Governor Susana Martinez Is The Latest Republican To Repeat Offensive ‘Forcible Rape’ Nonsense (OPINION)
You know what I am tired of? I am tired of Republicans using all this loaded language to try and sneakily erode women’s rights to make their own healthcare choices without the government making them jump through hoops or shoving a vaginal probe up their private parts. I am also tired of Republicans attempting to diminish the horror of rape by slapping superfluous adjectives in front of it. Rape is rape. What is wrong with these people!?
Some Republicans are really into controlling women and making decisions for them, and punishing sexual activity (even unwanted sexual activity, like rape), while reserving the right to be smug and nasty about the poor. They should at least be honest about it. It’s not about fetuses. It’s about ignoring Separation of Church and State and having their personal religious beliefs made into law in order to control other people who may or may not share the same religious beliefs. We’re on to you, religious conservatives. Cut it out.
Governor Susana Martinez (R-NM) — you may remember her “it’s all about me and my gun-totin’ ways and my super awesome political career (now that some silver-tongued persuasive Republicans talked to me and my husband over some patriotic American greasy diner food and convinced us not to be Democrats anymore)” speech at the RNC when she was supposed to be promoting Mitt Romney — tried to sneak “forcible rape” onto the books again.
Unfortunately for Martinez, alert women’s rights and reproductive and sexual health and justice advocates spotted this problematic language and raised some righteous hell over it, so she was caught, and, as Veracity Stew notes, she had to retract it:
Back in April, as she was announcing that month to be New Mexico’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Governor Susana Martinez used the term “forcible rape” in her declaration: ‘Whereas, fifteen percent of New Mexican adults have been forcibly raped at least once in their lifetime…’ […]
[T]here is no need to redefine the word [rape]. But that didn’t stop the GOP in New Mexico from including “forcible rape” on a new piece of legislation proposing changes to the state’s child assistance programs. Under the “Client Responsibilities,” meaning women seeking child care, those women must prove that they have exhausted every avenue in trying to obtain child support from the father, unless, of course, that father happens to be a rapist. But now, they must take the extra step to prove that their rape was, in fact, a “forcible rape.” […]
At what point do these dumbass nimrods understand that this semantic assault on 51% of the population is a very bad, no good game plan? Well, Martinez may have learned her lesson on this particular matter.
Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check confirms that Gov. Martinez has backtracked and removed the word “forcible,” albeit provisionally:
In a phone call, Enrique Knell, spokesman for CYFD [the Children, Youth, and Families Department of New Mexico], told me that the terms was “provisionally removed.” When I asked what that meant, he said that it was provisional because a public hearing was to be held in Sante Fe on October 1st. Knell could not respond immediately to questions about the public comment period, nor the process of developing final guidelines. He promised to get back to me with that information.
The CYFD statement leaves a number of questions. As we noted in our original piece, the Federal Bureau of Investigation made clear in January that it would no longer use the term “forcible” rape, and has been overhauling the entire process of reporting on rape and sexual assault, a fact which strangely seems to have gone unnoticed by the Martinez Administration. Moreover, if the term is “redundant and unnecessary,” why was it the centerpiece of the March proclamation on sexual assault, also noted in our original piece?
Advocates also remain deeply concerned about the proposed guidelines, which still require a parent seeking childcare assistance to first file a child support claim against the other parent. It remains unclear how, if the current language remains, the state will ensure that rape victims are exempted. There also appears to be no provision for situations in which a woman who left an abusive husband or partner would be able to opt-out of the requirement to seek child support. Finally, it also remains unclear how long the processes would take and who would be in charge, thereby suggesting long delays in processing claims for child support assistance, which, in turn, would have dramatic ramifications for women who need childcare to work or study.
This sort of nonsense does sensible conservatives and Republicans no favors. It brings the whole “what is wrong with you, and why are you seriously trying to pretend there are degrees of horribleness when someone is raped?” discussion to the forefront again. Some conservatives have whined that comparing Republican Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” remarks to the GOP’s party platform as a whole is “intellectually vacant.” How intellectually vacant is it when the current Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, authored ignorant rape-related bills with Akin, and when the GOP party platform echoes exactly what Akin said?
Have these disgruntled conservatives failed, somehow, to notice that Republicans have at least several dozen ignorant politicians and pundits constantly spouting ignorant non-scientific fairy tales about biology and rape in addition to Akin? So. You explain that to me, because I don’t know how someone can claim it is “intellectually vacant” to make the connection when the connection is right fucking there.
Remember when we elected a bunch of conservative Republican Teabaggers to office because they swore they wanted to help Americans get employed? “We’re all about JOBS,” they said. The Committee on Energy and Commerce begs to differ: “Since the beginning of the 112th Congress in January 2011, the Republican-controlled House has cast 55 votes for anti-women policies that undermine women’s health, roll back women’s rights, and defund programs and institutions that provide support for women.” Where the hell are all those jobs?
Governor Martinez’ statement had another little nugget of information that may be of interest: “It’s clear the [“forcible rape”] language was only in the proposed version because of its usage in the same federal regulations and its in existence in federal statute. At least five states use the exact same language in their existing childcare regulations: Oklahoma, West Virginia, Maryland and Maine. The Governor feels the language is redundant and unnecessary, and she does not support its usage. It has been removed from the proposed regulation changes.”
That weaselly “provisionally” comment that CYFD spokesperson Enrique Knell mentioned makes me, personally, very upset. As Nicole Ramage at The Examiner put it:
Many people are very critical of this new proposed law as it would require a woman to confront her attacker– something that has been proven to be dangerous on several occasions. Women all over the country are feeling as if this is a way of the state of New Mexico saying that rape is okay, and there really is no such thing.
Women’s shelters are fearful that they will not have room for all the women that will end up turning to them for help as confronting an attacker to get any kind of assistance is beyond comprehensible. By definition, incest, date rape, and other non-violent yet equally degrading forms of rape will not be considered in the ‘forcible rape’ law.
Let’s be clear. This “forcible rape” or “legitimate rape” business is just the Religious Right’s way to pretend they are making policy which is supposedly based on secular arguments and not extremist far-right evangelical beliefs, but this policy is all deliberately designed to erode women’s rights and put the government squarely in between women and their doctors when they make personal medical decisions and that erosion is being pushed because it will ultimately make it easier to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Because not everyone believes that a clump of cells is a person, and because the Republicans who are pushing this type of legislation (and parsing the word “rape” every which way they can) can’t argue that the clump of cells has “a soul” and be taken seriously outside their evangelical hug-boxes, they are determined to grant it “personhood” (and trying to force everyone to pretend that a clump of cells has “personhood” by transforming that faith-based belief into law), thereby making miscarriages murder and some forms of contraception illegal. (‘Fun’ fact: Paul Ryan’s stance is so extreme, it would outlaw in-vitro fertilization. Irony alert: Some of Mitt Romney’s grandchildren were conceived thanks to IVF.)
Some Republicans cling to junk science, not, I suspect, because most of them actually believe it (though some undoubtedly do), but because it allows them to pretend they are not trying to legislate religion-based morality. They want to re-frame the discussion to distract us all from the fact that they are making a 100% legal procedure more difficult to access. They want to force women to be incubators, because they value clumps of cells, zygotes and fetuses far more than the women who will incubating them. They don’t give a shit about women at all, ever, and only care about clumps of cells, zygotes and fetuses until they are born, at which point they don’t give a shit anymore. It is about control, and establishing their religious beliefs as law that everyone else will then be forced to abide by. It completely ignores the Separation of Church and State and they don’t care, because it is THEIR flavor of Tealibangelical Shari’a Law, so it is OK.
The goal here is carefully underplayed, but it is to restrict abortion access to women who have been raped by using some Republican-penned guideline which dissects rape into categories and decides that some rape is not quite as heinous as some other kind of rape. What the fuck is that shit all about? Rape is rape.
New Mexico requiring proof of rape for victims to get childcare assistance is just the latest salvo in what looks like a never-ending battle with Republicans determined to force women into subservience, functioning first and foremost as incubators, and required to prove that their horribly traumatic sexual assault meets all the very specific guidelines Republicans want to put in place (and, I’m sure, female rape victims will still have to prove they weren’t being sluts or somehow “deserving” of their rapes, and male rape victims will continue to be treated as wimpy cranks).
Enrique Knell said Martinez directed CFYD on Wednesday night to remove the word “forcible” from the language. “It’s redundant, unnecessary, and she doesn’t support its usage,” Knell told The Huffington Post.
“That’s what’s so confusing — when it gets down to a caseworker deciding whether I’m exempt or not,” said Adriann Barboa, the field director for the New Mexico branch of Strong Families. “What’s the litmus test for whether it was forcible rape? This seems like a covert way of normalizing this language.”
“Rape is rape,” said Barboa. “Let’s not move backward toward victim blaming.”