The Femo: Akin strikes again at women’s dignity

McEvoy-FEMO-7

by Ashleigh McEvoy

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) released a new advertisement this week featuring a rape victim who has had an abortion. The woman, Kelly Burrell, says in the video, “The reason that I’m voting for Todd and that I’m so proud of him is because he defends the unborn. He’s a kind man, he’s a compassionate man, he has so much integrity.” The ad also includes another woman who is originally from Russia and contrasts Akin’s policies with those of that nation, asserting that Akin knows government should aim to “protect life, not to control life.” The two women emphasize the importance of freedom and Akin’s loving, big-hearted nature.

Akin, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, is engaged in a tight race in Missouri against incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. Recent polls show the two candidates within several percentage points, with McCaskill maintaining a respectable lead. McCaskill has held the office since 2006.

Akin was favored to win before making very controversial statements in August concerning abortion in cases of rape. When asked his position during an interview with a local St. Louis television station, Akin stated, “First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” These comments were widely condemned, including by members of Akin’s own party. Mitt Romney called them “insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong” and asked Akin to drop out of the Senate race.

Why, then, must Akin return to this topic? It’s like hurling salt into an open wound. This video seems to say, “I don’t respect the choices of rape victims or know how their bodies work, but I’m going to tout them in my advertisements for my own gain.” It is politics at its slimiest. It is manipulative.

The constant misogyny of this election cycle has been exhausting. Just last week, another GOP Senate candidate, Richard Mourdock, called pregnancy that results from rape a “gift from God.” John Koster, a Republican running for the House, also weighed in, saying, “But on the rape thing, it’s like, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s the consequence of this crime, how does that make it better? You know what I mean?”

Please, Rep. Akin, have enough respect for rape victims to leave them be. You and your colleagues have insulted them enough. Not to mention one confusing fact: as Jezebel so poignantly puts it, “If women’s bodies have ways of shutting that down, why did she have to have an abortion?”

If you are truly the compassionate, freedom-loving man that your ads claim, then do not perpetuate a culture of sexism that devalues women’s choices and misconstrues their bodies. And if you cannot do that, then stop using us in your advertisements.

 

photo of Todd Akin by KOMOnews