When I started speaking out about sexual assault in 1991, many of us on college campuses were struggling just to get the public to realize how often sexual assault was happening. Our approach of Asking First to gain consent wasn’t even considered realistic because the focus at the time was on preventing rape by teaching women how not to be raped (instead of focusing on stopping the rapist from raping).
This week, we have all seen the media reaction to the following comment by U.S. Representative Todd Akin referencing whether pregnancies occur due to rape, “It seems to me first of all from what I understand from doctors that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Akin’s campaign initially followed up his “illegitimate” comment by saying Akin “misspoke.” We immediately responded with the following post:
“Misspoke” = new attempt to NOT apologize for hurtful language and not to acknowledge you were WRONG? Voters in Missouri, please hold Todd Akin accountable. Saying you “misspoke” does not do justice to survivors.
Akin’s comments showed complete disregard for survivors. To use the word he did as a way to categorize sexual assaults is cruel. Survivors are strong, courageous individuals who deserve our utmost respect and admiration.
Heartening was to hear the majority of experts, pundits, and politicians speak out against Akin for his callous and hurtful words.
Yet something else happened last week which I personally observed and gave me hope. While walking through my gym’s male locker room, I heard a group of older males discussing Akin’s comments. The gist of what they were saying was versions of: “How dare Akin question whether any rape was ‘legitimate.’ Rape is rape.” The group was clearly unanimous in their disgust for Akin’s stance.
At that moment, I thought: While it’s still upsetting that a political-leader could be so misinformed about such an important issue, in the public eye and on the street progress is slowly happening. This is definitely not the conversation I would have heard walking through a men’s locker room 20 years ago.
I know because I remember a few conversations about rape when I was in locker rooms back then. Frequently, the focus 20 years ago in locker rooms was to minimize the seriousness of rape or the trauma inflicted by this awful crime.
Yes, we have recently seen legislators try to categorize rape inappropriately, But we also have more people throughout society who “GET” how wrong such actions are. Let’s unite to stop harmful laws and/or language which could take us backward in our progress. Let’s unite to help make positive changes going forward.
Let’s start by holding Todd Akin accountable. In his role as a representative, do not let him do further harm to survivors. Todd Akin serves on multiple committees including the Budget Committee. Contact your politicians today and ask: “Please vote to remove Todd Akin from all committee positions which could impact funding and/or programming concerning sexual assault, including committees involving the U.S. Military. Show survivors around the world that our Congress will not tolerate such cruelty to survivors of sexual assault.”
Our next step is for our Congress and Senate to gain education on sexual assault. Here at The DATE SAFE Project, will be happy to donate a live interactive training program for both the Congress and the Senate to help provide needed education. Plus, we would be honored to provide a panel of educational experts from agencies and associations throughout the United States to speak before the Congress and Senate.
Get started by contacting your representatives TODAY:
Click on the following links below to contact representatives in Congress and in the Senate today – to keep our country moving in the right direction for supporting survivors and reducing sexual assault: