Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dear Mike Huckabee

Discussion of rape and rape culture ahead.
"Ethel Waters, for example, was the result of a forcible rape," Huckabee said of the late American gospel singer. One-time presidential candidate Huckabee added: "I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s, he leads a large Christian organization. He, himself, was the result of a forcible rape. And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things."
-Mike Huckabee
Dear Mike Huckabee,

Before we go any farther, stop saying "forcible rape."  Just say "rape."  The term "forcible rape" makes it seem as if there's "forcible rape," which is the bad, violent kind, and then there's other rape, you know, not rape-rape, just sort-of-rape, it wasn't really forcible or anything, she just wasn't that into it, you know how women are.

With that out of the way, let's examine the rest of that dreck.

Right, so basically you're saying that "some people make the best of a bad situation."  Or, "the sperm of rapists isn't automatically contaminated with evil."  Or something.  What's your point here?  Yes, some people grow up to "do extraordinary things."  That's terrific!  I agree!

Here's the thing about that "life has come" part.  "Life has come" is a really vague way to gloss over the fact that someone had to endure nine months of pregnancy followed by labor (and we all know what a sweet little tea party that always is).  And then someone (most often the person who just did the whole pregnancy-and-labor thing) has to rear the child.  For a long time.

What you said, that sometimes people who have been raped become pregnant and bear children, and sometimes those children grow up to become professional Christians, is a fact.  It is not an argument.  (Although you were speaking with Todd Akin at the time, so, "Yes, you fool, sometimes people do get pregnant from being raped" is, unfortunately, not taken for granted.)

It is true that people conceived through rape may contribute positively to the world.  It's not as if the seed of rapists is sown in Lucifer's garden or anything.  It's not as if "I must rape" is encoded into the chromosomes somewhere, just waiting for the next generation.  No one's suggesting that we're suffering an epidemic of rape babies growing up to be a drain on society.

But let's look at why someone who's been raped may not want to continue a pregnancy.

1.) Well, you were just raped, so you're probably going through a lot right now, so dealing with that and taking care of yourself comes first.

2.) The pregnancy may be a constant reminder of the assault you've just suffered.

3.) Being raped involves a loss of control, an inability to stop someone else from using your body.  A pregnancy can be uncomfortably similar at a time when you want to reestablish control.

4.) As you probably weren't planning to be raped and become pregnant, you probably weren't preparing your life for child-rearing.  You may not be ready for pregnancy or parenthood, financially or physically or otherwise.

5.) You may be married or have a significant other who is unwilling to help you to rear your rapist's child.

6.) People are going to ask who the father is.

7.) The child is going to ask who the father is.

8.) What if the father wants visitation rights?  What if he pops up five years down the road and tries to involve himself in your child's life?  Statistically speaking, you were probably raped by someone you know.  You can only guess how he'll react if he realizes that the child is his.  Even if he doesn't get involved initially, he has the rest of the child's life to change his mind.

9.) Along with the "raped by someone you know" part comes the fact that you may know the rapist's significant other, the rapist's children, etc.  You may be a member of the rapist's family.

10.) If you're one of the few who ends up seeing a rapist on trial, I can only imagine how the defense will twist "but she's carrying his baby!" into an argument that it wasn't really rape.

There's a lot more, but you get the gist of it.  While you may think of pregnancy as the potential for another wonderful Christian in the world, the actual rape victim has a much more complex understanding of the situation.  You can pat yourself on the back for acknowledging how indefensible "forcible" rape is, but maybe if you had more feminists who fight the rape culture and work for reproductive rights on your show, and fewer people like Todd Akin, you'd be more respectful of what real survivors go through.

With love,
Frank Lee


  1. On the one hand, I applaud you for saying this so well.

    On the other, I'm burying my face in my hands over the awful reality that you have have to say any of this because there are some people (like Mike Huckabee) out there that just don't get it.

    1. Thank you! Yeah, I do that face-burying move a lot.