Part 10: Rape Culture and Government

By December 30, 2013Gender & Faith, Justice, Women
In this continuing series, guest blogger Toria helps us consider rape culture and how better to “do justice” for women. Warning: May contain explicit images, language, and/or triggers.
In many parts of the United States government officials—almost always men—trivialize rape.
  • Senator Todd Akin caused outrage in August 2012 for arguing his stance on abortion by saying that “legitimate rapes” rarely make women pregnant because their bodies could “shut that whole
    thing down.” Several politicians have made similar statements about women being almost incapable of conceiving a child as a result of rape, as well as discussing the different ‘”levels” and “severities” of rape as a means of justifying the acts.
  • Steve King of Iowa voted against a bill proposing an expansion of police power when investigating rape claims by Native American women on tribal land. He said that “they didn’t know what they were talking about,” despite studies saying that Native American women in the U.S. are 2.5 times more likely to be raped than other women and are more likely to suffer additional violence in the process. (This has been the case for decades, if not centuries. There was even a video game in the 1980s in which the player has to survive a stream of arrows to reach a Native American woman who was tied
    up on the opposite side of the screen, and his reward is to rape her.)
  • Ken Buck, a district attorney-turned-politician, once declined to prosecute a rapist because he
    believed that the victim was suffering from what he called “buyer’s remorse,” even though the rapist had admitted that his victim had told him “no.”
  • In April 2011, Alan Saldanha, a Green Party candidate from the Vancouver area of British Columbia, posted on Facebook, “If rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it!” Clayton Williams of Texas said the same thing in 1990, causing him to lose the gubernatorial election to Ann Richards.
  • Roger Rivard, a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, is on record as telling his son that some girls “rape easy,” meaning that if they have premarital sex, it might start out consensual but they would be “cry[ing] rape” in the morning.
 The “she just regretted it the next day” false-claim argument is frequently used in debates over rape culture to derail the conversation. It should be noted that only 2–8% of reported rapes are false in any given area. It’s astounding the number of people, especially people with political power, who think that it is more important to focus on these false claims than on the other 90%+ of the claims.

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