December 4, 2020

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Webster faculty share views on Todd Akin’s ‘legitimate rape’ remark

On Sunday, Aug. 19, Missouri Republican and Senate candidate Todd Akin gave his explanation of pregnancy from rape  on a local news program.

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin said during the interview. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

Following his response, Akin received multiple forms of scrutiny.

“While it’s not just about what appropriate touch is, what’s not, what do bodies do, clearly we have to have a better understanding of what rape is,” said A ndrea Miller, human rights coordinator at Webster University.

Backlash from both Democrats and Republicans prompted Akin to release a statement Sunday explaining that he misspoke.

“The idea of ‘misspeaking’ has become very common in American politics,” said Amanda Rosen, assistant professor of politics and international relations at Webster.

“It’s code for ‘I said something I believe, and it turned out to be unpopular.’ It’s a way of apologizing without apologizing.”

As of Aug. 25, Akin is ahead of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) 50 percent to 41 percent in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch/News 4 poll.  However, Miller doubts Akin’s female supporters will be disheartened by his comments.

“Even women who support him aren’t looking for support on women’s issues,” Miller said. “We don’t expect him to do good for women. That’s his record.”

Akin’s comments prompted GOP (Republican Party) leaders to distance themselves from Akin and advise he retract his bid for McCaskill ‘s Senate seat. The Huffington Post reported National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair John Cornyn condemned Akin. Cornyn advised him to “carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party and the values that he cares about and has fought for throughout his career in public service.”

Akin made the decision to stay in the race despite this advice. Several fellow Congress members — most notably Iowa Rep. Steve King and Arizona Congressman Trent Franks — have come out in support of Akin. Franks defended Akin stating,, “I definitely believe that he should still be a member of Congress.”

The latest Akin could bow out before dealing with the court process was 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 20. He still refused to budge.

“It isn’t just something that’s in the brain. It’s in the heart.” Akin told Mike Huckabee, host of “The Huckabee Show.”

“I think he’ll recover fine. When he speaks about women, it’s kind of excused as, ‘Oh, well (voters) don’t expect much from him anyway about women, so we’re gonna let this go,’” Miller said.

Rosen shares Miller’s belief of Akin making a political comeback.

“People have such short memories when it comes to political events,” she said. “I don’t think his career is dead. Politicians have recovered from scandal before.”

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