Todd Akin has lots of opinions about the ladies, inside and out. As for the inside, he has apparently been graced with some sort of revelation—dare we call him a prophet?—about a previously undiscovered physiological process whereby a woman’s body “knows” whether a rape is the kind that should or should not allow a resulting pregnancy. He has been asked to write a monograph about this process, profusely illustrated, but he has been otherwise occupied with his race against Senator Claire McCaskill in Missouri. It is a loss for medical science, but maybe he will have lots more time after the election. Citizens and gynecologists can only hope.
His views about the outside of women came clear after his debate with Sen. McCaskill, when he said:
“I think we have a very clear path to victory, and apparently Claire McCaskill thinks we do, too, because she was very aggressive at the debate, which was quite different than it was when she ran against Jim Talent,” Akin said. “She had a confidence and was much more ladylike, but in the debate on Friday she came out swinging, and I think that’s because she feels threatened.”
A review of Sen. McCaskill’s debate performance shows that she was thoughtful, firm, politely aggressive, and unrelenting—which is exactly what you would expect and hope for from a former prosecutor and current United States Senator.
When it comes to men dealing with women in politics—as candidates and voters—there are two ways of looking at it. One is external and pragmatic. Whether those men are saintly idealists or craven devils, women can play a role in their obtaining and maintaining power—given that women have had the vote for almost a century, and have held public office even longer.
The second and more fascinating view involves what’s going on inside—inside the heads of those men. This political season, something that got touched on in the 2008 campaign is now even clearer. It’s something that can be said about some small number of men who have been complicit, as actors or fellow travelers, in what for a while this cycle was called the “war on women”:
They don’t understand women.
They can’t control women, at least not easily.
They fear women, because they don’t understand them and can’t control them.
Keep these in mind and much will make sense.
What doesn’t make sense is what Todd Akin must think of Sarah Palin.
There are a thousand things to say about Sarah Palin, and particularly about her controversial role in the 2008 election. One thing is certain: she does not fit Todd Akin’s idea of “ladylike.” She is happy to be the pitbull with lipstick. Think of a political woman who is ambitious, confident, outspoken, and likely to dismember the man or moose who crosses her. Quick: Is that Sarah Palin or Hillary Clinton? Exactly.
In America, women have failed to reach their deserved heights and presence in many fields. Elective politics, particularly at the national level, is one of them. By definition, the U.S. Senate can’t be the world’s greatest deliberative body, overstuffed as it is with men. And it certainly won’t be enhanced by Todd Akin’s membership; just ask most Republicans who nearly killed him over his “legitimate rape” remarks.
Conservatives worship Margaret Thatcher. Some of them no doubt hold out hope for the love that dared not speak its name, the hope that the obvious affection between Thatcher and Ronald Reagan went all the way, and that one day, not long from now, the offspring of that union will arrive in our political life as a savior.
If it’s a son, that is. If it’s a daughter, we might still have a problem.
While we are playing with ridiculous fantasies, here’s another one. Suppose that instead of Claire McCaskill on an open stage, Todd Akin had to face Maggie Thatcher, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin behind closed doors to explain his visionary, man-centric thinking.
It wouldn’t be ladylike, and it would be worth paying to see.