A Wisconsin State Rep. endorsed by Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan told a reporter that he believes “some girls rape so easy.”
State Rep. Roger Rivard (R) later insisted he was merely recounting a story from his father about the dangers men face in having premarital sex. Instead, he somehow wandered into a jaw-dropping commentary on how easy it is to accidentally rape women.
He also told me one thing, ‘If you do (have premarital sex), just remember, consensual sex can turn into rape in an awful hurry.’ 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.’ 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.’
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.’
Responding to Rivard’s comment, Jenni Dye, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, pointed out that Rivard voted against the Healthy Youth Act, a bill that would have required fact-based sexual education on an age-appropriate basis.
“Attitudes like those on display in Rivard’s statements are exactly why it is essential that sex education programs for Wisconsin youth include comprehensive and accurate information,” she said in prepared text. “Rivard’s statements are emblematic of the attitude advanced by many Republican legislators that women cannot be trusted regarding rape, decisions about their
healthcare, or reproductive choice.”
As it turns out, Rivard’s reelection efforts were recently endorsed by GOP vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) . “Roger needs to be reaffirmed to get this job done and fix the state of Wisconsin,” he said during a fundraiser in August. Interestingly, Rivard’s original comments on rape were recorded by a reporter with The Chetek Alert eight months before Ryan’s endorsement, but they went mostly unnoticed in the local Wisconsin news until just this week.
His Democratic opponent, former accountant Stephen Smith, told the Journal Sentinel: “I’m offended to think that my sister or my daughters would be thought of in that manner. I feel Roger is out of touch with the majority of voters and his views are extreme.”
The comments come at a crucial moment for Republicans in Wisconsin, who’ve narrowed the polling gap in the presidential race there to just three points, according to a survey published Thursday by CBS News and The New York Times. Similar comments by Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), who’s running for U.S. Senate, completely preoccupied the political media in America for nearly two weeks leading up to the Republican National Convention, and dragged down the party’s whole ticket thanks to ties between Akin and Ryan.
Both Akin and Ryan co-sponsored bills that would have denied federal aid to rape victims who weren’t also physically abused during the assault, and ban all abortions by defining fertilized embryos as “people” — a law critics said would force rape victims to bear their attackers’ child should they become pregnant. However, those links became politically toxic after Akin told a reporter that he believes women can “shut that whole thing down” if they become pregnant from what he called “legitimate rape.” Both Ryan and presidential candidate Mitt Romney called for Akin to step aside after that remark, but he refused. Today, many party faithful have since returned to his side, supporting Akin’s race against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
Rivard said his comments were “taken out of context,” and forwarded a more carefully worded statement several hours after the original interview. “Sexual assault is a crime that unfortunately is misunderstood and my comments have the potential to be misunderstood as well,” the prepared text explained. “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.”
Update: Ryan pulls his endorsement
For the second time this campaign season, the Republican vice presidential nominee has withdrawn his support from a former ally over controversial comments about women.
“State Representative Rivard’s comments are outrageous and offensive,” a spokesperson for Ryan told the Journal-Sentinel. “Congressman Ryan believes there is no place in our discourse for rhetoric such as this. Congressman Ryan cannot support Mr. Rivard or his indefensible comments.”
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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