Volume 23, Number 3


Fred Schepartz

This issue is about rape.

That was not what we intended, but Mobius Poetry Editor and webmaster F. J. Bergmann found the disturbing and compelling cover graphic.

Then U. S. Senate candidate (and current member of the U. S. House or Representatives) Todd Akin said the following:

“It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, uh the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

“But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. You know, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

As we know, sometimes art imitates life. Sometimes life imitates art. Sometimes the dynamic works both ways, but suddenly, following the firestorm Akin’s comments caused, this issue of Mobius finds itself in a whole new context, with a theme woven throughout the whole issue.

Two of the stories, “Aasif” and “The Value of Husbands,” deal specifically with rape. The other stories, it can be argued, are also about rape of a sort because they deal with subjugation, specifically with the domination of individuals and the consequences and lasting trauma that results.

But back to Akin. Almost all prominent Republicans denounced his remarks and called for him to drop out of the senate race. Such protests from that quarter do nothing more than demonstrate the hypocrisy of the religious-right conservatives who have hijacked the Republican Party because the reality of the situation is that Akin’s views on abortion are well within mainstream beliefs of that faction.

Akin made one major mistake. He spoke candidly about his beliefs.

Most of us have seen the photo that’s made the rounds on Facebook that shows Akin in the center surrounded by Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum and, of course, Paul Ryan. The point of the photo is that all these leaders of the Republican Party believe that abortion should be illegal, WITH NO EXCEPTIONS.

I cannot know this for sure, but I have to believe that there’s at least a few of these Republican extremists who take seriously the drivel spewed by one physician who, in an obscure 1970s paper, presented the dubious claim referred to by Akin, which has been universally denounced by physicians since then.

And let us not forget that very recently, Paul Ryan referred to rape as a form of conception: "Well, I'm very proud of my pro-life record, and I've always adopted the idea, the position, that the method of conception doesn't change the definition of life."

And let’s also remember that Ryan co-sponsored the so-called “Forcible Rape” bill, which originally contained language restricting the exception for federally-funded abortions to “an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest.” The notion of “forcible rape” was considered so abhorrent that it was dropped from the bill.

But the toxic taste remains, reminding us, illustrating to us just what it is we’re dealing with. These extremists like to preach about the rights of individuals and about how those rights are granted by the almighty creator, but in their warped little world, we the people are merely fodder for the powerful. If we are to be dominated and subjugated, well, so be it, because that is god’s will.

The ends justify the means, so it is perfectly acceptable to buy elections or rig elections or even steal elections. Corporations are people, so it is perfectly acceptable for them to rape the land and subjugate and enslave our citizens.

And, of course, a woman has no say about her own body, no matter what the circumstances.

This toxic taste is also a stain, hopefully one that will mark these people and identify them as the extremists they are.

You see, in my own journey of discovery, I realize just how much rape is a thing of the shadows. It happens in the shadows and all too often it is relegated to the shadows. We don’t like to talk about it. We don’t want to think about it. Myself, I don’t like to say the word. Instead I say “sexual assault,” which is more of a euphemism, but I have to remember that sexual assault is a statutory definition; rape is a crime against humanity.

These extremists prefer the shadows. Much like the puppeteer Koch Brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council who prefer to operate in the dark, slimy places underneath large rocks, today’s Republicans prefer to publicly wear the Happy Face, while not showing their real face to the American public. That was an issue when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was elected in 2010. He held the same extreme stance on abortion, but hardly anyone knew, despite the fact that his stance was way out of step with most of the citizens of Wisconsin. NARAL tried to expose him, but had limited resources and was only able to do so much.

It is time to shine the light. Let us shine the light both inward and outward, but we must shine the light.