I don’t often write about sexual matters. But recent remarks from two male politicians on the subject of rape have made me really angry. It’s this kind of stupidity that gives men a bad name, and it is worth pointing out that the vast majority of us disagree fundamentally with what Todd Akin and George Galloway have had to say.
Few of us on this side of the pond will have heard of US politician Todd Akin before his recent remarks. I doubt too many Americans were aware of him either. But we know who he is now.
Akin, in case anyone hasn’t heard, was talking about abortion and was asked about women who become pregnant through rape. A difficult issue of course, so Akin made up an answer. Doctors had apparently told him that women were unlikely to get pregnant through “legitimate rape” as their bodies shut down, he explained.
Now let’s ignore the junk science in this answer. Let’s ignore the complete ignorance and the attempt to justify it by claiming that it came from a doctor.
What the hell is “legitimate rape”?
Is Akin trying to parse rape into categories? Some that are real and some that aren’t? Is he attempting to justify rape in some circumstances?
Sorry Mr Akin. Any time a man forces a women to have sex without her consent it is rape. It is always wrong and it can never be legitimate.
Now George Galloway MP is not one to stay away from a controversy. I agree with an awful lot of what he has to say most of the time, but he does have a bad habit of attracting publicity for the sake of it.
In a podcast Galloway turned to the subject of rape in the context of the accusations made in Sweden against Julian Assange. I’m not going to comment on the specific allegations against the Wikileaks founder. I don’t know if they are legitimate or a plot to get him. That’s not the issue here; it’s Galloway’s comments I’m going to discuss.
George Galloway stated that a man doesn’t need specific consent every time he has sex with a woman. If a couple has consensual sex and then the woman goes to sleep, the man is entitled to assume consent is ongoing, he claimed. It may be “bad sexual etiquette” to penetrate her while she is asleep but not rape.
Sorry George, this is nonsense. A sleeping women can’t give consent. And sex without consent is rape.
The fact that a woman has consented to sex once does not confer some sort of ongoing rights to a man to do whatever he likes. This sort of stupidity would take us back to the days when a husband could not ever be deemed to rape his wife because marriage was assumed to give unlimited consent to sex.
Let’s be absolutely clear here. Sex without consent is wrong. If a women says no it can’t ever mean yes. If a women says nothing it doesn’t mean yes. Even if a women changes her mind and says no during the act it still means no.
Rape is always wrong. That shouldn’t need to be said but it apparently does.