A Wisconsin state representative has gained the eyes and ears of Wisconsin for stating “some women rape easy,” bringing criticism from all sides of the aisle.
Rep. Roger Rivard, R-Rice Lake, first made his comment to The Chetek Alert in December 2011 while discussing the case of a high school senior charged with sexual assault. Rivard said as a young man, his father warned him “some women rape easy” or often change their mind about whether or not intercourse was consensual.
This statement was brought back into media attention on Wednesday as a result of Rivard’s tight race against Democrat Stephen Smith. Since Wednesday, Rivard has made several written and verbal statements attempting to clarify the context and meaning of his original comment.
Members of both parties are reacting negatively to Rivard’s statement, gaining backlash from both members of the Republican presidential ticket, Senate candidate and former Gov. Tommy Tompson and Gov. Scott Walker.
Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential candidate, took back his previous endorsement of Rivard, according to campaign manager Kevin Seifert.
“State Representative Rivard’s comments are outrageous and offensive,” Seifert said. “Congressman Ryan believes there is no place in our discourse for rhetoric such as this. Congressman Ryan cannot support Mr. Rivard or his indefensible comments.”
Walker agreed with Seifert, saying in a statement that he no longer endorses Rivard. He added the district’s voters would decide “whether he has fully accounted for these indefensible comments.”
Thompson also released a statement saying as a father and grandfather, he was “offended” by Rivard’s comments. He said rape allegations need to be taken seriously and perpetrators should be punished.
Jenni Dye of NARAL Pro-Choice said elected officials have an obligation to protect and respect women who are victims of sexual assault.
“We need to be part of a society where we are building trust between partners and sexes rather than discouraging it,” Dye said. “We should be exploring how to treat each other with respect, not encouraging men to believe that women falsify reports of rape.”
Dye said Rivard’s comments reflect why the 2012 election cycle is important for women. Dye said many officials have been making statements minimizing women’s rape reports. Those comments, she added, are damaging to victims of rape, whether they have reported the attacks or not and are the “wrong message” to everybody.
Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, agrees with Dye, calling Rivard’s comments “absolutely horrifying.” She claimed Rivard’s attitude toward women is encompassed by Republican policies.
“These policies impact college students the most,” Taylor said. “College women are planning their lives, and their decisions for the future about graduate school and jobs is dependent upon planning and delaying pregnancy.”
She said conservative policies like the Personhood Amendment is something women on college campuses find “unacceptable.” She encouraged students who are victims of sexual assault to come forward.
Stephen Montagna, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault spokesperson, agreed Rivard’s comments undermine sexual assault and give people the wrong impression of its seriousness.
“Thinking about sexual violence in terms of women simply changing their minds after the fact or using an accusation of assault as a malicious tool of revenge belies the fact that absent clear, verbal, willingly-given consent can be sexual assault,” Montagna said.