I was just barely seventeen years old when I moved out on my own, and it was six months later that I found myself living in a house that rented out rooms for a couple hundred dollars a month. My room had a deadbolt, so I was pretty happy with it, until New Years Eve, 1985.
That night I’d gone to a party but was the designated driver and refrained from drinking. I got home pretty early, and was in bed by 2am. Around 4 in the morning, I woke up with my nightgown pulled up and someone touching my breasts.
It was my landlord. He’d let himself into my room, into my bed, and was in the process of trying to rape me. He was fairly small, thankfully, so I tossed him off of me. I ran to the phone to call my friends for help, but he ripped the phone out of the wall before I said too much. I spent the next half hour running around the house trying to get away from him, until my friends arrived with baseball bats and got me out of there.
Once I was safe, I called the police. The officer who was taking my report closed his notebook without writing anything down after I told him what happened: he said, “Well, it sounds like to me this is just a goodnight kiss that went too far.”
I was livid.
My mother, an avid feminist, had taught me well. I frostily replied to the cop, “He is my LANDLORD. I was NOT ON A DATE WITH HIM. He BROKE INTO MY ROOM. I am filing charges.”
From then on out, it was a battle. The District Attorney attempted to reduce the charges to domestic assault, since he lived in the house as well. I fought with them until a new DA was assigned, and finally, he was charged with sexual assault. He accepted a plea for assault and battery and served sixty days and was required to write me a letter of apology. I also sued him privately for causing me to lose my home, and won a settlement there too.
At every turn I was challenged on the legitimacy of my claim of being sexually assaulted. The man held me down, attempted to take off my nightgown, and kissed me brutally, chased me around my house, and prevented me from calling help. Even so, I was told that my case wasn’t enough.
This happens every single day to women in this country, and to women that were far more brutalized than I was. If you are raped in the United States and try to prosecute your attacker, you must be willing to withstand a non-stop barrage of claims that you, in fact, asked for it.
So I wasn’t too surprised to hear Congressman Todd Akin say that in “legitimate rape” pregnancy isn’t a concern for women.
Which – let me just make this entirely fucking clear – is BULLSHIT. Pregnancy DOES happen from rape, and it’s incredibly unlikely that the women that get pregnant from rape consider those babies to be gifts from God.
While this incredibly ignorant statement by Todd Akin is bad enough, it’s even worse when you pull back and look at the bigger picture, such as noting that Mr. Akin co-sponsored an antichoice bill that also attempted to redefine rape with current Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan, of course, is the guy that wrote a personhood amendment (meaning defining a fetus as a person from the moment of conception) that didn’t mention the word “woman” or “mother” once.
To my (admittedly feminist) eye, it appears to me that men like Akin and Ryan believe that women do not own their sexual organs or functions; that women’s bodies are, in fact, the property of men. I think there is a part of them that also believe women who insist on claiming ownership of their bodies – including those sexual bits – are dirty, dirty whores that deserve what they get. I do not believe that they love and want to protect babies – if they did, they’d do more for the babies already here. They simply want to control how women use their bodies, and forcing women to remain pregnant (or get pregnant because they’d also like to ban most forms of birth control) is the single best way to control them.
Knowing that, well, it doesn’t shock me one bit that Todd Akin believes only in “legitimate” rape. His disregard for life – and by life, I mean the life of women – proves to me that he’s not “pro life.” He’s just yet another douche bag that is anti-woman, so saying that women don’t get pregnant from legitimate rape is just par for the course. Why are we so surprised?