"Feminist" Organization to Help GOP Talk Nice About Rape

What Women Really Think
Jan. 15 2013 1:23 PM

"Feminist" Organization to Help GOP Talk Nice About Rape

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Oops, Rep. Phil Gingrey opened his mouth and talked about rape.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Politico recently published a piece aimed at impressing upon Republican lawmakers the importance of keeping one's true opinion about rape victims close to one's chest, and Think Progress pulled out the most interesting detail from it. It seems that the Susan B. Anthony List is already developing a training program for Republicans on how to talk about rape in ways that avoid creating media shitstorms (like the one Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey recently stirred up after saying Todd Akin was "partly right" on rape). 

[Gingrey] may have added new urgency to a training program that’s already being launched by an anti-abortion group—the Susan B. Anthony list—to keep candidates and lawmakers from continually making the same kind of comments that may have helped ruin Republicans’ chances of winning the Senate.

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No big surprise there. The SBA List occasionally lands coverage as a "pro-life feminist" organization, but in reality, they'd be better described as a P.R. firm that specializes in developing communication strategies to help misogynists appear less misogynistic. They started off by trying to spin anti-choice messaging to sound less anti-woman, beginning with a misinformation campaign distorting the history of the suffragist movement to imply that early feminists supported criminalizing abortion. (They didn't.) It's no surprise that SBA List would be branching out to rape. Spinning misogyny is a growth industry these days, with Republican politicians like Gingrey cheerfully promoting the myth that many to most rape reports are a result of women falsely accusing their partners in order to evade people finding out that they like sex. (Definitely not true.)

Make no mistake about this: The SBA List isn't interested in discouraging Republican politicians from holding ugly, sexist beliefs about domestic and sexual violence. They're just here to help politicians avoid giving reporters easy soundbites that expose exactly how backwards they are. After all, if you cross reference SBA List's 2012 endorsements against the 2012 House vote to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, you'll find that out that every single SBA-endorsed candidate that had a chance to vote on VAWA voted nay. The SBA List knows that opposition to reproductive rights is consistent with opposition to many other attempts to help women have healthier, happier lives. The group's purpose is to distract the voters from seeing the connection.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.