Well, let’s just get the facts straight: Todd Atkin is an idiot. And I refuse to put “representative” in front of his name because he should not be representing anything or anyone. He should be banned from attempting to speak on behalf of the people of the United States. Okay, so that’s out of the way. Of course, I have a lot more to say about his heinous, ignorant comment about “legitimate rape” made earlier this week, but the uproar and outrage displayed by so many activists in the anti-violence against women movement said it way better than I ever could. The best that I have read gave me goosebumps and hope for a better future for women everywhere.
I have been following the response as much as I can but it has been pretty overwhelming. Survivors coming forward and sharing their stories, activists speaking out, Republicans lashing out against Atkin, and Romster and P-Ryan backing away from Atkin’s commentary, despite their views aligning with many of the same principles on which Atkin’s idiotic statements are rooted. But what has really struck me and just seems to highlight the problem even more are the males who are coming forward and writing as if “they understand” or they can come from a place to speak genuinely about it. Now I am not trying to say men cannot be raped, because they absolutely can and are at substantial rates in the U.S. and beyond. I am also not trying to say that men cannot be allies in ending sexual violence, because they absolutely need to be. But what I am saying is I am sick of men, particularly white, privileged men, speaking up one way or another trying to “understand” or voice their opinion on what women should do.
For example, I came across a Slate article today titled, “Should a mother tell her child that he was conceived in rape?” written by BRIAN Palmer. I have several quams with this piece. First, he assumes a woman who is raped is having a boy. All about the guy right from the start. Second, MR. Palmer has a subtitle that says “what psychologists recommend,” yet he only cites some statistics and then “a study” which does not necessarily mean it is what psychologists recommend. I would guess many psychologists would seperate themselves from your universal recommendation about a victim of rape telling her child that he/she was conceived through rape. From what I got by reading his article: MR. Palmer read up on some studies and decided that women who are raped, become pregnant, and make the very difficult decision to keep their child should tell their son or daughter that his/her father is a rapist. You failed to discuss the torment and struggle women who are raped and become pregnant go through as they feel great anger toward their child because of the situation through with he/she was conceived. MR. Palmer wrote it through such a privileged lens from a standpoint that will never understand what it means to be a mother of a child who was conceived through rape. It is a complex decision filled with pain, confusion, and trauma. It is a decision only a mother should make without a privileged journalist telling her what she should do in an online magazine. It is a decision only a mother who has given birth to a child whose ‘father’ raped her can understand or fathom making.
Furthermore, the only reason you wrote this article, MR. Palmer, is due to the comments made by Atkins. The fact that you chose to write about this, not how dangerous and false Atkin’s comments are, not about teaching men not to rape in the first place, not about the prevalence of rape and the impact that has on our community. But instead, you chose to insert yourself into the decision of a mother. You chose to feed into the dialogue about what women should be doing — a dialogue primarily led by men. You also painted rape as a black and white situation with a little gray area if the perpetrator is an acquaintance, which is the case in the large majority of sexual assaults. This is understandable though because you cannot understand nor will you ever understand being raped and becoming pregnant. You wrote about rape and a mother’s decision to explain to her child who his/her father is in a very objective way with absolutely zero credibility or accountability to hold that opinion.
Congratulations, you’ve entered the pretentious, ignorant, privileged sector of men who think they know how women and in this case, victims of rape, should behave and live their lives. And just like with the rest of the men that try and dictate a woman’s life, WE AREN’T LISTENING AND WE DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK WE SHOULD DO.