What do my 3 year old son and Rep. Todd Akin have in common?

They are both someone’s child.

They both have parents who are responsible for teaching them how to be men.  Kind, intelligent, aware, gentle men.

In our house, we are on Day 1 of Potty Learning with 3 year-old Max.  While I’d prefer that he doesn’t pee on the floor, what really matters most is that he is learning to be aware of his body.  We use the anatomically appropriate words for body parts.  He knows he has a penis.  We say the word penis.  We’ve already had to do an impromptu “Make sure your penis goes back IN your underwear” lesson, and it’s only mid-day.  But isn’t learning where your penis goes an important part of becoming a big boy?

You have to start somewhere.

Rep. Todd Akin said in an interview recently that “First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy after rape] is really rare…If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”  In case you wondered who skipped out on Sex Ed to go smoke cigarettes in the parking lot, well, there you have it.

Yet it goes beyond that.  “The female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” isn’t just grossly misinformed, it’s a great way for a man to not have to take responsibility.  For the fact that sexual assault will change the trajectory of life for ONE IN FOUR women.  For the fact that most rape cases are perpetrated by someone that a woman knows, and in many cases, someone she trusts.  For the fact that ALL rapes are committed by someone’s son.  Someone’s child, who grew up to be someone’s rapist.

Men rape for power and control.  Our culture encourages men to exert power and control.  Our culture ALLOWS it.  We put misogynists in office so that they can promote it.  When someone like Rep. Todd Akin “misspeaks” (his words, not mine), he is encouraging a level of ignorance among other men of power.  A failure to understand basic anatomy and physiology, is not acceptable in my family.  And it definitely shouldn’t be acceptable that our elected leaders do not have an accurate understanding of how women’s bodies work.  Yet they **ahem** still think it’s appropriate to legislate our bodies, apparently.  When you say that a woman’s body can protect her from a pregnancy after rape, you are really saying that you WISH a woman’s body could protect her.  Because you feel that you can’t, and you’re too afraid to stand up and do anything about it.  Denial is a tricky thing, but it doesn’t fix something that you don’t have the courage to change yourself.

How do we change the tide of power, control, and ignorance?

We start with our children.  We teach our little boys what their penis is for.  We teach them about vaginas.  We say the word.  We don’t call them “pee-pees” or “hoo-has”.  We teach them about privacy.  Respecting someone else’s space.  Asking “Can I give you a hug?” instead of tackling a friend.  We model gentle love in front of our children.  We don’t hit.  We take care of our bodies.  We listen when our friends ask for space.  We show respect when our friends are frightened.

As Max grows up, and he asks questions about sex and relationships, I know that Sean and I will need to be prepared to give him honest answers.  Not just about how his anatomy works, but about how his partner’s anatomy will work.  He will need to know that there will come a day when he finds himself at a crossroads with his partner, and his body will tell him to go forward as his mind tells him to go back.  The only way that he will know if it is safe to continue, is if his respect for his partner’s spirit equals the respect that he has for his own.  The line that seperates men who rape and men who respect, is drawn early on.  It’s drawn in preschool classrooms.  It’s drawn during sex ed.  It’s drawn in families.  I hold the blueprint for that line, as Max’s parent.  It is our job to teach him.  It is our job to prepare him for that moment.

Rep. Todd Akin is making me a better mom.  He is reminding me of what happens when our children aren’t encouraged to learn about their bodies.  He is reminding me of why I fight for women to have equal rights to healthcare and to “own” their own bodies.  Fighting rape begins with me.  It begins with you.  In your living room.  In your child’s bathroom.  In family meetings.  Thank you Rep. Akin, for reminding me of why Day 1 of potty-training my 3 year old is so  important.  Because body awareness starts now.  Respecting your body and learning how to respect others, starts now.  Rep. Akin, my three year old will learn the lessons that you haven’t.  It’s not too late for you to start.


6 Replies to “Rep.Todd Akin Makes Me A Better Mom”

  1. First of all, someone needs to beat the tar out of that asshat.

    Second of all, I don’t have a second of all. I’m still on kicking that idiots ass and telling him “your body won’t hurt if it’s an attack because it shuts it’s nerve receptors off. Those broken ribs aren’t really broken – they should have known you were being attacked against your will.”

    But, I agree with you wholeheartedly about teaching children from the time they are born until we release them into the world about how to treat others. So that they don’t grow up to waste oxygen. Or make me think violent thoughts in their general direction.
    xo Tracy @ Momaical

  2. Yeah, I had to watch that clip again, before I realized he was serious. He honestly believed that’s how the female body works. That is why stodgy old men like him shouldn’t be put in powerful positions, making decisions for our country. They’re completely ignorant as to how the real world works, the world beyond their cushy offices, and their nice big houses with white picket fences and perfectly manicured lawns.

  3. I love this, Kim; it’s perfect. The one thing I have to disagree with, though, is that it’s not too late for him to start learning those necessary lessons. I say this because truly believe he has no interest in being taught otherwise. I believe he truly believed what he said to be true, that women have mind over matter and can will themselves to not allow an attacker’s (a legitimate attacker’s) sperm to impregnate her. He has risen to this position holding this belief, speaking this belief, introducing legislation on this belief, and I honestly feel like nothing going on right now will make him believe otherwise. He has women supporting him, backing him. I truly TRULY wondered what his wife thought when she heard those words. Does she believe the same? Does she think the unfortunate women who “find themselves” in a position to be raped can simply deselect those sperm?

    He’s attempting to create a distinction of forcible rape to push the agenda of abortion being wrong in nearly any instance. What irks me is yes, he’s trying to backtrack, trying to call it misspeaking, but he has NOT said he was incorrect. We all just misunderstood him. And while I don’t think his comments can be indicative of the thoughts of all republicans, I also don’t think that their trying to distance themselves from him will work either (at least not Tea Partiers). And no Democrat put these words in his mouth, so saying that Dems are spinning his meaning is ridiculous. They were his words. Why spin when it was bad enough on its own?

    Also, if this doesn’t piss you off more, all the “on the record” comments about rape, I don’t know what will: http://jezebel.com/5936160/the-official-guide-to-legitimate-rape

  4. And you’re right; these situations do make us better moms. It’s given me an opportunity to talk my girls more about rape and acceptable touching, to make it relevant to current events and the campaign (in terms of a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own damn body). It’s also making me pay more attention to Zaid and how he treats his own body and that of his sisters. It’s never too early. It starts at home, with us.

  5. Amen. Amen. AMEN! Could not have written it better myself. While this story was playing on last night’s news, I could feel Ryan peaking over at me and (I’m pretty sure) waiting for my head to explode. He started to say something about how of course the “liberal media” would latch on to this dumb-ass republican that voiced his insane opinion, but the daggers shooting at him from where my eyes normally are stopped him from continuing on with his statement. After I could speak – and I honestly was in shock while the story was playing. I think the thing that was shocking for me was the SERIOUS lack of education on the human body that this guy has received in his lifetime. It makes me cringe to think that this ELECTED man, grew up, went to school in the United States of freaking America, and didn’t learn that NO WOMAN CAN PREVENT HERSELF FROM GETTING PREGNANT JUST BY THE POWER OF HER MIND. I mean seriously?! Wouldn’t we all have been saving a shit load on birth control during our 20’s if that were possible?! Anyway, I digress…

    Like I was saying, after I could speak, I kindly reminded Ryan that it’s not actually just one dumb-ass’ opinion. He is in a position of power and his belief can literally change my ability to make decisions about MY.OWN.BODY. He’s not using his position to recommend legislation that castrates men who rape woman. Nope. Rather he wants to make a woman grow (and possibly raise) a constant reminder of the pain that she has endured.

    Basically, my vagina they want control over, but the rest of my health care? Eh, not so much.

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