Are You Aching from Akin? Women’s Health and Equality
As an English major, I was always nitpicked for my word choice. As a result, I have learned that definitions matter; context matters; “hedging” words matters. For you avid readers out there, you have seen that good novelists see word choice as a great, weighty power- it can bolster, focus, or magnify controversial issues such as immigration, same sex marriage, and women’s rights. A lot of times, the English language seems as if it does not contain a single word that adequately describes parts of these issues. However, when one person can put a sentence together and absolutely lift the public into action, it is truly miraculous. However…. The opposite is true as well. One sentence can tear relationships, homes, and institutions to shreds. Such as Todd Akin’s remarks on the issues of rape and women’s health.
This week, Todd Akin made a statement that rocked the foundations of word choice. He said, “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
2. Let us define legitimate. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, it means lawful, born in wedlock, having full filial rights at birth, and not false . Let us remember that this term was once applied to children, which now in Akin’s argument, are fully legitimate despite them being born out of wedlock or even any type of healthy, loving relationship.
3. Let us not even TRY to understand the science behind this sentence. The placebo effect theory can only go so far. And, it has been established that Akin received his information from Dr. Jack C. Willke, the father of the antiabortion movement, who has circulated the theory that pregnancy from abortion is rare without proof from other studies. His words were “assault rape” and “forcible rape”, pushing these words to show that they traumatize the woman into sterility or infertilization.
President Obama, showing his constitutional law background, said my thoughts in a great way: “Rape is rape. And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me. So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women.”
Right now at the HPA, we are promoting equality, so I want you readers to weigh Akin’s sentence, and his remarks since then, on your lives and bodies. There are people being elected and laws being enacted that affect our very limbs, not just the space in which they reside. Our bodies dictate our lives, and I believe that being prolife is being for life, especially the lives of the women already on this earth. Akin says that he wants to “punish the rapist, not attack the child”, however, he is attacking women and the state of their bodies in the process. We cannot choose when we can live nor die, we cannot choose the inevitable; however, we can choose to help ourselves stay healthy. At least, we ought to be able to have that right. This is the power of word choice and the profound effect it can have on our every-day, real life issues. As this amazing writer from Jezebel said, “it feels like stepping outside of my apartment one morning and realizing that I had traveled through time to 1955. Or 1200. I feel like a teacher who just gave a long division test only to discover that most of her students don’t know how to subtract.” Have we really not come very far from Hester Primm?
Let’s vote for those who will represent women’s equality. We gotta WROCK that VOTE!