John Koster’s Rape Comments Demonstrate Conservative Inability to Understand Consent

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, November 1, 2012 10:26 EDT
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You might have thought that we’d made it until Election Day without another Republican busting out another offensive comment about rape, but of course such a thing is not possible in our era of Republicans mansplaining how silly feminists have really blown this rape thing out of proportion. Fuse Washington has turned up another Republican candidate, Tea Party favorite John Koster, who has some words to say for those silly rape victims who want an abortion:

I get why reporters have taken to asking the question of candidates as if the candidates are all running for a spot on an imaginary abortion board that will review women’s files to decide if they’re chaste enough to deserve an abortion. Giving anti-choice candidates an opportunity to sit in judgment of hypothetical women allows us to peek into their fantasy lives, and we can see exactly how little they think of women. We get to see, for instance, how many of them think women are just making it up when they claim they’re raped, or how many of them think women are just being drama queens about this rape and forced pregnancy thing. That’s why Koster brings up a woman he supposedly knows that was raped and had the baby like a true lady, without complaint, unlike you whiny bitches who act like something really bad happened to you, like having some woman you like tell you she just wants to be friends or having your wife push you to change diapers. Notice how all these Republican dudes have a friend who just happened to have been raped and happened to confess her deepest emotions about it with them? That’s a pretty remarkable feat for men who most of us would guess have no female friends at all, much less ones who would confide in them about rape despite their obvious unwillingness to take it seriously.

Koster’s comments are particularly demonstrative of the ongoing inability of conservatives to understand the concept of “consent”, probably because they don’t think of women as autonomous human beings so much as vagina carriers that unfortunately have an ability to talk.

But on the rape thing, it’s like, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s a consequence of this crime, how does that make it better?

Invoking the “innocence” of the embryo in a way that insinuates that the woman seeking abortion is not innocent? Check. Making a big fuss over the imaginary “innocent baby” in the womb is classic anti-choice dog whistling, a way to remind their audiences that grown women who do unchaste things like go to parties, have sex, or leave the house have lost their innocence and therefore any claim to your sympathy. Calling a pregnancy a “consequence” for misbehavior? Check. That really drives home how much he is assuming rape is the victim’s fault, because after all, she’s the one who pays the “consequences” for the supposed misbehavior here.  We’re back on “legitimate rape” territory with that.

In case that’s not enough to convince you that Koster really struggles with the idea of consent, you have him equating getting raped with seeking abortion with this “putting more violence onto a woman’s body” nonsense. That the former is, by definition, something a woman didn’t want and the latter is something she actively sought out doesn’t even surface as a concern in his thinking. What women want and don’t want is simply not part of his equation. In the anti-choice worldview, women are simply objects to be acted upon, not subjects whose interior lives, much less consent, matters. Rape is, in this worldview, a matter of how chaste the woman is, not a matter of whether or not she consented. And abortion is simply never legitimate, because women are for baby-making, and thus what that irrelevant brain part wants doesn’t matter at all. Women’s subjective experiences and desires fall so far out of consideration that they don’t even register. Abortion’s “violence” isn’t determined by the question of force—women exist to be forced!—but whether or not he personally approves.

None of this should be shocking. The entire idea of being anti-choice is rooted in the belief that women don’t own their bodies, and what they want for their bodies is irrelevant. But they’ve successfully distracted a lot of people with disingenuous displays of concern for “life”, so that basic reality gets lost, and reminders are necessary.

Further reading that is highly recommended on that subject: How I Lost Faith in the “Pro-Life” Movement.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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