An Army of Rape Philosophers

I’m as thrilled as anyone that the country rejected the GOP’s army of what James Wolcott calls “rape philosophers” and birth-control McCarthyites. But let’s also remember what that means: in the 21st century, one of our two political parties mounted a serious national campaign, and came damn near close to winning, on the basis of a medieval ideology that we thought we had overcome a half-century ago. That we won this battle is good news; that we had to fight it is not.


  1. troy grant November 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm | #

    Maybe racism trumps medieval ideology.

    • Cavoyo November 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm | #

      How can you be racist against two white men (Mourdock and Akin)?

      • troy grant November 7, 2012 at 5:24 pm | #

        We won against medieval ideology but racism against Obama almost beat us.

  2. Blinkenlights der Gutenberg November 8, 2012 at 7:43 am | #

    Did you really think “we” had overcome medieval ideology 50 years ago?

    I suggest you look up the Gallup polls on USA and creationism.

    Also, recall that abortion wasn’t legalized in the USA as a result of any ideological “overcoming” — at least not by the electorate.

    • Corey Robin November 8, 2012 at 7:57 am | #

      Creationism is a modern, twentieth-century ideology, not a medieval one. As for abortion, there was of course a widespread mobilization to secure abortion rights; it was called the feminist movement. Prior to Roe v. Wade, 14 states had begun to either eliminate bans on abortion or to lessen and loosen the prohibitions on it. Roe obviously played a huge role in consolidating and extending that movement, but it’s flat-out wrong to say the electorate played no role in overcoming the opposition to abortion.

      • Blinkenlights der Gutenberg November 8, 2012 at 10:04 am | #

        Corey, I said ideological overcoming (quoting you). As in, abortion rights weren’t the result of a new popular ideological consensus. The ideological division remains (barely shifted in 40 years, per ).

        As far as creationism’s pedigree — I didn’t think we were using “medieval” literally. My point is that huge swaths of the USA remain rife with prescientific minds uncritically following their parents and preachers (and in the moral domain as much as the factual).

      • Scott Preston November 16, 2012 at 9:33 pm | #

        Fundamentalism in religion is a reflection of reductionism in science. The confidence that the full description of the universe could be reduced to a few simple formulae to construct Newton’s “Frame of the World” was echoed in the fundamentalists reduction of the spirit to four or five fundamental “laws” that would account for all true religion. So, ironically, fundamentalism is a very modern phenomena of a particular form of consciousness — what the cultural historian Jean Gebser called “the mental-rational” consciousness or “perspectivising” perception. Fundamentalism isn’t ‘medieval’ in that sense, which was mythologically/symbolically oriented consciousness.

  3. Sam Holloway November 8, 2012 at 8:34 pm | #

    There’s a possible caveat I’d attach to the notion that Obama’s victory represents a step forward (or even a significant defensive stand) against anti-woman forces. Thanks to the largely middle-class capitulation initially represented by the 1976 Hyde Amendment, the issue of female reproductive autonomy was delegated to the state level, inasmuch as state legislatures– the majority of which are dominated or controlled by Republicans and conservative Democrats– have been able to use the class-based divide-and-conquer strategy to gut Roe with ancillary legislation that has made abortions difficult and highly improbable for most women to obtain. Outside of occasional lip service, and some overhyped legislation regarding contraception, I’ve seen nothing substantial from the Obama administration or their allies in the U.S. Congress that disturbs the steadily worsening status quo.

    In other words, the ‘rape philosophers’ have been winning the war with determined legislative activism, while middle-class liberals continue to concede the ground around them as they cling to their temporary privileges. That is the essence of it, too: the right to female reproductive autonomy was bargained down to a class-based privilege, which means it can be revoked at any time (as it already has been for many if not most poor women).

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