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)


Olympic Fail of the Week: Bodysuits are boring!

There were plenty of cracktastic things going on in the Olympics’ closing ceremonies (God bless the British), and while I generally enjoyed the spectacle, I couldn’t get over Jessie J’s bodysuit. I don’t care if it is Vivienne Westwood; I’m so over bodysuits. Britney did it eons ago and did it better. Plus, it looks like Jessie has had a weird outbreak of a disease. Or like somebody sneezed sequins all over her. Actually, I hope that’s actually how this outfit was made.

 Bonus Win: Spice Girls reunion!

Fan or not, you still have to admit it’s kind of awesome. Continue reading

Wins and Fails of the Week: SAG Awards edition

The Ladies of Modern Family

Not only did they win for best ensemble, but the ladies of Modern Family also definitely win for best dressed in my books.

Yet again, Ariel Winter shows up to the red carpet looking so cute and age-appropriate.

Ditto Sarah Hyland who was also looking lovely.

Continue reading

Wins of the Week: Golden Globes Edition

The Big Winners

The clear winner of red carpet looks for me? Claire Danes’ monochromatic stunner. It seems fairly simple in the front, but then she gives an over the shoulder look, and the dress goes from simple to stunning.

Octavia Spencer was fantastic and just so sassy in The Help. And she was lovely in lilac on the red carpet.

Continue reading

Fashion Fail at the CFDA Fashion Awards

Gaga, current first lady of dance pop, might’ve been named a fashion icon at the CFDA awards and that green wig might’ve added some nice Andy Warhol-ish pop, but c’mon. If you want to show your boobs, girlfriend, just commit. Don’t practically fall out of your dress. Also, who besides people who get paid in singles wear detachable skirts anymore? And that looks like what could possibly be the wedgie from hell.

Not to be out done, Marcia Cross looks desperate for disco. She’s either auditioning to be a member of Abba, or she will be forced to accept an Abba substitute and join a Mamma Mia production. And now I have “Dancing Queen” stuck on repeat in my head.

What could have made such a pretty dress turned into a disco disaster.

–By Lindsay Ray

FUGLY ALERT! Cargo leggings

The leggings-are-not-pants argument goes lots of ways. They don’t offer any structure. They leave nothing to the imagination. They’re cold. They couldn’t be any less flattering, since they leave all of your jiggly bits free to ripple in the wind. And they don’t even have a place to stick your chapstick.

But I underestimated the fugly power of leggings. Turns out, they CAN be even less flattering whilst offering a place to put your keys. Enter: cargo leggings.

Because cargo pants were so long ago (hello, middle school), we seem to have forgotten how incredibly unflattering wide-leg khakis with large pockets can be. Because leggings are so prevalent now, we’re no longer surprised at how unflattering they can be. So designers decided to put the two together, in a brilliant marketing plan to both make leggings seem “new” again and to provide fodder for them to laugh at us endlessly while we jiggle not just our booties, but the change in our pockets.

I promise you, unless you’re a size zero, leggings do absolutely nothing to flatter your body. Leggings are really only relatively cute on girls whose thighs don’t touch (hate you, btw). But cargo leggings? Please. They’ll make even the leanest of women look like they put their knee pads on the wrong way before going rollerblading.

–By Tara Cavanaugh

Female politicians aren’t fashionistas, and they don’t have to be

Hillary Clinton has been the butt of many jokes for her preference for pantsuits. Glamour magazine responded by "being supportive" and showing the suits in a rainbow of colors.

There’s a reason why women are obsessed with their looks. There’s a reason why we change outfits five times before going to the grocery store. There’s a reason we like to buy a truckload of new clothes every season. There’s a reason why we obsess over even the most minute change in hairstyle.

Because we’ll always be judged on our looks, no matter what we’re doing, or how successful we’ve become.

Case in point: Today the Huffington Post unleashed its “best dressed female politician” poll.

As if pantsuits and heels have anything to do with leading the free world. As if male politicians are ever judged for what color suit or tie they choose. As if suits are actually flattering on women more than two percent of the time.

Granted, I love fashion. I think it’s fun and interesting. I think it offers a way to express yourself creatively. And I have fun judging people for their clothes, especially when they look downright silly (“Dear 19-year-olds dressing like Brenda from 90210 circa 1994: You LOOK LIKE MOMS.”).

But I know all that critiquing and faffing about has a place, okay? Politicians are scrutinized for nearly everything they say and do. Not that I feel sorry for most of those idiots, but I wouldn’t want their job.

And female politicians are scrutinized even further, because they also have to be perfect wives, mothers, and champions of both the workplace and domesticity.

Quite frankly, I don’t give a crap if Hillary Clinton goes to work in her pajamas. She has other, kind of important things to do, like I dunno, trying to prevent North Korea from blasting the Earth to smithereens.

*If it makes things any better, after kvetching about their poll via Twitter, HuffPo actually offered us an apology and also pointed us to their best dressed male politician poll (which is basically a series of old white guys in suits). I appreciate the apology, sure, but I still think that this poll is just one example of the annoying obsession with women’s clothing and appearance, even though female politicians’ jobs have absolutely nothing to do with how they look, unlike models, actresses and celebrities. HuffPo is not the only one to do this– how much have we all read about Sarah Palin’s runner’s physique, heels, and short skirts? And plenty has been said about Clinton’s pantsuits (and that one time she actually showed cleavage). I think the media– especially the news media– can do better than this.

–By Tara Cavanaugh

Your miniskirt is not a liberation flag

Oh hi, my name is Consent. What's yours?

Six years ago, a 20-year-old woman, named in court papers only as Jane Doe, went to a bar at Laclede’s Landing in St. Louis. She was dancing and someone pulled her tank top down, and it was all filmed by a Girls Gone Wild video crew. The incident was distributed on a video called “Girls Gone Wild Sorority Orgy.”

On July 22, a St. Louis jury ruled that despite saying “no” when asked to reveal her breasts to the camera, Jane Doe had given “implied consent” because she was there and taking part in the party.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that Patrick O’Brien, the jury foreman, said: “Through her actions, she gave implied consent … She was really playing to the camera. She knew what she was doing.”

Allow me to express my outrage. This kind of reasoning makes me nauseated. If this case involved a guy unwillingly having his genitalia exposed to a video camera, I can guarantee that the outcome would’ve been incredibly different.

There is more than an undercurrent in our culture that says a woman “asks” for rape or other forms of sexual assault. It starts with snide comments about a woman’s wardrobe — a short skirt is apparently some kind of invitation to be harassed.

This is the beginning of a slippery slope, which ends in blaming women for rape. In feminism and feminist theory, the term “rape culture” is used to describe the commonness of sexual violence and how social norms, the media and people’s attitudes condone it.

The culture then teaches women how to avoid rape, through PSAs and self-defense classes and carrying mace and traveling in groups. This implies that not taking these precautions means that a woman deserves what she gets. Not that these precautions aren’t a good idea — I’ve taken a self-defense class myself — but that a woman must somehow be on guard against sexual attack at all times is ridiculous.

I spent one painful evening begging a friend to go to the police after an incident where her date just didn’t stop when she asked. She decided not to inform authorities and press charges against the guy because of the stigma of rape. Upon reflection, I find that a big part of her decision not to press charges was the fear that others would place the blame on her.

The St. Louis Girls Gone Wild case uses the illogic that Jane Doe was asking for it because she was “playing to the camera.” This is the same absurdity that would say a sexually provocative dress is “implied consent” for a man to rape the woman.

A girls’ night out usually isn’t a big deal. A woman wants a night out on the town with her girlfriends. She wears less clothes and higher heels than would be acceptable in the daytime. There will be dancing and a few drinks. A fun time will be had by all. I’ve been on these nights out, and they’re harmless.

Until someone pulls down a woman’s tank top in front of a Girls Gone Wild video crew.

That Girls Gone Wild, with its owner Joe Francis, is one of the most repellent companies ever to grace late-night television with its commercials is inconsequential. Pornography has been around since history could be recorded. I would even go far as to say that pornography, when made or consumed by consenting adults, can be empowering to women.

This jury’s decision is enshrining in legal precedent that being a woman in front of a camera at a party “implies consent” for having images of your naked breast distributed for profit. Girls Gone Wild made an estimated $1.5 million from the video in question. Someone pulled down Jane Doe’s tank top, and she said “no” to the camera crew. There is no evidence Jane Doe signed a consent form.

As Jane Doe’s lawyer, Stephen Evans, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Other girls said it was OK. Not one other one said, ‘No, no.’ She is entitled to go out with friends and have a good time and not have her top pulled down and get that in a video.”

Apparently not.

–By Erin K. O’Neill

“Girls Gone Wild” woman filmed against will and loses lawsuit

Because she was there that night in the Rum Jungle, because she was twenty and pretty, because she was dancing, she gave “implicit consent” to be a part of the “Girls Gone Wild” video “Sorority Orgy 2,” the cover of which shows girls who look like they’re about 12.

This is what a jury in St. Louis actually ruled yesterday.

Nevermind that she said “No” when asked to show her breasts. Somebody pulled down her tank top for her. She never said yes. She never signed the consent form that so many drunken girls end up signing for those videos (before performing sexual acts/being sexually assaulted in the GGW bus).

This is just our culture, isn’t it, right? Saying that women shouldn’t dress sexy, shouldn’t be drunk or drinking in public, shouldn’t be out dancing, laughing, enjoying themselves, because they’re likely to be victims.

Parading ourselves off and having a good time just shows that we’re giving “implicit consent” to be raped, assaulted and videotaped against our will. This is what our justice system says.


Highly recommended readings:

St. Louis Today for a good summary of the case

The Sexademic: We need more “don’t rape” campaigns

“Baby, Give Me a Kiss:” Founder of GGW assaults journalist, girl filmed in GGW

GGW Founder Joe Francis sues against tell-all book

–by Tara Cavanaugh