What Americans Get Wrong About Rape, Abuse and Legitimacy

Rihanna (Danny Martindale/Getty Images)
Rihanna (Danny Martindale/Getty Images)

Jamilah Lemieux writes at Ebony that Republican Missouri Rep. and Senate hopeful Todd Akin is not the only one who has trouble with victim shaming. She says that our cultures (American and black) don't trust women. 

GOP Senatorial candidate Todd Akin shocked people across the world with his comments about "legitimate rape" this past Sunday. In a discussion over abortion rights, the Missouri Republican Senate nominee (and member of the House Science, Space and Technology committee) claimed that pregnancy from rape is"really rare" because "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

**Blankest stare in the history of blank stares**

Clearly, Akin's scientific knowledge is straight out of vacation Bible school at Westboro Baptist Church or some other such nonsense completely fabricated by those willing to deny women the right to choose abortion by any means necessary … even if those means include reducing the seriousness of sexual assault. He isn't the first to suggest that pregnancy from rape is uncommon; an Atlantic article cites a Philadelphia state rep who made the same claims in 1988 and a lawyer who asserted in 1980 that "conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami." I guess that slave rape (you know, the thousands of assaults endured by thousands of enslaved African women that populated plantations across the country?) wasn't "legitimate rape" after all …

The concept of “legitimacy” is often bandied about when discussing domestic violence; the recent incident between Chad Johnson and wife Evelyn Lozada, Love and Hip-Hop ATL star K. Michelle's allegations of abuse at the hands of ex-boyfriend Memphitz and the back-in-the-headlines Chris Brown/Rihanna saga serve as examples of cases where many, many people made it their business to question the viability of the victims …

Our cultures (American and Black) don't trust women. Efforts like Atkin's to limit the ability of women to control their bodies speaks to this, as does the constant battle over who can actually be a "legitimate" survivor of rape or abuse …


Read Jamilah Lemieux's entire piece at Ebony.com.

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