Feminism | Posted by Katie S on 07/30/2014

Why Todd Akin Still Matters

Todd Akin

It has been almost two years since I heard the infamous Todd Akin remark about “legitimate rape” and abortions and I am still as angry as I was then. Recently, Todd Akin rereleased a statement in his new book apologizing for the remark but stood by his claim that there is medical proof about how stress can end a pregnancy.

Well, Todd Akin, I don’t accept your apology, but thank you ever so much for telling me once again how you know more about my body than I do based on a Google search. But beyond his remarks being offensive, and the fact that he clearly didn’t listen to or learn from the overwhelming response to his ignorance, it seems that Akin’s comments indicate that the Republican strategy approaching the next election is to just avoid the topic of rape all together.

I am often questioned at school why women’s health, and specifically rape, is my number one focus in every election. My peers think I am naïve for not paying more attention to topics like the economy and foreign affairs. While I understand that these topics are important, I am most vocal about women’s health and sexual violence because it’s a topic so relevant to today’s society, and yet potential candidates who have the power to create change constantly avoid it

Rape is a crime. Yet one in five women survive attempted or completed rape while only 3% of rapists end up in prison. This is a serious violation of basic human rights, but conservatives choose to ignore it because it does not poll well. As a seventeen-year-old woman, this terrifies me. Topics like the economy and foreign affairs are certainly important, but rape is a crime that affects every woman in America whether they are rape victims, attempted rape victims, or harassed as they walk home at night. I have the basic human right to feel safe. As a voter, I will also soon have the right to know a candidate’s opinion on sexual assault policies. I have the right to judge if I think a candidate will prioritize what’s in my best interest (in this case, my basic safety).

If the Republican Party avoids rape because they view it as too controversial, they have clearly failed to learn their lesson. They should have evaluated the response to Todd Akin’s comments and learned that sexual assault is a serious issue and they need to reevaluate their own biases towards rape and rape culture. Their opinion on rape reflects their opinions about women generally, whether they realize it or not.  The Republican presidential candidate might have a revolutionary economic policy, but until a candidate vocalizes their support for rape victims, advocates for addressing the issue fully and sincerely acknowledges the horrific nature of this crime, I cannot support them as a presidential candidate.

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