So, if you're a person, you're probably aware of the latest spasm of insane nonsense in Republicans' ongoing battle against women who have bodies: Todd Akin's assertion that pregnancies resulting from rape were rare enough to be a non-issue in outlawing abortion, because the wombs of women who were victims of "legitimate rape" had a mechanism by which they would "shut that whole thing down." This fantasy must be a great comfort for anyone who is genuinely troubled by the idea of a woman suffering through an additional humiliating, expensive, life-threatening ordeal after a traumatic assault, yet who must still demand that such a woman be prevented at all costs from accessing safe abortion services. Akin was at first roundly decried by all sane people everywhere, then right-wingers demanded that we shut up about how terrifying it is that this idiot is allowed to make laws on health care and science and talk about how bad the economy is. After that, a number of defenders of the sanctity of life until birth emerged from their Morlock caves, and now we have a media "debate" about "legitimate rape" just as we had a "debate" about going to war in Iraq, torture, global warming, et al, ad nauseum.
I am, by nature, an internet feminist, and so in this case I want to discuss issues of language. When Akin laid his giant head on the sympathetic lap of Mike Huckabee the day after his moronic remarks, he explained that he had misspoken, and that by "legitimate rape" he had of course meant "forcible rape", rather than something that was worth the little ladies getting all het up over. This term, "forcible rape", has a long history in the anti-abortion fight, most recently when Paul Ryan and Todd Akin forcibly inserted the phrase into a bill which would have denied any federal funding for impoverished women's abortions unless they were victims of rape. "Rape" not being rapey enough, the co-sponsors made sure the bill read "forcible rape."
Now, "forcible rape" is a bit of a poser, as a phrase something like "close proximity" or "unexpected surprise" or "personal friend." It modifies a noun by placing before it an adjective which is a central defining characteristic of that noun. "Rape" means sex which is forced, coerced, produced through threat or violence. Now, I'm not against differentiating between different circumstances of rape via categorical adjectives, if it helps break the idea of stranger-rape being the typical case, which arguably phrases like "date rape" or "acquaintance rape" do. But the very use of the words "forcible" and "rape" in conjunction suggests that people who use it believe that there are other species of rape which are important to distinguish from this type.
Indeed, the one which anti-abortion campaigners suggest as an example of non-forcible rape is statutory rape. Now, I haven't thought much about statutory rape since I stopped wanting to have sex with teenagers, at around age 19, but I think I have a pretty good handle on the right-wing objection to statutory rapes being included in the category of "rape" for the purposes of judging victims' merit. The idea is that that slutty teens (abetted by the satan-worshipping lesbians at Planned Parenthood) will be so keen to get free abortions that they will (falsely, it is assumed) accuse venerable older men of consensually raping them, so the state had better at least ask the teens to display some vaginal bruising to back up their accounts. Again, this is a fantasy of female evil created by anti-abortionists to escape from the knowledge that they are hurting children, rape victims, and women in general with their stance against modern fertility control methods. Statutory rape is not a perfect legal construct, but it codifies the idea that extreme power imbalances, such as those that exist between children and adults, create a coercive atmosphere in which the child's consent is not legally meaningful when compared to the adult's coercion.
Anyway, all this is to suggest that, when you see the phrase "forcible rape" used as though it were a serious concept, you might well want to substitute "runcible rape," because "runcible" is a delightful nonsense word created by Edward Lear, and "forcible rape" IS A NONSENSE TERM CREATED BY POWERFUL SOCIOPATHS.
Today’s Pattern Story: Simplicity 1018
1 week ago