Over the course of this bruising election cycle, voters have been subjected to an array of misstatements, half-truths and outright lies. Sometimes the candidate or campaign knowingly attempts to deceive the public, while other times the facts can be spun to support a given narrative. The source of some political disagreements even stem from a legitimate difference of opinion or personal belief system.
But when it comes to some issues, there is absolutely no gray area. Rape falls into that category. Rape is rape. Period. I thought we were all in agreement on that here in America but, as the last several months have proved, I was wrong.
Inconceivably, several Republicans have decided to bring their outrageously offensive views on sexual assault on the campaign trail. Worse still, they are attempting to redefine rape ... so much so that a number of “Republican Party Rape Advisory Chart” graphics have popped up in cyberspace — website Daily Kos alone has three volumes, compiled by a blogger known as Brainwrap — comprised of actual quotes from candidates. In case you haven’t seen any of them, let’s take a look at some of the worst offenders in what I call the GOP Rape Brigade.
Up first we have what Volume I calls the “Gift-from-God Rape.” Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock, a Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, had this to say on the subject Oct. 23: “Even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Mourdock made the statement one day after GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney endorsed him. Romney’s camp says he disagrees with the comment ... just not enough to stop supporting Mourdock’s candidacy.
Then there’s “Legitimate Rape,” a term coined by Missouri Republican Todd Akin when he famously said during an August television interview that it was almost medically impossible to get pregnant from rape because, “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
And from Wisconsin lawmaker Roger Rivard we have “Easy Rape.” Shortly after picking up vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s endorsement, in August, Rivard shared this warning from his father with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “If you go down that road, some girls, they rape so easy.”
Ryan did withdraw his support of Rivard this month, which is somewhat ironic, given that Ryan himself tried to redefine rape in a 2011 bill cosponsored with Akin that created the term “forcible rape” — language that was later removed from the proposed legislation.
Sadly, these are not just a few isolated incidents by fringe candidates. I simply don’t have the space, or the stomach, to detail all of the disgusting things being said about rape these days. It’s gotten so bad that Stephen Colbert has a “Days Without A GOP Rape Mention” counter on “The Colbert Report” ... and it gets reset far too often.
The GOP should be outraged. They should be tossing these caveman clowns out of their party posthaste. Instead, they are ignoring the issue, trying to minimize it or blaming the media. They say women don’t care about these things. They’re wrong. We do, and we vote in large numbers.
As an American, and as a woman, I find the misogyny that is running so rampant in the Republican Party these days incredibly offensive and frightening. Yes, women care greatly about the economy, the ballooning federal debt and foreign policy. We are proud Americans, and we want our nation to flourish. But generations of women have fought for the rights so many of us now take for granted, and too many people refuse to believe that those rights could be taken away if the wrong people are put into power.
So before you step into the voting booth, ask yourself who you would rather have leading this country — President Barack Obama, a man who believes so strongly in equality that he recently endorsed marriage equality measures in several states, despite the fact that he is immersed in a very tough race and that stance may well cost him votes in some of the all-important swing states, or a man like Mitt Romney who continues to support candidates like Mourdock and doesn’t seem to have any strong convictions that can’t be swayed by what he thinks voters want to hear?
Amy Gehrt may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the newspaper.