An open letter to Conservative men about rape.

I am a Progressive, a Liberal, a Democrat, a left-winger, an Obot — whatever you want to call me, go ahead. I’ll own it. Hell, I’m a borderline socialist.

And in the course of my gig as an opinion writer and left-wing activist, I write a lot about “the GOP,” often in a fairly condemnatory tone.

And even so, I try to make a very careful practice not to write about “Republicans,” because what I take issue with is the party itself, its current leadership, and its official platform/policies.

I am very, very much aware that there are a lot of folks out there who identify as Conservatives or Republicans with whom I probably am in agreement on many issues, and from whom I could probably learn a thing or two. There are a lot of arguments that we could have, too, but that’s the way it goes in a democracy. We’ll part ways at the ballot box, and that might create some hard feelings.

But at the end of the day, there are some things that are not (should not be) partisan. Some things are right, or wrong, and we should be willing to cross the aisle to say so. Taking sexual assault seriously, treating it as the horror and the scourge that it is, is one of them.

Rapists don’t care what your politics are. They don’t care what your education is, how much money you make, or what your stance is on the Bush tax breaks. Rapists are criminals who cause grievous bodily harm, and far too often mental and emotional anguish. More often than not, they know their victims, and far more often than we’re willing to admit, are in fact in an intimate or familial relationship with their victims.

If you are a living, breathing adult, you know people who have been sexually assaulted. Maybe some have never told you, maybe a few have, but no matter the extent of your personal knowledge of the individual facts, the singular fact remains that someone — female or male — is sexually assaulted in the United States every two minutes. And you know some of them.

When representatives of the party we vote for say and do things that are wrong — say and do things that hurt people who have already been hurt or are already vulnerable — it is our responsibility to stand up and say “That’s wrong.” I have done this before, and I will do so again — the Democratic Party is not a collection of angels, after all. It is a collection of human beings, some of whom are exceptionally ill-informed or insensitive, and if I want the party to truly represent me and my values, I need to make my voice heard.

I doubt I’m going to reach many Conservative men with this open letter — this blog is tiny, and it’s pretty firmly ensconced on the left hand side of the blogosphere — but if you are a Conservative man, please take to task those in your party who have recently made exceptionally ill-informed and insensitive comments about women and rape.

There is no room for parsing what is and is not “legitimate” or “forcible” rape, and there is no room for mealy-mouthed apologies that try to escape responsibility for using those phrases in the first place. There is no room for likening rape to other “methods of conception.” There is no room for comparing a pregnancy resulting from rape to a pregnancy resulting from consensual sex in an unmarried relationship.

Please talk to your daughters, your sisters, your wives, your mothers. Find out what has happened to them in the course of their lives, and the lives of the women they know. Read the stories told here, sit with this information — with the knowledge that the fact of rape and the threat of it serve to shape and guide the lives of 50% of the human population — and then, please: Say something.

Say something to your party. Say something to your friends. Say something on Twitter, on Facebook, on your blogs, in your articles. Please.

Think about the women you love, and say something.