I hate to ask such a crass question, but seriously -- recent statements by politicians trying to classify and qualify rape is just the most recent de-rape-fying of criminal sexual conduct. "Legitimate rape" is supposed to be juxtaposed with what? Illegitimate rape? Imagined rape? A date gone wrong -- in other words, the "short skirt" defense?
We're all a little culpable, even women, in this downgrading of rape from a horrific experience inflicted on women and some men by those who are brutal sociopaths. How many times in the last twenty years have we all looked the other way -- or even rewarded -- someone who might just be a rapist?
I don't know all of them, but here are a couple that come to mind because of the media frenzy that surrounded them:
William Kennedy Smith -- According to an article written by the late Dominick Dunne in Vanity Fair, "The verdict, not guilty, was a disappointment to some, a cause for delirium to others, but a surprise to no one. From the moment on the first day of the trial when Judge Mary Lupo disallowed, without comment, the testimony of three other women—a doctor, a medical student, and a law student who at the time was the girlfriend of Smith’s cousin Matthew Maxwell Kennedy—who claimed they were sexually assaulted by Smith between 1983 and 1988, the die was cast. Only the speed with which the jury of six people selected to decide Smith’s fate arrived at their decision was a surprise: a mere seventy-seven minutes, including the time it took to pick a foreman. They had asked for no testimony to be read back, no evidence to ponder; they had no questions for Judge Lupo. Nor did they feel any constraints of propriety to sit around for three hours, or perhaps even overnight, to make their decision seem more carefully arrived at. Only reasonable doubt had to be shown, and it had been."
C'mon, folks. Smith (or DR. Smith now) got off because he's a Kennedy. Sound eerily familiar from recent news? We revere the Kennedy family. Despite tome after tome exposing all manner of criminal, or at least unethical, behavior from the men in that family, we're loathe to hang the title of "rapist" on a single one of them. It's not their fault we love them that much. It's ours.
"The 26-year-old Los Angeles Lakers guard issued a written apology that stopped short of taking responsibility for his actions.
"'Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did,' he said."
"Fresh from helping Team USA win another Olympic gold in men’s basketball, the NBA all-star hit the hardwood for a charity event in Shanghai this weekend, where he wowed spectators by scoring 68 points in a 15-minute half.
"Bryant, who appeared on Sunday at a charity basketball game sponsored by Sprite, wrote a lengthy post about the event on his Facebook page, which garnered more than 3,800 comments and more than 100,000 “Likes.”
"The athlete, whose birthday is on Thursday, wrote: 'I wanted to play it cool but what the heck, the place was packed with fans who’d sang an early happy birthday to me and really wanted to watch me go to work.'"
We've not only forgotten all about the rape victim in this case, we have honored Bryant by giving him a place -- again -- on our Olympic team and singing happy birthday to him.
"'It's not surprising that it's a relatively low conviction rate' for prominent athletes, says Linda Fairstein, former head of the sex crimes unit in the Manhattan district attorney's office in New York and a board member of the National Center for Victims of Crime.
"'These are cases where frequently even if the claim is legitimate there is enormous pressure on the victim not to press charges, that you're ruining his career,' Fairstein says."
Again, society protects our rapists. Hell, we love them because they bring us ego-satisfaction by winning a game for our high school, our college, our city, or our country. If they win, we're winners too. Yay!
Is it any wonder that there's a question about whether rape can be legitimate or not? And the resulting pregnancies, when not taken care of by that secret womanly power that, somehow, we were all unaware of, should be considered our good fortune, especially if they came from non-legitimate rape.
Well, to answer my own question: YES, I CARE ABOUT RAPE. I choose not to support celebrities who have been accused of rape. Yeah, I hear you... "What about all those women who are trying to entrap them and steal all their money?" Just like the incidents of women who seek abortions simply to keep their girlish figure, I suspect that number is surprisingly low.
I care that rape is being treated like a misdemeanor, tops, especially when there's a celebrity involved. I care that rape is being bandied about as a POLITICAL topic to get us off the abortion topic...which is really just to get us off the stuff we care about, which is the economy and jobs and losing our homes.
So, now ask yourself what's more important -- supporting your family or going to see an overpaid, accused-rapist celebrity do that thing he does to make more money than we'll ever see in our lifetime?
- Did Todd Akin get his misinformation on rape and pregnancy from Physicians for Life? (drjengunter.wordpress.com)
- Akin's Spiritual Mentor: Women Occasionally Invite Rape, Victims Are 'Hysterical' (thinkprogress.org)
- A guide to "legitimate" rape (salon.com)
- Here is Some Legitimate Science on Pregnancy and Rape (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
- Romney Rebukes Akin For Rape Comments (huffingtonpost.com)
- There Is No Such Thing As Illegitimate Rape (thoughtcatalog.com)