When Todd Akin said "legitimate rape," howls of indignation erupted. How dare he put levels of gradation upon rape? I listened to views from every perspective but didn't hear any that expressed my own.
Anybody paying attention will have heard of the cases of Tawana Brawley (1987) and Crystal Mangum (Duke University lacrosse team case, 2006). Both women accused men of rape but later admitted the stories weren't true. The accusations ruined men's reputations, even though they eventually were exonerated. Some feminists define rape broadly as anytime a woman regrets having reluctantly consented to sex. The word "rape" has been rendered meaningless with misuse and the myriad definitions attributed it.
When I heard Todd Akin's phrase, "legitimate rape," that's what I immediately thought - he was referring to the true criminal meaning of rape. Forced sex, with no consent, against a woman's will.
The occasional news of false rape accusations renders "legitimate rape" a legitimate phrase. Just because a woman claims it doesn't make it so.
I don't defend Akin's claim that in violent circumstances a woman's body can shut down to prevent unwanted pregnancy. That was ignorance. But an ignorant statement compared to, say, running a male prostitution ring out of an apartment (see Barney Frank), or multiple claims of harassment and credible claims of rape (see Bill Clinton) or leaving a woman to drown in a submerged car (see Ted Kennedy), isn't enough to justify ending someone's career.
That Republicans are calling for Akin to step down isn't surprising. Conservatives make up a large portion of the Republican Party, and conservatives have standards. When you have standards and someone breaks them, it is expected that the rule-breaker must be called out. Once the rule-breaker repents in earnest, the correction has been made and we move on. The reason Democrats get away with horrendous behavior and remain in office is that they have such low standards that when it comes to these issues. Breaking the rules means getting away with it. They continue on as though nothing is wrong. (See aforementioned politicans Frank, Clinton, Kennedy, et al).
I believe conservatism is the best policy for women. It upholds standards of decency, protects traditional marriage, defends the sanctity of life. Conservatism elevates that which is feminine - a dirty word to some, I'm sure. The liberal mindset proclaims liberation from the feminine as a good thing. But I look around after 50 years of liberal drift and see far too many boys in men's bodies, single mothers desperate for help, neglected or abandoned children, and an entitlement state out of control. The irony is that liberals and feminists say traditional family life had us in shackles.
But what is being shackled, if not dependence on the state? And to the Akin issue, what is being shackled if not being entrapped by a misstep in words, rather than actual behavior?
Todd Akin was right about one thing - too many women have yelled "rape" and too many feminists have leaped into attack mode, while defending the very men who do actual violence against women. The word "rape" is suspect until you tease out the intended meaning.
As a middle-aged woman, I read with sadness that Sandra Fluke - the Georgetown law school student who proclaimed her sexual liberation mandated you and I pay for her birth control - was never taught what true value means. It is a privilege to be a woman, to be a bearer of life. Fluke treats female sexuality like it isn't worthy of true respect and reverence. It's another cheap thrill. Our culture promotes this denigration in the name of liberation. It is a lie.
We toss aside wisdom accumulated through the ages at our peril.