The XX Factor

The Tea Party’s Rape Problem

Lauren , I have to admit that I found the new Christine O’Donnell ad disturbing, especially on the heels of the news about Ken Buck’s lack of sympathy for a rape victim whose case he refused to prosecute. At least with Buck, the voters and the press are taking this seriously.  Wish I could have the same confidence that Christine O’Donnell will take a hit for a jokey commercial based on a real-life attempted rape.

As the blogger Potente Susurro argues , the original popularity of this taped interview with Antoine Dodson as an Internet meme was all sorts of messed up. To be blunt, people were laughing at Dodson for being agitated and having a thick accent, and there wasn’t just a little classism, gay-baiting, and racism going on. The Gregory Brothers turned his angry rant about a serial rapist into a jokey song and video that ended up on the Billboard Top 100. And while I think of myself as a funny person, when I first saw this video, I didn’t really think it was very funny at all. I was alarmed at what most people seem to be ignoring, which was what Dodson was actually saying-which was that a serial rapist was attacking women in his neighborhood, and that people should be on alert.  According to Susurro, after rescuing his sister, Dodson also got a bunch of people together to case the neighborhood for the rapist, in part because of a slow response from the police. His interview on TV was just one in a long series of actions Dodson has taken in trying to address a very serious and scary problem. To my mind, that makes him a hero, not a joke.

So what are the people behind this O’Donnell commercial doing by piling on? I’d be willing to assume that it was just a bone-headed move, comparing Chris Coons levying taxes to a man breaking in and raping women in their beds, if there weren’t already a long history of conservative Republicans going there .Taxation and any kind of spending on social services are routinely described in terms that invoke sexual violence, like ” cramming it down our throats ” or claiming Obama is ” raping ” America. Limbaugh in particular has a thing for metaphors about anal rape . O’Donnell herself is fond of the metaphor , saying, “So if he chooses to thumb his nose at the will of the American people and ram this unrealistic, unconstitutional bill down America’s throats, then there will be consequences politically for Obama.” Again, I wish that I could write this off as an unfortunate verbal tic of conservatives, but this O’Donnell ad is all about blatantly comparing being taxed to being raped.

It seems like a lot of people need to take a decency lesson or two from Dodson himself, who has taken this horrible situation and used it to create a platform where he speaks out against rape and homophobia .