On Monday U.S. Rep. Todd Akin made one of the most ill-informed, ignorant and obnoxious statements this past weekend when he said that pregnancies stemming from "legitimate rape" were "really rare" and that women's bodies automatically fight off pregnancies after they are raped.
Neither part is even remotely accurate, though there is a slightly lower rate of pregnancies after rapes because the emotional trauma a rape victim carries after being attacked can lead to miscarriages.
It boggles the mind that a Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate could say these things out loud, that Mike Huckabee and Rep. Steve King would basically agree, and the knowledge that a person who holds such imbecilic views is helping to decide what laws we'll live by brings a little sadness to every sane person who hears the remarks in full.
But there is a silver lining (albeit a really tiny one, kinda like the foil stuck to the paper that wraps a stick of Doublemint.) Namely, the glut of amazing opinion pieces that have been written in the scant hours since Sunday, when Todd Akin shoved his wingtip all the way past his molars and left it in his esophagus to rot.
Here's a guide to some of the best articles on the topic:
1. Eve Ensler's dispatch from the Congo: Okay, this was kind of cheating on my part. Anyone who sees the mind and pen behind the unrivaled, momentous "The Vagina Monologues" at the top of this list will assume I made the safe call. And they'd be right. But this open letter to Akin that Ensler wrote for the Huffington Post. is the most moving piece I've seen on the topic, and the fact that Ms. Ensler took the time away from her work in Bukavu, Congo, to write it after being kept awake by Akin's words just makes it that much more powerful. It is chilling stuff, and there's no real way to do it justice so I'll just include this snippet from the letter's last couple of sentences to give you an idea of what Eve Ensler has to say about Todd Akin, "legitimate" rape and a wide range of other issues with connections to the concepts at play in the Akin controversy:
"I have spent much time with mothers who have given birth to children who are the product of rape. I have watched how tortured they are wrestling with their hate and anger, trying not to project that onto their child. I am asking you and the GOP to get out of my body, out of my vagina, my womb, to get out of all of our bodies. These are not your decisions to make. These are not your words to define."
2. The Onion's majestic satire piece: The Onion's writers have an uncanny ability to cut through all the B.S. and getting to the heart of an issue, then write it in a way that leaves you crying with laughter. This is not just another Joe Biden washing his car in front of the White House with his shirt off story, though (nothing against those, they're amazing.) Instead it is the most crushing and thorough takedown of Todd Akin's recent remarks to hit the Web so far, and will most likely never be knocked from that perch. This story presents a fictional character who was raped and finds solace in the concept that she wasn't "legitimately" raped, so she shouldn't get so down on herself. All with the writer's tongue practically poking through her cheek.
Here's a choice nugget: "'Being violently coerced into having sex was the worst thing that's ever happened to me, so I take comfort in knowing it wasn't actually rape,' Byars said of the vicious encounter in which she was accosted in an alleyway by a stranger, pinned to the ground, and penetrated against her will for 25 minutes. 'It was absolutely horrific-I felt violated in the worst way imaginable-but thanks to Congressman Akin, I now realize it must, at some level, have been consensual after all.'"
3. Mila Jaroniec of Thought Catalog's deeply personal reflections: Mila Jaroniec has already earned herself quite the name for herself at Thought Catalog as one of the site's better writers, and definitely its most personal. A two-time rape victim, she dedicates the first part of her story reacting to Akin's words to posing questions that she would like to ask him -- do her rapes count? when does it count as "legitimate rape? -- and discussing her horrific personal experiences with sexual assault. The piece starts out darkly sarcastic but gets more cynical and venemous as it goes on, asking at the end, "America is this correct?" That we ask victims what they did to get themselves raped? Here's a sample of Jaroniec's great piece:
"So when does it count? When is it real? If I told you it happened when we were stone sober locked in a tower wearing chastity belts and nun costumes, would that make it better? No? Wait, we're still wearing our bodies. I exist therefore I'm asking for it."