Rape: Let’s talk about it
How would you like your basic human rights? Rare, medium rare, or well done?
If you’ve been listening to the dialogue (supposing you can call it that) of certain politicians regarding rape, the answer is apparently “rare.”
In 2012, a series of terrible quotes were collected and built into the “GOP Rape Advisory Chart.” Now, with its own website — GOPRapeAdvisoryChart.com — and multiple volumes of heinous rape justification inherent via direct and unedited quotes from GOP members, the phenomenon is too bizarre to simply be swept under the rug as an embarrassing grouping of political blights. In fact, as the focus on civil rights is amplified this year with America finally resisting the urge to push the Snooze button on issues like same sex marriage and police monitoring, this chart and its implications are all the more relevant.
So sit back, and — as Republican Clayton Williams put it — enjoy the rape.
First category? This one is the biggest doozy, in my book. First and foremost, we have to contend with “Gift From God” rape. I know quite a few people who believe that God has a plan for everyone, and that life is precious because it is a divine gift. Not many of these people would, past their mid-twenties, still assert that a rape victim should be forced to view a child conceived through rape as such a gift. If God is so benevolent as to give the gift of life through rape, he must be a twisted fellow. Therefore, if abortion is twisted, is it a stretch to think he might just delight in that too?
Of course, I’m being ridiculous. But the whole idea of justifying an opposition to abortion in this case, when the decision is so personal and the person living with the memories is the mother — not the fetus — is just as monumentally deranged for an intelligent, compassionate adult.
Two of the actual quotes supporting this category are:
“When life begins with that horrible situation of rape, that is something God intended to happen.”
~Richard Mourdock, October 23, 2012
“The right approach is to accept this horribly created, in the sense of rape, but nevertheless … a gift of human life, and accept what God is giving to you.”
~Rick Santorum, January 20, 2012
From my understanding of the above quotes, God intends for rape victims to carry around a reminder of their experience for nine months (and answer all those well-intentioned questions about “due dates” and “the father”), and babies conceived via rape are just sweet little packages delivered in by Heaven’s UPS rape squad.
It isn’t hard to see why this is more than a little incriminating.
If you think that’s bad, other categories of this chart include: Legitimate Rape, Honest Rape, Emergency Rape, Easy Rape, Forcible Rape and Enjoyable Rape.
Both The Daily Kos website, focused on political as well as pop culture news, and The Young Turks, mostly known for the YouTube channel run by young, unabashed Progressives, feature this chart as part of a bigger story.
Nearly three years ago, when the chart itself was conceived, Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks surmised that the quotes within this monstrosity were born out of GOP politicians’ needs to “sleep at night” while believing there was no alternative to having an unplanned pregnancy — even in the case of rape. It’s a hard point to argue with, objectively speaking. If they are to defend their position, to avoid abortion at any cost, rape must be minimized, glossed over, or completely reframed.
As a child of rather nefarious conception methods myself (not rape, but not much better), who discovered such unsavory details around the age of twelve, I can see how overemphasizing the method of conception might be a flawed approach, but that doesn’t seem to detract one iota from the biggest misnomer here: the blatant disregard for the wellbeing of the woman who has been raped.
Yes, you may be anti-abortion (or truly pro-life, if you also oppose war and capital punishment), but are you pro-rape? Are you pro-trauma? Are you for a government that can force a woman to be nothing more than a vessel after she has already been violated? The questions are not exactly complex, and anyone who is a conscious, sentient adult should at the very least be mindful of their processing and their response.
Growing up, I was against abortion (perhaps more for personal reasons, as an adoptee who saw it as my close call), and yet I was almost grotesquely fascinated by the multiple views on the subject. I debated, I read, and I hated it when I changed my position to pro-choice. But one of the main triggers for that change was located in the church library where I spent time hiding out during the service. “The Atonement Child,” by popular Christian author Francine Rivers, is the story of a woman who has the perfect, blameless existence of a sheltered, beloved virgin complete with a perfect suitor and a loving family. All of that changes when she is raped and discovers that she is pregnant with her rapist’s child.
To the story’s credit, Rivers lets nearly every other character hold the position that abortion here is reasonable, but the protagonist herself basically maintains that the pressure to get an abortion hurts worse than the rape, and that God has given her something good from something terrible. Even as a vehemently pro-life teenager, I failed to see how the woman could attest that being raped was simply a “physical pain” that passed, whereas her concerned friends and family advising her to terminate the pregnancy were causing her true and lasting grief.
Like the GOP arguments, Rivers glossed over the horror of rape. The reason why categories such as “forcible” rape are so preposterous lie in the very definition: Rape is any sexual act that is not consensual, and it is too personal and serious of a matter for politicians to decide how a victim is to respond. Even doctors tread lightly upon this issue, other than taking the necessary physical steps to ensure health and safety. They cannot report a rape without the victim’s consent; unless that person makes it clear that they want to report, or they develop an STD from the encounter.
While some people have claimed that the GOP Rape Advisory Chart makes light of a serious issue, I would argue that it brings that serious issue to light. We cannot elect people whose beliefs abate the horrific nature of rape while simultaneously calling for their beloved “small government” to have jurisdiction in the ultimate worst-case scenario.
Just because it’s entertaining doesn’t make the chart less enlightening, and the people who have no qualms expressing and defending these views are the true punchline. This seems like a good time to retire the joke.
Megan Wallin is a young writer with a background in the social sciences and an interest in seeking the extraordinary in the mundane. A Seattle native, she finds complaining about the constant drizzle and overabundance of Starbucks coffee therapeutic. With varied work experiences as a residential counselor, preprimary educator, musician, writing tutor and college newspaper reporter/editor, Megan is thrilled to offer a unique perspective through writing, research and open dialogue.