A Wisconsin state representative is in full damage control mode after he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that "some girls rape easy," and -- believe it or not -- they printed the quote. Freshman Rep. Roger Rivard, a Republican, complained to the paper on Wednesday that he was catching flak for a comment he made last December about an 17-year-old high school senior who had sex with a 15-year-old girl in the band room. (In Wisconsin, children under 16 cannot legally consent to any sexual contact.) The comment resurfaced because Rivard is in a tight race with a Democratic challenger, and frankly, people are still curious about why he would say such a thing.
Somehow, Rivard is trying to blame the journalists. He told the Journal Sentinel that his comments were "kind of taken out of context," but when given the opportunity to provide the missing context, Rivard basically made it worse by going into a somewhat lengthy explanation about how his father told him not to have premarital sex and used the rape thing as his reasoning. We'll quote Rivard in full:
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. "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.'
Deep breath. It's understandable that different generations have different points of view when it comes to things like race relations, premarital sex and women's rights. This is why everyone stares deep into their mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving when Uncle Ed starts to talk about his time in the Navy. This does not mean that you should broadcast those views or tell those stories when you're running for office or, well, ever.
Needless to say, Rivard's comments did not go over well when he first said them, and they did not go over well when he tried to explain himself on Wednesday. "It portrays women as the perpetrator of the violence being perpetrated against them," said Nichole Kathol, president of the Barron County Domestic Abuse Project. "He's blaming the victim and implying the definition of rape is all too encompassing."
To his credit, Rivard realized his error about three hours after his interview with the Journal Sentinel and issued a statement. "Sexual assault is a crime that unfortunately is misunderstood and my comments have the potential to be misunderstood as well," his statement said. "I have four daughters and three granddaughters and I understand the importance of making sure that awareness of this crime is taken very seriously."
If the Todd Akin saga has taught us anything about how America reacts to reckless comments about sexual assault, Rivard will be explaining himself for a while. In the meantime, if anybody out there is considering running for office or getting a new job or trying to make friends, trust us on this one. It's never okay to say, "Some girls rape easy." Regardless of whether your dad told you so or not, it's still pretty viciously offensive.