Rape is rape

22 Aug

There are connections currently being made between the recent Akin comments on “legitimate rape” and last year’s anti-abortion legislation–co-sponsored by Paul Ryan and Akin–that made emergency allocations soley for “forcible rape.”

What exactly is “forcible rape”? Is it like fatal homicide? Is it like a robbery theft?

Is the definition of rape not “any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person”? Rape is the malevolent use of force against another, for sexual ends. Because it is forced, it is rape.

What is a non-forcible rape? Perhaps Akin and Ryan intended to make sure that all those pregnancy cases via statuatory rape flooding the still-standing abortion providors would be turned away…or, Akin and Ryan were attempting to align their position with that of the federal government, which recently expanded the dated, narrow definition of “forcible rape” in order to more fully respond to victims and their needs?

Nah.

Akin and Ryan were undoubtedly using the definition in another attempt to narrow, and eventually destroy, reproductive rights all together. State by state personhood bills aren’t enough after all: start by declaring a zygote a person, proceed by limiting the definition of rape bit by bit until the qualifiers themselves are so overwhelming as to altogether prevent any victim from coming forward, seeking assistance, or doing anything other than welcoming an unwanted potential pregnancy.

Ryan has attempted to backpedal his support of the redefinition, declaring “rape is rape.” Has he recently volunteered for a rape crisis center? taken a women’s studies class? From where did this newer version come?

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/244715-ryan-dodges-question-on-forcible-rape-language-in-house-bill

In a country where less than 10% of rapists go to prison and a victims’ suffering carries the potential to continue life-long, combined with the already massive amount of bureaucratic, psychological, medical, and legal disincentives to come forward in the hopes of prosecuting the perpetrator, how do these Ryan-sponsored measures and platforms help the actual victims of sexual violence?

They don’t, working instead towards the opposite ends. Until:

Of course, sexual violence will continue, but the ability to prove and prosecute would become so difficult, that overcoming these odds will no longer feel worth their enormous trouble. Is this the desired effect here? Attempting to redefine rape with terms like “forcible rape” gradually dilutes the term’s weightiness, rendering it affectless, or relative. If the re-definition is not used, does that mean the victim was not truly raped? Not raped by force? Should the victim proceed to mull the traumatic events over ever more in the hopes of discovering the perfect definitive qualifier?

Why would such a qualifier be necessary? Has there been such a procipitous decline in violent rape that when a person comes forward claiming to have been raped it is just as likely that it did not occur via force? Have the estimated 2% of fabricated rape claims caused so much damage to the legal system that the linguistic team of Akin and Ryan felt compelled to respond?
Of course not, such assertions are ludicrous. But that is what Akin and Ryan and their terminology have done–rendered the real act of sexual violence questionable, interpretable, trivial, in need of clarification.

Such a gesture is itself a deep and dangerous figurative violence to international struggles to prevent rape. Having to tread water and nitpick with Republican anti-choicers about how forced any victim was literally stops forward motion to change violent cultures and effect positive, peaceful progress.

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