“Why don’t you spend your time ending rape rather than redefining it?”

August 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

The title of this post comes from a blogger on Huffington Post who wrote one of many powerful statements flooding the internet in response to Todd Akin’s recent comments regarding rape when he claimed that in cases of “legitimate rape” women have a scientifically proven capacity not to become pregnant.

I wanted to take the time to write out what is bothering me in a lingering way about his comments after the flare of rage I always feel about misogyny and rape apology has worn down, a more haunting and creepy feel.  I can’t help but asking myself, if this man is a human being and human beings do have some commonality, how can he make such a statement, think such a thing, and still maintain the sense of being a good person?

I might be humanizing the perpetrator, or focusing too much on the abuser and not the victims, but I feel there have been enough responses that there is room for mine to focus here.  I have to wonder how in God’s name someone can make such statements, and this wondering vexes me.  Perhaps the greatest threat I’ve faced to my hope and joy as a human being is experiencing absolute confidence in human evil and doubt in human goodness.

What’s wrong with this man?  My answer is, he is lazy.  What’s so haunting about his recent words and the twist of logic and ethics they evidence is the commonplace, familiar, contagious, and incredibly dangerous feel to them.  Obviously, other people believe this.  Obviously, such a simple and stupid false truth can be eloquently and succinctly unraveled by hundreds of thousands of voices.  But I think we all feel a haunting fear that his simple, false words are still strong, that they’ll travel faster and farther than our own.  Because they offer people a legitimized way to avoid the pain of reality and make decisions they feel good about without taking any responsibility or doing any work.

It’s plain old original sin – laziness – at its finest.  And by finest I mean most harmful, detached, and dehumanizing.  This gentleman just tipped a global crisis of human rights violations into the trash on a whim.  Why?  Because he can.  Because it’s easy.  And because he’s found a way to avoid the reality that would be neither pleasant nor convenient that we live in a rape culture and violence against women is the number one human rights abuse and that sex, pregnancy, and abortion are complicated issues affecting people’s lives and tangled up in systems of oppression and interpersonal violence choking the nevertheless resilient presence of human goodness, desire, passion, and love.

The violence this man enacted so casually, so flippantly obviously did not register for him as a violent act.  He did not feel that he had harmed anyone.  And, of course, that is ludicrous for as many including the blogger linked earlier in this post have pointed out, he is not just a random someone, he is a person of high influence in making political decisions and shaping the stance of authority in upholding or undermining the human rights of women.  And he is not taking that responsibility.

He is sidestepping it completely with a vague theory based on magical thinking that God or science or whatever force in charge is creating a world of justice, we just haven’t noticed.  It seems we humans have been waiting forever for God to control events to create justice for us, some of us so in denial we fabricate realities in which this has occurred.  And it seems God will wait forever for us to get over our lazy pain-avoidance and face truth and take responsibility to create justice for ourselves.

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