Girl TalkYour Body Is Doing It Wrong: The Todd Akin StoryJulia Gazdag

Aging pterodactyl and biology student of the year (1073 — BC) Todd Akin is running for Senate. Unless you spent yesterday under a rock, you were, at some point, exposed to the following statement by him on the The Jaco Report (in a lovely display of two old men talking about what I should do with my vagina): “First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare… If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

~slow clap~

“That whole thing.”

I’m assuming this guy has yet to crack a medical text written after the invention of papyrus, which is a shame, considering that the above “medical” “theory” is one of his arguments against legalizing abortion. I find it reassuring that with all the socio-economically pressing issues that affect the general population, there are still politicians who find the time to focus all their energy on legislating their personal beliefs and oppressing women — or as I like to call them, superheroes of multi-tasking!

Akin has more deep thoughts than Jack Handey, as he went on to share, “but let’s assume that maybe [auto-eject enabled by the uteran rape alarm] didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.” Funny how the only person missing from that statement is the woman herself. She’s probably somewhere in the kitchen, being seen and not heard. I hope she bakes some cookies while she’s back there (and makes it snappy!).

In case you were wondering, Akin also opposes criminalizing marital rape (which finally made its way around to all 50 states no sooner than 1993), because he believes it gives women a legal tool to “beat up on the husband” in divorce proceedings. Because that, clearly, is the biggest issue in a divorce that involves marital rape. Won’t someone think of the children? Oh right, a woman’s uterus can tell when husband-sex is unwanted and shuts “that whole thing” down, right? The amount of time this guy is prepared to put into legislating my vagina is making me want to learn another language while teaching myself how to play the violin on a mountain climbing expedition.

Conservatives worry that women will lie about having been raped in order to get an abortion, because apparently we’re all just lining up to get our jollies by having our wombs vacuumed. There’s nothing like that week of pain and nausea, we’ll lie and cheat our way to get our fix! In fact, conservatives seem to spend an awful lot of time worrying about what women do with their lady-bits, and even more energy trying to legislate lady-bits, or else coming up with brilliant wisps of reasoning, like Todd Akin, as to why their efforts are justified. There are various theories as to when an abortion might be acceptable, and when it isn’t.

No. Just no. Why are we making up rules about when it is and is not okay to get an abortion, when the issue at hand is whether or not a woman has jurisdiction over her own body — the body she gestates a child with, the body that she sacrifices and has torn asunder in order to grow life? Anyone willing to have their uterus vacuumed rather than bear a child should probably avoid raising one [at that point in their life*]. As someone sacrificing her physical, psychological and spiritual self, a woman is the only person visionary enough to decide how much of her own life she can pump into another.

It takes far more wisdom to understand whether or not you’re responsible and capable enough to care for a child, than it does to yammer on in abstractions while citing bogus medical “data” and using it to restrict the rights of half your constituency. There is no such thing as “legitimate rape” as Mr. Akin put it, because there is no such thing as “illegitimate rape.” There are no gradations; rape is not a color swatch from Home Depot. Every single word uttered by Akin yesterday was an affront to women and brain cells alike.

If only Akin’s hilariously ignorant comments were an anomaly. The guy is running for Senate. What’s more, he represents part of a larger whole of the barrage of oppressive sentiment and legislation that conservative politicians nationwide have been throwing at women. This past April, Scott Walker repealed the Equal Pay Act in Wisconsin, putting an entire state full of women at an economic disadvantage. The Georgia House recently approved a bill prohibiting women from having a stillborn fetus removed, on the basis that if livestock can carry a deceased fetus, so can a woman — aside from it being inhumane, life-threatening, and just plain insulting, it also skims over the fact that most livestock owners call in a vet to have the stillborn fetus removed. And while there is perpetual argument over whether or not rape justifies an abortion, sexual assault perpetrators rarely find themselves doing time even though 1 in 4 women will experience assault at some point in their lifetime.

How about instead of trying to mandate what women should do with their bodies, government works to protect them? Instead of telling me not to walk home alone at night as rape prevention, “safety officials” crack down on rapists and prove that it is, indeed, a punishable offense. Because as long as we keep up such a fervent public dialogue about what women should and shouldn’t be able to do with their person, we’re perpetuating the idea that it is up to others, not ourselves, to make our decisions for us. It takes power and balance away, which not only indirectly empowers anyone intending to take advantage of a woman in any way, but takes power away from us a whole. It inhibits our workforce and stagnates our creativity. Perhaps, as a start, we can ensure that aspiring congressmen pass a basic health studies class.

*clarification added 8/21/12

Main image from here.

  • Molly Spining

    This article and the comments really make me sad. How can so many people think taking an innocent life is OK? I’m completely baffled. You people do realize this is murder right? Which is actually against the law soooo not sure why baby murder is still allowed… People don’t say “Well that person has free will, they’re their own person so it’s really OK if they wanted to kill someone because it’s their choice.”Who ever says that murderers are justified? If there are complications with a pregnancy then that is between the doctor and the mother to decide how to deal with it, however dealing with complications should not mean killing the fetus. If a woman becomes pregnant after being raped then I don’t see why she couldn’t just give the baby up for adoption. Plenty of infertile couples would be more than happy to adopt a child. I think we need to consider all the options here…

    • Donna Wall

      I applaud you standing up for what you believe. But do you really know what you believe? When do you believe life begins? Do you use birth control. I’m not telling you what choices to make, but I would not want you to commit murder (your definition) because you do not realize that birth control pills, shots, and IUDs work by ideally preventing ovulation, (you might want to research how often ovulation is actually prevented), then by making the environment of the womb a hostile environment in which a fertilized egg cannot implant/attach. By the way implantation is the medical definition of pregnancy. Medical terminology does not consider a woman pregnant when her egg and is fertilized by her husband’s sperm (however the fertilized egg does begin to begin to muliply the number of cells during this time). Just wanted to let you know there is more to it than most people think. I didn’t want you unwittingly casting stones. Sorry if I sound harsh. But I believe there are good people on both sides of this issue. There is too much hate, ignorance, and intolerance.

    • Julia Gazdag

      Adoption is a complicated and expensive process, and a lot of children end up in foster homes, some of which end up being abusive. It’s not a functional solution for a lot of children. The thing that no one ever talks about is that before you can put your child up for adoption, you have to go through the process of pregnancy. It’s physically straining, it’s very expensive, and for women who don’t have health insurance, or whose insurance doesn’t cover it, it’s a serious problem. Carrying a child without proper prenatal care can end up causing serious complications. Pregnancy, and certain complications of it, can also cause a woman to miss work, which many cannot afford to do even for a few weeks.

      I disagree with focusing so much on the abstraction of a child that is not even fully formed while ignoring the full-grown functional member of society whose life can potentially be ruined by just the 9 months of pregnancy, let alone the difficulty afterwards, whether or not the child is put up for adoption. Many women choose to keep their child, and it is wonderful when someone can do that. I think that straight out calling an abortion murder is a very strong and debatable statement. It is not an easy decision to make, and is a horrible, painful, emotionally trying experience to go through. To have been raped and to become pregnant from it is a violent, invasive, and unfair fate to say the least.

      I would hope that you have more respect for victims of such a traumatic experience than to judge them and make life choices for them. If you are baffled and confused, it might be helpful to research the reasons why women who have chosen an abortion have done so and educate yourself on the reasons a person can choose such a hard road for themselves. I’ve found that it’s best to make decisions of my views of others once I know more about them, instead of applying my personal views to their lives.

      You say we should consider all the options here — that’s exactly what I’m saying. To be pro-choice means giving every citizen the right to consider their options. No one takes abortion lightly, least of all a woman facing the reality of it.

      • Donna Wall

        I don’t presume to try to sway anyone on either side of this controversy. However I find it apalling that there are people on both sides unwilling to consider anyone with an opinion different than their own has a right to that opinion. Sadly I’ve read and seen vehement argurments by persons who haven’t bothered to take time to educate themselves on the topic. They have heard, read, or been told something, but often don’t bother to fully research the topic before trying to tell someone else how to believe, and act. To the point: Those who are Pro-Life hurray for you. I applaud your standing up for what you believe in, but have you asked yourself when does life begin? And what form of contraception if any do you use? I am not saying this to be pro-abortion, or pro-life, I simply want both sides to be more fully informed. If you believe life begins when a woman’s ovum (egg) and a man’s sperm meet and that egg is fertilized, then I want you to know that if you use birth control pills, birth control shots, or an IUD(and again I respect your rights, but want you to be informed), you are not preventing an egg from becoming fertilized, but rather are hopefully preventing ovulation (the egg from being released and thus fertilized), or that failing the womb is made less than ideal for a fertilized egg to attach/implant (medical definition of pregnancy), and the fertilized egg (potential human) deteriorates from lack of an enviroment to develop properly, and deteriorates, and passes out with the woman’s next menses (period). So if you believe life begins at conception not implantation, please refrain from throwing stones at persons making the often painful decision of having an abortion, until you find a differnt form of birth control. Otherwise by the definition of life begins at conception, birth control pills and abortion are simply splitting hairs over timing. Now for those who have abortions because of the expenses associated with missed work, and health care. There are adoption agencies that fully asorb these costs. However again I do not presume to tell anyone what to believe or what choices to make. I simply wish people would educate themselves better before criticizing the difficult choices others make. I believe people typically try to do what they believe is right. Lets try to be respectful, compassionate, and well educated. Rape is a horror that no one should have to endure. Lets find solutions to prevent rape rather than trying to take away the right to have different opinions, and belief systems.

  • Lydia Jagger

    “Anyone willing to have their uterus vacuumed rather than bear a child should probably avoid raising one.” – Really?

    • Lydia Jagger

      Never mind, found the clarification. Just as well!

  • Meg Olsen

    my thoughts exactly! thank you for this!

  • Liz Craig

    I have read so many wonderfully stated articles such as yours on this matter and yet from the perspective of this Englander you seem to be the minority in America. Our government has some melons in it that’s for sure but I cannot imagine any of them ever spouting such nonsense as Todd Akin. America has such wonderful attributes to offer the world its such a shame that it is blighted by such il-informed stupid people with such highly regarded platforms. Sophia Bush has started the hast tag #BackOffMyUterus on twitter and I think all women of America should unite behind it, wether they agree with abortion or not, because Akins comments are about so much more than that, they are a reflection that even in the 21st century there are men who believe us to be nothing more than wombs in aprons.

    • Shanna Hamilton

      Yes! Of course he’s come out apologizing saying he used the “wrong wording.” Which, let’s be honest, he completely meant what he said. But a big problem is the lack of education. The fact that he thinks your body can detect when it’s being raped and has a security shut out mechanism? My body is not a bank vault from a Sunday morning cartoon. If someone is assaulting me lights don’t flash, the door doesn’t slam shut, and the thief doesn’t run away scared to some cute little diddy and all is fine. The worst part is that so many people campaign on such ridiculous ideas and utter lack of education and common sense. That is what TERRIFIES me. A lot of what conservatives campaign on is so easily proved wrong with facts over and over and over again, yet people still run around with their torches and pitch forks supporting it. This guy could hold up a blue sign saying its red, and his supporters will argue to the death for him that it’s red. THAT scares the shit out of me that people like that are voting for our President.

  • Leandra Medina

    I’m pretty sure the ” doctors” he refers to are the ones that equate praying with medical treatment. Good thing praying won’t EVER save his career.

  • Shanna Hamilton

    Where are all these ideas coming of people who abuse abortion? For one, it’s like you said. It’s an extremely severe toll on ones body. It’s not like you have an abortion and then are able to go run a marathon six hours later, followed by a gang bang in hopes to have another abortion in a nother few weeks like people seem to be implying. Secondly… If someone is getting pregnant because they can’t afford birth control, how and why could they afford all these multiple abortions that everything thinks they’re having? “I approve of abortion as long as girls aren’t using it as a form of birth control.” Do you not realize what you’re saying? That’s completely radical, very ignorant and I don’t even think it’s physically possible.

    • Jessica Jeffers

      I am on the fence as to whether or not it should be more difficult for girls under 18 to get abortions only because I think that a lot of young girls who don’t fully understand the toll that an abortion can have on your body may say to themselves, “It’s okay if I get pregnant because I can always have an abortion.” That is, honestly, something I’ve heard 14 year old girls say before. Clearly, greater education is important to correcting this misunderstanding. Parents, doctors, and educators need to be more involved with those girls.

      • Shanna Hamilton

        Oh I completely agree. Young girls not only don’t understand the price of sex, and childbearing, but also the severity and toll of an abortion. However if it happens once I don’t see them saying “That was awesome! So much better than wearing a condom. Can’t wait to do that again!” That’s what a lot of people are making it out to seem like. No one is going to use an abortion in place of birth control. Physically it’s absurd. Financially it’s absurd. And most of all mentally it’s absurd. No one gets an abortion and feels good about themselves. It just saddens me that people like Akin want to throw around their “facts” and opinions on a subject they clearly understand nothing about. THEY’RE the ones who make abortion feel like a frivolous thing by acting like its such an easy decision and eay thing to do. They talk about women doing it as non chalantly as they talk about women eating McDonalds. “You shouldn’t use fast food as a main source of nutrition because it’s unhealthy. And also don’t use abortion as a form of birth control ya sluts.” it’s not that black and white and it’s way more delicate of an issue to debate.

        • Jessica Jeffers

          Oh,I totally agree with you about it not being as nonchalant as some would have you believe. I just want to point out the rare instances in which birth control might be thought of as birth control — and how that underscores the need for educatio.

  • Charles Zippel

    I think feminists need to just shut the fuck up already, and make me a sandwich.

    That being said, legalize abortion, but educate on not abusing it, if you have 5+ abortions you need help.

    Death penalty for rapists that are 100% proven guilty, others let the people decide.

    I’ve had a few “rape baby” friends in my life time, glad they were kept, but it’s up to the women to decide. If abortions a sin, God will judge not man, so the Church should follow it’s own law for once and stop fucking judging ppl.

    • Julia Gazdag

      Sad news: you may starve. Or make your own sammich.

  • Victoria M. Krueger

    Rape victim shares her story of why she chose life after being raped. Also a young adult who was conceived through rape and his mother chose life. Wonderful stories.

  • Victoria M. Krueger
  • Melissa Volpe

    As someone who lives in the state of Wisconsin where Scott Walker is being a total wanker and state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R) is a big twat, I understand what’s going on sooo much.
    As for abortion….when I realized what my husband & I need to do just to have one child, we discussed adoption. But the problem with it is, the rules & the cost makes it impossible for a one factory job, military couple to be ABLE to adopt. I guess my view on abortion remains that it shouldn’t be used as a form of birth contrl. If there are health, mental or financial issues, ok, I can understand. However, if it’s a financial reason, you can find someone to adopt before the baby is even born & they will usually pay most, if not all, expenses.

    • Nikolina Serdar

      As someone who lives in a country where abortions are legal, I can assure you that hardly basically no one uses abortion as a form of birth control because we are educated about the risks of it in school and the doctors have to tell you everything that could happen as a result of an abortion + you get a few days to think over it (except if the life of the mother is in immediate danger, then doctors act quickly, of course). I don’t know who ever thinks people would be using such an serious medical procedure on a regular basis as a birth control. A person who does that must be very self-destructive because, yes the side-effects can be enormous, physically and psychologically. A friend of mine had to abort her child because she would have died otherwise and she couldn’t get out of bed for several weeks after that. Most women only abort the child if they have to, for whatever reasons, and NO ONE has the right to decide for them or judge them. Trust in people’s common sense, they will decide what is best for them (and if they’re mistaken they’ll hopefully learn from their mistakes, but it’s still THEIR mistakes and no one else has the right to tell them which decisions to make!).

  • Pat Dillon

    ps.. Julia, I do want to compliment you, however, on your nice
    job of stereotyping, and not treating people as individuals. Yes, that was definitely nice work, Julia.

    • Leandra Medina

      Really??? Stereotyping?? Really?!-where exactly- does this article proclaim VOTE FOR OBAMA??! OMG!

      Get a relevant opinion.

  • Cait Oh

    Thank you so much for writing this in such a down-to-earth and creative manner. Not only was everything written so precisely, but it was entertaining, as well. The topic is the furthest material from ‘entertaining,’ but I think calling it out as it is — ridiculous — with a little humor brings a cold reality to the consequences of what these MEN ‘believe in.’ Wake up! Wake up! This is real. People genuinely want this for us! I can only hope there are enough decent men to stand up with us against these fools.

    Thanks again for a great read!

  • Pat Dillon

    Julia, I don’t know any conservatives who condone rape in any circumstances, or agree with the Todd Akin’s ridiculous statements. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for using this opportunity to bash all conservatives. Any thoughtful, intelligent person would know most conservatives don’t think the way Todd Akin does. But you keep on trying to elicit hate. It doesn’t matter what dirty tactics you use, America is not going to vote Barack Obama into a second term (which we know is your ultimate goal). All the hate you are spewing and attempting to create in others is just blowing back into your face like spit on a windy day. Sorry, but you are a sad excuse for a thinking person, Julia.

    • Haley Emanuelson-Sanchez

      First of all, ugh, just ugh.

      Second of all, no, maybe not all conservatives are as idiotic and sexist as Todd Akin but let’s be honest here, conservatives have been systematically trying to oppose women’s rights since, oh I don’t know, since we’ve been trying to have them, basically. Look at any victory made in the name of equal rights, who was on the opposing side? The conservatives. I believe that conservatism is backwards and counter productive, and basically just a group of people who straight up do not respect women.

      Third, maybe you should show some maturity and instead of calling the author a “sad excuse for a thinking person” you should present your argument respectfully like a grown up.

    • Cait Oh

      I’m pretty sure the only hate present is YOURS…? Mere observation from another sad excuse for a thinking person, since I completely agree. Do you have a vagina, Pat?

  • Alise Versella

    thank you for writing this article!!!!! it’s everything i was too pissed off to formally get into intelligent writing.

  • Astrid Lund

    This would be my favorite thing all day if it weren’t for this sentence, which I find a little judgmental. “Anyone willing to have their uterus vacuumed rather than bear a child should probably avoid raising one.” I completely disagree, some women I know who are wonderful mums have had an abortion, and I don’t think it affects the way they look after their children. But I think I misunderstood and got all miffed for no reason. :P Otherwise I loved it! Exactly how I feel, only well said :D

    • Julia Gazdag

      I meant with that specific pregnancy — in no way do I think that a woman can’t be a great mother when she’s ready for it, regardless of past abortions!

      • Astrid Lund

        Ah, right, well I totally agree with that! See, I knew I must have misunderstood, because apart from that one sentence which didn’t seem to fit with the rest of this wonderfully open minded article, it was like you were reading my mind, only more articulate and funnier. Thanks so much for clearing that up for me! :D xx

    • Nikolina Serdar

      I think it was meant that when a woman would rather abort the child instead of bearing it, she shouldn’t be doing it at that time because she’s obviously not ready to have the kid at that moment. It doubt it was meant that she could never be a good mum. ;)

  • Jackie Portillo

    I’m sorry. Wasn’t there an entire movement in the early 1900s that pushed us away from having ignorance like this dictate what a woman’s role is? Granted that was largely focused on the woman’s right to vote but the point and the principle still holds true, doesn’t it? Women aren’t just baby making mills. We’re human beings that deserve to be treated as such. How dare anyone–especially a man–try to tell me what my body is supposed to do or not do. I’ve had my body for 26 years now and it still surprises the hell out of me so I can’t for the life of me understand where this man gets off trying to explain what a woman’s body does. And don’t even get me started on the subject of rape. Rape is rape. Call it whatever you like but the bottom line is it is unwanted AND FORCED sexual intercourse. Married, single, dating–it’s all the same and his attempt to down play that is digusting. I realize his argument is greatly in part to make abortion illegal but the ignorance that he spewed is deplorable. No one gets to tell me what decisions I’m allowed to make for my own health or for my body. You sir, are a man. You have NO CLUE what a woman’s body does. The even more shocking fact is that he’s not alone in this thinking. How can so many men be so oblivious to the demeaning nature of what they are trying to represent? Last time I checked this was 2012 not 1945.

  • Jonathan DesLauriers

    First off, good article.

    Secondly, I’m not American and I’m not really following what’s going on in their neck of the woods.

    I do however agree that we sould start finding better ways to handle Rape than we do currently. I don’t agree with it at all and I think that those whom rape others should be punished for it not just getting a slap on the wrist like it seems to be. I mean I don’t know how it works fully but I do think that women need to be better respected than they seem to be.

  • Kourtney Leibman

    Oh, SNAP!

  • Nikolina Serdar

    What the hell is the problem with all the old men in the US running for some political position? Do they really think that legalizing abortion will lead to women just going to a doctor and deciding that they’ll have an abortion just like that? Hardly any woman is stupid enough to not think about the consequences of an abortion and very few actually think that it’s an easy thing to handle. Here in Germany abortion is legal but the rate of actual abortions is not that high. Those women who do it, really have very good reasons like having been raped or being ill/having serious complications. Why do politicians always think that they must treat entire groups of people as if they’re not able to think and act for themselves and need someone to decide every part of their life for them? What about educating people about the consequences of decisions instead of just making them illegal? What about educating people to think for themselves and being able to see what might happen if they decide in a certain way? No, better put money into pushing one’s believes onto others and cutting money for education. This stupidity and ignorance is annoying me!

    • Jessica Jeffers

      Ha ha, the ones who oppose abortion are often the ones who think that abstinence-only education is the best way to teach our children about sex. You’ve got Bristol Palin having an unplanned pregnancy at 17 while her mother is talking about the evils of teaching teens about birth control. The inability to connect the dots is astounding.

      • Nikolina Serdar

        That is what really baffles me. Those people want to push their beliefs onto a whole nation and tell everyone what to do and watch over every step people take in their lives but are not capable of leading their own lives according to the beliefs they want to push on everybody else. There is a nice saying: If you want to change the world, change your country. If you want to change your country, change your city. If you want to change the city, change your street. If you want to change your street, start with your own house.
        They should hold on and reflect about their own behavior and their believes. But maybe their beliefs prohibit such thing as self-reflection and they’re only allowed to think about what everybody else does.

  • Jessica Jeffers

    Akin said, “I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.” Legitimate or illegitimate rape aside, how is the woman not an innocent victim in this? Yes, she has the option to carry the child to term and give it up for adoption. But pregnancy is a huge strain – psychologically, physically, and financially. Who’s going to pay for the prenatal care? And what about when she has to take time off work, who’s going to pay her bills? The disregard that so many uber Conservatives have for women as human beings is just plain frightening.

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