There is something eerie about the idea that rape can float around in a seemingly vague space of authority over a woman’s body. That’s how Todd Akin would frame it, if we are to question on what deluded planet that rape rears its legitimate and illegitimate two-sided head. It ties a knot in a woman’s stomach, both those that have been physically abused and those that have fortunately not experienced such violations to think that an unwanted act could in some regards can be considered unreal, a strike out, a no counter, a by golly gee whiz, it never happened.
What makes a rape illegitimate? Is it when sex comes after a bitter rush of sloppy seconds? When consciousness slips after a cup of chardonnay bought by the man standing over there in the corner has you creating your own two-step? Or when your best friend that you’ve known for years slips away with you in the night, taking advantage of that state of pure bliss but unrecognized action? Does not knowing the person that will violate you constitute rape’s illegitimacy?
The idea that rape, with its bulky, domineering attitude, could even tiptoe on a tightrope between real and fake is simply ludicrous and asinine. Rape is rape, plain and simple.
People should know that for the nearly 207,754 victims who are sexually assaulted each year, rape wasn’t served up the same way each time. Sexually forcing oneself upon a woman doesn’t have to always be violent and aggressive, as one would consider “legitimate” rape to be. Rapists don’t always have to be waiting in dark shadows during a midnight run. They can be bright-eyed, bubbly, and charming. They could be wealthy, famous, and alluring. They could be bonded to you through your ring finger. They could be your best friend or favorite relative of 15 years. Rape does not have a one-size fits all attitude. It’s humanely vicious yet stealthy at the same damn time.
Rape doesn’t get a lose-a-turn card. It has no altering definitions that get to fade in and out whenever it pleases a certain party to their defense. All forms of rape are legitimate, whether a woman is impregnated, gets HIV/AIDS, is killed, or is left with a messed up heart. Such dichotomies that seek to raise questions around sexual violence – both mental and physical – are socially paralyzing and damaging to the female psyche. It seeks to reduce our position as women in the human race, stripping us of control over our bodies and handing it to some right-winged, dumbfounded ideology of rape.
We should never stand for that. Not now, not ever. Rape is real and there’s no man in this world who can change that.