Tom Smith’s Rape Gaffe Offers Insight into Conservative Domination

With each repeated Republican Party rape gaffe, the public is offered a little more insight into the way several party leaders and candidates think about women’s rights. Just yesterday, for example, the virtually unknown U.S. Senate candidate here in Pennsylvania, Tom Smith, compared rape to having a child out of wedlock.

“I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that,” he said after being asked about his thoughts on abortion in the case of rape (the original transcript, quickly put together by PoliticsPA, is available here). “She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to … she chose the way I thought. No don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.”

When asked to clarify the statement, he said his daughter had “a baby out of wedlock.”

Then he was asked if that is similar to rape. “No, no, no, but,” he said, “put yourself in a father’s situation, yes. It is similar.”

Smith’s communications director later clarified the statement for the press, noting, “While his answers to some of the questions he faced at the Pennsylvania Press club may have been less than artful, at no time did he draw the comparison that some have inferred. When questioned if he was drawing that comparison, Tom’s answer was clear, ‘no, no, no.”

The additional information Smith provided about his daughter has unleashed a similar truism of conservatives’ position on abortion: That in some cases it may be less about the life of the child; more about the hegemony of the father figure in American life.

As argued by liberal author Corey Robin earlier this year in a column at Salon and on his own website, “conservatism is a defense of the rights of bosses and husbands/fathers.” At that time, Robin was discussing the then-recent decision by the Arizona Supreme Court to allow employers to deny health insurance for religious reasons (sort of an oxymoron, no?) and the right of bosses to ask said employee if she needs birth control for contraception or other purposes. Similar legislation has been pushed in several states.

Robin also writes: “conservatism is dedicated to defending hierarchies of power against democratic movements from below, particularly in the so-called private spheres of the family and the workplace. Conservatism is a defense of what I call ‘the private life of power.’”

But that’s just one opinion. The thought process of male dominance as conservative gospel was made more explicit in a recent National Review cover story, titled “Own It, Mitt,” in which it is claimed that Mitt Romney is more evolutionarily ready for the presidency than Barack Obama because he is rich and has sons instead of daughters—specifically, it is claimed, “high-status animals tend to have more male offspring than female offspring, which holds true across many species, from red deer to mink to Homo sap. The offspring of rich families are statistically biased in favor of sons.”

The writer also concludes: “From an evolutionary point of view, Mitt Romney should get 100 percent of the female vote. All of it.”

From an evolutionary point of view, Tom Smith’s daughter should consult with him before deciding whether or not she wants to keep her child, especially since she does not have a husband to decide for her first. Or so it goes.

Many Republicans believe there can be no exceptions for abortion, ever. In fact, Smith’s ideas aren’t much different than those stated by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum during this year’s GOP primary, when he said a child of rape is just a “blessing.” Or from Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s recent statement that rape is another method of contraception. Or from a 2011 House bill, which would have cut Medicaid funding to poor women who became pregnant in cases of rape, in which the rape wasn’t brutally violent.

The other things Smith’s campaign is probably privately noting is that he has made headlines—something he’s never been able to do since getting the GOP nod. Recent polling has found that the candidate remains completely anonymous to 40 percent of Pennsylvania voters, despite his recent television ad buys.

Liberal blogs are calling Smith the “new Todd Akin.” And maybe he is—but his thoughts aren’t as creative as Akin’s sperm venom junk science. He just let the cat out of the bag.

One Response to “ Tom Smith’s Rape Gaffe Offers Insight into Conservative Domination ”

  1. Jerri says:

    Funny that Tom Smith was a registered Democrat until last August shortly before he made his intent to run for senate public. Wonder how many pro-abortion candidates he’s voted for over the last forty years? Hypocrite. His daughter was out of high school and in a relationship. I’d be curious to know what he meant when he said he was glad she chose life so ” I didn’t have to…”. What? Force her to have the baby? Kick her out of the house? One can only imagine.

Leave a Reply

Follow PW

Got a news tip?

If you see something interesting, odd, funny or, of course, illegal, let us know by emailing tips@philadelphiaweekly.com