The Company They Keep

The Company They Keep

(c) by Mary Griggs


There has been a lot of coverage of some of the GOP politicians who consider rape just another means of conception. These politicians include Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) who does not believe in an abortion exception for rape (he also tried to add forcible to the exception definition), and Todd Akin (R-Missouri) who thinks women’s bodies shut down to keep from getting pregnant when ‘legitimately’ raped, and Steve King (R-Iowa) who thinks that because rape pregnancies haven’t been brought to his attention in a personal way, that they don’t happen and, the latest member of the club, Richard Mourdock (R-Indiana) who believes that “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.”

Slate reports that “of the 28 non-incumbent Republican nominees, 12 to 15 share the view of Akin, Mourdock, and the party platform. They believe a rape victim should be forbidden to terminate her pregnancy.”GOP

The Republican party’s self appointed historian went on ABC’s This Week to make perfectly clear to the world just how little conservatives respect women. Newt Gingrich was defending Mourdock when he said, “He also immediately issued a clarification saying he was referring to the act of conception, and he condemned rape,” Gingrich said. “[Mitt] Romney has condemned — I mean, one part of this is nonsense. Every candidate I know, every decent American I know condemns rape. OK, so why can’t people like Stephanie Cutter get over it? We all condemn rape.”

We can’t get over it because they still aren’t getting it.

The Republican politicians refusal to recognize the historical fact of rape as a weapon doesn’t bode well for those of us who do not wish to repeat the past. The bible is full of stories of rape as the spoils of war. Rape was commonly practised by both the Greeks and the Romans in antiquity. World War II has numerous reports of rape on all sides. In recent times, rape went hand and hand with the genocides in Bosnia, Rwanda and the Congo.

The Atlantic has an absolutely brilliant piece on what the historical significance of rape culture. Richard Mourdock, Mitt Romney and the GOP Defense of Coerced Mating examines how ”rape, forced marriage and war go hand in hand throughout the ages, including our own.”

The author, Garance Franke-Ruta, identifies the heart of the issue: “Post-rape pregnancies are where blanket anti-abortion views become de facto support for coercive mating and the legally sanctioned denial of agency to women not only on the question of whether to have a child, but who the child’s father should be.”

She asks:

Do we want to live in a country where any man at any time can decide he wants to bear children with any woman and she has no right to stop that from happening if he can overpower her by force? If we do — and that’s the society Mourdock is advocating — then we have immediately left the society the feminists constructed and re-entered one where coerced mating is rewarded reproductively.

Think about that for a moment. The Teapublicans don’t just want a women’s right to her own body to be put back to the Middle Ages, they want to take us back to a time when men clubbed women over the head and dragged them back to the caves by their hair.

And our fears of rape babies are not just hysterical whining of privileged women. We live in a nation where 31 states grant rapists custody and visitation rights (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming). Sexual assault survivors have come forward across the nation with horror stories of rapists using the threat of custody actions to blackmail and intimidate their victims into not pressing criminal charges.

Further, of the 19 states that have laws addressing the custody of rape-conceived children, 13 require proof of conviction in order to waive the rapist’s parental rights. This is an major issue because, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, only 9 out of every 100 rapes are prosecuted and just 5 lead to a felony conviction.

Why is it so important that we not forget what these Republicans are saying about rape?

Because these aren’t just renegade crackpots–the Republican Party platform codifies coerced mating by allowing no exception for rape in their anti-abortion plank. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan might try to explain that these politicians have just misspoken but they have also endorsed several of them.

They are what the Republican Party has become and why it should be rejected at the ballot box.

As Bill Maher said –

When you elect Mitt, you’re not just electing him, you’re electing every right-wing nut he’s pandered to in the last ten years. If the Mittmobile does roll into Washington, it’ll be towing behind it the whole anti-intellectual, anti-science freak show. The abstinence obsessives, the flat earthers, home schoolers, the holy warriors, the anti-women social neanderthal, the closeted homosexuals, and every end timer who sees the Virgin Mary in the grass over the septic tank.

Giving a clump of cells that can only be seen in a microscope more rights than the female human being in which they are growing is not pro-life. It is anti-woman.

I call on the women of this nation to rise up like Boudica of the Iceni, who rose up against the Roman occupiers of Britain in part as a reaction to the rape of her daughters by Roman soldiers.

I call on you to rise up and vote against any person who condones rape and its consequences (including but not limited to terror, trauma, sexually transmitted diseases, injury, pregnancy, etc). Such people are morally bankrupt and deserve no place or influence in civilized society. They especially do not deserve elected office.


About Mary GriggsMary Griggs - Unite Women Guest BloggerMary Griggs lives in New Orleans and serves on the Board the Golden Crown Literary Society, as Chair of the LGBT Community Center of New Orleans, and as Deputy Political Director of Forum For Equality. She is also the recipient of the 2012 Equality Award from HRC-Louisiana. A published author, her second novel is expected out in November. Her website is and she can be found on twitter at @griggsme

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