Todd Akin Is Terrible Tip of Terrible Iceberg That Is the Republican Party

It’s likely that by now you already hate Todd Akin, the Missouri Republican nominee for the US Senate who launched a thousand groans of horror when he claimed that his position of opposing access to abortion in all cases, even for survivors of rape, was defensible because “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Akin now claims that he “misspoke” and has since apologized and asked for forgiveness, emphasizing his “compassionate heart” by reminding us that he prays for the victims of sexual violence, and also reminding us how much he sounds like a robot when he talks.

Now Akin is generally considered to have singlehandedly ruined his own chances of winning a seat on the Senate, and his own party is so embarrassed by the negative attention that their previously endorsed candidate is garnering that they’re pressuring him to quit the Senate race altogether. Akin has been given a deadline of 5PM today (Tuesday) by the GOP to step down; if he does, then the party is free to select a replacement nominee. If he doesn’t, then there’s an amount of passive-aggressive procedural steps to be taken. Akin would have to file a court order to have himself removed from the ballot if he later agrees to step down under pressure from the GOP, and that’s only a viable option until Sept. 25th, after which he’s locked onto the ballot even if he dies. So far, Akin claims he has no intention of leaving the race.

The backlash against Akin has been extreme (and rightfully so), even from members of his own party (although of course there are those ready to defend and support him). Which is a little confusing, given that the Republican party’s platform has consistently included an anti-abortion stance and hasn’t typically included exceptions for rape or incest, which actually puts them on the same page as Akin policy-wise. The fact that Romney has so forcefully distanced himself from Akin and his beliefs puts him in a bit of a bind, as Jezebel noted today, because he now has to decide whether he’s going to allow his manufactured outrage about Akin to substantively change his party’s stance on the issue.

Because really, that’s the thing, right? Todd Akin is an entitled, misogynistic man who doesn’t think that his total ignorance about the lived experience and biological basics of half of his constituency should prevent him from making legislative decisions that will vastly affect their lives. But he’s very much not alone in that. Todd Akin apologized for “using the wrong words in the wrong way” because he genuinely thinks that’s all he did wrong, and regardless of what Romney says about how Akin’s words were “insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong,” the GOP’s platform and voting record imply that they agree with Akin when he says “I haven’t done anything morally or ethically wrong.” One of the biggest stories of the election season is how the Republican party’s “war on women” is creating a gender gap between Obama and Romney, with women more likely to vote for the Democratic candidate. The Republican backlash against Akin isn’t about the fact that he doesn’t care about women or even have a basic level of knowledge about them; if that were true, there wouldn’t have been an all-male panel on access to birth control. The Republican backlash against Akin is about the fact that he displayed his lack of knowledge about or respect for women in such a careless way that women are now less likely to vote for another candidate (and his running mate) who don’t care about or respect them, either.

Akin is really, in every respect, a totally run-of-the-mill Republican candidate — which is why the party nominated him in the first place. He’s consistently scored a 0 on the HRC’s annual congressional scorecard, opposed the repeal of DADT by invoking the “gay agenda,” and has been endorsed by Phyllis Schlafly. But in 2011, Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate, also co-sponsored a bill that would introduce the concept of “forcible rape” to clarify who should be exempt from proposed abortion restrictions. Todd Akin is an anti-woman, anti-gay, hyper-privileged candidate, but this isn’t really just about Todd Akin. The things Todd Akin believes, and perhaps even more dangerously, clearly has no understanding of whatsoever, are still going to exist in the legislature whether he reaches the US Senate or not. And that’s something to really be concerned about.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over books and news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

Rachel has written 766 articles for us.

27 Comments

  1. Thumb up 9

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    It’s weird, but a lot of the time, I find it so hard to take the Republicans seriously that I start forgetting how dangerous they really are, and how anti-women and anti-queer their policies always are. And so when something like this happens to make me remember again, it’s almost a shock. I forget that they aren’t just idiots I can laugh at… these people make policy, make law, these people might elect one of their own to run our country and dictate my life. *shivers* It’s good to remember.

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    The things Todd Akin believes, and perhaps even more dangerously, clearly has no understanding of whatsoever, are still going to exist in the legislature whether he reaches the US Senate or not.

    this is the scariest part of this whole Akin thing

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      idk either. I’m staying in Europe.

      I’m going to venture a massive generalisation on this subject:
      ya know for a brief while when I got here, I was so taken aback by the general prevalence of decent respectful feminism in northern European men (Britons and Scandinavians, anyway, for cultural reasons), that I actually wondered if I could be bi instead of a les, but maybe had just previously been too put off by American men because of the kind of cultural messages and gender roles they’re exposed to.

      turns out nah, you still couldn’t convince me to shag a guy. got that sorted. but they are quite good for friends.

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    As a Missouri resident, this whole debacle is quite embarrassing. No wonder the Midwest has been stereotyped as being backwards, ignorant, and uneducated. Between Akin and Kevin Yoder skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee, the Midwest is quite the laughing stock this week! I promise that there are some people here who actually have brains.

  4. Thumb up 9

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    1st. Rachel I love you
    2nd. This is all total complete bullshit. (not the article)
    this dude is on the committee of Science, Space and Technology.
    How the crap can someone who knows NOTHING about Biology and Science be on this committee? I don’t get it.
    I would like to see him not step down and Senator Claire McCaskill
    win the thing. But since he is still up by one point… I don’t know
    if that would happen because apparently voters care less about what he said and more about the policies that he’ll push.

  5. Thumb up 13

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    The things Todd Akin believes, and perhaps even more dangerously, clearly has no understanding of whatsoever, are still going to exist in the legislature whether he reaches the US Senate or not. And that’s something to really be concerned about.

    Rachel, shit just got so real.

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      The link is a very powerful read (but needs a TRIGGER WARNING). The quote below is what I want to scream at the top of my lungs:

      “Why don’t you spend your time ending rape rather than redefining it? Spend your energy going after those perpetrators who so easily destroy women rather than parsing out manipulative language that minimizes their destruction.”

  6. Thumb up 26

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    Dear Paul Ryan and the GOP in general,

    Hi! I hear you’re looking for a definition of “the concept of “forcible rape””, so I though I’d help you out. If you drew a venn diagram of “rape”, and “forcible rape”, you would be looking at a circle.

    Coincidentally, if you are looking at a venn diagram of women who should be allowed abortions, those who have been victims of “forcible rape” would be a circle contained inside the larger group of “all women”.

  7. Thumb up 4

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    Sometimes people in the UK complain about us having no real choices in politics, the parties that are taken seriously have slightly different policies but in many ways are very similar. When I read something like this I realise how lucky we are. We don’t have to worry about people like this getting into power.

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      They perceive themselves to be rich and/or paying too much in taxes. They are single-issue voters and that issue is money. Unfortunately, most of them are wrong – they’re not actually rich and they do like their government services but don’t want to pay for them or in some cases they don’t even realize that the services they like are provided by government, i.e. they believe in unicorns… the not gay kind.

      More easily put…
      They’re idiots.

  8. Thumb up 4

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    The only good thing about Akin is that I looked smart yesterday when I brought this up in class as an example. Made me look like I was one of those people who reads the paper and crap (no, I just go on twitter too much).

    But seriously. I’m so bloody glad I’m Australian.

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    thing is, it’s not just ignorance about women and biology at all. he just got his wording screwed up and it drew attention to the fact that he and a lot of republicans like him have complete disregard for women and actually don’t give a good goddamn about women, women’s issues, rape, whatevs. they just want to control us, plain and simple. he reached a little too far with his lunatic explanations, but i guarantee you there of plenty of knee jerk biblical dumbfucks who believe him anyway. and he knows it. HE DOESN’T EVEN BELIEVE HIMSELF. it’s not about truth, it’s about control at all costs. AT ALL COSTS.

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    What makes me even angrier about this guy, apart from his smug and vague comments about doctors telling him certain things, is that according to our Obs & Gyn lecturer last week, women who are raped are actually MORE LIKELY to become pregnant than those who have unprotected consensual sex with a man.

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    This whole situation has been so triggering that I spent most of Monday experiencing strobe-like crying spells. Statements like this and similarly offensive legislation (such as HR 3 sponsored by Akin & Ryan) serve as further indignities survivors must endure. Incorrigible GOP fuckwits jumping to his defense are even more appalling–I hope Mike Huckabee realizes rape is not character- building, it is traumatic.

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