I do not share my mother’s love of coincidences or her desire to find them everywhere (actually mom it’s not that weird that they go to they know each other, they did go to the same college), but it does seem a little fluky to me that the patron saint of “that’s not how it f**king works” has died this week as we celebrate the one-year anniversary of Sex On Wednesday.
Todd Akin, a former GOP representative from Missouri, died of cancer on Sunday. He served six unremarkable terms in the House of Representatives and appears to only be remembered for how it all came crashing down. He got the honor of a full New York Times obituary, but with the headline: “Todd Akin, Whose Senate Bid Collapsed After a Rape Remark, Dies at 74.”
In 2012, Akin was running for a Senate seat when he appeared on a local Fox television show and explained why he did not think abortion laws needed exemptions for cases of rape. According to Akin, who was on the House science committee at the time, in cases of “legitimate rape” pregnancy was unlikely because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
The suggestion that some rapes are legitimate means that others are not. Though he did not expand on this point it seems pretty clear that Todd only believed it was rape if the woman in question was walking down the street, minding her own business, and wearing a skirt deemed long enough when attacked out of the blue by a predator with a weapon. Which, of course, means that those women raped by someone they know or attacked after getting drunk or perhaps those who were a little “slutty” to begin with were victims of misunderstandings at best.
The comments also represented a complete lack of understanding of basic reproduction. While it’s almost amusing to think about a vagina with alarm bells and a cervix with fire walls that shut automatically, we all know that how the sperm got there and who it came out of are irrelevant for fertilization. Though exact numbers are not known, one study suggested that a woman who is raped has about a 5% chance of getting pregnant from the attack.
Nowadays it feels like Republican politicians can say just about anything with no repercussions, but those comments were essentially the end of Akin’s career. Republicans distanced themselves from him. Mitt Romney, who was running for President at the time, said, “His comments about rape were deeply offensive, and I can’t defend what he said.” The party withdrew funding in the hopes he would drop out of the race, but he refused, allowing Senator Claire McCaskill to win easy re-election.
The end of Akin’s career, however, was the birth of my catch phrase. In the eleven years since, I have had to use it far too often. In many ways it was the impetus for launching Sex On Wednesday last year. There is so much misinformation about sexuality out there that I want to help correct.
In this first year of the newsletter, I have told Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Gwyneth Paltrow, Texas, Idaho, Arizona, the 6th and 8th District Court of Appeals, and Niki Minaj’s cousin’s friend that that’s not how it f**king works. In the process, I have explained how vaccines, birth control, abortion, vaginas, cervical mucus (hi Cecily), and fetal heartbeats actually do work in a way that has hopefully informed and entertained.
I plan to keep that spread of accurate information (and the healthy dose of snark) going for another year and I’d like your help getting even more subscribers. Please post the newsletter on your social media accounts and forward Sex On Wednesday (this issue or one of your past favorites) to friends, relatives, coworkers, students, politicians, school board members, that uncle who really considered taking Ivermectin, or Niki Minaj’s cousin’s friend if you happen to know him.
As an incentive, I will enter anyone who passes the newsletter along to three people into a raffle to win one of seven tee-shirts similar to the one below that my husband got me for my birthday a few years ago (though the design has evolved and a crew neck version will be available). Why 3? Why 7? How will this work?
You probably haven’t noticed, but the newsletter goes out at 10:07 am every Wednesday because the start date was 10/07. I don’t share my mother’s love of coincidences, but I was born at 11:16 pm on 11/16 and I do see meaning in numbers where none exists. In this case, 10-7 = 3 so send the newsletter to 3 people and 7 will win a shirt.
As for how, the raffle is on an honor system—send me an email at email@example.com that says you’ve done your forwarding and I will enter you in the raffle. I will email the winners in a few weeks to find out where to send their shirts.
In the meantime, Happy Anniversary to Sex On Wednesday and my sincere condolences to Todd Akin’s family.