Tuesday ReadsPosted: August 21, 2012
The latest outrage triggered by Rep. Todd Akin’s claim that women who are “forcibly” (ALA “legitimately”) raped can somehow prevent pregnancy through a magical substance secreted by their sexual organs, has finally brought into wider public consciousness that War on Women that we at Sky Dancing have been documenting for the past year or so.
Although this topic is distasteful–even disgusting–to most of us and triggers traumatic memories in quite a few of us, I believe that Akin has done women a favor. Women around the country who don’t pay attention to daily developments in politics are now going to learn that the Republican Party is actively hostile to women and dismissive of women’s rights and women’s lives. So I’m going to begin with some links on this topic.
The New York Times spoke to experts about Akin’s odd beliefs about rape and pregnancy: Health Experts Dismiss Assertions on Rape. First, there was a doctor who made arguments similar to Akin’s:
Dr. John C. Willke, a general practitioner with obstetric training and a former president of the National Right to Life Committee, was an early proponent of this view, articulating it in a book originally published in 1985 and again in a 1999 article. He reiterated it in an interview Monday.
“This is a traumatic thing — she’s, shall we say, she’s uptight,” Dr. Willke said of a woman being raped, adding, “She is frightened, tight, and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic.”
But experts that the NYT spoke to ridiculed Willke’s ideas.
“There are no words for this — it is just nuts,” said Dr. Michael Greene, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. David Grimes, a clinical professor in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina, said, that “to suggest that there’s some biological reason why women couldn’t get pregnant during a rape is absurd.”
Willke also claimed the rapists are often premature ejaculators, prefer anal sex, or are infertile. The experts responded:
“Yeah, there are all sorts of hormones, including ones that cause your heart to beat fast when you’re frightened,” said Dr. Greene. But he added, “I’m not aware of any data that says that reduces a woman’s risk of getting pregnant.”
As for the contention that a rape victim’s fallopian tubes tighten, Dr. Grimes, formerly of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “That’s nonsense. Everything is working. The tube is very small anyway and sperm are very tiny — they’re excellent swimmers.”
Think Progress examined the opinions of Todd Akin’s “spiritual mentor,” D. James Kennedy.
Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) spiritual mentor Reverend D. James Kennedy harbored extreme and sometimes flatly misogynistic views about rape and abortion, according to a ThinkProgress review of Kennedy’s sermons on the topic. The Senate candidate, who set off a massive controversy by claiming this weekend that victims of “legitimate rape” don’t get pregnant, has deep ties to Reverend Kennedy, having cited some of his sermons as key intellectual influences and having been named in Kennedy’s book How Would Jesus Vote? as one of the Reverend’s “favorite statesman.”
Kennedy, who the Anti-Defamation League has termed a “Christian supremacist,” repeatedly railed against legalized abortion, calling it the “American Holocaust” and suggesting that it would lead inevitably to genocide in the United States. But Kennedy’s discussions of rape and abortion in particular betray extraordinarily disturbing views about rape victims.
Those repulsive views are listed at the link.
CNN: Leading social conservatives rally to Akin’s defense. First among those supporters of course, Tony Perkins of the non-mainstream organization Family Research Council.
Truthout’s William Rivers Pitt on Romney’s response to Akin:
Their immediate response to Akin’s statement should be a first-ballot entrant into the Vapid Dishwater Statement Hall Of Fame: “Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement. A Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.” Perhaps realizing how spectacularly inadequate that response was, the Romney campaign followed up by calling Akin’s words “insulting, inexcusable and, frankly, wrong.”
Not nearly good enough. Mr. Romney has spent his entire political career being for choice before he was against choice before he was for it before he was against it before he was for it before he was against it, and if the American people are going to cast a vote for him, they deserve to hear a better response from him to Mr. Akin’s gibberish than what has thus far been provided. “Nah, that’s not me” does not nearly make the nut, especially since he has anointed himself as the standard-bearer for a GOP base that, in large part, wants to outlaw abortion in all instances, including in cases of rape and incest.
The real problem here for the Republican campaign, however, is Paul Ryan. Mr. Ryan joined forces with Mr. Akin in 2011, co-sponsoring a bill with him to redefine the definition of rape through legislation aimed at changing the working term to “forcible rape,” as a means of annihilating the rape and incest exemptions that currently exist in abortion law. The attempt died a swift death in Congress, but the intention could not be more clear…and the driving force behind it was the Dynamic Duo of Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin and Paul “Forcible Rape” Ryan.
It is extremely important that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan not be permitted to get away with pretending that they do not hold the exact same ridiculous and cruel positions as Todd Akin.
Finally, I highly recommend this long read at Alternet by Joshua Holland: The Conservative Psyche: How Ordinary People Come to Embrace Paul Ryan’s Cruelty.
In other news,
President Obama warned Syria against using chemical or biological weapons.
Pointing out that he had refrained “at this point” from ordering US military engagement in Syria, Obama said that there would be “enormous consequences” if Assad failed to safeguard his weapons of mass destruction.
It was Obama’s strongest language to date on the issue, and he warned Syria not only against using its unconventional weapons, but against moving them in a threatening fashion.
“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilised,” Obama said. “That would change my calculus.”
“We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people,” Obama told an impromptu White House news conference. He acknowledged he was not “absolutely confident” the stockpile was secure.
Mitt Romney was in New Hampshire yesterday, and he had the nerve to joke about wanting to pay even less in taxes than he already does.
Mitt Romney may have a lower effective tax rate than many middle-class Americans, but he’s still dreaming of ways to pay even less.
At a town hall-style event in Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee told supporters that he could “save me some tax dollars” if he became a resident of the state, which doesn’t have a tax on W-2 reported wages.
“So many friends here in New Hampshire,” Romney said at the beginning of his remarks. “I feel like I’m almost a New Hampshire resident. … It would save me some tax dollars, I think.”
Not only does he insist on keeping his tax returns secret, he jokes about the possibility of saving even more on his taxes. Would any amount of money ever be enough for this Greedhead?
Romney has finally opened up a little about his religion. He invited members of the media to attend church services with him on Sunday. On Thursday night NBC’s Rock Center will offer an hour-long examination of Mormonism.
TPM learned yesterday that the reported FBI investigation of the Republicans who jumped into the Sea of Gallilee after a night of drinking was actually an investigation of just one participant, Michael Grimm of New York.
Law enforcement sources — noting that skinny-dipping usually doesn’t fall under the FBI’s purview — pointed TPM to a New York Times story from earlier this month about a trip to Cyprus that Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) made following his August venture to Israel alongside several colleagues.
Politico, which first reported the skinny-dipping anecdote, said the FBI “looked into whether any inappropriate behavior occurred, but the interviews do not appear to have resulted in any formal allegations of wrongdoing.”
But FBI agents were actually interested in Grimm’s failure to file paperwork related to his trip to Cyprus following his Israeli junket, which had been paid for by the Cyprus Federation of America. The president of that company was arrested on federal corruption charges in June. Grimm had reported the Israel trip in his initial filing in May but did not list the trip to Cyprus until he amended it in June, one day after Cyprus Federation of America’s president was arrested.
Lately it seems as if every week we lose a few more famous elderly people. Yesterday two famous entertainers died: Phyllis Diller and William Windom.
Phyllis Diller, whose sassy, screeching, rapid-fire stand-up comedy helped open the door for two generations of funny women, died on Monday at her home in Brentwood, Calif. She was 95.
Ms. Diller, who became famous for telling jokes that mocked her odd looks, her aversion to housekeeping and a husband she called Fang, was far from the first woman to do stand-up comedy. But she was one of the most influential. There were precious few women before her, if any, who could dispense one-liners with such machine-gun precision or overpower an audience with such an outrageous personality.
One chestnut: “I once wore a peekaboo blouse. People would peek and then they’d boo.”
Another: “I never made ‘Who’s Who,’ but I’m featured in ‘What’s That?’ ”
William Windom, one of my favorite TV actors also died. Most people will remember him from Murder, She Wrote, but since I’m so old I remember two other shows he starred in: The Farmer’s Daughter and My World and Welcome to it. He also played a lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Born in New York City on Sept. 28, 1923, Mr. Windom was named after his great-grandfather, a Minnesota congressman, senator and U.S. Treasury secretary. Mr. Windom attended Williams College in Massachusetts before joining the Army during World War II. He later attended the University of Kentucky, among several other higher-education institutions, and decided to pursue acting.
With his genial features, affable manner and extensive theater training, Mr. Windom was an in-demand television character actor for decades.
He chalked up scores of guest credits, including episodes of “The Twilight Zone” and “Star Trek,” in which he played a spacecraft commodore trying to thwart an out-of-control doomsday machine; the ’60s comedy series “The Farmer’s Daughter,” in which he played a widowed Minnesota congressman; and more than 50 segments of “Murder, She Wrote,” starting in the mid-1980s. In that whodunit drama, Mr. Windom played a Maine country doctor opposite series star Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher.