Despite the apparently radioactive nature of rape as a political subject, yet another Midwestern GOP lawmaker may have had a "Todd Akin" moment on precisely that subject.
This time, the politician is Wisconsin State Representative Roger Rivard, who apparently felt the need to opine on a statutory rape case proceeding in Wisconsin by quoting some less than delicate advice by his father. The remarks included the unfortunate phrase "Some girls rape easy."
The hitch? Rivard made the comments ten months ago, and apparently they somehow only just got attention now. Rivard made the comment in an interview with the Chetek Alert last December, long before Todd Akin was anything other than a contender in the Missouri GOP primary.
Now, facing a miniature public outcry, Rivard is claiming he was quoted out of context, and that the unfortunate idea he was expressing is just a bit of folksy advice from his father, and not the dangerously misogynist sounding quote that it's been hyped up to be, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
The newspaper quoted him as saying his father warned him, "Some girls rape easy" - meaning that after the fact they can change what they say about whether sex was consensual. On Wednesday, Rivard told the Journal Sentinel that the article did not provide full context of his comments and that his father's exact words had been slightly different from how they appeared in the Chetek Alert.[...]
"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.'
"So it's been kind of taken out of context."
So far, this "clarification" has done Rivard precisely zero good. The Atlantic writes:
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.
And, per Gawker:
When Wisconsin State Representative Roger Rivard said "some girls, they rape so easy," his words were taken out of context.
First of all, he was relating a quote from his father. Second of all, what his father meant to say was, some girls cry rape so easy. See, it's still reprehensible, but it's a different kind of reprehensible.
So Rivard's seat is probably a lost cause. But one question persists: Why is Rivard's unfortunate remark getting this much outcry a full ten months after the fact? That question doesn't excuse them, but it is worth asking.
One constant meme in the coverage of the story thus far provides a potential clue -- namely, the fact that Rivard was endorsed by Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan shortly after Ryan was selected as the Vice Presidential nominee. ThinkProgress hammers this point especially hard. And indeed, it's not difficult to see how comments like this might be problematic for Ryan if one assumes he knew about them and still chose to endorse Rivard.
Unfortunately for his detractors, Ryan has put an end to that narrative already, though. He withdrew his endorsement today.