Rape talk and rape accusations
posted at 3:56 pm on August 25, 2012 by Libby Sternberg
Remember this hilarious movie scene? –
Linda: I think if anyone ever tried to rape me, I’d pretend to go along with it and then in the middle pick up the nearest heavy object and let him have it. Unless, of course, I was enjoying it.
Allan: They say it’s the secret desire of every woman.
Linda: Well I guess it depends on who does the raping.
Allan; Well, look, why dwell on morbid things? Odds are you’ll never get raped.
Linda: Not with my luck.
That was from Woody Allen’s 1972 comedy Play It Again, Sam. Linda was portrayed by Diane Keaton and Allan by…Allen. Woody, that is.
Today that scene is cringe-inducing. Back then, the ideas it communicated were acceptable. Rape wasn’t viewed as an assault but rather as just another form of sex, and since sex is pleasurable…well, you finish it. I can’t.
The world has changed since Woody and Diane had that pretend conversation 40 years ago. Rape is now correctly viewed as an act of violence, a violation. It has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with power, degradation, humiliation, control.
Feminists were right to champion this shift in understanding, but it was slow to take hold in some quarters. Viewers were reminded recently of Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams’s 1990 comments about rape (if it’s inevitable, one should just “relax and enjoy it”) by MSNBC’s Alex Wagner, as she tried to demonstrate a pattern of obtuseness in GOP candidates leading up to remarks by Missouri’s Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Todd Akin.
Akin, as everyone not living in a cave now knows, said that women who are raped have some special power to prevent becoming pregnant. This has become slangily known as the Magic Uteri theory of conception, one that was used in centuries past to determine if a woman’s claim of rape was “legitimate.”
The outrage that was visited upon Akin was well-deserved. His remarks paint a picture of a man whose thinking on an important woman’s issue hasn’t evolved much beyond the nineteenth century.
The issue in question is rape, by the way, not abortion. Akin likes to portray himself as something of a martyr for the pro-life cause. He does that cause, though, a disservice by cowardly trying to hide behind it. Abortion policy has nothing whatsoever to do with his perverse thinking on rape.
But Democrats will probably try to make that link at their convention, trotting out abortion rights activists and free contraception advocates to lecture the world about how they are defenders of women in a great conservative war on same.
Ironically, this will be a convention where one of the marquee speakers is a man actually accused of rape by at least one woman and the subject of impeachment for lying under oath about another sexual liaison that would have cost many other executives their jobs.
Yes, I’m talking about former President Bill Clinton. As Mark Levin so articulately and passionately pointed out, how can the Democrats even pretend to care about the issue of rape when they yawned at rape accusations against one of their own stars?
Although Clinton was never criminally charged with rape, he was found guilty of lying under oath about an affair that would have gotten other business managers fired—he was a powerful executive, after all, engaging in a sexual relationship with a powerless underling, an intern. For this he was ultimately disbarred.
His behavior and attitudes toward women in his personal life show little evidence of respect for the XX chromosome crowd. Yet feminists gave his behavior a wink and a nod, some female pols admitting they wouldn’t want him around their daughters, but he was a good leader nonetheless.
Why did he get a pass for his abhorrent behavior? He might not have held Magic Uteri beliefs, but he certainly held the beliefs about uteri that got him a magic pass from the pro-choice lobby.
Like most people, I’m in no mood to relitigate L’Affaires Clinton. One hopes he has atoned and been forgiven by those he wronged and by his God.
But spare me the holier-than-thou show, Democrats, at your convention. You don’t really care about women if you’re not willing to stare down one of your own when he mistreats women.
When Republicans saw a man with antique misogynistic views about rape, they did the right thing. They spoke out against him vigorously and repeatedly. They still do.
But heaven help the gals who are actually assaulted, mistreated or abused by Democratic men. Their liberal sisterhood and the Democratic party abandon them.
Libby Sternberg is a novelist.