I’ve been writing dribs and drabs about Todd Akin. Save for a few tweets most of my thoughts are scattered across a number of notebooks and Google documents. My thoughts haven’t met the light of day not because I’m not angry. I am very angry. Possibly more angry than I should be and every time I think that the anger has subsided it’s there again. My thoughts have been numerous but I keep coming back to one glaring thing that we really need to discuss: You see, the thing about Todd Akin isn’t that he makes ignorant and harmful statements. It isn’t his woeful disrespect towards women whose anger, in response to his statements, he believes to be a fabrication of the liberal media as opposed to ‘legitimate’ statements of disdain and disgust towards him and the office he holds. The problem with Todd isn’t that he said he misspoke which is really code for “I let my true colors show. Oops! My bad!”.
The think about Todd Akin is that he’s not the only elected representative who believes that women are second class citizens. To the Todd Akins of the world, a zygote is more significant than the person who houses it. He’s not the only one who believes that it’s OK to legislate what a woman does with her body. He’s not the only one to be flippant about the severity of sexual assault against women. He’s not the only one to think that we women are a hysterical bunch and we’re overreacting upon hearing such comments.
Todd Akin is not the only one and he will certainly not be the last.
The thing about Todd Akin is that it seems that we need someone like him to speak his mind in order to get us to wake up. I’m not just speaking to the women, but to all of us who care about the people who make up 51% of this country but have unequal representation. Think about it; do you think we would be having this conversation if more women held office? Do you think we’d have to endure parsing the definition of rape for days on end (“Is it legitimate? or is it forcible? Either way, they don’t need to have a voice”). I strongly doubt it. But more than that the thing about Todd Akin is that his views express a more prevalent issue far bigger than a single congressman from Missouri. He’s just a piece of a machine that believes that men should be making the choices for the type of health care are able to receive and it makes me absolutely crazy. The thing about Todd Akin is that at least he gets us thinking about the issue of being a woman in a country where men get to make these decisions.
We are better than that.
There are issues that I love to discuss to death like education funding v. defense spending what I do not love is the continuous conversation of how men essentially get to legislate women’s bodies and yet we will gladly do something about the education funding but never about this. That’s my problem. I hate to bring it back to political engagement and democracy but so many of these issues that ebb and flow in and out of our collective - the country’s - consciousness when it comes to women could be abated by occupying a voting booth.
While I tire of having this conversation, I have no intentions of stopping. If that means spending the rest of my life keeping women informed and pointing to this incident - Akingate - as a warning then I will. Because it’s not going to end. The anti-choice crowd isn’t going to stop. So, why would we?