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.