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Who Needs the Protection of a “Personhood” Amendment? Women

Yesterday I wrote about how Todd Akin’s comments on “legitimate rape” were consistent with the social conservative worldview, which wants to roll back the gains and modernizations of the women’s movement and other movements for equality of the last 60 years. These gains include more effective legal redress for sexual violation against a woman’s will.

I argue that their misogyny is systemic and integral to their politics. It’s not incidental, not merely “offensive” in the speaking of it, but dangerously sincere in the thinking of it.

Corroboration of this point—that Akin’s trivializing, dismissive views on rape are held by other radical evangelicals in his party—comes from a few sources this morning.

The most important and glaring example is the 2012 GOP platform. The platform committee approved it in Tampa yesterday, on the heels of Akin’s moronic, but not exceptionally moronic, assertions.

Obviously, the platform opposes abortion, but it also rejects any rape exception. In fact it contains no exceptions whatsoever, even to save the life of the mother. This language is the same as the 2004 platform. Politico reports, “not one of the 100-plus members on the GOP platform committee”—not one—“introduced amendments.”

It’s true that the GOP establishment has on the one hand failed to support Akin and has urged him to drop out of the race. Akin was always a political loner, unconnected to the Republican establishment elite. Meanwhile, on the other hand, the GOP passes this platform without a single amendment.

Religious zealotry and religiously-inspired definitions of “personhood,” espoused by both male and female conservatives, lead them to protect hours-old blastulas at all costs.

It’s not blastulas that need the protection of the “Personhood” amendment that Paul Ryan supports. It’s women.

Women are less seen, or treated, as people with election cycle as the GOP—not Akin as a freak outlier, but the social conservative base—chips away relentlessly at the advances that earned women protection from the most basic violations of their personhood—domestic violence, abuse and rape. They chip away at women’s control over their bodies and reproductive lives, another basic element of individual agency and personhood. They scoff at the “having it all” career-and-family dream, or single parenthood—again, basic elements of being a self-determined person who makes her own way in the world. They seek to roll back no-fault divorce laws, to make traditional marriage more like a straitjacket, and less an institution that people decide to enter or leave, or revise, of their own will.

Women aren’t extended the Personhood privileges of self-determination, self-realization, and agency that this party reveres as the apotheosis of libertarian individualism for men, and for Wall Street and Corporations—fictive “people” before the law who are more Persons, apparently, than flesh and blood girls and women.  

Another corroboration of Akin’s thoroughly unexceptional misogyny comes from the conservative Christian Group, the American Family Association, which weighed in to say that his Freakobiology comments were “absolutely right.”

At some point, we have to stop soothing ourselves that these organizations are easily dismissed as fringe voices. This is the way the wind is blowing for the GOP. Look to the platforms and the organizational voices.

Don’t be distracted by the sentimental claptrap of wooden candidates like Romney who attempt to prove rhetorically what caring and sympathetic and good-hearted individual people they are toward rape victims.

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Do the words, “talk is cheap” come to mind?

Finally, there’s corroboration for the systemic misogyny of Akin’s kind, his supporters, in the poll numbers. The GOP establishment has indeed abandoned Akin.  But not his social conservative peeps, the same peeps that the GOP feeds off of for votes, each election cycle.

Akin was tied with Democratic opponent Claire McCaskill Monday, after the comments had been made. That dead heat hasn’t changed since May—and his comments on rape haven’t moved the needle appreciably downward among his (hard) core of hard-core zealot supporters. This is the case even though in another poll, as Huffington Post reports, a majority (55%) reported that they didn’t believe Akin’s claims that he “misspoke” about rape. In other words, a majority believes his comments to be sincere, as do I, and his poll numbers are still holding steady with his supporters.

There is an ugly propitiousness to the pro-medieval fever of the GOP, however.

At least in my case, and I suspect that I’m not the only one, their systemic misogyny and contempt for women will mobilize otherwise disillusioned, disappointed, and bitter progressives to rally once again behind President Obama.

I never would have voted for Romney. But now I might actually give money to Obama, or knock on a door. The alternative really would have had to have been this bad to bring us back to the fold.

But, luckily for Obama, Akin and the GOP have delivered. 


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