Tuesday, August 21, 2012

On women and ducks

I just have to chime in on the Ted Atkins issue. Yesterday he said
"From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," said Akin said of pregnancy caused by rape. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist."
This story of legitimate rape is not new. The fact that some men cannot grasp the idea that the physcal discomfort of pregnancy, let alone the emotional trauma of carrying a fetus resulting from rape could possibly be viewed as a punishment for the woman carrying the fetus is not new. For instance, this 1988 quote from Stepen Freind, Pennsylvania state representative at the time*:
"Rape obviously is a traumatic experience. When that traumatic experience is undergone, a woman secretes a certain secretion, which has a tendency to kill sperm."
This is new. Well, no. Its a 14 year old quote. Its just new to me, and a novel concept to human biology.

I'm not an evolutionary biologist, zoologist, or anyone who knows a lot about the animal kingdom. Experts, please correct me if I am wrong, but I only know of one species where the female has evolved any sort of protection against  forcible sexual encounters, once penetration has occurred. Ducks. Quack Quack. Specifically studied were Muscovy Ducks, at Yale in 2009.**
To gain the edge in these conflicts, drakes have evolved large corkscrew phalluses, lined with ridges and backward-pointing spines, which allow them to deposit their sperm further into a female than their rivals. ... [Female ducks'] vaginas are equally long and twisting, lined with dead-end pockets and spirals that curve in the opposite direction.
Fascinating. TMFI. Fascinating. After some duck erections and test tubes, the group at Yale concluded that
[T]he shape of the female duck’s vagina is a physical barrier that prevents the male from launching forth his ballistic penis to its fullest extent. It won’t stop a drake from ejaculating (and those in Brennan’s trials always did), but it does limit how far the semen is deposited along the vaginal tract.

Thus decreasing the likelihood of  zygote formation in the case of non-consenting sex. This is similar to what was claimed at the start of this post. This leaves me with one thing to say.


*Thanks to Rachel Maddow for making me aware of this quote.
** Quotes taken from Ed Yong.


  1. Wow, ... like you; this is new to me. From what I understand of physiology and how I made babies... I have a guess on how they are made; and I think that people who would rely on some "magical" way of not getting pregnant as the defense frankly scare me.

  2. I am from a country that spent several centuries under the Ottoman Empire. As a result, many people look much more like Turks than the native Slavic people. You can bet that lots if those offspring came from rape of the native women by the invaders. The science grasp of the Republican morons absolutely floors me. They will say anything to advance the agenda.

  3. There was a cute RadioLab piece on the genetic makeup of men currently living in the ex Mongol empire. Most men living in that part of the world seem to come from one common forefather who lived around the time of Genghis Khan. I seriously doubt that all the women in all the villages conquered by the Mongul lovingly gave themselves over to the men who just killed their husbands and sons.

    But that's exactly the point, right? If enough people believe that women can't get pregnant from "legitimate" rape, then a woman claiming pregnancy from rape must have enjoyed/wanted the experience, and it wasn't rape.

  4. ha ha...I love biology. This duck thing is super cool!

    I am so happy math is non-controversial, we have axioms to start from and then conclusions are derived using only the strictest rules of logic! Yay!!!

    Except...its not.

    Turns out that feminist Sandra harding, who enjoys a tenured professorship at UCLA (public institution) has discovered that Calculus is a rape manual :(

    Sadly, it so happens I have taught calculus for several years now, first as a TA and later as instructor. The accusation that I am teaching students how to carry out rape is so ridiculous I dont even know how to start my defense!

    I guess all I can tell the learned Professor is that: I am NOT a rape instructor.

  5. Ah, Mocklion, I see you are now an expert in post modern philosophy. Perhaps you can explain to me at some point why I should stop laughing at anything anyone says out of that field, feminist or not.

    More seriously, I think I have to put my foot down on your trolling. Your comments are getting more and more .... bizarre? This one would be offensive to me if it made any sense. However, my blog is a place where I try to create a community. I do not want to invite comments quite this rude to that community. You are welcome to make any comment you wish. If I feel like any future comment is, or has the potential to be too offensive to people, I will delete it without further ado.