Politicians say some really stupid things sometimes, and this comes to no shock to anyone who happens to pay even the slightest attention to the news. Recently though even those of us rather inured to stupid off the cuff comments from politicians were shocked to hear a national politician speak with astounding ignorance about a very sensitive subject in a heated campaign year.

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” – Rep Todd Akin

First off I don’t even for a second want to debate the term “legitimate rape” as there is no such thing. Rape in any circumstance is wrong and that is one of the very few things I will never consider an argument against. The real anger I had against this statement however was the sentiment behind the concept not the incredibly insensitive and stupid phrasing.

The idea that a pregnancy could be prevented if it were violent enough or distressing enough to cause “shock” is an outdated, medically unproven and an incredibly dangerous thought. Many women who are abused are already afraid to come forward, or already feel as if it was their fault somehow. The idea that a woman who happened to get pregnant from rape, deserved such because her rape was not “real” because it didn’t cause enough “shock” is simply horrific. The thought that this comment might cause a woman to possibly not come forward about her rape because silence is better than facing someone saying she is not a real “victim” is tragic to me. Even if the vast majority of people have condemned these comments the fact that the sentiment is out there, and held by someone in power is very disheartening.

All of this attention to the issue of rape and abortion can not be seen as totally unfortunate however. I feel that these issues are incredibly important in today’s society. Political discourse on the issues of victims rights as well as the legality of abortion should not be prevented, but they should be respectful, and aware of the rights feelings and ramifications of those positions to victims of sexual assault.

This brings me back to the politician himself who was not knowledgeable nor respectful to victims of such horrible crimes. While I know that no one is perfect, I do believe that politicians have a moral obligation to use the voice and attention that they get in conjunction with their jobs responsibly. If they do not do so, as in this case, I think that it is a failure on their part to do their job and they should face consequences. I may not believe that one off the cuff remark taken out of context (which while not the case for this example is often the source of similar stupid politician moments) should always spell out disaster for someones career, they should expect to face some pretty serious negative repercussions when a comment is offensive, poorly researched, or outright offensive. I think it is the voters job to make sure those consequences are carried out and that we don’t vote for candidates like this who use an incorrect opinion to justify policy making.

Side note: The following are comments that I found interesting; one is a piece about a victim of rape, and the other is an opinion piece that while doesn’t conform to all of my political stances on the issue reflects the anger and dismay I felt when reading about this issue over the past week. Please note that there is also some really great pro-life commentary going on out there that isn’t offensive toward victims of rape and is attempting to clarify what many non-insane pro-life people believe and those are well worth reading as well.

Rape Fatigue and You: When there is just no anger left

Raped, Pregnant and ordeal not over