Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"Legitimate" rape

For a moment there, I was worried. It looked like the oafish Todd Akin -- the would-be senator who went out of his way to secure the rapist vote -- might actually say something defensible. In a follow-up interview, he tried to explain that he used the term "legitimate rape" to distinguish forcible rape from "false claims."

Some of my feminist readers may prefer to believe otherwise, but false rape allegations do occur. (Their frequency is a matter of intense debate; see here and here and here.) In a previous post, I discussed a famous court case involving a woman named Eunice Pringle and theater impresario Alexander Pantages. You could also look up such names as Crystal Gail Mangum, Heidi Jones, and Danmell Ndonye. In some cases, false claimants hope to gain financially. In other cases...well, I can only repeat a syllogism I've used before: Out of every ten people, one will go crazy. Women are people. Therefore...

Akin, alas, did not refer to Eunice Pringle. Instead, he said that he was...
...making the point that there were people who use false claims, like those that basically created Roe v. Wade.
"Jane Roe" was a woman named Norma McCorvey, who did indeed, for a brief time, make an untruthful claim that a rapist sired her third child. As this women's history site puts it...
The rape story was of little consequence to her lawyers, because they wanted to establish a right to abortion for all women, not just those who had been raped.
She made the false claim on the advice of friends because Texas law at the time allowed for abortion in the case of rape. After she agree to function as a test case for feminist abortion rights activists, that pretense was dropped. Many people don't know that McCorvey never had an abortion; she later converted to fundamentalist Christianity.

In no sense can one say that a "false rape claim" created the Roe v. Wade decision. The lie was dropped before the case reached the Supremes, and played no role in the Court's opinion. The text is here; the word "rape" does not appear.

Akin's knowledge of biology is, of course, far more risible than is his ignorance of judicial history.
Sometimes people on the "left" are even more dishonest than those on the right. What the anti-abortion crowd is trying to argue, no matter how clumsy, is that under the pre-Roe era, some women DID "game the system," especially wealthier women, by getting abortions by making false claims of rape, mental health, etc. Anybody who was around at the time knows this to be true. It only pointed to the absurdity of the abortion restrictions, which implied only "virtuous" women impacted by rape, incest, life-threatening complications, etc. were entitled to abortions. Akin meant "legitimate rape CLAIMS" but left off the last word.

BTW, "forcible rape" is a term that has been around forever, but the typical young idiots were run blogs and the like don't understand the "right" didn't invent that term. The reason for it was to distinguish it from statutory rape, where age, not consent, is the issue (almost always there is "consent" involved between the two parties regardless of "age of consent" laws). Rape ISN'T rape, contrary to Obama's silly rhetoric. Statutory rape has a lighter sentence than "forcible rape." They are two different concepts.
Susan, I always presumed that everyone understood that the term "forcible rape" was meant to distinguish statutory rape from the kind that occurs under violence or threat. Isn't that obvious...?
By the way, Susan -- cute dog. Is that a Shi-Tzu?
You could also say indefensible laws made by men as to what is rape, and when and how a woman can decide to terminate a pregnancy, necessitated every woman in Texas who wanted an abortion to claim they were raped. :)

Ann Gerhart had an excellent piece in the WaPo today (of course, they put it in the ladies' ghetto section, "Style"). She followed the legal definition of rape throughout the ages. The word itself derives from raptus, which essentially means seizing another man's property. The stigma of shame never came into play until women were even somewhat considered as their own agents.

I was surprised to learn that only this year the legal definition of rape expanded to include the rape of men. If the statistics they tell, eg, of rape in the military, where 1 out of 3 women and 1 out of 4 men are raped by their fellow soldiers and/or officers, the far bigger problem has to be unreported rape. It's a systemic problem we need to evolve out of, much like war.

I understand where you're coming from, Joseph. I raised a son, and even tho he is far from a womanizer, I did my share of maternal pre-emptive worrying that he might be falsely accused of rape. It happens. But if I had a daughter, I would have many more gray hairs by now, having worried far more about her possibility of getting raped.

When even women like Whoopi Goldberg on "The View" defend a director pal, who raped a young teen in every orifice, and say it wasn't "rape rape," we need a better conversation on this. The only reason this "legitimate rape" phrase is getting so much attention (besides its insanely comical caveman view of magical lady-parts) is because it plays into the current meme of the Republican War on Women.

It's the wrong conversation for the wrong reasons, but here we go.

Joseph, apparently a lot of people don't understand the difference, including our president.

The picture is of my late, great Lhasa Apso, Tony. I had him for 11 years before he passed at the age of 14 two years ago tomorrow. I also have a Chihuahua and another Lhasa Apso I got eight months after Tony died.

This picture was always my favorite of Tony.
I have read that in France men cannot be legally raped since they would need to have an erection first, and therefore were a willing participant.

Bobby Knight of Indiana Hoosiers fame once said that if one were being raped, they might as well just sit back and enjoy it, or something to that affect.

Ironically, that too can be considered rape as well.

Meaning if someone had a change of heart and for some internal reason ended up enjoying the encounter, it would still be called rape since it started as a non consensual act.
Meanwhile on the Assange case, it seems to be getting rather crowded in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, according to the latest psy-ops from 'truthers':

Click here to search on "andrea davison" and "ecuador"

I doubt that Andrea Davison is anywhere near the embassy. The probability that she's sought asylum there is practically zero. But I can think of a couple of agencies where people will be very pleased if she has...

They're not that capable... Are they?

A few stats... false claims of rape are miniscule compared to unreported rape.

Stats vary from 30% to 80% unreported, but it's way more common than any false claims.
I'm not sure how you could ever have a complete accounting of unreported rape, by its very nature.

My cynical guess: The numbers of "actual" rapes each year -- of both women and men -- are significantly higher than official figures would indicate. I also think that false rape claims are more common than many imagine.

Cannon's law: The most cynical presupposition is the likeliest to be true.

And Ryan is on the record opposing abortion after rape.
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