Tag Archives: medieval

Todd Akin, Professor Tucker, and Legitimate Medieval Rape

“The female body may not be able to shut down conception, but we can at least shut down Akin’s wild claims.”

If you study at a liberal arts college like Wesleyan, you’ve probably already recoiled in disgust at Representative Todd Akin’s comments last week regarding pregnancy and rape.

But if you teach history and science in society at a small liberal arts college like Wesleyan, you’ve probably already unpacked analyzed the decidedly medieval roots and implications of Representative Todd Akin’s curiously antiquated theories of pregnancy and rape. You may have even gotten the New York Times to publish it as an op-ed. 

Enter Professor Jennifer Tucker, who smartly pointed out last week that Todd Akin’s views of rape are in fact quite consistent with science—as long as you’re living in 12th century Germany. Akin, of course, suggested that women are unlikely to become pregnant from rape, because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Turns out this view is intriguingly consistent with what was preached by Hildegard of Bingen in the 12th century: