There are few things in life that I despise more than political correctness. I despise political correctness because it is invariably used as a tool by the political Left to stifle conversation and real debate in the short term and ultimately change societal perception in the long term. Take, for example, illegal immigration. The Left is aggressively trying to eliminate that word from the conversation. In their attempt to shore up their advantage amongst a certain demographic group for generations to come, liberals are trying to turn illegal aliens into “undocumented workers/citizens.” Why? Because the word “illegal” carries a certain social stigma. As it well should. Since when did it become a bad thing to stigmatize breaking the law? That stigmatization has the desired effect of influencing people from doing so.
I bring this up because the Todd Akin debacle is another conversation which has been hijacked by political correctness faster than you could say “Missouri.” Luckily, I have absolutely no regard for political correctness whatsoever, and I am not afraid to explore the other half of the Akin conversation which should be happening.
To borrow one of the president’s favorite phrases, let me be clear: I am not going to defend Akin’s suggestion that rapes cannot end in pregnancy. That claim is demonstrably false and has been so proven countless times since his comments aired. Nor am I going to even come close to defending rape (although I’m sure that charge will be leveled somehow regardless). I am merely going to argue that, wittingly or not, Rep. Akin may have been on to something with his use of the phrase “legitimate rape” and that there are many other sides to this story which have not been discussed.
There is no question that the representative’s comments have resulted in a media firestorm and have led to calls from both sides of the political spectrum for the congressman to withdraw from the Missouri Senate race. However, this firestorm has been so dominated by political correctness that it has been limited to demands for an apology and calls for his resignation/withdrawal from the race. And it seems as though many of the people who have taken exception to Akin’s comments have focused on his use of the phrase “legitimate rape.” The militant righteous indignation of feminists reacting to that phrase ridicules the idea that there could ever be such a thing as an illegitimate rape. Their argument is that all rapes are legitimate and by implying otherwise, Akin is an ignorant bigot who believes that there is somehow a difference between “rape-rape” and some other sort of similar sexual act which doesn’t precisely fit a certain connotation of the word.
The problem is that that is an incredibly misguided way of interpreting Akin’s comments. That interpretation requires jumping through mind-reading rhetorical hoops. The much simpler explanation is that Akin meant something entirely different. His use of the word “legitimate” was intended to differentiate between cases where a rape actually occurs and other sexual encounters in which a rape does not occur but is then later alleged to have happened. Akin was not trying to say that rape, when it actually happens in any circumstance, can sometimes not be considered legitimate. He was merely saying that not all alleged rapes are legitimate – a statement which is absolutely true and worth highlighting.
The fact is that false allegations and illegitimate rapes happen all the time and they ruin men’s lives. How short a memory society has! It has already forgotten the inspiring story of only a few months ago in which an athlete, falsely convicted and imprisoned for over five years on a fabricated rape charge, is trying to make a comeback and realize his dream of becoming a professional football player. What about the story which appeared around the same time in which two men were wrongly imprisoned on a cruise because another woman cried rape? Neither of those were “legitimate.” Then there was the recent case in the UK where a woman was (rightly) imprisoned for two years for falsely accusing a man of rape simply because he couldn’t recall her name almost a week after a consensual one-night stand.
Granted, pointing out instances in which illegitimate rape charges are leveled doesn’t excuse Akin’s ignorance of reproductive biology. However, it does open the door to other discussions and tough questions which are worth considering and comprise the other half of the conversation. Isn’t there something wrong when a woman can essentially point out a man to an authority and say (for whatever reason), “He raped me!” and the man is immediately detained? Why should a man have to worry that any time he has sex, no matter how consensual, he could at some point be accused of rape? Why does it seem that rape, especially of a male against a female, is one of those crimes in which society is ready to deem the accused guilty until proven innocent? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Look no further than the grave near-miscarriage of justice in the Duke Lacrosse case and how those innocent young men’s lives were ruined when they were ripped to shreds by the media and academia. Only to have the media eat crow when it came out that the “victim” was lying.
Akin’s word choice also leaves the door open for other tough, politically-incorrect questions. For example, why does society still hold a subconscious double-standard when it comes to rape? Why do we still laugh at the suggestion that men could be raped by women? Science has proven it biologically possible. Why were laws only recently catching up with this reality to define rape equally regardless of gender? Doesn’t laughing at it and the fact that it was unequally defined in the eyes of the law make it seem less legitimate?
Pro-life conservatives should reconsider before they completely abandon Akin and his views on abortion. He is also being ridiculed for his implication that if abortion were allowed in cases of rape, it would not be hard for women to lie and say that they had been raped even if it weren’t the case. Because surely women would never lie about these things. Isn’t it a painful truth then that the poster child of all poster children for abortion, Norma McCorvey aka “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade infamy, did exactly that? How many innocent unborn children never had a chance at life because, rather than taking responsibility for their actions, young women made them the scapegoat for a crime which was never committed?
Kevin Reagan | The George Washington University | @O_JoseCanYouSee