Photo Credit: Bill Clark, Getty Images
Here is the really bone-chilling thing about U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" remarks: He really believed those things, and probably still does. Rather than being mere hasty remarks, or words that were taken out of context and twisted, Akin's comments provided a look into his -- and a section of the GOP's -- fundamental failure to comprehend the issues that concern women.
Watch the interview that started the firestorm this week. Akin speaks calculatedly, under no duress, about how "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing [conception] down" in cases of "legitimate rape" on The Jaco Report. His remarks seem like those of an adolescent boy explaining to his friends what he knows about sex, having cobbled together an understanding from movies and locker-room gossip. Akin cites no sources, because of course there are none, but speaks utterly self assuredly.
Of course his words were so incredibly far outside the bounds of reality that Republicans were quick to distance themselves from Akin, calling quickly and fiercely for his immediate resignation ahead of the Tuesday afternoon deadline, before which candidates can remove their own names from a ballot without a court order. Of course the response from the GOP was largely politically motivated, but the outrage at least seemed appropriate and gratifying.
At least one Republican boldface name, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, showed signs of support for Akin, however. Huckabee used his radio show as a platform to try to soften Akin's comments, suggesting that rapes are “horrible tragedies,” but some have indeed resulted in conceptions and later births that brought about impressive people. “Ethel Waters, for example, was the result of a forcible rape,” Huckabee said of the late American gospel singer in a portion of the transcript picked up by The Los Angeles Times. “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.”
It's one thing for the now-disgraced Akin to double down, as he is, on his own outlandish comments, apologizing but refusing to resign. It's another when others in the in the public eye seem to lend credence to those foolish comments.
Much has been made about the deeply unsettling implications of the words "legitimate rape." As disturbing, too, is the sense that those men who are currently and would in the future govern the women of this country don't have even the most rudimentary, junior high school-level grasp of how female bodies work.
Here's one more thing to make you shudder: Akin home schools his children.
It's enough to fill any rational woman (person, actually) with rage and disgust. And that's OK. Put those feelings to good use: Vote with them!
Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and iVillage's Chief Election News Blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.