Why is rape to the Republican Party what pedophilia is to the Catholic Church?
Because both the Republican Party and the Catholic Church have set themselves apart as the proud swimmers against the secular mainstream: as upholders of tradition, traditional sex roles, and patriarchy (Father God, father leaders, fathers know best). This means that a father abuse scandal from within is kryptonite to them. The Republican father abuse scandal in this instance is the following:
In seeking to force the 50,000 American women made pregnant by rape each year to carry those pregnancies to term, the Republican fathers have become complicit with the rapists against the bodies of women. The trauma of forced rape becomes the compounded trauma of a forced destiny in which victims become the receptacles for the offspring of evil fathers.
Psychologically, rape pregnancy without resort to abortion becomes the nightmare of patriarchy: Rosemary’s Baby writ large. (Rosemary’s Baby is the 1969 horror film in which Mia Farrow is raped and made pregnant by the devil and a paternal order quickly encloses itself around her, making it impossible for her not to have the child).
In the Republican instance, A Rosemary’s Baby meme is already threatening to take hold quite literally, as the following parody quotes, via Truthdig, testify:
“Some women might say that the Devil raped them just so they could have an abortion,” [Todd] Akin said. Presumptive VP nominee [Paul] Ryan concurred. “Of course there would be no corroborating witness,” he said. “Think of all the women who would work the system simply by saying that the Devil knocked them up.”
In other words, not even what Deanne Stillman calls a “Rosemary’s Baby Exception” to the ban on abortion is acceptable to Akin and Ryan.
The male obtuseness joked about above is too close to reality for comfort. The majority of men in the Republican Party really don’t see that their position presumes too much; that they are not women’s keepers anymore; that women are self-determined souls who will make their own decisions and will be heard from. Men will not decide this with women quiet in the background. Thus the men who espouse a total ban on all abortions don’t realize how absurd they sound. They show themselves to be, not just bad fathers, but ridiculous fathers.
And naturally, when a father abuse scandal shows signs of taking hold on the public mind at large, the impulse on the part of patriarchy’s defenders is to cover it up. If that doesn’t work–if they can’t stop people talking and asking about it–the next step is to make amends. But the very making of amends angers the true believers (whether they be rogue conservative bishops or Mike Huckabee), and this generates an embarrassing split in ranks.
This is Mitt Romney’s dilemma right now, and with just two months to go to the election. It is a test of leadership for him. How richly he deserves the dilemma.