Rape and Other “Gifts from God”

During a debate this past Tuesday, Indiana Republican senate nominee, Richard Mourdock, made the case against the rape exception for abortions: “I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God, and even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

So according to Mourdock, God intends for rape to happen, and the outcome of rape is a gift from God.


What puzzles me is how Mourdock’s rape enthusiast comments fit with Missouri Republican senate candidate Todd Akin’s recent comments that “legitimate rape” (read “forcible rape”) rarely leads to pregnancy because, ”If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Mourdock and Akin’s beliefs, when considered together, produce a bizarre philosophy. I would like to know: Why would God create female bodies that reject God’s “gifts”? And if women don’t get pregnant from “forcible rape,” does that mean that God doesn’t intend “forcible rapes”? Put another way, does God only intend certain types of rape, you know, the ones that come with “the gift”?

One-in-five Americans agree with Mourdock and Akin’s abortion stance. Razib Khan’s analysis of the General Social Survey shows that 20% of Americans think abortion should be illegal in cases of rape. Republicans with lower levels of education who identify as extremely conservative and believe the Bible is the word of God are more likely than other Americans to hold this belief.

For Mourdock, Akin, and more than 50 million other Americans, God truly does work in mysterious ways.

Rush Limbaugh’s 20 Year War on Women

After Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown law school student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” for believing that insurance should cover the cost of birth control, pundits on the right and left quickly pointed out that liberal media figures have also used sexist slurs.

I have perhaps written more than anyone about the use of sexist slurs by prominent men on the left lobbed at Sarah Palin, Laura Ingraham, Hillary Clinton, and Michele Bachmann. But to lump Chris Matthews, Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, or Ed Schultz in with the likes of Limbaugh downplays the veracity of Limbaugh’s very long and very public hatred of women.

Limbaugh has spent two decades attacking feminists, female political leaders, professional women, women who speak out, and women’s gains more generally. This formula makes his almost exclusively older, white, male audience feel more powerful in a world where changing gender roles have challenged non-meritorious power structures that benefit them.

Bashing Feminists

Limbaugh popularized the term “feminazi,” which aligns feminists – those who believe in the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, and who started the anti-domestic violence and anti-child sexual abuse movements – with the most notoriously violent regime of the last century. Back in 1992, Limbaugh appeared on the Phil Donohue Show to discuss feminazi trading cards.

Limbaugh has repeatedly said that feminism “was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream.” His favorite pastime is to attack the National Organization For Women, and in October of 2010, he called them “a bunch of whores to liberalism.”

In 2010, Limbaugh defended his decision to judge the Miss American Pageant, claiming that he loves women and is a huge supporter of the women’s movement, “especially when walking behind it.”

Bashing Female Political Leaders

Limbaugh regularly attacks Hillary Clinton in sexist ways, referring to her “testicle lockbox,” calling her a “lyin ass bitch,” questioning whether Americans want an older female president, and saying she “reminds men of the worst characteristics of women they’ve encountered over their life: totally controlling, not soft and cuddly.”  Limbaugh also referred to 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton as a “dog.”

Limbaugh often makes derisive comments about Michelle Obama’s weight and said the presidential limo “weights eight tons” without the First Lady in it.  In October of 2011, Limbaugh said that “there are plenty of lard-ass women in politics” who “get a pass on every aspect of their appearance.” But they don’t get a pass from Limbaugh who makes his living insulting the physical appearance of women in power.

In this segment, Limbaugh rants against Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, claiming that they’re unqualified and essentially stupid.

Bashing Professional Women

In Limbaugh’s teenage fantasy world, female journalists are “info babes” and “anchorettes.” He even suggested that many women would be “flattered to be hired as eye candy.” Limbaugh believes the media, politics, and unions are under the constant threat of “chickification” from which “nothing good can come.”

Bashing Women who Speak Out

In line with the Fluke fiasco, Limbaugh seems particularly keen on attacking women who speak out. In 2011, he joked that the women who accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment appeared together because “they want to synchronize their menstrual periods.”

Just last week, when race car driver Danica Patrick told a reporter that the government should make decisions concerning contraception coverage, Limbaugh used an ad hominem attack to berate her: “What do you expect from a woman driver?”

Bashing Women’s Progress

Limbaugh is highly critical of the gains women have made in American society in recent decades. In 2009, he stated that “everybody knows it was the vacuum cleaner that liberated women more than the pill.” In his defense, Limbaugh may have said this because he doesn’t understand how the pill works.

In Limbaugh’s mind, women live longer lives because they have it easier than men. In 2006, Limbaugh compared his cat to women: “Once I feed her, guess what? She’s off until the next time she gets hungry. And she doesn’t have to do anything for it, which is why I say this cat has taught me more about women than anything in my whole life.”

In Limbaugh’s world, women are conniving bimbos. He told Sandra Fluke, “If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex…we want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

For Rush Limbaugh, then, women in positions of power or those who speak out on behalf of themselves or other women are to be ridiculed and derided. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, he was identified as the most trusted news personality in the nation in a 2008 Zogby poll.

Given his 20 year war on women, it’s not at all shocking that Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke these sexist slurs. What is shocking is that the American public has finally taken notice.