Monday, August 20, 2012

A question of legitimacy

So Todd ("Hot Toddie") Akin, Republican candidate for Claire McCaskill's Missouri Senate seat, asked by KTVI television if he really meant it should be illegal for a woman impregnated by an act of rape to get an abortion, replied,
"First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that is really rare. If it is a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down."
To which there soon followed a monumental hue and cry of gotchaists, political correctors, rogue gynecologists, and the like, calling the representative down for this statement, with very few defenders, among them CNN's Dana Loesch, who tweeted a reaction:
Long-time readers may recall Dana as the person who insisted that no would-be abortion patient could complain about a transvaginal ultrasound exam because it was just like the activity that had gotten her pregnant in the first place. (Ms. Loesch believes that most penises are made of a smooth, luminescent ceramic material. By a curious coincidence, her husband has a chin composed of exactly the same substance!)
Chris & Dana Loesch. From Gateway Pundit.
But in fact, as Mr. Akin soon confessed, he had merely "misspoken". So what remains to us is simply to work out what he meant to say.

My guess is that he was using the word "legitimate" in an idiosyncratic way, to describe acts that it is legitimate to refer to as rape (in his opinion); because Akin and his like don't think statutory rape is bad enough to call rape, or raping a person who was just "asking for it", or somebody who is known not to be a virgin. What he was actually trying to talk about was the bad ones in this view, which it might be better to call illegitimate rapes, that is, what he and his colleague Paul Ryan were referring to not long ago as "forcible" rapes, a concept for which he was criticized a good deal last year.

As every Republican knows, women desire above all things to be whacked on the head, dragged into the bedroom, have their bodices ripped from their bodies, and so on, unless it is by the wrong man (a liberal, perhaps), or unless  they are nuns, under 16, or your sister. 

A "legitimate rape" would be what Republicans normally refer to as "good sex" or, more colloquially, "having a Dagny". The fundamental criterion for this is that when the woman involved says "no" she means "yes", as signalled, perhaps, by her being dressed provocatively, or seen drinking an alcoholic beverage, or otherwise tempting the caveman she wishes to attract to her cave.  An "illegitimate" or "forcible" rape is when these criteria are not met, when "no" actually does mean "no", for whatever reason.

Now, it is widely believed that a legitimate rape in this sense often leads to pregnancy. For example, I think it happened to Anna Magnani in the The Rose Tattoo. It's kind of the way God planned it, if you're a person of faith:
for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is "on the side of life," teaches that "it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life." (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2366)
Whereas in the case of an illegitimate rape, obviously, such a blessing is not to be expected. So that's all poor Representative Akin meant to say--is that so terrible?
Anna Magnani. From Art Carousel by Pasolininuc.
Hahahahaha! While I was futilely trying to make so-called "satire" out of this occasion, Akin clarified: he did mean to say "forcible rape", expecting that would just calm everybody down. You can't keep up with these guys.

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