The best responses to Todd Akin’s ‘legitimate rape’ bullshit

Don’t you just love when politicians say they “misspoke”? Like, wouldn’t it be better just to say they had a stroke or were drinking?

For example, take this “misspoken” gem: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down,” said current rep in the U.S. Effing House of Representatives Todd Akin as he tried to defend his stance on abortion to a TV station. If I were his PR rep I’d blame the booze.

Akin’s suffered a lot of political setbacks in his Senate race since then––namely huge financial setbacks as GOP funders run away screaming, but dude’s digging in his heels, refusing to quit and instead offering some lame apology to the people (but none to Science, Biology, or FACTS).

Here are some of the best, definitely not misspoken responses since then:

President Obama: “Rape is rape. The idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me… We shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, the majority of whom are men, making healthcare decisions on behalf of women.” (Washington Post)

Wall Street Journal Editorial: “Mr. Akin has sunk his own ship.” (

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.: “As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin’s comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong. There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking. Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin’s statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri.” (ABC)

A DOCTOR: “A further problem with proclamations like Akin’s, though, is what they sound like to women who have been raped. If you believe what he does, then anyone who did get pregnant wasn’t ‘legitimately’ raped. Moreover, it belies a willful ignorance of science. Rape has occurred in history time and time again. Women get pregnant from it. This is known. There is no debate to be had. (CNN)

Katie J.M. Baker: “For decades, conservatives have claimed that women can’t get pregnant from ‘legitimate’ rape thanks to their wise, all-knowing uteri, psychic ‘juices’ and Spidey Sense-like ‘secretions.’ (Hmm, if legislators can applaud our vaginas for being so omniscient, how come they can’t let us control them?)” (Jezebel’s “Official Guide to Legitimate Rape”)

“Akin” himself: “I am an evil, fucked-up man who should never have been elected to the United States Congress, and anyone who would vote for me is probably a pretty big fucking dumbshit, too.” (The Onion)


Don’t be that guy | Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, left, and a 2010 mugshot.


In the case of Charlie Sheen, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off turned out to be prophetic. In a very short amount of screen time, Sheen charmed Jennifer Grey’s character while at a police station under arrest for, well, I refer you to this bit of dialogue:

Boy in Police Station: Drugs?

Jeannie: Thank you, no. I’m straight.

Boy in Police Station: I meant, are you in here for drugs?

Jeannie: Why are you here?

Boy in Police Station: Drugs.

Twenty-five years later, Charlie Sheen is self-destructing under the influence of money, fame and suitcases of drugs (cocaine, to be precise). He verbally lashed out at the creator of Two and a Half Men, and now his terrible yet very popular sitcom has ceased production. And Sheen just won’t stop talking to the media, while the media (of course) can’t get enough of him.

Just about every boy I’ve spoken to, from my four male roommates up to my own father, has expressed an admiration for Sheen’s character on Two and a Half Men. Charlie Harper is a hard-drinking, womanizing advertising jingle writer who lives in Malibu, which if you switch out a few adjectives sounds a lot like the real life of Charlie Sheen.  It’s no coincidence. As of late, the show has devolved into a metafictional take on the self-destruction of Charlie Sheen/Charlie Harper.

If I could divulge in some blatant overgeneralization, I think that the men who admire this Sheen/Harper hybrid want the surface pleasures that the man/character represents. After all, who doesn’t want to be rich and have lots of sex with no consequences? These are common cultural markers of success and status in American society.

But, there is a largely publicized dark side to Sheen/Harper that can be glossed over while indulging in the fantasy life. Sheen has a long history with substance abuse (which, in my opinion, he’s in some serious denial about). And even more disturbingly, Sheen has been accused of domestic abuse against his fiancée, two of his wives, girlfriend, and two actresses in pornographic films.

The public and the U.S. legal system have largely forgiven Sheen for his repeated incidents of domestic violence against women. He paid a fine for throwing a woman to the floor during a fight, and he was put on probation for threatening the life of his wife. And yet, there are people out there who just think Charlie Sheen is funny, or doing it all for the publicity.

It’s disgusting on so many levels. As a society, we should be promoting respect for women. But the skyrocketing popularity of a man whose misogynistic antics are repeatedly absolved is awful. Is this really what how we want our men to behave? Is this truly how we want to define success?

I can’t say this loudly enough: DON’T BE THIS GUY.

–By Erin K. O’Neill

Don’t Be That Guy: Nir Rosen

Oh, Twitter. Without you, how would I listen to the innermost, most obnoxious thoughts of the masses? Kanye. Bieber. Kim Kardashian. Nir Rosen.

Who’s Nir Rosen? Oh, just a journalist and foreign policy scholar who tweet-bitched after the news broke of Lara Logan’s sexual assault in Egypt that she’d get a bunch of attention and become a martyr. Logan, a foreign affairs correspondent for CBS, has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan –not just by talking about them, but by being there, often reporting in the midst of violence. She was doing just that, reporting from a protest in Egypt, when she was separated from her crew and brutally assaulted earlier this week.

In respect to Logan’s privacy, very few details of the attack have been released. So Rosen figured she had only been groped, like thousands of other women during the protest. He also “joked” that Logan just had to outdo Anderson Cooper, who was punched in the head during a protest in Egypt two weeks ago. “It would have been funny if it had happened to Cooper too,” Rosen tweeted. It would have been funny if Anderson Cooper were sexually assaulted?

Rosen has since resigned from his NYU fellowship, lost a consulting job at an NGO, and gone on a media campaign to express his remorse and clear his name. He does so almost eloquently. His writings on, in fact, make him seem remorseful, thoughtful… and even more like a jerk.

What to do after you make an enormous gaff? Cower. Apologize profusely. And stop talking.

Rosen has taken this opportunity not just to apologize, but to explain what he was thinking, which was something along the lines of: If such an assault had happened to a regular ol’ Egyptian, not a pretty white reporter, it never would have made the news. I suppose that may be a fair point. But it’s not something you bring up during an apology. An apology is about sincere remorse. It’s an attempt to recognize the pain you caused. It’s not the time to advance your cause.

I don’t want to hear Rosen explain himself. His immediate train of thought, which he carelessly splashed on Twitter, showed knee-jerk cynicism and heartlessness. He can be commended for apologizing for both, but he goes on to say they resulted from his experience reporting from war-torn countries. He also points out his staunch support of women’s rights and gay rights. In fact, he does a lot of self-promotion during these apologies. He also makes sure to point out that he’s long considered Logan a “war monger.”

Just because these paragraphs occur after the few he spends self-flagellating doesn’t mean it’s an appropriate placement. It’s not the right time. It’s not the right place.

One reason he made those “tasteless tweets,” he said, is because he was afraid that the attention showered on Logan would overshadow the stories of suffering Egyptians.

Let me get this straight: Rosen caused a news story by tweeting obnoxiously. Logan made the news when something happened to her. And Rosen, who’s appearing on Anderson Cooper tonight, keeps talking.

Who do you think is detracting from the story in Egypt more?

–By Tara Cavanaugh