When Todd Akin spoke about women’s bodies ‘shutting down’ in the case of ‘legitimate rape’ it knocked him out of the Presdiential race in the US. Now the words of an Orange County judge have raised this fundamentalist theory once again.
Judge Derek Johnson was ruling in the case of a man who threatened to mutilate the face and genitals of his ex-girlfriend with a heated screwdriver. He beat the woman with a metal rod before raping her. Judge Johnson, however, saw it another way.
‘I’m not a gynecologist, but I can tell you something, if someone doesn’t want to have sexual intercourse, the body shuts down. The body will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage in inflicted, and we heard nothing about that in this case. That tells me that the victim in this case, although she wasn’t necessarily willing, she didn’t put up a fight.’
The judge has been reprimanded for his comments and has apologised for also insisting that the rape was ‘technical’ and not ‘a real, live criminal case. To treat this case like the rape cases that we all hear about is an insult to victims of rape,’ the judge is reported to have told the LA Times.
He handed the defendant a six-year sentence, reduced from a possible sixteen years allowable for such a case.
The ‘legitimate rape’ reference goes back to Todd Akin, during the republican nomination race when he said that he believed women couldn’t become pregnant from rape as their bodies could ‘shut down’. This kind of unscientific thinking is widespread amongst the religious right both in America and Ireland, unfortunately, while we take these notions as laughable they can persist if they remain unchallenged.