‘Pussy Control’: The GOP Obsession with Lady Parts

www.facebook.com/MacLeodCartoons

“Pussy Control” by Susan Jack

The Grand Old Party seems to be obsessed with vaginas at the moment. Lady parts, pink bits, va-jay-jays; whatever you call the female genital area, the GOP is all up in that business at the moment. These dangerous body parts, it appears, desperately in need to be regulated, but only after a series of what Tina Fey has called “gray faced” men “with a two-dollar haircut explain … what rape is.”

No matter that candidate Mitt Romney and his merry band of man-splainers are adamantly against regulation of the housing market, banks, Wall Street or the environment. All these important issues will be sorted out by the magical free market, unfettered by government oversight or apparent common sense! But vaginas? In order to sort this country out, we need to get a handle on those treacherous female gentitals- a claim that is especially rich coming from a party that says it wants less, rather than more Government intrusion into people’s lives. Based on what an increasing number of Republican candidates are stumping to restrict that actions of vaginas once elected, that claim of lack of intrusion will sound pretty hypocritical to 51% of the country if Romney and crew are elected.

The situation has become so dire someone had to start a website on how many days it had been since a Republican candidate (who isn’t in possession of aforementioned lady-bits) discussed sexual assault: http://www.dayswithoutagoprapemention.com/. In the last two weeks, women have been bombarded with enough definitions of rape to make one’s head spin. It seemed to kick off with Congressman Todd Akin (R, MO- also a member of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology) now infamously discussed how vaginas possess both decision-making skills and independent thought when he stated that “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Akin claimed it was an off-the-cuff statement; but the GOP’s cavalier approach to rape has been around since at least 1990. Texas GOP gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams was about to go out on a cattle drive with ranch hands, aids and reporters covering the event on a particularly cold, wet and foggy day 22 years ago. Comparing the miserable weather to rape, Williams said “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.” Later the candidate apologized, excusing his statement as a joke by telling reporters “”That’s not a Republican women’s club that we were having this morning. It’s a working cow camp, a tough world where you can get kicked in the testicles if you’re not careful.” Williams, who was poised to win until his gaffe, lost to Ann Richards by a narrow 2%. It appears we have grown out of such delicacy when it comes to discussing and legislating rape.

Richard Mourdock (R, Sen. Cand., IN) probably didn’t intend to string together the unfortunate sentence “I think life begins with the horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.” Mourdock proclaims that he was talking about what he thought about the sanctity of life rather than the way a child was conceived. Instead of being an outlier, Mr. Mourdock is far from alone in his views- at least 13 other GOP candidates hold similar views. The GOP publicly stated platform has no provision for abortion in the case of rape, incest, or the health of the mother. Senator Rick Sandorum (R, PA) said when campaigning for the GOP Presidential ticket “The right approach is to accept this horribly created, in the sense of rape, but nevertheless…. a gift of human life, and accept what God is giving to you.” Mitt Romney has said he “would be delighted” to outlaw abortion. The GOP stance on doing everything within their power to outlaw abortion really shouldn’t be a shocker to anyone.

So why are Republican men (men who have a good chance of having mothers, sisters, wives and daughters) feeling that it’s a-okay to say so many inflammatory and disrespectful things about women and their private parts? Is it because the lunacy of the Tea Party made any outrageous statement somehow normalized? Are these the last pearl clutches of the upper class WASPs, trying to beat back the terrifying tide of a Person of Color in the Oval Office and gay men openly planning tasteful weddings? Is the unlikely event of the world ending in December (according to the Mayan calendar) inspiring people to want to “get right with God”? Although tempting to suggest that GOP men are seeking revenge after having to stomach Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, the motivation for all this inflammatory talk might be a bit more perfunctory.

Simply put, these increasingly crazy pronouncements, like, say, Tom Smith (Cand., R, PA) comparing having a child out of wedlock with rape because of the effect on the father, or Rep. Steve King (R, IA) stating that he had never heard of a girl becoming pregnant due from a statutory rape, don’t seem to have a detrimental effect on their campaigns. They seem to be helping.

If anything, saying increasingly outrageous things about female reproductive organs in concert with either their supposedly supernatural powers or how they need to legislated within an inch of existence rewards candidates with a spotlight that can be used to their advantage. Todd Akin is a perfect example- just a few short weeks ago, no-one outside of his district knew who he was. One “slip of the tongue” and now he’s not only infamous, he’s got some serious support behind him- once GOP paymasters figured out that Akin was staying in the race and had a pretty good chance of getting elected.

Just like a fraternity, the moment one GOP male candidate gets away with a statement utterly dismissive of female Americans but doesn’t get ridden out of town on a rail, you can bet that it’s then taken as license for any Republican to jump on the band wagon. Come on- what politician doesn’t like free political advertising? GOP men spouting off about body parts they don’t possess turns out to be the ultimate political troll- the more indignant sane people become, the more empowered these men become. It’s almost impossible to ignore them, but the moment we call them on their BS, we’re actually feeding their insanity.

In the new “bro-tastic” GOP, rape isn’t just rape- it comes in lots of different dismissive flavors- as well as “legitimate rape,” there is “easy rape” (Roger Rivard, R, WI State Senator, endorsed by VP Cand. Paul Ryan), “emergency rape” (Linda McMahon, R, Sen. Cand., CT), “forcible rape” (VP Cand., Paul Ryan, co-sponsor of “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”), “honest rape” (Congressman and POTUS Cand. Ron Paul, R, TX), and of course, “Gift-from-God rape.”

These outrageous statements may have a positive outcome for the candidates, but they are most certainly detrimental for women. Adding any of these adjectives in front of the word “rape,” calls into question whether a sexual act was actually rape at all- if there is “honest rape,” then it is assumed that there is “dishonest rape.” If there is “forcible rape” then there is “non-forcible rape.” What in the world happened this summer? Did the male GOP book club decide to read “50 Shades of Grey”?

The assumption that there are degrees of rape raises questions of whether a woman is capable of telling the truth about a sexual encounter she had. Was she leading the man on? Was she wearing revealing clothing? Had she allowed him to buy her a drink? Is she crying rape to cover her shame of succumbing to the siren call of lust? Why are these questions even relevant after 1973? Even more worrying, it sends a none-to-subtle message to the men of America that all that “No means No” business was just a phase- the definition of rape has become fuzzy again. It’s as if all the hard work of the first wave of feminism has been sacrificed on the pyre of Republican political ambition.

And to top the misogynist cake with a cherry full of hate, Pennsylvania lawmakers want to further the discussion with “Welfare rape.” State Reps. Rose Marie Swanger (R), Tom Caltagirone (D), Mark Gillen (R), Keith Gillespie (R), Adam Harris (R), and Mike Tobash (R) want to block welfare recipients from receiving additional child welfare for any more kids a mother has unless she can prove she was raped.

Never mind that according to the American Medical Association, sexual violence, and rape in particular, is considered the most under-reported violent crime, or that between 75-95% of rapes are never reported. Don’t worry about the victim of this crime who, if she has the courage and strength to report it, is traumatized a second time when her intrusive medical exam in performed to prove that rape occurred.

If the low-income mother can’t prove that her child was conceived in a nightmare situation of violence, fear and pain, let’s not think of the Pennsylvania children who will have even less funds available to them because of this asinine proposed law. We really should just ignore how GOP lawmakers nationwide are pushing the “personal responsibility” agenda when it comes to birth control while stripping federal funding for Planned Parenthood; forget that mothers earning less than approximately $2,000 a month probably can’t afford the luxury of consistent birth control without insurance.

All of these basic humanitarian facts pale into insignificance for the GOP, because a child is to be protected at all costs until that child exits the womb. Then it’s not just someone else’s problem- that living, breathing child is now a burden.
It’s as if these Esteemed Gentlemen (and in fairness, a female Republicans too) think that American women cannot be trusted with their own bodies, yet their sentient vaginas are cunning criminal masterminds, intent on milking the Government dry of welfare funds!

Except the myth of Welfare Queens, pumping out baby after baby for the lush life is just that; a myth. Even ignoring the notion that giving birth to, and then actually raising a child is a full time job, most low-income women are not having children simply to dodge work. According to a recently released study from the Federal Reserve of St. Louis, there are more people who qualify for welfare and refuse to take it than there are those who collect.
“On average, the unclaimed benefits are much larger than the more frequently discussed overpayments,” the authors St. Louis Federal Reserve economist B. Ravikumar, Concordia University economist David Fuller, and Texas A&M University economics professor Yuzhe Zhang noted. “From 1989 to 2011, overpayments made up less than one-tenth of all the jobless benefits paid, and those linked to fraud comprised less than 3% of all benefits. By contrast, unclaimed benefits amounted to nearly seven times the overpayments, according to the research.”

Judging by the polls, there is a market for voters who want to restrict women’s right to choose, even though the myth of Welfare Queens has been busted. Politicians are in the business of getting elected then staying elected- they will go where the votes are. It appears that there is a sizable part of the electorate that is enthusiastic about narrowing the definition of rape and therefore wishes to restrict access to safe abortions, judging by the support that some of the more outrageous candidates have reveled in. Perhaps if we discover why the electorate is so angry with women and their frustrating lady parts, we can get to the bottom (and hopefully the end) of the GOP’s attempt to criminalize and control vaginas. Until then, please try hard not to feed the trolls.