“By Any Other Name” (For Todd Akin, and even, perhaps, Paul Ryan)


By Any Other Name

I want it to hurt,” he said,
(meaning, it hurt).

Though she did not get pregnant,
(meaning, perhaps, that the pain was ‘legitimate,’)

even though he had no gun,
(if a hard sell for ‘forcible.’)

Still, her body, it seemed, shut down,
(meaning, hurt)

for some period afterwards

as he forced himself, these times, into her head,
(which is to say, as he hurt her),

just as he had wanted,
(no matter what words you use),

and she had not.


The above is a draft poem written in response to the remarks of Todd Akin, six=term Missouri Representative and current Senatorial candidate,  about the lack of need for a rape exception for abortion bans due to his “understanding” that many women’s bodies “shut down” during “legitimate” rape and thereby avoid pregnancy.  Many Republicans have distanced themselves from Akin since his remarks–they really really really want that Senate seat (and there is concern, for some reason, that Akin may have flubbed it.)   It is worth noting, however, that House Republicans recently pushed a bill (co-sponsored by Paul Ryan) that would require a proof of  “forcible rape”  (rather than just plain old regular rape) in order to qualify for the rape exception from the ban on using federal Medicaid funds to pay for abortion.

I am posting this also for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night.   Check out dVerse for wonderful poetry.  

Also, for a complete change of pace, check out MY BOOKS! Poetry, GOING ON SOMEWHERE, (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco). 1 Mississippi -counting book for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms, or Nose Dive, a very fun novel that is perfect for a pool or beachside escape.

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59 Comments on ““By Any Other Name” (For Todd Akin, and even, perhaps, Paul Ryan)”

  1. Lynn Sien Says:

    Poem is meaningful; subject matter very disturbing commentary about the Republicans. Perhaps we should toss them all into a jail and let them learn by experience.

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. ayala Says:

    I think all of us are outraged at Todd Akin’s response. Legitimate rape…I didn’t know there was such a thing!

  3. sonofwalt Says:

    Now this is an example of how, trite as the phrase may seem to some hipster types, “the personal is political.” This is the way in which a personal poem can make very important and progressive political statements. I am aware that many of us try to avoid politics and religion, and if having as many facebook friends as possible is a goal for some people than maybe they should just do that, but for me, this kind of thing is the real guts of what poetry and art is about. Thank you for writing it. It’s a great draft. I hope you publish it widely.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much – you know I go to your blog and see all these readings I can never get too, but checked out your about page for that beautiful poem about re-writing old work. It really is just terrific – I love the white-out from the mini-mart and the groggy old couple. So cool – really lovely. Thanks. k.

      • sonofwalt Says:

        Thank you so much! That means a lot. I have poems of surreality like that, as well as childhood memory, but lately there have been these characters popping up in my mind, people and events that never quite happened, or perhaps happened in my mind, or in my imagination since. . . There is this odd marriage of childhood memory, and fantasy that is emerging in my notes lately, and the fact that you like “Overvision” tells me that perhaps this bizarre sort of poetry that I am working on might find its place. It’s great being a poet, and not having to be an historian.

        Thank you!

  4. hedgewitch Says:

    This is a scathing, sad and direct use of verse to mirror reality, and to show it without spin–something we don’t get from any media. I especially like the call and response feel of the parenthetical construction, and the word ‘hurt’ which everyone seems to omit when discussing rape. As you know from my poem, I’m with you all the way on this, and join your other readers in thanking you for posting it. (Sorry to hear you’re not feeling ‘ quite the thing,’ as the Victorians used to say so ambiguously. Hope you feel well again soon.)

  5. Claudia Says:

    oh my god..just can’t believe this…k. – glad you tackled that topic…surely an eye opener on many levels and really well written

  6. Mary Says:

    I can’t believe he is refusing to step down and not run. He flubbed it, is deserted even by his own party. He needs to leave instead of thinking only of his own power trip!

  7. hobgoblin2011 Says:

    yeah, I don’t believe in abortion as an act, but do believe that women should have the choice. Kind of like many things in life, we don’t have to restrict or ban things for people to not believe in the act.

    I don’t believe in grape soda either, think it’s disgusting, but many people like it and choose to buy and then drink it. Because they’re able to, doesn’t concede my opinion on it.

    Sorry, not meant to lessen the meaning here. But I just think that some people, unfortunately a lot of political people, have some deep seated inferiority complex that coincides with the natural superiority complex, hand of God complex that generally goes hand in hand with politicians as a whole, that makes them create these “tenets” as to what someone should or should not be able to do.

    This guy, all he needed to say, was I don’t believe in Abortion as a whole, but understand that the emotional volatility that one most likely, yet I, as a man, can never fully understand, may feel it necessary to rid themselves of such pains.

    The distinction he tried to make was the word Legitimate. Glad you touched upon that, as it really is the center point of his statement, and then today’s retract, which, in my opinion, as often is the case in life, made things even worse.

    Who is he or anyone to determine what’s legitimate. Nobody, hell, even you or I or anyone else probably has difficulty many times deciding what is or isn’t legitimate for ourselves. That is, in my opinion, that everything is legitimate to someone, and therefore, a magnification of this guy’s inane uttering.

    But back shortly to the self-inferiority, if only not to leave that point dangling. People often create rules that they try to impress upon others, as if to say that it being there may sway their opinion, which is pathetic. A belief is just that, sure it can change, but just because the antithesis of that belief is alive and available, does not mean you have to think any differently.

    Well, I could go on and on here. Sorry for the length so far, but I have a general disdain for politics in general and they oftentimes make themselves easy targets, both parties that is, and most times conversations of the like, both irk me, as a reminder of the talk and actions themselves, but also, strike me into discussion.

    Great piece. Love the way you framed it, really has a strong underlining presence. The parenthetical parts are darn close to brilliant in their effectiveness.

  8. This is a fabulous write for many reasons. He may well have used to word in the wrong way but, it doesn’t alter the fact of what his thoughts are at all. That anyone can think a women won’t get pregnant from being raped because she has inbuilt non lubricant defenses against it is something only idiots would believe. I cannot believe they can turn such a dreadful crime into such debate anyway, How do you provide evidence of forcible rape. Rape is rape! These people who think it anything but violation ought to try having a red hot poker shoved up their ass and see if they think it’s ‘legitimate.’
    Strong write and very sensitively handled too about a deeply sensitive subject and a very ignorant comment and thinking on this hateful crime.

  9. What a tough issue to talk about…I can only sigh in disgust with these men who have no clue at all of the consequences of rape ~

    Great work and the format works well K ~

  10. I wonder how men can have so little empathy and compassion—great write!

  11. Beth Winter Says:

    Whoa… such power in your presentation. I felt anxious in my gut.

  12. This is very powerful. I like a poem that makes me sit up and take notice as this does.

  13. The Linnet Says:

    Rape is still terrible without force, I hope maybe he and his ilk realise this without the need to actually endure it. The poem is powerful but fills me with a sense of sadness and disgust, I am very glad not be living in the states if this bill gets passed.

  14. brian miller Says:

    frig…what a bunch of idiots…and i wonder how far the VP candidate can distance himself since he does not believe in it either….snap k, you went right at this….in full gut turning fashion….

  15. Mama Zen Says:

    This is biting, brutally honest, and brilliantly constructed.

  16. poemblaze Says:

    Poignant, perceptive, blistering. Well written.

  17. Blistering ~ yes ~ rightly so ~ why are some people so gross [rhetorical].

    Well organised, good write, good read …

  18. Wow. I have one in drafts on this very thing. You hit it so very well.

  19. Reblogged this on Susan Daniels Poetry and commented:
    I was going to write something on this, have it in drafts, but this–this is just right.

  20. Susan Says:

    O perfect mix of incredulity. protest, pain, knowledge, irony–send it out! The call and response technique works to makes us see, the hidden female whisper trying to be loud against mail truths and unheard. So thank you for this poem, far may it roam.

  21. Very straight to the point and meaningful, but sad that these comments even had to happen.

  22. It’s hard for me to believe that he doesn’t have the honor to withdraw from his campaign. We Repubs want him out too…he doesn’t speak for the party.

  23. rmp Says:

    I admit I was slow on the uptake; but found my footing about halfway through and an emotional rush washed over me as your words sunk in. quite an intense piece.

  24. joanna Says:

    this… this gets you where it hurts. poignant and of-the-moment piece. poets have to speak out the hard truths, sometimes. brava.

  25. I think when you use the bible as an anatomy you run across those things which require faith…next thing you know they will claim that the woman didn’t believe hard enough or god would have prevented it…makes me want to cuss at the stupidity some fricking people hold on to in the name of god…so they think

  26. Bravo! You boldly tackled this subject. This is what I believe more poets should do. This is why we get inspiration. We must speak to current events too. Thank you O poet.

  27. A moving read, and a powerful discourse on a critically important issue, with a powerful use of form and parenthetical thought, down to the final, emphatic NOT.

  28. Wow! A wonderfully powerful response, indeed!

  29. zongrik Says:

    i knew what this was about before i read your explanation,,,so great job!!

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  30. Steve E Says:

    I wondering what is ILLEGITIMATE rape? It HAS to be “more” than just simple LEGITIMATE rape. (Holy Shit!)
    OMG…what kind of Peeps are we electing to make decisions and laws for us?
    WHO is more stupid? Them? Or US Peeps, for electing them? I don’t mean just Akin…but politicians in general. (SEE? They all get the bad rap from me, because of such unthinking extremism.)

    PEACE! (And there IS plenty of that–I found it on my trip!)

  31. clawfish Says:

    You really placed every word well the strength and feeling over what was regrettable in it’s saying and retraction is good to read more personal than media hype and readers can take away a lot from this

  32. Kim or Lisa Says:

    LOL, well written, well concieved. It highlights the double speak of Akin, especially when it points out that it is same ignorance coming through. Standing ovation and looking forward to the final draft.

  33. David King Says:

    An excellent – perfect – response to another politician talking out of where politicians all too frequently talk! And a fine poem to boot.
    (I believe he’s taken it back now!!!)

  34. janehewey Says:

    it amazes me, when I read this over and again, how well you hone in on the pain, the subject matter, and the politics, in a relatively short write. the layering in this is brilliant, k.

  35. ManicDdaily Says:

    Thanks to all for your very kind comments. They are much appreciated. k.

  36. Rallentanda Says:

    He is even news breaking down here. What a weirdo! You sure produce some ripe ones over there.

  37. markwindham Says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how the truly ignorant/idiotic seem to end up in politics, or at least in front of a camera/microphone.

  38. PJF Sayers Says:

    Wonderful poetic voice about a very sad and unenlightened man’s opinion. Great write.


  39. Emily Says:


  40. poemsofhateandhope Says:

    This is excellent- so creative in form- and the two voices contrast perfectly- and the gret thing is – I knew what inspired this poem before I read the backstory….what is WRONG with some of your politicians….this guy is just….baffling….I can’t get it into my head that this is what he actually thinks about women….I want him to read this poem…but he probably wouldn’t get it….USA! USA!….Karin…this is so strong- seriously

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Stu. You know a lot of politicians (on the Republican side) are distancing themselves from Akin because of the medical aspect of his comments, but they are not really distancing themselves from the policies. That’s what’s really awful. (And one reason why I can understand why he is pretty miffed, because he’s pretty clear that his views re policies are fairly widely held, even if the rationale for them would not be based on these specious medical grounds.)

  41. Bodhirose Says:

    An excellent poem…showcasing the total and malicious insensitivity that many have for others (women). People like him get into office because of the idiots that vote him there…and keep him there. This scares the shit out of me…

    (Karin, if you don’t publish this because of my “French”…it’s OK…)

  42. mhwarren Says:

    It was an unspeakable, inexcusable dismissal of the hurtful experience of so many women. Your words demonstrated this powerfully. Brava.

  43. yoga-adan Says:

    powerfully put, and the kind of voice needed on this subject –

    poetry is power…

  44. Yes! (To the poem, not the source.)

  45. kelly Says:

    the absurdities of reality never cease to amaze me…

    a well-penned response to the unbelievable idiocy that seems to be more and more commonplace in those who are running our country.

  46. Seb Says:

    I was heartened by the speed with which Romney and Ryan fled from his comments. That was a meager shred of decency in this whole debacle. What Missourah does with, though, is a whole ‘nother thing. Because may be a fool, but he is their fool.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Yes, they fled from his comments on the medical side by the Republicans seem to be adopting a strict antiabortion platform promoting a constitutional amendment with no exception for rape or incest; and Texas just finagled a shut down of all of these Planned Parenthood clinics that had nothing to do with abortion services. So, it seems as if Ryan/Romney may be fleeing more from the public spectacle of Akin than his actual positions. Hard to say. But good point. k.

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