In my post yesterday about Courtney Love‘s insane twitter rant against Dave Grohl, I took a moment to appreciate how funny Courtney is in her own insane way, even as she’s being incredibly inappropriate. Specifically, I thought “Romney rape thing” was a hilarious descriptor, because while it was an absurd thing to say, I knew exactly what she meant by it. (I talked to a bunch of my friends, most of them women, and they did, too.)
Business site The Jane Dough, however, did not know what she meant by it and demanded that I “explain to the rest of us,” so at the risk of a.) killing a joke, and b.) doing so by explaining it to people who are probably still not going to get it regardless, I will break down the “Romney rape thing” in detail.
I don’t know about you, but I find Mitt Romney incredibly creepy. Like Michael C. Hall (who plays a serial killer on Dexter), he looks like just the sort of too perfect, all-American, 1950s guy who would turn out to have 100 bodies in his basement. His sons also have crazy eyes and all look and dress the same. I’m sorry, but they do. These qualities have often been used in pop culture to create a sense of dread. Is it okay to make fun of someone because of the way he looks? Well, yes and no. I’m not just making fun of his face, but the “wholesome,” Cold War-era, “We Like Ike” image he consciously tries to project. That ethos is threatening to creativity, individuality, and personal autonomy, and I’m genuinely unnerved by it. So I make jokes about it to cut it down to size and make it seem less scary.
Then there are the actual facts about him. It’s no secret that Mitt Romney wants to take away women’s autonomy over our own bodies. He’s been a huge part of the conservative War On Women, and he has pledged to de-fund Planned Parenthood’s efforts to give women crucial health services, because as he sees it, it’s the government’s job to punish women who have sex outside of marriage. As much waffling as he has done to try to seem moderate on the issue, the fact is that Romney is anti-choice, as well as anti-contraception, and has said as much. What this means on a practical level is that he wants to force women who do not wish to be pregnant to carry their pregnancies to term. Pregnancy and birth can be traumatic even for those who want to have children, so I don’t think it’s making too big a leap to say that forced birth is tantamount to assault. (There’s even a horror movie about it!) Via government legislation, Mitt Romney wants to control what you do with your lady-parts. If that’s not rapey, I don’t know what is. And don’t even get me started on his opinions on gay people.
I’ll admit that rape jokes are tricky. It’s not okay to make jokes at the expense of rape victims, or jokes that imply that rape is okay. But jokes at the expense of rapists, rape apologists, or people who otherwise condone the assault of women are totally okay in my book. No, Mitt Romney has not literally raped anyone. But he is plenty rapey, both in his looks and his policies, and that’s enough to make me not care when Courtney Love–an individualistic, un-apologetically sexual woman, i.e. the kind of person Romney wants to outlaw–uses a rape joke against him.