So, by now, unless you live under a rock — and by that I mean a rock without wifi where you have no smartphone, no tv, no radio, and no access at all to the outside world — you’ve heard that yet another Republican candidate slipped up and admitted what he really thinks about rape, women, and living in the patriarchy.
It’s always interesting to me how differently, from almost every single other crime, we perceive rape and what this difference tells us about living in patriarchy.
The most obvious example is the way that we’re almost inalterably programmed to blame the rape victim for her rape. Thus, we hear all sorts of justifications: she was in a bad part of town, she was drunk, her skirt was too short, she let him kiss her and get excited, she’d previously (my own, almost ancient by now, moot court hypo) checked out movies that showed rape and therefore must have wanted to be raped, she was, in one way or another, asking for it.
Oddly, we don’t say those things about crimes that routinely happen to men.
Take robbery, for example. If someone shows up with a gun and demands a man’s wallet, we don’t say, well, that man shouldn’t have been walking with a wallet in a bad part of town, having had more than a few drinks, and wearing a nice suit that advertised how much money he had, as if he wanted to attract robbers. He shouldn’t have stopped and offered to give the robber a dollar before saying that, no, he wasn’t willing to give the robber all of his money. We don’t say that he’d previously checked out movies that showed people getting robbed and, therefore, must have wanted to be robbed. We don’t say that he was, in one way or another, asking to be robbed. We don’t blame it on the homeowner when there’s a breaking-and-entering. We don’t blame it on the owner of a credit card when someone commits identity theft. We don’t say that the murder victim was really asking to have poison put in his coffee. We don’t say that if your broker transfers all of your cash to her account in the Caymans, you must have wanted her to do that because you gave her access to your accounts.
You can, I’m sure, come up with many other examples.
And Mr. Mourdock’s assertion that rape victims should have to bear and give birth to the fetus that results from rape is yet another example of how rape — a crime committed almost exclusively by men and suffered overwhelmingly by women — is treated differently from other crimes. If someone rapes you and you get pregnant, that is, according to Mr. Mourdock, the xian god’s will (and what an unfeeling, brutal, weak, nasty, dirty, snarling, ill-mannered, id-controlled god he is, too). As a result the state should step in and prevent modern science and modern medicine from helping, to, as much as possible, put you back in the position that you occupied immediately prior to the rape (i.e., the state should prevent you from having an abortion or using the morning after pill).
I’m unable to think of any other crime of which this is true. In fact, in almost every other crime (and/or contract violation), returning the victim to the position occupied just prior to the infraction is the primary goal of our legal system.
If someone steals your car, the state will, if possible, make them return your car. If they wrecked your car, the state provides mechanisms that will allow you to sue the robber and get back the value of your car, the money you spent renting a car in the interim, the money you spent on counseling to make you feel better after the theft, etc. If someone assaults you, the state provides mechanisms to, if possible, make them pay for your medical bills, missed wages, pain and suffering. Even murder. If someone murders me, the state again provides mechanisms to make that person reimburse my estate, paying attention to my life expectancy, what my future earnings would have been, my value to my family, etc. I may not be able to be put back in the position that I occupied before the murder, but my estate can be and the state will labor to do so.
Yet what Mr. Mourdock proposes is that the state step in and actively prevent me, even with my own resources, from restoring myself to the position that I would have occupied prior to the rape. (As Echidne reminds me, and as I should have remembered from my good friend Literata, forcing women to carry a pregnancy to term can, in fact, be a death sentence. We don’t often sentence the victims of other crimes to death.)
Mr. Mourdock’s proposal is doubly wrong because it violates the United States Constitution. The First Amendment provides, inter alia, that:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . .
That means that the xians can believe whatever misogynistic, patriarchal, illogical, punitive shit they want to believe. That means that xian women who are raped can go ahead and give birth to the children that result from rape. That means that there’s not a damn thing I can do about that, even if I don’t think that adding to global population overload or bringing unwanted children into the world is a good thing. But here’s what it also means. It also means that Mr. Mourdock is wrong. The state may not step in and prevent me from having an abortion when I’m raped, simply because some xians don’t believe in women’s rights. My Goddess wants me to take responsibility for my own body, my own actions, any life that I manifest into this world. She wants me to be in control of my body. She wants me to have an abortion any time that I find myself pregnant and unwilling to bear a child.
I’ve been living in the patriarchy for 56 years. I’m getting tired of this shit.
(As is so often the case, my friend Echidne says the same thing, only earlier and better.)