Mark Segal of the Philadelphia Gay News pens a powerful op-ed regarding the recent media attention to rape connected to the words of Todd Akin, GOP representative from Missouri, and a current candidate for re-election. Segal’s entire piece is worth your time to read and pass it along to others.

Many years ago, my friend Jan was raped. The trauma was so great that she ended up taking her own life. This week I’ve watched the “debate” about rape unfold in the news thanks to a mindless, ignorant, ideological congressman from Missouri. And do you know what? I’m angry. I’m really angry. I’m not angry at him — I’m angry at those who allowed this hate speech. Rape has one definition. Anyone who has been raped or knows someone who has been raped understands one thing: There is no such thing as “forcibly raped” or “legitimately raped.”

It is only one word: rape. And it is horrific. You can’t repackage it: It is simply rape. There’s no reason for me to elaborate on what a special person Jan was. Rape kills, rape destroys. Not only the person raped, but the family’s life as well.

I do not know anyone who has been raped or who has shared that experience with me, the issue seems foundational. How is it that some elected officials feel they have the right to limit a person’s control over their own body when the highest court in the land has determined that abortion is legal?  The viciousness of a language battle- as if there is a difference to rape, with some rapes being legitimate and others not reminds me much of the rhetoric surrounding water boarding as some tried to rationalize how it wasn’t torture. These very different issues share one thing in common. That so-called conservative politicians believe it is their responsibility to mandate  and support these  violence acts against individuals. Too, I don’t think it is a stretch to see forcing a raped woman to carry her rapist’s baby to term  is anything but torture.

There is only one way to understand how some could refuse a woman the right to make choices about her own body, especially in a case of rape. That is to see the woman’s only value and role in life is to have a full uterus, no matter who the father of the fetus may be. The only thing of importance is that there is a fetus. This mindset isn’t that big of a stretch where, over history, a woman has been considered property much like a slave. Not really like a slave, but an actual slave since the woman was understood to be the property of the husband, and until fairly recently, the husband had a right to forcefully have sex with his wife.

As Segal points out, Akin isn’t merely a fringe politician in a state far away from Pennsylvania. Rather, the current GOP vice presidential candidate shares enough of Akin’s beliefs that he co-sponsored legislation to redefine rape. For Paul Ryan, like Tom Akin, rape isn’t rape, but types of actions are rape and others are not. Is this really the type of elected official we want to place at the very top of our entire government? Paul Ryan and by connection Mitt Romney are the type of men who only value a woman as an owned uterus.

There is another ugly side to this attempt to define some rape as legitimate. Almost explicitly, it blames women for the violence done to them. This shift of focus at women is an implicit level of support for rape itself, and all violence towards individuals. And like the water boarding, the men doing the torture are not to blame and are not to be held accountable. This mindset too, the willingness to not hold perpetrators accountable is an equally scary thing when this is the mindset of the highest elected officials in our country.

via PGN-The Philadelphia Gay News. Phila gay news. philly news – When the rape debate hits home.

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