Yesterday, people were appalled when it was reported that Rick Santorum, a man who holds such grotesque opinions on a host of topics that he repels all but the worst wingnuts, had seemingly outdone himself by telling Piers Morgan that women who become pregnant by rape should accept it as “a gift in a very broken way.” Here’s the quote:
Last Friday, CNN’s Piers Morgan asked Santorum to clarify his reasoning behind such a callous position. Insisting that “it’s not a matter of religious values,” Santorum explained that sexual assault victims should “accept this horribly created” pregnancy because it is “nevertheless a gift in a very broken way” and that, when it comes down to it, a victim just has “to make the best out of a bad situation“:
SANTORUM: Well, you can make the argument that if she doesn’t have this baby, if she kills her child, that that, too, could ruin her life. And this is not an easy choice. I understand that. As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child. And whether she has that child or doesn’t, it will always be her child. And she will always know that. And so to embrace her and to love her and to support her and get her through this very difficult time, I’ve always, you know, I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you. As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life. We have horrible things happen. I can’t think of anything more horrible. But, nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation.
The Lord works in mysterious ways, you silly ladies, and sometimes it comes in the form of a brutal rape! So saith Frothy. Or as Tbogg put it, Santorum is saying that “when life gives you rape, you should make rapeanade.”
Here’s video [via Wonkette] of that, and then some more thoughts:
My god. I must pause for a moment, quickly, to point out that just after 1:35, he says, “this is not an easy choice.” That is the point, wingnut! It’s a choice that only a woman can make! C-H-O-I-C-E!
But that gets to the larger point here. This is not about abortion. This is not about morals. This is not about religious belief. This is about men, like Rick Santorum, believing in a worldview that says that they, as white, straight men are superior, and the rest of us — women, people of color, LGBT people — are all subject to their control. I want to quote a lot of what Tbogg said on the subject, because though people know him as a “funny writer,” he’s remarkably on point on the greater implications of this worldview:
Twisted version of a living thinking human being Rick Santorum is not a “the uterus is half empty”-kind of guy. To him the uterus should always be popping out babies like a Pez dispenser because, what are women after all, besides elaborately constructed EZ Bake Ovens for man batter. And if you happened to be raped (which Rick, always angling for the lady vote, thinks is “horrible”) well you should look at the bright side of things: you might just get to be a mama!
God gave you a gift albeit through a horrible violent soul-crushing emotionally scarring way that you will carry with you every minute of your life until you die. And, if you choose to not accept God’s very mortal man-like awkward attempt at gift giving and you say “no thanks” and give it back to Him, well, you’re an ungrateful bitch. And probably a whore for leading your rapist and God on so you don’t deserve the baby, just the rape.
Exactly exactly exactly. And lest you think he’s being hyperbolic, think of many of the “typical” things people say on the subject of women avoiding rape. They’re all focused on the victim and suggest that, well, as long as the lady doesn’t wear a certain thing and as long as the lady doesn’t walk alone and so on and so forth, as if violating one of these rules means somehow that the lady had it coming. Perhaps what’s most striking about Santorum’s quote isn’t the general worldview behind it — we’ve lived around that for a long, long time in the United States, but rather that he is able to move from “brutal rape” to “gift from the Lord!” in a whiplash-inducing two minutes.
Amanda Marcotte suggests in a piece yesterday that modern fundamentalist Christians [whether Catholic or Evangelical — they’ve really blurred together over the past few years over common hatred of others] don’t really believe in Jesus anymore, but rather in Sperm Magic. If the term doesn’t make sense to you now, it will in a minute. In writing about the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and where the pro-choice movement stands today [on shaky ground], she discusses the larger worldview of the cultural fight that is often reduced to being simply about abortion, using this image of the Duggars as a springboard:
…[I]t’s important to realize that this battle is not and has never been just about abortion. It’s about women’s rights and women’s roles, and whether we should be full citizens or be managed and controlled by fathers, husbands, ministers, etc.
In a single image, we get what anti-choicers believe men have lost, and what they believe stripping reproductive rights will return to them: Woman as pet dog.
We don’t even get the dignity that cats get, in their worldview. No wonder they don’t care if Gingrich told his second wife she should just put up with the third one. Your dog doesn’t get a vote when you get a new dog.
What Oppenheimer [the writer of the piece Amanda was criticizing] doesn’t talk about. but that picture illustrates so well, is what anti-feminists really feel is lost with what they call “contraceptive culture”: men’s god-given right to have a woman—perhaps several (though in a row, mostly)—who follow them around, worshipping their every move, submitting completely and joyfully. I suspect this fantasy never was a reality, but I suspect a lot of Christian fundamentalists have convinced themselves that giving women the power to say “no” to men is what made us so maddeningly unwilling to play the supplicant. No to sexual overtures, no to marriage, no to demands that we wait on you, and most importantly, no to letting your magical seed plant itself in our bodies whenever it wants. That’s why I believe that modern conservative Christians don’t worship Jesus so much as Sperm Magic.
So taking this belief — that women are, as Tbogg said above, little more than Pez dispensers for the products of what Amanda calls Sperm Magic — to its conclusion, it’s not at all surprising that Rick Santorum is more concerned that “God’s will” be done by forcing a woman who has been raped to carry that rapist’s child to term. Though he knows he has to appeal to at least a few female voters and remembers to say rape is bad, it’s obvious that once the idea of conception is on the table, Santorum is no longer thinking about a brutal crime, but about the great will of God to keep women in their place by relegating them to the status of babymakers and nothing more.
Indeed, they believe that this is the natural “gift” of women, that a woman’s highest calling is to churn out babies for God’s little army. Have you heard of the Quiverfull movement, of which the Duggars are members? The Santorums may be involved in creepy Catholic versions of these fundamentalist Christian movements [Opus Dei comes to mind], but it’s the same general idea. Women are the property of men, women are worth less than men, and if The Supreme God of All That Is deigns to use a man’s Sperm Magic to multiply the human race, then that harlot had better comply, regardless of how God decided to deliver that sperm magic, even if it was through violent rape or incest.
When you believe women are inferior, it’s not a big leap to punishing women for being raped. Look at much of the Islamic world, and continue to tell me how different their fundamentalists are from our fundamentalists. Sure, stoning women for being raped wouldn’t fly in the Western world, but I highly doubt it’s because our Fundamentalists wouldn’t find their way there if they didn’t have several centuries of the Enlightenment and the United States Constitution holding them back from exercising their true beliefs.