Rep. Akin's Stupid, But Valid, Point

There is such a thing as "legitimate" rape, and it matters.

As this most dirty of elections squelches its way toward the finish line, the Evil Party and the Stupid Party continue to earn their nicknames.  For several months, the Democrats have driven the entirely false meme of a Republican "war on women" on the grounds that - horror of horrors! - Republicans don't think that individuals and groups should be forced to pay for contraception and abortion for others if they don't want to.

Just as the air was beginning to clear, along comes genius Republican Rep. Todd Akin with this priceless explanation of why abortion is wrong even in cases of rape:

It seems to me, first of all, what I understand from doctors is that’s really where, if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

In other words: if a woman is raped, her body will automatically prevent a pregnancy.  If she does get pregnant, ergo, it wasn't a real rape!

Let's be perfectly clear: this could hardly be more wrongheaded or mistaken.  In point of fact, various scientific studies suggest that women are more likely to get pregnant as the result of a rape than otherwise.

What's more, what sort of conservative candidate could not know that the liberal media would seize upon this preposterous claim with glad cries as a pretext for condemning all Republicans as women-hating Neanderthals?  His one stupid sentence totally overshadowed the perfectly legitimate point that he was trying to make: in cases of rape, the rapist deserves punishment, not the innocent baby that might result.

In raising the topic of "legitimate" rape, Rep. Akin, in true Stupid Party style, once again missed the opportunity to make a valid point via a completely artless and clueless turn of phrase.  As we've seen over the past few decades, modern sexual mores make a certain category of rape cases almost impossible to prove, and yet police and media determine to destroy people's lives all the same.

Julian Assange, Rapist?

Our Gentle Readers may recall the case of Julian Assange, leader of Wikileaks who dumped a massive trove of sensitive American State Department documents into the public Internet.  This would clearly be a case of treason except that Assange is not an American citizen.  It might be spying except that he never went into the United States or any secure facility, nor did he ever sign a confidentiality agreement promising to keep our secrets safe.  Nevertheless, tweaking the tail of the Superpower is normally a bad idea.

So it did seem passing strange when two Swedish girls popped up accusing Assange of a most peculiar sort of rape: they had willingly taken him into their respective beds and engaged in mutually-consented adult activities.  They say that later in that same night he was ready for another round and they weren't, but he forced himself on them all the same - in two separate back-to-back nights of extreme bedroom athletics, no less!

Leftist nut and terrorist sympathizer George Galloway claimed that isn't rape:

Even taken at its worst, if the allegations made by these two women were true, 100 per cent true, and even if a camera in the room captured them, they don't constitute rape.

Not true: forcing a woman is the very definition of rape.  The problem is, there was no camera in the room, and based on the facts which both sides admit, it is totally impossible to prove rape one way or the other.

Consider: there is no debate that Assange and these ladies had sex.  They all admit it; they all agree that at least one round was consensual.  Both women agree that he went home with them and spent the night in their beds, with their permission.  What forensic evidence of rape could there be?  He admits he was there, they admit they got laid fair and square.

The only substance to the charges are these ladies' claims about what happened later that night.  How can they be proved?  They can't - and in Western justice, even the most vicious criminals are innocent until proven guilty.  Unless the Swedish police have something unimaginable up their sleeves, Assange has no case to answer - it's just a "he-said, she-said" situation no non-omniscient court of law could ever adjudicate.

We've previously explored how our current salacious culture blinds people to horrors and how overzealous judges have created impossible situations for male defendants.  Every sane person hates rape and wants rapists locked up for good; but how many innocent men are we willing to condemn wrongfully?

Of Balance and Backlash

Whenever injustice goes too far, there is always a backlash which tends to go too far the other way.  At one time, our police were quite cavalier about locking up whoever they felt needed to be locked up; in natural response to this injustice, our courts and legislatures have created more and more rights for the accused until now it's often too difficult to punish the guilty, rapists being a notable exception.

The infamous Duke lacrosse case served as a wake-up call to many Americans who'd assumed that our justice system actually did generally dispense justice, at least with serious accusations against ordinary law-abiding citizens.

Nobody wants their daughter to be raped or her attacker to get off scot-free.  But nobody wants their son imprisoned on a false charge of rape either, as the Duke lacrosse players came within a hair's-breadth of experiencing.

Should those college boys have been partying with hookers?  No.  We would argue that, while they didn't commit rape and certainly shouldn't have been punished for a major crime they didn't commit, they nevertheless did somewhat contribute to their ordeal by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Most Americans don't think this way, though, generally considering that "boys will be boys" and youthful sexual hijinks are par for the course.

If Americans of both genders don't want a return to Victorian times where women were protected by severe limits on their personal freedom, then they'd better start being a lot more considerate of the rules of evidence as applied to accusations of rape.  Despite the best efforts of extreme political correctness, it's wrong to simply assume all men are potential sex criminals.

Clumsy explanations aside, there has to be a way to distinguish, well, "legitimate" rape from morning-after regrets before locking someone up for the rest of their lives - and without sentencing the only absolutely innocent party involved, the resulting unborn baby, to capital punishment.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Law.
Reader Comments

Excellent, excellent analysis. I agree with every word exactly as stated.

August 28, 2012 10:01 AM

The main problem with rape as it's defined today is the extremely low bar set for a woman to be able to say that she didn't want to have sex and was "forcibly" made to do so.

Sex is by definition an animalistic act with animalistic urges. It's an act in which the point is for a man to seduce, excite, and take the woman. A simple verbal "no" is not enough to define rape, especially if that "no" turns to "yes" after more ministrations of the man to the woman. There must be physical resistance.

Of course, this is complicated question. You don't want to set the bar for rape too high -- obviously if a man has sex with a woman against her will at the time, that is a crime. But currently the bar is set way low, allowing women to change their minds after the act of sex and accuse men of rape when in fact there was none.

The other problem is that rape is typically a he said/she said situation. Our justice system is built upon innocence until proven guilty. Somehow, in the case of rape, that doesn't apply. A simple accusation by a woman with no proof is often enough to convict a man of rape.

August 28, 2012 12:07 PM

Good thoughts by Offensicht, and more good points from Hank. I think we're seeing that the word of the woman alone is not enough anymore, thankfully. The Duke Lacrosse case showed that the woman's word is not implicitly more valuable than the man's.

August 28, 2012 12:38 PM

Although Strauss-Khan got huge trouble from being accused of rape - he would probably be president of France now if not for that - he didn't go to jail. That represents a sea change.

There was a case where a college kid was put in jail for forcible rape. They'd admitted to engaging in bondage. He said it was consensual. The first judge had not admitted the defense emails wherein the girl spoke favorably of bandage; the appeals court said they should be admitted and the second trial acquitted after he'd been in jail a while.

Feminists were outraged that the girl's past should come up at all. Given it is he said she said, the only defense is to show either that she sleeps with anyone or that she's crazy. This is called the "nuts and sluts" defense and is really the only defense available when there's no objective evidence.

Feminists are promoting "rape shield" laws which mean the guy can't bring up her past in undermining her credibility. Without considering her credibility, there's no defense at all. Strauss-Khan got off because the prosecutor found out the accuser had no credibility. If she'd been a bit more smooth, he'd have been in jail because rape shield would mean he couldn't go into her past very vigorously.

August 29, 2012 9:39 PM
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