Thank you, Todd Akin

The candidate exposed his party's misogyny, and the swift backlash is reason for defenders of women to celebrate

Topics: Todd Akin, Rape, Legitimate rape,

Thank you, Todd AkinTodd Akin (Credit: AP)

I shared a panel with actor Gabrielle Union on MSNBC’s “Now With Alex” today. It was a full hour devoted to women on the first business day since Rep. Todd Akin made his repugnant comments about women’s bodies preventing them from conceiving in cases of “legitimate rape.” I had been a little glib and hugely political about it, when Union revealed that she’s a rape survivor herself, and shared her sorrow and anger at Akin’s idiocy. It became personal. The outrage that is Todd Akin became even more abhorrent.

So I’m celebrating reports that Akin has been asked to step down by GOP leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He is leading McCaskill in polls; this is big news. Defenders of women’s rights can celebrate. But not too much; whatever becomes of Akin — and, so far, he’s maintained that he’s planning to stick it out — he was presenting what has become GOP dogma: that women are using the excuse of rape to get around laws prohibiting abortion except in cases of rape or incest. Mitt Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, joined Akin in co-sponsoring HR3, a bill designed to redefine rape, to limit access to public abortion funding only to cases of “forcible rape” (exactly who would be making the distinction between “forcible rape” and, I don’t know, “illegitimate rape,” was never defined).

Regardless of his future, Akin himself has made clear that he is in his party’s mainstream. He didn’t mean to use the term “legitimate rape,” he told Mike Huckabee during a radio interview. “I was talking about forcible rape. I used the wrong word.”

Mitt Romney denounced Akin’s rape comments in the strongest language he’s used yet in this season of misogyny. But this issue won’t go away. Romney should be asked repeatedly if he supports his running mate’s commitment to HR3.

The Akin wildfire reminded me of the backlash against Susan G. Komen’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood earlier this year, which of course turned out disastrously for Komen. Twitter exploded with anger and humor. We started the hashtag #voodoovaginomics to describe Akin’s crazy notion that women mysteriously don’t conceive in cases of forcible rape. We are getting smarter about marshaling the power of social media to turn what once might have been passing stories into wildfires that have to be addressed.

Of course Akin’s replacement, if he resigns, is likely to be just as backward as Akin is when it comes to women’s rights – but maybe smarter about the way he talks about it. Still, the reaction to Akin’s outrageous comments is a victory for the defenders of women’s rights.

Coincidentally, Gabrielle Union was on MSNBC talking about Planned Parenthood’s expanded program of breast healthcare. The organization was able to grow the program thanks to the wave of donations it got after Komen withdrew its funding. Planned Parenthood won that round; Komen, tragically for the breast cancer survivors it helped, lost. Founder Nancy Brinker resigned last week, and Komen’s future remains unsettled.

Of course, the far right will keep trying to get its laws into our lady parts. The battle is far from over. But it’s clear Akin crossed a line, and once again reminded women how far right Republicans have gone. Now it’s up to Democrats to make clear how many Republicans – including Paul Ryan – are over there on the other side of that line with him.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>