COMMENTARY — While we’ve heard a whole heck of a lot about Todd Akin’s views on “legitimate” rape in the past few days (views for which he has since apologized), not nearly as much press has been given to some reactions within the GOP tent after the controversial remarks stirred up a whole pot of rape culture vs. redefining rape debate in the US.
And, to be fair to Akin, he is not the sole Republican voice advocating for a critical eye when it comes to rape in the US. Earlier today, we reported on Rep. Steve King’s followup remarks indicating that he’d never personally heard of any pregnancies resulting from statutory rape or incest, and, when Akin appeared on Mike Huckabee’s show to discuss the controversy today, Huckabee also voiced some opinions that many would deem an example of rape culture.
For the purposes of current debate, it is important rape and its myriad legal considerations are separated from the consequences and outcomes of rape, lest the violation itself be minimized due to the potential for an outcome that may eventually be positive or acceptable to the victim. And, given the nature of the crime, Huckabee’s remarks appear even more heinous than one might initially perceive.
Speaking of the impact of rape, Huckabee explains that some notable figures were the product of rapes. And, indeed, throughout history, some women have made the painful choice to carry a pregnancy resulting from a rape to term. But, in the discussion of whether rape is “legitimate,” such considerations really do not deserve a mention.
What Huckabee said was:
“Ethel Waters, for example, was the result of a forcible rape… I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s, he leads a large Christian organization. He, himself, was the result of a forcible rape. And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.”
Notable too is Mike Huckabee’s choice of words: “forcible rape.” While it may seem to some to be a relevant qualifier, what it truly is designed to do, as a word, is call into question whether the majority of rapes are “real rapes.” (Or as Whoopi Goldberg might say, “rape rapes.”)
That we are even having this conversation in 2012 is upsetting, but the fact that notable people such as Mike Huckabee are advancing these concepts — to the detriment of victims everywhere — is inexcusable. A position on abortion is one thing, but casting doubt on the trauma victimized women (and sometimes men) suffer every day in this country is an inexcusable transgression, and folks like Mike Huckabee should really reconsider their words, do the right thing, and clarify their positions.