August 29, 2012

Stick 'Em Up

Legitimate Truck Theft

Consider several scenarios of truck theft: Maybe a friend asks to borrow it and never comes back. Maybe someone forcibly enters your home and makes you crank it up yourself, threatening you if you don’t participate in the theft of your own goods. It's an analogy that the vast majority of men could relate to. What I don’t want to do is what Eve Ensler did in her recent piece for The Huffington Post, where she used vivid detail to describe a violent rape perpetrated against a male body in order to illustrate the seriousness of sexual assault to Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri.

I don’t want to put violent images in anyone’s head. I don’t want to trigger a memory of abuse or be the reason someone is in fear tonight. Ensler’s piece was horribly effective in that respect. I found it apropos in this particular situation because, as a rape survivor, she felt the need to respond Akin’s comments that rape can be scaled and quantified, and women’s bodies naturally reject rape babies.

Akin chose to speak on this issue. He wasn’t bullied into it by lying female rape accusers, and no special interest groups brought it to him. Akin made the mistake that many Republicans are making right now, which is beating dead horses in an attempt to appeal to “traditional American values,” and it’s rightfully blowing up in their faces.

Akin’s comments breathed new life into the debate over the public’s concern with the GOP and women’s issues or, as many people are calling it, the GOP’s “War on Women.” Let’s face it: Republicans have a horrible record on women’s issues, most recently with attempts to defund Planned Parenthood because 3 percent of their services are abortions. Then we have our Gallant to Romney’s Goofus, Paul Ryan, who not only thinks women shouldn’t be allowed to choose when they’ll be mothers, even if they were raped, but doesn’t even believe that women should receive equal pay in the workplace, seeing as how he voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

People of color, the GLBTQ, and now women have felt the wrath of this party over the past year. We’ve got Jan Brewer attempting to make it illegal to be brown in Arizona, meltdowns over gays being able to marry and adopt, and now Todd Akin wants to tell women that he gets to decide if they were actually raped or not. I had no idea that my body could cannibalize rape fetuses! This argument also implies that if a woman does get pregnant from rape, then clearly she wasn’t actually raped because if she was, her body would have devoured the fetus like Audrey 2 eating Steve Martin.

The GOP has made its stance clear on women’s issues. Its ham-fisted attempt at painting Democrats as woman-haters was to point out the problems that still exist in our economy and say, “Hey! This affects women too!” That's all they have.

Republicans, as a party, seem to be in love with this 1950s notion of America—a submissive wife who stays home and takes care of the children (but for some reason still needs a colored maid), a husband who walks in at 5:15 p.m. to his whiskey and soda, children with curly hair and gingham clothing playing on rocking horses, et cetera. Date rape had yet to be named back then, and abortions were illegal, leaving thousands of women injured and dead from do-it-yourself operations. If this is the America that the party is trying to conjure up in the minds of citizens, they also need to remember that the status quo is shrinking in this country, and the oppressed of the 1950s are now more powerful than ever, and this is not the time to alienate us.

Akin’s comments and Ryan’s appearance on the scene have shifted the hot-button issues in this election year from the economy to women’s issues, and this is going to play out poorly for the Republican Party. Appealing to their voter base by kicking special interest groups when they’re down doesn’t make any sense, to be honest, and judging by how not-fired-up most Republican voters are right now, I think they know that it doesn’t look good in the long run.

Whether or not you think all rape victims are lying sluts or minorities need to shut up and just be happy that it’s now illegal to lynch them, minorities and women’s groups have a lot of pull when it comes to lobbying for political attention and bringing issues to the forefront of our national media. Harping on and on about a time that was only perfect and magical for affluent, white, male Americans does nothing to foster the “melting pot” of modern, current American society. It reminds those who have fought hard to win rights for their people that they once didn’t have any at all, and then comes the fear that these hard-won rights will be taken away. Then the debate reignites and the fight is back on, and if we won once, we’ll win again. Way to shoot yourselves in the foot, GOP.