“Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
This remark made by Richard Mourdock, Indiana’s Republican Senate candidate, during a recent debate highlights major misperceptions of rape within our culture.
His comment was the most recent in a litany of insensitive statements politicians have made about rape.
From U.S. Representative Todd Akin’s claim about “legitimate rape” to Mourdock’s recent statement, a systemic lack of understanding is apparent.
These comments, though extremely worrying and problematic, are not the main issue.
Instead, the power positioned behind these quips should be examined.
It is not just some average, misogynistic citizen voicing these opinions.
It is a politician and potential congressman, who has the power to craft and legislate laws that could limit people’s rights, specifically women’s.
This observation makes it all the more important for people to be aware of the political system and its effect on the culture.
This awareness should last beyond the election season.
Although it is vital to know the platforms of candidates when voting, people need to understand how politicians enact and express their views during their terms in office.
For instance, all the recent uproar over politicians’ inability to grasp that rape is rape overlooks what Congress is doing now.
The Violence Against Women Act is up for reauthorization this year.
But its progress has been stalled because some politicians want to reduce the services and provisions offered by VAWA.
Namely, some Republican Congress members want to slash protections provided under VAWA for undocumented and LGBTQ-identified individuals.
Ultimately, the stagnation of VAWA may prevent it from reaching the Oval Office for the foreseeable future.
These are women’s lives politicians are editing and redacting.
Yet the public hears more about the outlandish remarks a candidate makes during the campaign cycle than the blocking of a necessary piece of legislation.
The statements made by Mourdock and others are deplorable and should be renounced and ridiculed.
But if the limiting of legislation that could combat sexual violence is ignored, those who stand for rape survivors and women’s rights have missed the larger picture.
Citizens and students who are concerned about these issues should not only educate themselves on what Congress is legislating.
They should lobby and write to their representatives about rape culture and how the political sphere bolsters it.
They should form rallies, protests and public forums to discuss these issues.
They need to get active and stay active in the political realm.
Otherwise, the real issues will pass by without any discussion or debate, to the detriment of every citizen.