“Forcible Rape”: Last Battle of the Culture War

The 2012 Republican Party platform is reported by CNN to include the goal of a Constitutional ban on all abortions, making no exceptions for rape or incest survivors. This is the most extreme idea in the arsenal of the Conservative Right, and one that ultimately defines what they stand for. A cluster of cells with the potential for human life is, they believe, deserving of more rights than a fully realized woman or girl who carries it.

It cannot be made plainer: the GOP is now controlled by the Extreme Right; whose goal it is to disempower women and recreate a culture of fear, shame, and powerlessness around sexuality. To control reproductive rights is to control women.

The GOP has taken its last stand in the culture war… it is putting all its men on the front line. Will the rest of us stand up and fight back? Will the ideological weapons of the Hard Right fail against the resistance of moderate and progressive voters in November?

Campaign Season 2012 is quickly becoming the defining election of our time; a process expedited by Gov. Romney’s selection of Rep. Ryan as his running mate. Ryan’s track record for extremist ideology spans a decade and a half, and includes ample legislative evidence of what he would do if the presidency fell into his hands.

The GOP has mustered its forces around Ryan; a man who crafted legislation with the language “forcible rape” in its first draft. This has had the media squabbling back and forth about what the difference is between forcible rape and rape. It seems to be a redundant statement, and one he is quickly sidestepping in the media today. In an interview with a Pennsylvania news reporter, Ryan said, “Rape is rape, period. End of story.” But don’t believe he means it.

What the Extreme Right means by “forcible rape” is the act perpetrated by a stranger. Date rape, marital rape, and sexual assault perpetrated by a family member or church member are in a gray area for extremists. Acquaintance rape and child sex abuse have been frequently covered up in political and religious organizations to protect the entitlement of powerful men within these groups.

This is why members of the GOP included this language in their legislation: to protect the powerful. Sexual predators are not simply antisocial transients that lurk in bushes at the park. Sexual predators wear many masks, and include powerful and venerated members of our communities. Republicans know this, and want to ensure powerful men with these issues are protected from their actions; to keep them from being held responsible and humiliated by the criminal process.

There is no real justice for rape survivors. Once assaulted in this way, hearts and minds can be healed, but the memory of trauma lingers. The GOP’s agenda to force women and girls to carry out pregnancies resulting from assault shows them to be pathologically unsympathetic to women and girls. The governor of Arizona called carrying out rape pregnancies, “Making lemonade out of lemons.” I call it “re-rape,” and anyone who’d craft this kind of legislation or enforce it would be a perpetrator.

Most people I know strongly disagree with the social policies of the GOP; but they must speak up for their beliefs. Using conversation, written words, social media, and yes, the ultimate weapon, votes, reasonable people must fight back. We must overwhelm the extremists in November with the power of our ballots.

This is the last battle of the Culture War, and if we, the masses of people with common sense, lose to the Far Right, we’ll be paying for it with our human rights for generations to come. Women and girls will be paying with their bodies.