Akin's remarks deemed 'harmful' to rape survivors
Women Under Siege documents how rape is used in war.
August 21st, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Akin's remarks deemed 'harmful' to rape survivors

By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN

When Lauren Wolfe first heard about Congressman Todd Akin's comments on rape and abortion, her mind went to Rwanda:

[1:58] "There were hundreds of thousands of women estimated to have been raped in about a hundred days. Thousands of them were forced then to bear the children of their rapists."

Wolfe studies and catalogs stories like these for Women Under Siege, a Women's Media Center project. Through education, the group hopes to put an end to sexual violence in conflict. Rape, Wolfe says, can be a tool of genocide, one where pregnancy is the goal. That's why, despite his subsequent apology, Congressman Akin's initial statements troubled her:

[2:58] "Casting doubt on these stories or putting them in categories such as legitimate and not legitimate or saying that a body should have taken care of an act of violence, a body should have rejected it is incredibly harmful. We are doing everything we can to try get these stories told so that we can learn from them so that we can stop this and anything that sets that back is really very painful."

Still, Wolfe is hopeful that these comments might provide an opening for understanding and for healing:

[3:26] "By getting a chance to put such misconceptions in the spotlight we actually have the chance to refute it and educate people who don't know. I almost welcome this as a chance to set things straight."

soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Gryla

    Lauren Wolfe trying to compare rape in Rwanda to anything in the USA is patently ridiculous!
    The last time I checked, Rwanda was occupied by black people and comparing the behavior of black people to that of actual humans is like comparing apples to crabgrass!

    As for women in the USA who are raped, we are fortunate to live in a country where they can kill their unborn babies if they want to and this is a right that must be protected!

    For those that claim to be "pro-life," might I remind you that since abortion was legalized, 16 MILLION black women have had abortions! How would you like to be writing 16 million more welfare checks? No? Didn't think so!

    One thing that Wolfe also leaves out however is that if a child is conceived through rape (and not killed by the mother of course), the father is often left out in the cold when it comes to matters of parental decisions. I can certainly understand this if he didn't know that the woman was impregnated but shouldn't he be given the same chance to be a dad once the facts are known?

    Really, the right thing to do is to find the father and thank him for his wonderful gift because children really are the future!

    August 29, 2012 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. Have your say

    The trouble is that no matter how inept, stupid and biologically downright wrong these kinds of comments by Akin are, it always amounts to the same thing: rape and abortion are never off the conservative govt's table. There's never a point to be reached where you can say confidently say: okay that's IT; this will never be challenged again. It can and it will be by the next political jerk in power (wanna-be) and this non debate will arise again. (I say non debate because it should never have come into the public domain at all).

    It's a cheap and easy ploy to get political coverage and support (votes) unless – as in this case – you go too far with it. I primarily see having deal again and again with the same issues as a waste of female energy and resources. Of course it's also a very effective way of keeping women in their place (on their toes and not able to move onto the next stage).

    August 23, 2012 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. doabitofhomework

    The whole issue surrounding social attitudes about rape are founded entirely in the Bible. Even those who aren't religious have absorbed the prejudice, because all cultures are based on religions of some sort, and all religions HATE women. And preach that hatred. Which then infests the culture itself, making even nonbelievers accept the hatred, even if they don't accept the religious mummery.

    And the entire issue involves the value the Bible places on a man's "seed." It is sacred, sacrosanct, and it is wrong and evil for a man to "spill it" or let it go to waste some other way. In other words, if a man is horny, he MUST have a woman. Using his hand is a terrible sin. What's he supposed to do when no woman is willing? Figure it out. Thus, rape is justified by religion, even if only indirectly. A man's "need" is more important than what the woman wants. His "seed" is much more important than she is. The result is that, in our cultures, men feel they have an absolute right to get sex when they desire it, and the woman shouldn't have any right to object. If she gets pregnant, she'd better not DARE to try to remove his "seed."

    Moreover, we all know what men say about these matters in locker rooms and other "male watering holes." Their attitudes toward women are – filthy. In such places, they feel free to actually BOAST about knocking up a woman and getting away scot free, with no paternity suit – whee! They just MADE A NEW HUMAN BEING, abandoned it and the mother, and are bragging that they won't even have to pay child support. Somehow, that's supposed to prove what a REAL MAN he is.

    Actually, such attitudes and behaviors prove just the opposite. They prove he is an inadequate male. Since most American males buy into this garbage, it says that most American males are inadequate. That could have some effect on the divorce rates.

    This whole issue has NO PLACE in an election, at any level.

    Sex is NOT an appropriate area of our citizens' lives, where they might seek to regulate what people can and cannot do in their own bedrooms, or with their own bodies.

    Rape is a crime. Dealing with it should be reflected in the criminal codes. Those codes are still in the Stone Age, because most of them make the victim the one who is on trial.

    While it IS true that some women will yell "rape" to serve some internal desire, most rape claims are not faked. The law ought to presume that the woman is testifying truthfully, and hold her "word" above that of the accused rapist. Far above. Should it turn out that she might have falsely filed that claim, there should be severe penalties for doing so. Those penalties would tend to discourage such false claims.

    Our lawmakers fail to recognize how HARD it is for a raped woman to file charges, to go public. Doing so brings shame down on her, whether she feels it or not – but they DO feel shame, even though they are entirely innocent victims. It is a part of the rape victims' portfolio of pain. For this reason, only a small percentage of rapes are actually reported and charges filed.

    As things stand, we still demonize the rape victim. Moreover, some sanctimonious legislators feel they have the STANDING to tell her she must carry the rapist's child to term, that she must revere that life, and are flatly telling her that her OWN life has no importance in the whole matter.

    That's worse than barbaric. It's outright sadism. And it is all based on religious hatred of the female. Don't try to say that Christianity does NOT hate the female; it does, and always has. The New Testament made some few improvements over the Old, but not where women were concerned. Since even Jesus did not come out clearly to remove that hatred, his words, such as "Love thy neighbor as thyself" must be construed to apply only to MALE neighbors. The woman-hatred in his day was as vicious as it is today. Surely, if he thought it was wrong, he would have said something to end the hatred. He didn't. He may have curtailed the stoning of a prostitute, but that doesn't mean he had any proof she WAS a prostitute, or cared what happened to her, except to make a point against stoning people. There's every chance the accusation against the woman was false to begin with. Look at the innocent women who are stoned all the time in the Islamic world. The mere accusation is enough to convict her. It was no better in Jesus' day.

    Isn't it funny that even today, the accusation is enough to convince people of someone's criminal guilt, EXCEPT when it is a woman accusing a man of raping her? Double standards, anyone?

    We like to think of ourselves as civilized. But we aren't. Nor will we ever be civilized while we continue to wallow in this hatred toward half of our own numbers. We won't stop wallowing while we continue to revere religious mummeries that tell us the hatred of women is entirely proper and righteous. The religions have to go, before we can progress any further beyond where we are now on issues involved with women's rights. A civilized population wouldn't even HAVE such an issue. The equality of all people would be their default viewpoint. Which means they would have no other hatreds, either, like racism.

    We are not evolved enough yet. The way we're going is backwards, so any "evolving" we do will tend to reinforce, rather than eliminate, such barbarisms. Evolution strengthens those attributes which are used most, and weakens those which are little used. Humanity is boldly marching, flags flying, best foot BACKWARDS. I see no room for optimism here.

    August 22, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. barbarianofgor

    Are ANY women going to vote Republican this election?

    He only 'Apologized' that his words offended anyone. His policies, and that of Romney and Ron Paul are equal, and probably the only thing they'll do save pour even more money into rich elite bank accounts and legalize shooting protesters.

    August 22, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • doabitofhomework

      You forgot to mention that they will SURELY go to war with Iran, and possibly other wars, too. Which makes a total hash of ANY improvements they claim they'll make in our economy. Unless you view such improvements strictly as those which help the war manufacturing and the oil sectors. No, the Romney/Ryan ticket will NOT be a Bush W. redux; it'll be Bush W. on steroids.

      You have also forgotten that women who are evangelical "Christians" believe what Akin said, and believe that the GOP platform reflects "God's will", and so they certainly WILL vote Republican. It makes no sense, to vote against your OWN human and civil rights, your OWN best interests. Religion can easily make people do that. Where religion is concerned, as Isaac Asimov once wisely noted, "You cannot reason with a person whose fundamental premise is that reason doesn't count." They'll just wave the Bible and that ends the discussion.

      After all, THAT is what religion is FOR. It's the reason we HAVE religion in the first place. It came about when the ancient spirituality, the reverence for the Great Earth Mother, made men begin to hate her. They had learned some things about sex, and felt that the Mother – as well as ALL females – had known it all along (they didn't), and had been betraying males since time out of mind. Their hatred knew no bounds, but they couldn't kill off all females. The result would have been extinction, and even THEY knew that much. So the alternative was to dominate them, UTTERLY, and wallow in their hatred, which they could act upon against any female, at any time, in any way he chose.

      To do this on their own might work, but it would be far better if a deity had ordained women's subjugation. They were hating the Earth Mother, so they concocted a whole new belief system out of whole cloth. Their new "god" was, of course, MALE. With all the worst of male attributes. Because of their hatred for the Mother, their spandy-new god had to be, in every way, her complete OPPOSITE. Then they went on a rampage to stamp out ALL memory of the Mother from human minds. They did a pretty good job of it, too, but didn't know about what archeology would find later in time. Topping it off, this new male god GAVE the Earth to mankind, to use as it pleased. This was a direct slap in the face to the Mother, of course, and we've been despoiling and squandering the Earth's resources mindlessly ever since.

      In addition, their new male god made a man's "seed" sacred, now that they'd learned what that seed could DO. And a woman's worth was only what the man who possessed her was willing to grant.

      The "war between the sexes" had begun.

      August 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Peter

    First of all, Emma, Mr Akin was not talking about Rwanda. No doubt that was a horrific situation. He was talking about abortion in America. Second, his statement about "legitimate rape". We had a situation earlier in the year when a prominent politician from France was accused of rape by a hotel worker. The charge was subsequently dismissed and there was speculation that the rape charge was not legitimate. Are you suggesting that women never lie about being raped? If a stricter version of rape laws were enacted where it was only available to rape victims could there conceivably be women who would claim rape in order to take advantage of the law? That would create a strange situation where people would be appointed to decide what was a "legitimate" rape. And you probably couldn't stop women from seeking an abortion if that is what they really desired, in any case. But are these subjects not to be discussed openly? Are opinions that differ from the mainstream simply to be chased with hatchets, like they did in Rwanda to people they didn't like? Secondly, if you examine the statistics of abortion in America, pregnancy from rape is not the number one reason women seek abortion. It seems to be among the rarest of reasons that women seek abortion. Have you examined the reasons why women are seeking abortion in America? Have you taken a look at the statistics? This is a significant health care concern, wouldn't you want to know the reasons so many abortions are being committed in America? The numbers are high, and it isn't because of rape.

    August 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • doabitofhomework

      And...precisely how do women who get abortions hurt YOU? What is it about their abortions that makes them YOUR business?

      You used the phrase "...the reason so many abortions are being committed in America" Thus revealing your belief that abortions are "committed," i.e., criminal.

      That's your belief, and you have an inalienable right to be as stupid or bigoted as you may please. What you do NOT have a right to do is to impose your prejudiced attitudes on the rest of the population, by manipulating the laws to suit your personal religious whims.

      Abortion is an intimate, and very PRIVATE matter. It concerns nobody but the woman and her doctor. You think otherwise. Which means you embrace all the cruelties involved in having the law meddle with abortions, to take away the woman's decision making on the matter. You want the decision to be made FOR HER, by the law. You don't have the right. Nor do you have a shred of compassion for the suffering of the woman, and the child, too, if she bears it. Most unmarried mothers live in abject poverty. Do you care and cherish their lives enough to succor her and that child? No. On the contrary, you lobby to deprive them of whatever help they get now. It's worse than hypocrisy; it's sadism.

      Since you claim that your attitude is based on a reverence for human life, where is your reverence for the life of the woman? She already lives and breathes; her zygote or fetus cannot do that yet. The zygote isn't even endowed with human cells; that comes later. You'd place a higher value on that clump of undifferentiated cells than on the life of a woman? Why?

      Because that clump of cells represents a man's "SEED." Which, to you, is even more sacred than the woman. Even if the POS who made her pregnant was a criminal; his SEED matters most of all. Not just more than she matters, but her baby, when and if it is born, won't matter to you, either. All that matters is that nobody should EVER cause harm to the sacred male "seed."

      That's sick, right on the face of it. It is inherently cruel, but it also denigrates the "seed" of the woman. Hers is given zero value, while a man's matters more than either the woman OR the resulting child. No wonder our culture is so empty of compassion. The male half hates the female half. And calls it righteous.

      That value of male "seed" comes directly out of religious mummery. If YOU buy into it, fine, it's your right. But you take it beyond your right if you try to impose that value of male seed on the rest of the population.

      A woman's right to CHOOSE is not necessarily, as the "Pro-Lifers" claim, being "pro-abortion." It means just what it says, that it is her RIGHT to choose abortion or not, and nobody has any right, not even the law, to tell her what choice she MUST make.

      Since whatever choice a woman makes does no harm to you, or to other people, by whose measure do you regard it as YOUR BUSINESS to write the rules? It's a clump of cells, in HER body, with no more humanity or sentience than a clump of tumor cells. To value it over her future and welfare is barbaric – and SADISTIC.

      Your religion has only THREE places that are proper: the heart, the home, and the house of worship. It has NO PLACE in politics, and is prohibited from mixing with the laws of the state.

      Have your attitudes. Keep them. Follow them, even, in your OWN life. But keep your mummery out of our political system. When you inject it into politics, you've crossed a big, FAT, RED LINE. Your religious rights do NOT extend to pushing religion into politics.

      It's time we did some prosecutions of religious zealots who want to violate the Constitution's mandate against mixing church and state. You do NOT believe in separation of church and state; therefore, you do NOT believe in democracy. The same goes for all those fanatics who want to take over the country in the name of their sadist-god. The god who HATES WOMEN.

      August 22, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Phil

    Akin should drop out not because of his position but because he is ignorant. This is an internal Rep issue not a Democract. Pretty hypocritical for the liberals to call for this man to dop out when the keynote speaker (the philanderer
    and chief) at their convention has the least respect for woman of anyone I know. He got fined 90K and had his law license revoked for 5 years for lying about the Lewinsky affair. Not to mention all the other affairs that have been reported and validated. This a real stand up guy and champion of womens issues the Dems have leading their convention. He not only embarassed his wife in front of family and friends but the whole world. A great champion of womens issues.

    August 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • ray hagermann

      I don't really care who is being philandered by whom. It is honestly a private issue. The reason that republicans get pilloried over scandals that leave many democrats, relatively, unscathed is ready to determine: Republicans promote themselves as paragons of morality and virtue. When salacious affairs are revealed, their entire image is shown time be a facade for a hypocrite.

      This gentleman has basically said that rape survivors in war zones (as the example) either were not "legitimately raped" or their bodies failed to "shut the system down" and forced them to carry the evidence of possibly the worst days of their lives

      August 22, 2012 at 4:31 am | Report abuse |
      • The Truth

        Ray, you are 100% correct with your statement "Republicans promote themselves as paragons of morality and virtue." There are 100's of cases where Republicans portray themselves as pure are not as pure as they present. Newt, Thad Viers, Herman Cain, Chris Lee, Mark Souder, Tom Ganley, Chip Pickering, John Ensign, Vito Fossella, Larry Craig, Mark Foley and I could go on and on and on ALL HAVE sex scandals, some with people of the same sex Craig and Foley to name two.

        For full disclosure, I am a registered independent, but when you have a group that continues to represent themselves as stalwarts of virtue and if I remember my bible verse correctly when Jesus spoke to the mob “he without sin cast the first stone” then the media wouldn’t have such a field day with the Republican stories. Make sure your own doorstep is clean before you talk about someone else or “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”.

        August 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cynic

      Selecting Bill Clinton as your straw man was not a good choice. I am a Republican myself, and I will not defend the words of a stupid, insensitive Neanderthal who reasons on the basis of voodoo science and misogyny.

      August 22, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
      • Walker

        ha! ha! Who is the Stupid, insesitive Neaderthal????? Voodoo science and misogyny??? How deep in right field are you. It drives you nuts that Bill Clinton is more popular NOW than he was when he was president! He continues to work for the greater good of America and the world. You have never heard him whine about the impeachment over a very private matter than shouldn't have been public fodder. Get over it! Certainly he doesn't talk over your head does he? Bill Clinton as the main speaker was an excellent choice but an even better choice would be if he could run for president again!!!!

        August 25, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Walker

      And it drives you NUTS that Bill Clinton is liked more NOW than when he was president. I don't care what he did with Lewinski - that was NONE of my business and it wasn't any of yours. Do you really want to start listing all the affairs of all presidents??? I don't care – again, nobody's business. Bill Clinton, would, if he could run, be elected again with no problem. Listen to what he says, read about the work he is doing here in the States and Ruwanda and countless other countries throughout the world. Get past the trash, get over it and look at what is going on today!!!!

      August 25, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |