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Home » Vaccine mandates are NOT rape – debunking another anti-vax trope

Vaccine mandates are NOT rape – debunking another anti-vax trope

Anti-vaxxers love their ridiculous strawman arguments against vaccines – recently, it’s comparing vaccine mandates to rape. Yes, you read this right they want you to believe that vaccination is equivalent to rape.

COVID-19 vaccine mandates (actually, any vaccine mandate from before the pandemic) have caused the anti-vaxxers to use all kinds of false equivalence and disgusting imagery in tropes from rape to the Holocaust. Some are even more disgusting, giving us an indication of the filth that encompasses the anti-vaccine world. But comparing vaccine mandates to rape is possibly the most disgusting, though we could argue about that.

The trope that mandated vaccination is rape has been around for a while. And the usual suspects on the pro-science side have done their best to demolish it. The secretive Orac wrote about it – “there’s a disturbing amount of rape imagery, both subtle and not-so-subtle, in the language used by antivaccinationists to describe vaccination.”

I’m actually running out of adjectives and adverbs to describe the activities of anti-vaccine zealots lately. But claiming vaccine mandates are rape is going to test my knowledge of the English language.

Photo by Luis Galvez on Unsplash

Vaccine mandates are rape? NO!

Before we delve into this obnoxious false equivalence, we need to make it clear what constitutes rape. Unless you’re an entitled male with no clue, most of us have at least a vague notion of the definition of rape.

Rape is generally a type of sexual assault against a person, whether male or female, that usually involves sexual intercourse, or other forms of sexual penetration, without that person’s consent. That person may not be able to provide valid consent as a result of being unconscious, being incapacitated, being below the legal age of consent, or having an intellectual disability.

The assault may be carried out by physical force, coercion, or abuse of authority. Despite myths about rape, it is not necessarily caused by sexual deviancy or desire, it is generally a result of control and violence against those who are perceived, either rightly or wrongly, as weaker individuals.

Unless you live in a world that is some alternative facts universe, rape is sexual assault without consent. I don’t know how to make that more clear or understandable, but it obviously has nothing to do with vaccines, which are not sexual assault and are never done without consent.

So by what twisted logic does the anti-vaccine religion get from a sexual assault to vaccination? Basically, they think that “mandatory” vaccinations mean forceful penetration, via the needle, without consent – thus, vaccination is rape. The more logical and intelligent amongst you will see flaws all over the place with these beliefs.

First, mandatory vaccination does not mean that the CDC storm troopers will march into your house, demand your COVID-19 vaccine papers, and lacking them, will strap you and your children into chairs and vaccinate them. The anti-vaccine world uses “vaccine mandates” to create fear of vaccines, without describing it accurately.

After the signing into law of SB277 in California, which eliminated so-called personal belief exemptions to vaccinations, which were used by anti-vaccine radicals to invent all sorts of excuses to not vaccinate their children. For a child to attend a public or private school, and absent an established medical exemption, the child must be up-to-date on vaccinations. But no storm troopers will force the vaccine on those children – if the parents do not want to vaccinate their children, they have several alternatives like homeschooling, moving to another state, or lying on medical exemption forms. SB277 does not mandate forced vaccination, it essentially states that if you want your children to be around other children, then you are required to make certain that those children do not spread deadly diseases.

A vaccine mandate is quite simple, and it’s not even close to coercion or violence that is a part of rape.

Second, one simply cannot claim that there is some similarity between a needlestick from a vaccine and sexual penetration. What deluded mind invented this belief? One is part of a medical procedure that and, outside of the deranged beliefs of the anti-vaccine world, is considered by the vast majority of physicians, healthcare workers, and scientists to be one of the most important advances in medicine ever. The other is a felony that includes sexual violence.

Third, before any vaccination is given, informed consent is proffered to the parents or patients. What the anti-vaccine world wants is uninformed consent – that is, they want physicians to vastly overstate the risks and understate the benefits of vaccines. It is a ridiculous and disingenuous attempt to destroy the validity of vaccines. But once again, to compare it to the lack of consent given in rape would be laughable, if this story weren’t so serious. The false equivalence remains disgusting.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The anti-vaccine purveyors of these lies

I know that you’re thinking that this is so ridiculous, so nonsensical that it is impossible to conceive of anyone in the anti-vaccine world actually using these arguments. In a normal, civil discourse about science, maybe you’d be right. But because the anti-vaccine religion lacks approximately zero evidence to support their oft-repeated and oft-debunked pseudoscience, they have to rely on logical fallacies and, simply, lies.

Here’s what one of the anti-vaccine zealots wrote in an article I posted about hate speech – Greg tried to compare rape to vaccination and then doubled down on his beliefs:

Utterly reprehensible? That’s not my intention, but, seriously, is there really a difference between the two! In both cases, the victim is being forced to sacrifice her bodily automony (sic) at the will of another party. I suppose some may argue that in one case the person is being forced to sacrifice their bodily autonomy for a good cause — say herd immunity. It’s kinda like saying rape in some way can be seen as beneficial, even a good thing, if it helps the greater good. Not sure if anyone here would make that claim, but just saying.

The good readers of this blog took Greg, who spends most of his time at the Age of Lying about Autism website, to task on his inane remarks. But, like a good anti-vaccine crackpot that he is, he doubles down on his misogyny and hatred of women by minimizing the violence of rape, and pushing the vaccination is rape myth:

Nah — still no difference! In the scenario I presented, the potential rape victim also has choices. She can choose not to get raped, but this might mean she will have to ‘forego’ the ‘benefits’ of not having her head bashed in, or losing her job, or even being accused of being the ‘slut’ that instigated the whole encounter. Yes, similar to forced vaccination she also has ‘choices’, or as you guys like to put it — having to face ‘conséquences’. They may not be desirable, but that’s beside the point!

Yes, Greg went there. He somehow believes that women can choose not to be raped as if saying “no” stops a rapist cold. I can’t even begin to respond to this.

But Greg isn’t done. He pushes on, bringing in slavery along with rape:

Indeed, and that’s precisely my point. One can envision under certain circumstances where a court rules that rape is permissible if it benefits the greater good. Heck — haven’t courts at one point ruled that slavery and denying women the vote were justifiable. Again — just saying!

Read the thread, because civil commenters pointed out his failures as a human being. I wouldn’t have been that nice.

vaccine rape
Photo by Roberto Nickson on

Greg is not alone

Perhaps you’re thinking that maybe Greg is alone in claiming that vaccination is rape. Maybe you think that he’s just a lunatic, but the rest of the anti-vaccine world are good people. I won’t debate whether there are good people in the anti-vaccine religion, though maybe there are a few, let’s look at one of the “leaders” of the anti-vaccine crap.

Meryl Dorey is an American, who moved to Australia for unknown reasons, runs an organization called the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network (AVN). Setting aside the misuse of the term “skeptics,”  AVN stated purpose is not only to just end vaccinations, but they rage against almost all real science. They are in love with alternative medicine (such as chiropractic and homeopathy which do not work) and recommend it to treat diseases that could be prevented by vaccines.

Yes, America sent Dorey to Australia to push her idiotic ideas about vaccines in that fine country. And yes, that is bad. But Australia sent us Ken Ham, an obnoxious evolution denier who may be worse than Dorey. He used taxpayer money to build a failing monument to a biblical myth. Let’s call it a wash.

I’m not sure if Dorey invented the vaccination is rape belief, but she surely embraced it. In this Facebook post, she claims that:

Court orders rape of a child. Think this is an exaggeration? Think again. This is assault without consent and with full penetration too. If we as a society allow this crime to take place, we are every bit as guilty as the judge who made the order and the doctor who carries it out. If anyone knows this family, please put them in touch with me.

Setting aside the creepy stalking aspect of this post, she goes all in to claim that vaccination is rape.

To be fair, Dorey gave a non-apology apology that is so common amongst the fake facts pushers of our current world:

To anyone who was insulted or hurt by my comparing the forced vaccination of a child against the custodial parent’s wishes with rape, I do apologise wholeheartedly and without reservation.

I looked up the definition of rape prior to posting … that comparison and in the dictionary sense of the word, it is accurate. But I do understand that this is a vexed issue and for those like the two who are close to me who have been victims of rape, the last thing I would want to do is cause them more pain.

Perhaps the term violation would have been better, and in future, I will use that word. Because this mother and her child are being violated in so many ways it’s hard to know where to start.

There are plenty more examples of high priests and priestesses of the anti-vaccine religion making the false equivalency. But I’m disgusted by it all.

Women and men who have been raped, who are suffering from the consequences of that rape, whether it be physical or psychological damage, would laugh, cry, or scream at anyone who wanted to compare vaccination to sexual assault.

Let me make this clear – vaccine mandates do not mean forced vaccinations, and they certainly don’t mean rape. Not even close.

Michael Simpson

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