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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.

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Sex as something that’s “given” — sex as a commodity — allows for sex to be constructed as something that can be taken.

But in order to take something, there has to be ownership. And the right-wing worldview doesn’t believe that women own their bodies, or have full rights to those bodies.

Unfortunately for the ideal conservative worldview, it turns out that women aren’t all that naturally subservient, submissive, and solely desiring of marriage and children. How do we know? Well, first of all, because the ideal conservative world has never existed — at least not without serious political intervention. Even in the Bible, bitches got real. And because in the blip in world history where that world did kind of exist for a very particular class of women, women revolted (feminism!). A few women pushed back and opened doors; once those doors were open, even larger numbers of women walked through them. We’re very far from a gender-egalitarian society, but even in conservative circles it’s no longer particularly acceptable to suggest that men should be in charge of the world outside of the home. So women are out having sex before marriage (although for record, even our grandparents were having sex before marriage) and delaying marriage until they’re actually ready and going to college and getting jobs and generally feeling like they are, or should be, equal members of society.

That is not the ideal conservative worldview.

And not everyone in society agrees that women should have equal rights and liberties simply by virtue of the fact that women, believe it or not, are human beings just like men, and just like men have complex and widely varying desires and life paths. And even a lot of us who do believe that women are people too are really confused, because all of this social upheaval happened relatively quickly, and women have by definition been reproducers and care-takers and individuals whose purpose is something other than simply existing for themselves for so long in our culture that it’s very easy to fall into this mindset where we don’t see women’s bodies as fully, 100% theirs. Ours.

But the more power women get, and the more we start to come through the fog of internalized sexism and the fact that we grew up as girls into women in a culture that is supremely hostile to both girls and women, the more we realize: A lot of the stuff that happens to a lot of us isn’t individual. It’s not a solo problem. It’s systematic. It’s a cultural problem. It’s a political problem. And when sex is a bartering chip, a woman “giving” sex and not “getting” marriage in return taints her; that’s not right. When sex is a bartering chip and a woman gets married, she’s “given” sex to her husband indefinitely — and suddenly there’s no framework for her to say no, or to allow herself to feel fully violated when her husband doesn’t listen when she does say no, or to get any sort of legal or social support if she musters the strength to rightfully feel violated by a very real violation (marital rape wasn’t outlawed all that long ago). Professional anti-feminist  Phyllis Schlafly put this well when she said, “By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don’t think you can call it rape.”

Legally and culturally, we’ve moved forward — some (for what it’s worth, Schlafly’s comments were in 2007, so not exactly ancient history). The conservative worldview still sees sex as something women have and men get. But now women are saying no, we aren’t going to use virginity as a bartering chip. And when we have sex on our own terms, you don’t get to physically assault us. Sex, ideally, is something that two people to together; a model that Thomas Macauly Millar describes in Yes Means Yes as “the performance model of sex” (his essay is a must-read, but basically: An ideal sexual system would see sex as something like playing music or dancing, where it’s an awesome thing for two people to do together, and coercing or physically forcing someone to do it with you is incredibly bizarre and fucked up).

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