Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), who currently sits on the House Science Committee but would desperately like to replace Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in the Senate, has some rather odd ideas about human female evolution, which he explained to a local television station yesterday.
It seems to me, first of all, what I understand from doctors is that's really where—if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
Now, I suppose one could expect a member of the House Science and the House Armed Services committees to have missed photographer Johnathan Torgovnick's work Intended Consequences: Rwandan Children Born of Rape, which documents some of the 20,000 children born after their mothers were raped during the 1994 genocide, or the thousands of children born of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or the thousands of children born of rape during the war in Bosnia. One could even believe that a Christian conservative politician so concerned with the anti-abortion movement would have missed that portion of the movement that talks specifically about pregnancies as the result of rape. One could even grant that he might have been unfamiliar with statistics compiled by the CDC which show that, as of 1996, 32,000 pregnancies a year are the result of rape.
But there is really only one explanation for why Akin could possibly believe that women's reproductive systems evolved to counter rape-induced pregnancies. Akin clearly believes that human women are really ducks in disguise.
You see, only ducks (and some geese) actually evolved genitals in response to male ducks' proclivity to force sex on unwilling females. Tim Birkhead at the University of Sheffield examined duck vaginas and phalluses and published a study, as reported by Andy Coghlan at New Scientist, that showed that female ducks evolved long corkscrew-shaped vaginas with multiple "pouches" to prevent sperm from forced copulation from reaching its eggs.
"These structures are wonderfully devious, sending sperm down the wrong road or impeding penetration," says Birkhead.
"It shows that females are not passive in averting exploitation by males with large phalluses," he added. Waterfowl are among only three percent of birds with phalluses large enough to penetrate their female counterparts with or without consent.
Now, obviously, just looking at human women, most laypeople would notice distinct differences between us and ducks. But Todd Akin is a member of the House Science Committee and obviously has extensive experience with the female reproductive tract, and thus he knows that even though waterfowl are the only species known to have evolved biological mechanisms to impede fertilization after rape, human women obviously have the same skills. "Doctors" told him.
(As an added bonus, here's video of what female ducks evolved to protect themselves against, courtesy of Elspeth Reeve at The Atlantic Wire.)
["Child in Duck Costume" via Shutterstock.]