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Paul Ryan Pal: 'Some Girls Rape Easy'

Wisconsin state Rep. Roger Rivard, endorsed by vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, disparaged a statutory rape claim by suggesting the girl allegedly raped had just changed her mind.

Wisconsin Assemblyman Roger Rivard
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This piece originally appeared at Feministe.

That’s what Wisconsin state representative Roger Rivard thinks, anyway.  But don’t worry, everyone, he’s clarified! He didn’t mean it’s actually easy to rape some girls; what he meant was, sometimes you have consensual sex with a girl and then it turns out she’s a lying slut and she claims you raped her. So it was an easy rape! Because she’s easy. And so was the rape (“rape”). And it’s not even what he said, it’s what his daddy said. He was just repeating good advice. Because that’s really good advice: Don’t have sex, because the girl you have sex with might be a dirty lying whore. I mean, you know she’s at least a dirty whore, because sex. Lying isn’t so far off.

Have I mentioned that  Paul Ryan endorsed this guy?

Also, really, what is with the Republican boner for rape?  I wrote about this in the Guardian last week, and explained that the Republican rape problem typifies a more generalized Republican woman problem: They don’t particularly like women, they don’t believe that women should have a full range of rights, they don’t want to see women in power, and so they pass laws that try to coerce women into particular roles. Sometimes their deep disdain and distrust of women slips out a bit more bluntly, like Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments and this latest gem. But the ideology behind those ugly comments is front and center in the Republican party platform. Which, you know, basically says things like, “We will let women die before we will let them get abortions.” Heaven forbid women’s bodies are actually for the women inhabiting them, and not for someone else to boss around.

It’s more than that, though. Republicans also prop up rape culture, and rape culture is enabled by the kind of conservative worldview that the GOP promotes. I know I’m going full-on self-promotional here, but  Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape deals with this pretty thoroughly. In the essay I wrote for the anthology, I talk specifically about the right-wing rape problem. There are a few steps to getting to the “conservatism props up rape culture” conclusion, and they are (here radically simplified):

The socially conservative worldview believes that men and women are fundamentally different — not just physically and emotionally and biologically, but in terms of what role they are supposed to fill in society. The conservative worldview sees a society in which these traditional, “natural” roles are filled as the best society. Conservatives believe that men are naturally aggressive and desiring of sex; in the best world, men are heads of households and responsible for action in the public sphere. They care for their families as financial supporters and physical protectors. But they have to be coerced into entering into that family model through a system in which they cannot get sex without marital commitment. Women, on the other hand, could take or leave sex, but they deeply desire monogamy, romantic love, commitment and support. Women are naturally subservient and desiring of stability; in the best world, women are helpmeets to their husbands and responsible for the private sphere — homemaking and caretaking of children and family. They are responsible for civilizing men, partially by withholding sex in order to get the marital commitment they want, and by establishing a nuclear family that is ultimately the best foundation for society.

In that view, sex is essentially a bartering chip. It’s not something that is good in and of itself. It’s good only when it’s used for both parties to get what they want in a socially-sanctioned way. It is something women “give” to men, once men give women what women want.

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