I remember seeing a survey about the prevalence of rape, and I thought it strange that the questionnaire asked women if they have ever realized the "morning after" that someone had had sex with them while they were inebriated. What I thought was vague was that there was no reference to the condition of their (presumably) male counterpart. Did they both get drunk and "not know what they were doing"? If a woman gets drunk and has sex, does it automatically make her a victim? If a man has sex with a drunk woman, does it make him. The movie Jaws has a scene in which a married couple mention getting drunk and fooling around. What if the wife doesn't remember the next morning whether she ultimately decided to have sex or not? Does she have to remember it being consensual throughout? What if she has a memory blackout?
People cited Akin's comments as proof of the "Conservative War on Women" in which conservative men and women are working hard to enslave womankind. These same people didn't seem to find it controversial that Whoopie Goldberg said that while Roman Polanski technically (statutorially) raped a girl under the age of consent when he gave her drugs and had anal intercourse with her, it wasn't rape rape." It was uncontroversial then that there was "rape" and there was rape rape. Rachel Alexander in "Using Semantics to Take Down Conservative Representative Todd Akin" explains why she thinks that the poltical turmoil over Akin consisted of word games to avoid discussing the obvious:
It may have been a poor choice of words, but everyone knows Akin was referring to the distinction between what we traditionally consider rape - forcible rape - versus statutory rape and what some claim is also rape, having sex while drunk. Some women will have a one night stand while drunk, admit it to their friends afterwards, then change their mind and declare that it was rape. The FBI updated its definition of rape this year to include the inability to give consent due to intoxication. Any woman who has been drinking can now claim afterwards that she was raped. This may have opened a Pandora's Box considering how many people drink alcohol before sex.This is the Pandora box I considered. A man with a few drinks in him might be less cognizant of just how "out of it" his date is. They are both acting loopy and having fun. If she hasn't passed out, maybe his awareness of her state is also compromised. She has drunk so much her memory of it is "blacked out."
On a related note, a very dear family member narrowly escaped being taken advantage of by a creepy guy that slipped something in her drink. This is a more clear cut case of lack of consent and a deliberate attempt to evade consent. However, she curiously added that she doesn't think it would have been so traumatic as it would have been had she been taken advantage of while conscious. What does this mean? Less trauma without the conscious experience of an assault? Is there a sliding scale of experienced trauma with the various sorts of non-consent?
So there is yet another wrinkle to this: A man that is sober enough to realize that his date has passed out while they were getting familiar or realize that she is much less lucid than he is -- proceeding further may show him to be a shady human being (and the more lucid he is, the more shady). But are these men of the same moral caliber as those that assault women to dominate them, to take their revenge on them, or because the act of violence contributes to the pleasure of it? Are 1 in 16 college boys like the Indian men that recently brutalized a woman to death? Perhaps 1 in 10 people you know is a sociopath. Or maybe Whoopie is right: there is rape and then there's rape rape.
But coming back to Rachel Alexander's point: that some women will avoid responsibility for their participation in intercourse because they were in some state of intoxication (even though they are responsible for what they do behind the wheel of a car in a similar state of mind). This is likely to get even worse if women find an abortion exemption in claiming rape; would many women claim this to avoid carrying a baby to term?
Reliving trauma is being advanced as an argument for destroying a life. It isn't always clear from the personal stories on this web page being aimed at Todd Akin's gaffe exactly how the stories do relate to the right to destroy a life that results from a violation, even though that appears to be the point of the outrage. For example, one of the women on the page relates an account of sleeping with a man at the end of a night of partying. "I ended up sleeping with him." What are the criteria for determining that rape has occurred? It is completely swept under the rug by the "rape is rape" chorus. If the woman is less drunk than the man, is he exempt from child support, or might he be "punished with a baby" for 18 years rather than 9 months? How does the law distinguish the relative inebriation in order to determine fault? (Note: Ms. Rothenbach has since replied to this post and I have revised this paragraph based on her clarifications. I continue to have a concern that in reading these anti-Akin blurbs, people think ever more uncritically about whether there truly are gray areas when it comes to rape.)
In the movie 40-Year-Old Virgin, the title character attempts to go home with a woman that is falling down drunk who is ludicrously intoxicated after his moral-impaired but otherwise well-meaning friend tells him to "try some wrong." This ends comically in the movie, but the context makes the potential conquest out to be only a little wrong. Yet in real life, would it have been be a traumatic event to be relived years later, as it seems to fall into that general "date rape" category for which there are more obvious non-consensual yet non-forcible acts and others where there may be more shared responsibility between the man and woman. But if the pundits and talking heads are right, 40-Year-Old Virgin actually portrayed a date rape in progress, much to the amusement of the audience.
Curiously, there is a man (identified as Charlie S.) also quoted on that page who claims he was "drugged and sexually assaulted by a female acquaintance" and that this event has caused him PTSD for years. I won't be dismissive and claim as many women claim that this is necessarily not "legitimate rape" because it is female-on-male. He believes it is a terrible thing for women who have been in his situation to not be able to terminate their developing baby. "She will have to have the child, and then her whole life, she will be thinking about the person who did that to her. She will have to say to her son: ‘You are the product of rape.’" Ryan Bromberger has apparently heard that speech from his own mother, and as a "product of rape" he has some choice words for the anti-Akin crowd. Apparently, Mahalia Jackson's and Winona Judd's mothers had to tell them the truth eventually. Were their lives worse for that?
In the wake of the Todd Akin upset, Republicans ran for cover using Akin as a human shield and eagerly threw him under the bus. Ann Coulter opined that the GOP needs to resolutely give up saving the prenatal children of rapists, since there will never be a majority consensus to protect prenatal children in the context of rape. She may well be right that these prenatal babies are political fodder and can't be saved. And it may well be true. But that is a concession that the GOP has already been making for a very long time. I think such a concession should be made explicitly if it is to be made at all: Yes, we believe that these are children that are being punished for a crime they didn't commit, but since this is politically untouchable we have to settle for rescuing who we can. In the words of a great man, "Sure, a bill of divorce is legal -- but it's there because of the hardness of your hearts."
The leftwing side of this hot potato is, implicitly if not explicitly, that rape is vague so abortion should be allowed for anything that might possibly be unwanted sex. If she would not have wanted the sex had she been sober and/or has regrets the morning after, well, it was not consensual and there's a tiny heart that needs to stop beating. And social conservatives, Catholics, Mormons, and evangelical Christians are in an awkward place with there being many sex acts that may or may not qualify as statutory rape (all rapes recognized as crime are "statutory") that result in pregnancy, and definitely many situations that leave women thinking "I didn't choose this and therefore I shouldn't have to deal with this." Even many women, especially single women, who consider themselves Christian are afraid to not have that option available in case they find themselves "with [unwanted] child."
Many left-leaning citizens are surprised to find that there are prominent pro-life organizations that shoot down "personhood" legislation (laws that would declare fetuses to be legal persons for 14 Amendment protection), not because they believe they are wrong, but because such laws will fail to be approved. (Left-leaners who rely on CNN and HuffPost to be informed are protected from such complexities about the opposition.) Personally, I think that pro-lifers need to unite in informing the public about the suffering and terror of fetuses that are chased around the womb by a curette or are born breached in order to have their brains vacuumed out (did sex ed not teach you what a partial birth abortion is?) so that teens and adults at least see the fetus as an intelligent feeling creature, if subhuman. After all, people who merely blink at ads for starving children write checks for abused animals. Imagine if fetuses had the empathy afforded to puppies? Planned Parenthood (what ghastly irony in that name!) purposefully cultivates a culture that disanthropomorphizes prenatal babies to a status below that of cats and dogs.
Liberals that claimed authoritatively that "enhanced interrogation techniques" were a political euphemism to desensitize people to the awful reality of "torture" consistently substitute "fetus" for baby or preemie (think of Obama's quip about a "fetus outside the womb"). Now, does that seem ironic to anyone?
I'll address some other time what specifically was unfortunate about Akin's comment, aside from him giving the news outlets the very opportunity for which they'd been slobbering many months.