Conservative Cartoonist Uses Rape and Racism in Depicting Health Reform

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Conservative Cartoonist Uses Rape and Racism in Depicting Health Reform

Jodi Jacobson

A right-wing cartoonist uses rape culture and racism to describe health reform.

If you thought that the violent language, violent metaphors and references to violence from the ultra-conservative right could not get any worse, consider the following.

Amanda Marcotte and others have written this morning about the drawing by a conservative cartoonist using a blatantly racist rape meme to ramp up their hysteria over health reform.  Going well beyond the coded messages of the “Call me, Harold,” blonde white woman advertisements of just a few years ago (and those aimed against Harold Ford then obviously but one small example of the types of coded political campaigning first made ubiquitous these many years ago by Lee Atwater), this cartoon depicts President Obama as having raped the Statue of Liberty.  This cartoonist doesn’t even attempt to be “coded” or “coy” about the messages relayed.

Writing at Pandagon, Amanda notes:

It’s a cartoon that Darleen Click of Protein Wisdom drew, and it shows Obama getting up after having just raped the Statue of Liberty, telling her she “consented” in 2008 by electing him while she sobs.  He also promises to come back to gang rape her with immigration reform, amongst other things. 

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SEK of Lawyers, Guns and Money asks: What do you do in the aftermath of a crushing political defeat?

Iif you’re Darleen Click, you draw a cartoon in which the President rapes a woman, then tells her that he and friends will be back to rape her again later. Click …thinks that the only problem with her cartoon is that it’s racist. I repeat: she drew a cartoon in which the punch line is a gang rape and the only potential problem with it she can see is that it might be racist. Don’t misunderstand me: it’s plenty racist—plays into tropes as old as slavery and everything—but the punch line is that the President and his associates are going to gang-rape the Statue of Liberty with, I kid you not, immigration reform.

Amanda continues:

The callousness to actual rape victims on display here is simply a more explicit version of a rhetorical trope that’s been in play since Obama took office, and has really escalated as the favorite metaphor used by conservatives to describe health care reform.  Maybe having gone through a literal sexual assault makes me a little quicker to pick up on this, or maybe it’s just really obvious, but the non-stop bleating about how health care reform is being shoved down various throats is a rape metaphor. In its most abstract, maybe not, but they dwell on it so much that it’s hard to forget that it’s a rape metaphor, even if it’s a mainstreamed one.  Every time Limbaugh squawks about having to bend over and take it?  Rape metaphor.  Rape is not only the favorite metaphor conservatives use for health care reform, it’s quickly becoming the only one. 


“When it comes to actual rapes, the right-wing position is that the problem of rape is way overblown, and that most rapes—most anything that gets called a date or acquaintance rape—aren’t a matter of men forcing themselves on women because they enjoy raping, but just bad sex that sluts regret later and therefore “cry rape”.  

“[Yet] when conservatives aren’t apologizing for actual rapists, it seems their understanding of what rape is reflects reality pretty well.”

When they use rape metaphors when describing health care, they contextualize rape as a brutal crime, a display of power over the victim for the sheer pleasure of forcing her to submit.  This cartoon reflects this understanding; there’s no question that the Obama-rapist in the cartoon was confused about his Liberty-victim’s unwillingness to have sex with him.  In this cartoon, in fact, the Obama-rapist gets off on the sadistic pleasure of hurting her.  Which is like real life rape, but completely opposite of what conservatives say happens in these rape situations.

So, they clearly know what rape is all about, when they’re casting themselves as the victims.  But when real life women are real life victims of rape, suddenly they go stupid and think it’s all a matter of too much alcohol or mixed signals.  And that level of full-of-shitness pisses me off.

Jeff Fecke‘s piece on this also important reading.

The cartoon itself can be found at all of the above links.