Eve Ensler: Dear Mr. Akin

Eve Ensler: Dear Mr. Akin

Since the “misspeaking” of Todd Akin this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things we say when we “misspeak.” When we say something harsh off the cuff, are we really just saying what we truly mean? When Akin used the word “legitimate” to describe rape, he made it hard for us to believe he had been involved in crisis pregnancy centers for many years. In all of the media coverage, I found this letter particularly moving. It is a bit graphic, but powerful. I don’t agree with her leap that all in the GOP believe what he communicated, but her words give an interesting perspective from a rape victim. Here’s an excerpt.

You used the expression “legitimate” rape as if to imply there were such a thing as “illegitimate” rape. Let me try to explain to you what that does to the minds, hearts and souls of the millions of women on this planet who experience rape. It is a form of re-rape. The underlying assumption of your statement is that women and their experiences are not to be trusted. That their understanding of rape must be qualified by some higher, wiser authority. It delegitimizes and undermines and belittles the horror, invasion, desecration they experienced. It makes them feel as alone and powerless as they did at the moment of rape.

5 responses to “Eve Ensler: Dear Mr. Akin

  1. Wow. That was a powerful article. I agree, Moxie, that Akin is not the voice of the entire GOP. I also agree that a “misspoke” might be properly defined as a “crap, I just said what I meant” quote. Although I find what Akin said to be deplorable, I can relate to the accidental filter removal. I think we all can. But when people say a harsh untruth, I find it endearing – or, in the least, forgiveable – when they admit that their statement was wrong, own that they spoke from their true heart, and ask for forgiveness as they try to reconcile truth/beauty to their former hurtful beliefs. But the question is – can politicians win elections with that sort of admission?

    I can’t say he has a shot at his upcoming election, anyway…and I’m ok with that.

  2. Nice post; something to think about.

    For me the more offensive part about that senator’s comment on rape/abortion was, “the human body has ways to shut that whole thing down.” Is that really how an educated person talks?! For someone so pro life, he doesn’t speak very reverently about conception.

    Ok Eve Ensler would probably not like this, but I can see how he accidentally used the words “legitimate rape”… He’s thinking that more women would make false rape claims in order to get a legal aboration if that were the only route available to them. Probably true, right? But I do not buy his medical theory nor am I defending his word choice!!

    • Yeah “shut that whole thing down?” Have you been talking to doctors?

      Interesting last point, Em Em. I think that is one reason to NOT have a law that only legalizes abortion for rape. Good thoughts.

  3. emailed post from anon I just HAD to post–such great thoughts:

    I don’t think that being pro life HAS to be synonymous with being anti-woman. Unfortunately it usually is/feels that way. ESPECIALLY when all denominational documents were written BY MEN and NO WOMEN. I read another article about his theology and they had an excerpt about “we pit the shame of the mother (rape victim) against the life of the baby and have to choose the life of the baby” – I can see how you might reach that conclusion…but what a horrible way to frame a discussion about a horrific bodily evil. only someone who has not experience pregnancy via rape could understand the situation that way and use decision/choice language there (ironic). where is the discussion of the rapist’s action? or do we just forget about that because the events unfolding are not in/on his body? mind-boggling that we re-victimize rape victims by discussing the morality of what to do with their broken bodies in rooms where their voices go unheard.

    everything is nuanced. valuing life above everything REQUIRES nuance. I certainly don’t want a panel of men to tell me my shame is something they could turn into a philosophical consideration. so strange to me given that at the center of our faith is a savior who had a body, and whose resurrection was bodily – which gives us hope for our life after death and dignity to the life we live now in the flesh.

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