I have a problem with this

New York Times columnist Nick Kristoff is a good guy. His writings against injustice and genocide are a rare voice in Old Media. He has his oddities, though. He suffers from a conspiracy-minded “chemophobia” where the word “chemical” is so misused as to become meaningless. Still, his heart is in the right place, and that’s something.

Today’s column though is troublesome in another way. While decrying the “insensitive words” of Republicans about rape, he thinks we need to look at a bigger picture:

But our political system jumps all over verbal stupidity, while giving a pass to stupid policies.

He’s got this one wrong. The evil here isn’t words or policy; it’s culture. The biologically-ignorant, victim-blaming words of our officials have the same root as the policies that keep rape evidence kits sitting in evidence lockers, degrading by the day. It’s a culture that assumes that rape, abortion, and any decision that involves women’s lives and autonomy is up to men to legislate, decide, judge.

This isn’t about rape kits: it’s about women having to prove they didn’t deserve to get hit for talking back, didn’t deserve to get raped for going home with a guy. This is about women having to justify themselves, having to explain why they want an abortion, as if it’s anyone’s business but their own. This is about women having to go to job interviews pretending they are really just men in a dress and never have any intention of having kids or doing anything else that might show that they are not-men.

This is about women in a culture where even abortion supporters think abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare” instead of “safe, legal, and none-of-your-damned-business.”

You know what people mean when the speak of “abortion-on-demand”? They mean abortions being available to women without explanation, without an excuse developed by men to help keep control of women and their decisions.

Politicians who believe that women’s bodies can somehow “shut that whole thing down” when they get raped and impregnated, who believe that a pregnancy as a result of rape is God’s will, are sick individuals, but really just expressing what our culture already believes as shown in our words, attitudes, laws.

This isn’t about policies or asshole politicians: it’s about us, and only we can change it.


  1. martiki1

     /  October 28, 2012

    Well said!

  2. Elly

     /  October 28, 2012

    Well, there’s the mindset right here: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/08/27/751971/pennsylvania-gop-senate-candidate-getting-pregnant-from-rape-is-similar-to-having-a-baby-out-of-wedlock/ – where consensual sex is presented as equivalent to rape, “from a father’s perspective” – as if that’s the most important one to consider.

  3. kmom

     /  October 28, 2012

    very well said!

  4. Reblogged this on Under the Maple Canopy and commented:
    This deserves to go to the farthest reaches of the internet.

    And for the record, I’m totally stealing the abortion should be “safe, legal, and none-of-your-damned-business” part.

  5. A. Marina Fournier

     /  October 28, 2012

    I find myself wondering why, aside from the abortion issue, the GOP is so fixated on rape right now. Hiding something, you guys?

    It’s a culture that assumes that rape, abortion, and any decision that involves women’s lives and autonomy is up to men to legislate, decide, judge.”

    It seems the same folks who advocate this belief in our culture believe that abstinence-only sex ed works on hormone-driven teens. They claim to dislike Islam, but they seem to agree with the Taliban where women are involved.

    Cognitive dissonance much? Do they know what that term means?

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