Things I never knew that we needed to explain to politicians:
- Rape is never “legitimate” or illegitimate. It’s just rape.
- Women’s bodies are awesome, but they are not magical.
- “Forcible rape” is redundant.
- And the newest addition to this list, getting pregnant from rape is not the same thing as getting pregnant out of wedlock. Those two experiences are not comparable at all.
The reason we needed to add a new line to this ever-growing list is Tom Smith, the Republican nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania. Now either Tom Smith is trying to overcome his completely forgettable name or he learned absolutely nothing from the struggles of his peer Todd Akin in Missouri.
In fact, the Akin controversy was the impetus behind the entire deplorable comment. Smith answered a question about his feelings on Akin’s comments like this.
“’What that congressman said I do not agree with at all,’ Smith said. ‘He should have never said anything like that.
‘I lived something similar to that with my own family,’ he went on to say. ‘She chose life and I commend her for that. She knew my views but fortunately for me … she chose the way I thought. Now don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t rape.’
Smith was then asked if his daughter’s unwed pregnancy and rape were similar. ‘No, no, no. Put yourself in a father’s position, yes, I mean it is similar,’ he said.
Asked again to clarify his statement, Smith said he wasn’t comparing the two.
‘No, I didn’t not say that,’ Smith said. ‘I said I went through a situation (with a daughter). It’s very, very difficult. But do I condone rape? Absolutely not. But do I propose life, yes I do. I’m pro-life, period.’”
Now I think it’s obvious that Smith immediately realized the really horrible thing that he’d said. I think he knew right away that he’s in trouble because he walked it back and said that he wasn’t comparing the two. But the fact of the matter is that he was. He called them similar. And he was saying that his daughter’s pregnancy outside of marriage proposed a moral quandary for him and his family. They made the choice that worked for them. He just wouldn’t like other families, other people’s daughters, to be able to do the same thing.
Even worse, I think that Tom Smith showed that he doesn’t truly see a difference between a possibly troublesome pregnancy and a pregnancy that results from rape. He doesn’t understand that a pregnancy from rape is more than just a potentially problematic experience that people at Church or the country club might judge you for. Pregnancy from rape means that you’re carrying the child of a person who victimized you. It means that your choice has been taken away not once, but twice. It means that you’ve lost your free will, and there’s now a physical representation of that moment growing in your abdomen.
Pregnancy from rape means that you have experienced the horrors of rape. It means that someone else stripped all your power and used you at the most very basic level.
Getting pregnant out wedlock means that you chose to have intercourse with someone you weren’t married to.
These two things are not alike. They are not “similar.”
Now, after Akin’s comment and the strict GOP platform have been unveiled, Smith’s comment might not even make a big splash. It might not get the media firestorm and general condemnation that “legitimate rape,” caused. But this comment deserves to be denounced and discussed. We should all be offended. Not just women who actually got pregnant from rape, not just women who got pregnant before marriage, not just women in general, we should all be offended. Every man who respects women and realizes that rape is not just inconvenient, it is traumatic and soul-crushing, should be offended. And Tom Smith should never be able to represent anyone our nation’s Senate.