Maybe He Was Talking About Ducks

A mini furor erupted this weekend, when republican Senate nominee Todd Akin defended his position of denying abortions even to victims of rape, because in the case of "legitimate rape," women have biological defenses that prevent pregnancy:

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

The liberal blogosphere went nuts, and the story was picked up by all the national media outlets, and even Mitt Romney decided to distance himself from Akin:

In a phone interview this morning, Mitt Romney told National Review Online that Representative Todd Akin’s recent remarks on rape are “inexcusable.”

“Congressman’s Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong,” Romney said. “Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive.”

While it certainly is offensive that any legislators think that they are in the position of defining what constitutes "legitimate" rape (and passing laws to force medically unnecessary and invasive ultrasounds, and restricting women's access to family planning, et cetera, et ceteraet cetera), I think all of these commentators are overlooking a key possibility - what if Akin was referring to duck rape?

Those that the female actually wants to mate with have an easier time. If she’s into a male, she strikes a pose that signals her receptiveness, keeping her body level and lifting her tail feathers high. She repeatedly contracts the walls of her genital tract, relaxing them for long enough for favoured suitors to achieve full penetration.

Males who try to force themselves upon her receive no such help and have to cope with vigorous struggling. The female may not be able to resist such advances, but her convoluted vagina gives her ultimate control over where the sperm of her current partner ends up. The fact that only 3% of duck offspring are born of forced matings suggests that females are indeed winning this battle of the sexes. [emphasis mine - KB]

Personally, I'm of the opinion that even if humans were like ducks, we shouldn't ignore the 3%, and in any case women should have the right to decide for themselves what to do with their bodies, regardless of whether they were raped or not, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Since only someone completely blinded by ideology, hopelessly ignorant of basic human biology and incapable of using google would believe that rape victims couldn't get pregnant, I'm going to assume that Todd Akin was referring to ducks.

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Rape, like wife beating, pedophilia or child abuse/neglect is not something to be taken lightly. No one should be powerless over events that effect their future. So, if you really want to jerk someone around, accuse them of one or all of these things. Even if they are not true, they will have to live knowing there are people out there who will never really believe they are innocent. If you can't do that, at least suggest that the individual doesn't take these issues seriously enough or is "siding with the perpetrators." My point? Visceral responses generally are due to emotional upset and bring about emotional satisfaction. Such feelings can impede legitimate discourse. Many right wingers tend to claim to be protecting infants and/or innocents. I feel they are wrong. I feel they are truly impinging upon women's rights. However, becoming just as hysterical, just as strident isn't the way to go.... While your post initially seems a bit flippant, in reality it presents a valid point. Very nuanced, very cool.

By Mike Olson (not verified) on 21 Aug 2012 #permalink

This whole "controversy" is over people in control of the Republican Party who apparently believe there are no innocent victims of rape, only falsely-accused rapists.

By Chris Leithiser (not verified) on 22 Aug 2012 #permalink

Or, they want to justify denying abortion to rape victims, but saying there's no such thing as a pregnant rape victim. In other words, if they're pregnant, they must have wanted it.

Either way it's despicable.

You convinced me, I'm now certain he was talking about ducks. What a relief, I thought he was either completely uninformed or else a total nut job.Ducks! All is right in the world again, thank you for explaining.

By Heather Cushma… (not verified) on 22 Aug 2012 #permalink

Oh good, I'm glad I could make you feel better :-). It's such a relief when you realize that complete ignorance of science isn't a disqualification for political office. Oh, wait...

My question has to do with how humans get to deem some duck mating as "forced" and other duck mating as "not forced". I've only seen mating ducks a couple times, and both times it was with mallards. The males numbered 3-4 and were all vying for one female. It certainly seemed like a brutal exercise for all the ducks - the males constantly bit at each others' feathers to gain sole access to the femalem and then would bite the back of the female's neck while mounting. But despite how it looked, it wasn't humans engaging in this behavior, it was a completely different species! Just curious about where the ideas come from that there is such a thing as "duck rape"

Sorry for the delay approving this comment, I thought I had earlier.

Unfortunately, I'm no expert on duck mating, and how consent is determined scientifically.