Last week, I wrote about the U.S.'s immigration policy being broken. This week, though, the immigration system's brokenness pales in comparison to the GOP's utter disregard for women, women's rights, and gender equality. Missouri Congressman Todd Akin's comments regarding the legitimacy of rape, conception, and abortion rights is the latest in a string of anti-women remarks that are incredibly dangerous to the vast progress equality has made in the past 100 years in every arena, from sports to voting rights, and not just in the U.S. but globally. This narrow-mindedness is indicative of a belief system that seeks to repress women, ensuring that they are not societally equal to men.
The Internet, news channels, and blogosphere have been abuzz with controversy after Rep. Akin's assertions that abortion in cases of rape should not be allowed because a woman's body physiologically prevents conception from occurring if it feels that the rape is "legitimate." "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," was Rep. Akin's response to an interview question as he clarified his views on abortion.
Tell me this, Mr. Akin: When is rape illegitimate? And have you ever taken a science class? Are you even slightly aware of how the female reproductive system functions? Eve Ensler's piece for The Huffington Post could not have been more eloquent or well written. And yet, I find myself still infuriated and in need of vocalizing how important a woman's control over her own body is. How is it logically possible to willingly, viciously rip away the rights of an entire half of the world's population? What have women done to you, Mr. Akin, that you deign to treat them so poorly and disregard their wants and needs? You don't even have the decency to step down from this year's senatorial race.
The worst part is that the GOP's dangerous anti-women trends don't stop there. Rep. Akin is not the only one who has put forth such ludicrous ideas about the female reproductive system, rape, and abortion. Remember Mike Huckabee? A onetime presidential hopeful? He talked about "forcible rape" to the LA Times. His defense was that rape has created some extraordinary people. The logical fallacies in his reasoning aside (what about all the heinous, horrible dictators and murderers who were not products of rape?), I fail to understand what kind of blasé insensitivity caused Huckabee to make a distinction between "forcible" rape and rape that is not "forcible."
The Romney-Ryan ticket, amongst other members of the GOP, came out against Rep. Akin's thoughtless comments. While I commend these GOPers for recognizing how abhorrent his assertions were, their perspectives on women's reproductive rights are not much better. Mitt Romney vehemently opposes a woman's right to choose, at one point saying that the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade. There are times when I feel as if I live in the Dark Ages; the arguments are redolent of repression and a commitment to tossing the constitutionally mandated right to self-determination out the window. It is a system of beliefs that should be feared.
It took me many years to become a feminist. Years of growing up in Saudi Arabia and seeing women treated as second class citizens. Years of living in Bangladesh and seeing women in a developing country struggle with their reproductive and gender rights. It took years to solidify my now steadfast passion for supporting and striving for women's rights. In that vein, I'd like to say thank you to people like Rep. Todd Akin, Mike Huckabee, and the numerous GOPers for making me understand how important it is to be vocal about equality and choices, about what is right, and what is progress.