Although, really, a quick thought is far more than this guy deserves. I wish people got this much attention for saying something really smart (which isn’t to say that we shouldn’t take notice when people with power believe this shit).
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard the “women can’t get pregnant from rape” line, although it is the first time I’ve heard it anywhere besides an anonymous troll in a comment thread. I guess that says more about the types of media I pay attention to than what’s actually being said out there. I think it’s more likely than not that Akin genuinely believes that women’s bodies contain some mechanism that halts reproduction whenever she doesn’t want to be penetrated,* because if you believe that, then you can believe the following:
1. Pregnancy is, in almost every case, proof that the incident wasn’t actually rape. If she’s pregnant, then that indicates she wanted to have sex, even if she claims (or even seems to think) otherwise. The 32,101 rapes that result in pregnancy each year are, therefore, not “legitimate” rapes.
2. We don’t need to talk about abortion after “legitimate” rape, because it’s such a rare occurance that it functionally doesn’t exist. It’s like deciding policy for unicorn management–find me an actual unicorn and we’ll discuss the management of unicorns, but until then, it’s not really worth arguing about. Sure, one or two unicorns (or women pregnant from rape) might slip through the cracks and yes that does suck for them and I’m sorry, but don’t we have more realistic problems to tackle?
When I try to put myself into Akin’s frame of mind, what I get isn’t malicious cynicism–”Mwa ha ha, now I shall oppress ALL the women!”–but rather simple-minded relief. What a relief that an issue that so many people think is so complicated is actually so simple! Raped women can’t get pregnant–phew! If only everyone knew what Akin knows! We could put this whole debate to rest!
And, of course, this type of rhetoric lumps together all women as if race, class, citizenship status, etc. made no difference in one’s chances of getting raped. Among other things, it reinforces the two interlocking myths that women of color a) have too many children b) because they are promiscuous. Meanwhile, just to pull something up from the first Google search that comes to mind, stuff like this is happening.
* I’ll point out here that sperm can stay alive for a few days in a woman’s body, meaning that if an egg is released after the rape has ended, then conception can still happen. Also, as my husband pointed out, if an egg has already been released before its owner is raped, that egg can’t be sucked back into the ovary. That woman is fertile for the next day or two no matter what. I’d love to hear how exactly Akin’s doctor buds think a woman’s body “shut[s] that whole thing down.”