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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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The feminist model is not the conservative one. It’s not the one we live.

The conservative worldview says that real women — good women — use sex to get marriage; otherwise, good women put the brakes on sex. And women’s bodies aren’t really their own (the right-wing group Focus on the Family makes this explicit on their website, where in discussing female chastity they say, “ It’s Not My Body“). Women’s bodies serve someone else– a baby, a husband, society, God. That view underlies a lot of GOP policy as it pertains to women. Abortion rights are the most obvious, but things like contraception access and even maternity leave are well in the scope of “women exist to physically serve anyone but themselves.”

That view also divides women into “good” women and “bad” women. Bad women give up sex without requiring marriage; good women do not. Good women can be raped; bad women, since they give sex freely, cannot be (you can’t steal what someone is giving away). Take this quote from Tennessee State Senator Doug Henry:

Rape, ladies and gentlemen, is not today what rape was. Rape, when I was learning these things, was the violation of a chaste woman, against her will, by some party not her spouse. Today it’s simply, ‘Let’s don’t go forward with this act.’”

Rape, in the ideal conservative worldview isn’t about violating consent or forcing sex on someone against their will; rape is about who the victim is and whether or not she plays by right-wing rules. It’s about whether she’s already given up her right to say no.

At the same time, the conservative male ideal is aggressive, animalistic and virtually uncontrollable (except by a good woman, of course). Men, in the right-wing view, are going to tirelessly try to get sex. “We have forgotten that before we began calling this date rape,” says conservative activist and author of The Myth of Male Power Warren Farrell, “we called it exciting.”

And that, fundamentally, is what Rivard’s comments come back to: That the natural order of things is that men try to get sex, women should try to refuse it, and when women don’t try to refuse it society crumbles. That social demise is women’s fault, and women are not to be trusted, and sometimes you’ll have consensual sex with one of them and they’ll just lie and call it rape. Because of course unless you jumped out of the bushes and grabbed a strange woman off the street, the sex was probably consensual.

Do some women lie about rape? Yes, of course. Just like some people set their own houses on fire to collect the insurance money, and some people lie about being robbed or their cars being stolen. I was going to say that just about the only crime people don’t lie about being victimized by is murder, but then some people fake their own deaths, so there’s that. People lie, often in stunningly pathological ways, and that is a sad reality. But women don’t lie about being raped any more than people lie about other crimes — which is actually not particularly often.

But just for kicks, let’s address Rivard’s argument on its merits. Here’s how he explained himself:

“[My father] 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. “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.’

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