By Chez Pazienza: When it comes to presenting a unified, impenetrable messaging front, there’s nothing more fearsome or impressive than the GOP talking points machine; the Republicans simply know how to stay on point and move as one when they’re dishing out their own branding. With that in mind, they really have to sit down with Lucifer, Mammon & Rove or whatever the hell their PR firm is named and come up with a stock answer they can give, without question or deviation, whenever some smart-alec reporter brings up the subject of rape and pregnancy. They desperately need an alternative to what they’re doing right now — mostly because telling the truth is getting them killed.
Last week it was Todd Akin rightfully being raked over the coals for his obscene — and obscenely stupid — comment that implied a distinction between “legitimate rape” and, presumably, warm-and-cuddly rape and seemed to suggest that a woman’s body can secrete molecular acid all over unwanted sperm like the creature in Alien, protecting her from getting pregnant by rapists. There’s no sense in rehashing the backlash from that singularly offensive and almost unfathomably ignorant crack, seeing as how the GOP is still dealing with it. Best to just move on, because, in what’s fast becoming the unfunniest weekly sitcom in history, another high-profile Republican has gone and stepped in a giant pile of public relations dogshit, once again answering a question about rape and pregnancy as if he were less a citizen of a civilized nation living in the year 2012 than a member of the Taliban.
Tom Smith, who’s running for the Senate as a Republican in Pennsylvania, was actually defending Todd Akin’s general sentiment — although he claims to disagree with Akin’s statement about the female body being able to shut down rapist sperm, as if there’s anything to agree or disagree with when you’re talking about proven fact — when an AP reporter hit him with a pretty impressive hardball. Mark Scolforo asked him how he would feel telling his own daughter or granddaughter that she should carry a baby that was the product of rape to full term. Smith’s answer: He said he’d already been through a similar situation within his own family and that the person in question made the right decision and, knowing his views, “chose life.” Now lest anyone think he was referring to the horror of rape, Smith was quick to clarify. When asked what that similar situation was, he responded, “Um, having a baby out of wedlock,” and then followed it up with, “Put yourself in a father’s situation. Yes, it is similar.”
Except that to be able to honestly think that pregnancy resulting from rape and pregnancy out of wedlock are similar, you wouldn’t have to put yourself in the mindset of a father — you’d have to put yourself in the mindset of a fucking sociopath.
It should go without saying that, once again, a Republican has basically tipped his cards and said out loud what the party stands for when it comes to women’s rights and sexual politics in the year 2012. Smith’s comment was by no means a gaffe in the sense that it conveyed a message that could and would easily be misunderstood; it was exactly the opposite, a mistake only because it pulled back the curtain and inartfully betrayed the ugly reality the GOP doesn’t want anyone to see without the benefit of layers of bullshit spin. In Smith’s view, and by extension the party he hopes to represent in DC — because we’ve seen and heard it too many times to believe otherwise — pregnancy from rape and pregnancy out of wedlock are similar only because each results from sex that doesn’t fall within the strict guidelines authorizing such behavior. Republicans these days have an almost astonishingly retrogressive issue with sex and with the female embrace of sexual independence and the expression of sexual desire; the idea that Smith would see the ostensible embarrassment that an unwed pregnancy would cause him and his family — and, presumably, the offense Jesus would take to it — as being comparative to having his daughter forced into sex against her will shouldn’t really be all that surprising. Listening to Smith talk, I can’t help but wonder how his daughter feels knowing both that her child’s grandfather believes him or her to be akin to the product of rape and that her father thinks her having consensual sex and conceiving is similar to her being raped. Just a hunch but I’ll bet Smith’s daughter wouldn’t think the two experiences very much alike were she to go through each.
This is where the GOP’s head is at. This is what it thinks of women — or at least the ones who dare to take the reins of their own lives, minus any male interference, and who regard sex as something not simply relegated to the married bedroom or an act that must otherwise be biblically sanctioned. It’s about what it’s always been about when puritans begin trying to exert authority over women’s sexual and reproductive freedom: control. If a woman is having sex at all out of wedlock — unless, ironically, its with the very man who’s decided that he should be afforded some kind of dominion — then it means that she’s asking for trouble, up to and including the possibility of being raped. And if she is raped and she gets pregnant, well, since the female body can stop conception in the case of “legitimate rape,” then that must mean her rape wasn’t really legitimate. She wasn’t really raped. She must have somehow wanted it — otherwise she wouldn’t be pregnant. As Rachel Maddow pointed out brilliantly last week on her show, there’s no need to feel sorry for the so-called victim of this horrible crime because there was no crime — and that means there’s no harm in forcing her to carry the product of that sexual encounter, which was unauthorized by the Bible regardless, to term.
This is what Todd Akin thinks — he made it clear. This is what Tom Smith thinks — he also made it clear.
And this is what the GOP as a whole thinks these days. It could not be any clearer.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.