Todd Akin: Claire McCaskill was "much more ladylike" in 2006

Nona Willis Aronowitz

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"Chicks compete in the world, and they think a pair of pants goes with it. They’re really unbelievable.  And they’re not gentle.  And they’re not women.”
—comedian Mort Sahl, Playboy roundtable, 1962
 
I first came across these comments when I was researching my college senior thesis about porn and the sexual revolution. For me, it epitomized the defensiveness (and vulnerability) men felt in the face of feminism, which had only begun to take hold. Every time I re-read these words, I feel grateful that even if some men have similar thoughts 50 years later, at least most of them have the sense not to admit it to the media.
 
A few, on the other hand, feel perfectly fine with airing out their anxieties to the world. Yesterday, Rep. Todd “legitimate rape” Akin told the Kansas City Star that he still thinks he has a good shot at defeating the incumbent:
 
“I think we have a very clear path to victory, and apparently Claire McCaskill thinks we do, too, because she was very aggressive at the debate, which was quite different than it was when she ran against Jim Talent. She had a confidence and was much more ladylike (in 2006), but in the debate on Friday she came out swinging, and I think that's because she feels threatened.”
 
Now, on the surface, Akin appears pretty cocky, a man who certainly doesn’t need any advice from me. But this latest winceworthy remark only drives home his deepseated uneasiness toward the 2012 woman. Akin’s views are cut from a 50-year-old cloth, from a time when men were aghast and alarmed at women’s independence, and they weren’t afraid to show it. If he wins in November, it’ll reveal less about him than about how far we haven’t come.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Rebecca Shapiro is Marie Claire's senior editor. She previously worked at The Huffington Post and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” where she bonded with the wee early hours and Starbucks extra hot red eye lattes. She also possesses a totally reasonable hatred for umbrellas.

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Tara Lamont-Djite is Marie Claire's fashion and beauty writer. She got her start Devil Wears Prada-style, assisting the editor-in-chief of InStyle Australia before taking the leap and moving to New York City. Since arriving, she rejoined the InStyle family in the New York office, spent some time in the beauty world as an Associate Beauty Editor at Beautylish.com, and has written for Style.com, Harper's Bazaar, and ELLE. She can quote a line from almost every Sex and the City episode, and is more than willing to admit she has a fashion addiction.

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Hallie is Marie Claire's social editor. Formerly the associate web editor of Real Beauty, Hallie is a 90s lipstick enthusiast and loves a good thick brow. When she's not writing or tweeting, she's probably continuing her ever-present search for the perfect platform boots to replace her broken pair. Ideas anyone? Follow her on Twitter @gouldhallie for a good time.

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