Wisconsin lawmaker says “some girls rape easy,” makes it worse by explaining what he means

Did you hear the one about the Republican politician who made an outrageous comment about rape and then just kept talking himself into a hole? No, not that one.

It starts off more confusing than anything else. Last year, Wisconsin state Rep. Roger Rivard–who has earned the endorsement of Paul Ryan–told a newspaper, in the context of discussing the case of a teenager charged with sexual assault after having sex with an underage girl, that his father always used to tell him that “some girls rape easy.” That sounds like it’s probably horribly offensive, but I don’t really know because I can’t even begin to guess what it means. Well, yesterday Rivard assured the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel that his comments were take out of context and offered this full and enlightening explanation. Let’s savor it, shall we?

He told the Journal Sentinel that his father had advised him not to have premarital sex, and he took that seriously.

Alright, so his dad decided to keep up the pretense that there was a chance in hell that his son would actually not have sex before marriage. Kinda shitty parenting, if you ask me, but hey, apparently this is a myth that many people, even today, are very invested in maintaining.

“He also told me one thing, ‘If you do (have premarital sex), just remember, consensual sex can turn into rape in an awful hurry,’ ” Rivard said.

Well, this is actually promising. Right, so you’re making out with a girl and things are heating up but then suddenly she tells you to stop? And you’re confused because you thought everything was going well, but, as dad reminded you, even if someone said “yes” to one thing, they might change their mind and you need to stop–or else it’s rape. That must be what he meant, right?

“Because all of a sudden a young lady gets pregnant and the parents are madder than a wet hen and she’s not going to say, ‘Oh, yeah, I was part of the program.’

Oh. Wait–let’s slow it down…

“Because all of a sudden a young lady gets pregnant”

As if by magic! Suddenly, this girl–I’m sorry, young lady–get’s pregnant. And this entirely unexpected twist is but tangentially related to the sex you were also partaking in and definitely has nothing to do with the fact that your dad, for all his advice about rape, neglected to mention that if you do have sex, you should remember to use protection.

“and the parents are madder than a wet hen”

Ok, turns out this is actually a real saying, not just another one of Papa Rivard’s nuggets of wisdom. Carry on…

“and she’s not going to say, ‘Oh, yeah, I was part of the program.'”

Duh! God forbid she’d admit to not only letting a boy get her knocked up but actually wanting to have sex herself! In Papa Rivard’s conservative worldview, it goes without saying that a woman wouldn’t want to own up to such a dirty, shameful thing. Thanks to that sexual revolution that probably happened around the time young Rivard inevitably started having premarital sex, this worldview isn’t quite as prevalent among those of us actually living in 2012. But it’s clearly still with us. So what now?

All that she has to say or the parents have to say is it was rape because she’s underage. And he just said, ‘Remember, Roger, if you go down that road, some girls,’ he said, ‘they rape so easy.’

Got it. In short:

"those bitches"

As Jill points out, what’s so sad here is that this fear of lying bitches–in which Papa Rivard is hardly aloneonly makes any sense within the conservative worldview where sex is seen as a bargaining chip instead of a fun joint activity and female sexuality is stigmatized and punished. “Why would the lying woman in Rivard’s story lie unless she feared retribution for having sex?

“What the whole genesis of it was, it was advice to me, telling me, ‘If you’re going to go down that road, you may have consensual sex that night and then the next morning it may be rape.’ So the way he said it was, ‘Just remember, Roger, some girls, they rape so easy. It may be rape the next morning.’

Words means things. The fact that some small number of women lie about being raped does not change the reality that rape is rape and consensual sex is consensual sex and it is actually very important–for the many people who are raped in the real world and also the many men falsely accused in Papa Rivard’s fevered imagination–that everyone understands that there is a clear difference.

“So it’s been kind of taken out of context.”

LOL. This is my favorite part. Rivard is so totally clueless that at this point, he’s actually thinking, “BOOM. Nailed it. Context, bitches.”

And then a few hours later, no doubt after hearing from some very stressed advisers, he issued a written statement to clarify his clarification:

“Sexual assault is a crime that unfortunately is misunderstood and my comments have the potential to be misunderstood as well. Rape is a horrible act of violence. Sexual assault unfortunately often goes unreported to police. I have four daughters and three granddaughters and I understand the importance of making sure that awareness of this crime is taken very seriously.”

I’m thinking Rivard might have to pull out few more female relatives and offer several more uncontroversial statements of fact about how “rape is bad” to roll back this one.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/radicalhw/ Shannon Drury

    Who is running against this guy? I’d like to know where I should direct my donation….

  • http://feministing.com/members/joannavirginia/ Joanna

    This marks the point in every election cycle where I can’t take any more news and have to seek sensory deprivation of politics to save my nerves from Republican insanity which gets more extreme and ugly each time. Catch up with everybody after the election…

  • http://feministing.com/members/decius/ Dan

    Seriously? A politician makes a (poorly phrased) complaint about his fear, instilled by his father, that he will be the victim of a false allegation, like he (and some students who are more closely involved) believe happened in this case.

    >Two of the protesting students told the Alert they felt the prosecution was unfair because Veldman and the girl “both made a bad decision.” They imply to the Alert that the girl had agreed to the sex but changed her story after her parents learned about it.

    >Children under 16 can not legally consent to any type of sexual contact in Wisconsin, but can easily succumb to social pressures.

    According to the news reports, he isn’t being charged with a crime that involves the threat of force or of violence, possibly because prosecutors agree that there is reasonable doubt as to whether they were used. relevent law

    So other students believe that violence wasn’t used, prosecutors have chosen not to prosecute for using violence, and the narrative of “girl gets caught having sex, lies to parents about the consensual nature” is internally consistent. (Of course, the narrative “Older boy coerces younger girl into having sex” is ALSO internally consistent)

    Why is the one narrative taboo to discuss, even when it appears to people closely involved that it is true? Isn’t the real oppression here the fact that there is significant pressure on 14-year old girls to lie, whether or not that happened in this particular case?

    • http://feministing.com/members/starzki6/ ellestar

      Yeah, seriously. His “poorly phrased” complaint is that bitches lie, man. This is extremely harmful to all rape survivors as it is often the knee-jerk response when someone is accused of sexual assault.

      As to the other students protesting on his behalf, my guess is that they weren’t there. They can’t have known if violence was used or not. But they like the guy, he’s their friend, so obviously, bitch is lying.

      As far as lying “to parents about the consensual nature,” in that state, she’s too young to consent. Therefore: rape.

      And, no, the real oppression is not that there is “significant pressure on 14-year old girls to lie,” it’s that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.

      • http://feministing.com/members/decius/ Dan

        “Bitches lie” is another way to phrase the same complaint poorly. Keep in mind that an 18-year old is currently looking at a prison sentence that is more than twice as long as his life to date. There are people who believe that this is because the victim is lying about the nature of their interaction. (According to a strict reading of the statues, it doesn’t matter whether he is charged with 948.02(1)(c) or 948.02(b), it’s a class C felony with mandatory minimum sentencing of 25 years, with no time off for good behavior.

        And no, the ability to grant or deny consent isn’t a gift that magically appears on one’s sixteenth birthday. The Wisconsin state courts explicitly agree:
        >The consent of the child in a sub. (2) violation is not relevant. State v. Lackershire, 2007 WI 74, 301 Wis. 2d 418, 734 N.W.2d 23, 05-1189.

    • http://feministing.com/members/anjasa/ Anjasa

      But even if the 18 year old did have consensual sex with his 15 year old girlfriend, and even if she did get afraid of her parent’s wrath and lied about it, there is really no need for this type of glib, hateful response from a grown man.

      There are ways of discussing things in a mature and responsible manner, and then there’s ways of discussing things that sounds victim-blamey and cruel.

      As for a discussion about age of consent laws and how they might help or hurt young men and women, there’s better ways to talk about it.

    • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

      Are you actually trying to DEFEND this rape apologistic commentary? Reported, Troll.

  • http://feministing.com/members/robbieloveslife/ Robert

    The article admits that a “small number of women lie” about rape. That is a huge deal. That’s why men that really do rape get away with it because sometimes the public will overestimate their innocence due to a previous case where an innocent man was wrongly accused. The most famous example of this in modern times is the Duke lacrosse case. I’m attending a university and if I hear an athlete get accused of rape I will automatically think of those guys that were wrongfully accused at Duke. I will be more critical of the accuser. There was a recent case of a doctor in Denver being found not guilty in Denver and suing the accuser. Since the legal field has been saturated lately and lawyers want to make money, I wouldn’t be surprised if more and more lawyers start encouraging this action. This is good for our country, the laws and rights are there to protect the innocent. This can also stop potential murders. A friend in Mexico told me a man in his neighborhood was falsely jailed for rape and his family paid a bunch of money to get him out, like thousands of dollars which is a huge amount of money for a poor family. They later went to the accusers house and killed everyone in there except for her. They mutilated her while she was alive. The news don’t talk about these murders down there because they are overshadowed by the drug war.

  • http://feministing.com/members/rachelarbeit/ Rachel

    When will these crazy Republicans learn to just not talk about rape? It never goes well.