, and cannot be trusted to determine for
themselves whether continuing a pregnancy is a good idea.

Rape treats women as vessels, disregarding our autonomy and
our right to control what happens to us physically and
sexually. The Republican position is that women are not
entitled to make fundamental decisions about our own bodies
and our own sexual and reproductive health. When that position
is written into the GOP platform and is a legislative
priority, can we really be surprised when it's further
reflected in Republican legislators' comments on rape?

These aren't a few errant remarks from insensitive
politicians. They're at the heart of the Republican party's
agenda.

[Jill Filipovic is a freelance writer and blogger at
Feministe. She holds a JD and BA from New York University and
works at a law firm in Manhattan. She is a consultant, writer,
speaker and recovering attorney. She assists fashion and
lifestyle brands, legal organizations and law firms,
international NGOs, non-profits and corporations in using new
media to reach their business and strategic objectives. ]

==========

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