Todd Akin Says Never “Accused” Of Being A Feminist
I’m from Missouri. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past month, you’ll know that this means that I am represented in House by Representatives by Todd Akin, a man who is now running for the United States Senate. (If you have been hiding under a rock, you can read Savannah Thomas’ explanation of what’s been happening here.) As a woman and an educated person, it scares me that this man could be representing me in the Senate. However, as a Missourian, I had the opportunity to hear him speak on Tuesday when he visited Westminster College in Fulton.
In his talk, Rep. Akin expressed that the hallmark reason he wants to represent Missouri in Congress is to take America back to the ideas on which it was founded. These ideas, he believes, are expressed in the “visionary statement that said that there is a Creator that gave us life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Throughout his speech and the subsequent Q & A, Rep. Akin reiterated that at the core of these ideas was freedom, and it is freedom that is really at the center of this election.
This is about freedom. That’s why we use the word freedom to describe America, because that’s who we are as a people. And the question is are we going to stay free or are we going to keep building the federal government bigger and bigger and bigger until everybody and everything is free except us?… [The current situation regarding] jobs and the economy are symptomatic of freedom being taken away from us, of the government going in and taking over things it shouldn’t be taking over.
You know, Rep. Akin, I agree with you here. This election is about freedom and “the government going in and taking over things it shouldn’t be taking over.” For one, the government shouldn’t be trying to take over my body.
When it came time for the questions, I got to ask Rep. Akin something I had been wondering: I asked him if he was a feminist. His response?
A feminist? Well I haven’t been accused of that before, I don’t think.
Let me make it clear that I wasn’t “accusing” him of being a feminist, since I don’t regard it an accusatory label. I was just asking if he considered himself one.
Let me just say, the people who want, who don’t like America the way it is and want to change us radically and want to push for more and more big government, one of the tools they use is an old thing, you’ve heard it before, divide and conquer. Right? Now we have a president who said he was the unifier, but he wasn’t telling the truth. He wants to pit you against some billionaire that should pay all the taxes and he’s always dividing. And the emphasis is on, you know, rich people/poor people, women/men, different colors, all of those things divide us as a people. But the thing that I just try and explain to you is I don’t see America this divided. I see us all as Americans.
You see, Rep. Akin, that’s a big problem. You don’t see America as divided. Yes, the ideal is a unified nation where everyone is equal. But we’re not there yet. As a representative, it is your job to see where there is inequality and to try and fix it. And, right now, women are not equal. This isn’t about women against men, as you suggested. I don’t want to be better than men, I just want to be equal.
In response to my question, Dr. Cinnamon Brown asked one of her own, sparking dialogue between the two:
CB: In listening to your speech and then to some of the answers, I kind of take two things out of what you’re saying. In your speech you mention that this election is about freedom. And then to Caroline right here who asked you about feminism, you mentioned that you don’t like when we’re divided, because we’re all Americans. And I actually agree with how you said that but I really feel like you’re sending a mixed message because I feel like, when it applies to women, we do divide. It’s not about freedom because you have voted to deprive women of the right to choose about their bodies and about their health concerns and the things that they can do. So I feel like when you say it’s about freedom and unity, it seems like you’re kind of forgetting about your policies and how that alienates women and deprives them of their freedom. So how do you reconcile that?
TA: And that is a question, isn’t it, about abortion. And it’s a question, is it a person or not? If it’s not a person, then you’re not allowing a medical procedure would be taking your freedom with it. But if it is a person, then you are certainly taking someone’s freedom, the freedom of life from the child.
CB: You still have to acknowledge the fact that you are, in turn, depriving women of their freedom at the same time. I feel like if you say that it’s life at conception, that it trumps the freedom that you are depriving women, and I feel like you need to answer to that.
TA: I think I have answered to that. See, let me give you another example. It’s not freedom for somebody to bop you on the head and take your purse, okay? That’s not freedom. Because why? The contents of the purse is your property, right? So that’s what freedom is.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. How does that answer the question of depriving the rights of a woman? Are you trying to make a metaphor for rape here? Because being raped and consequently having a child is not like someone bopping me on the head and taking my purse. Being raped is a lot more like being raped. And having a child because of that isn’t like losing the contents of my purse. It’s like forcing me to be responsible for another human life. It is depriving me of the freedom to do what I want with my life. It is depriving me of my fundamental right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If you’re going to deprive me of those rights, Rep. Akin, you need to acknowledge that you are not representing equality.
Rep. Akin stated that he wants an America that is free and sees one where everyone is equal. As he said:
At a fundamental level, the nature of America has been that we’re one people, and people that try to divide us that way, I think are doing us harm, you see? I’m thankful that my wife is different than I am. I’m glad that she’s different. I can never figure out how her mind works, and I never will be able to.
That’s the problem, Rep. Akin. Because, not only can you not figure out how your wife’s mind works, but you can’t figure out how her body works, either.
Written by Caroline Slavin
Follow her on Twitter @hpcaro!