“Some Girls Rape Easy”

That’s what Wisconsin state representative Roger Rivard thinks, anyway. But don’t worry, everyone, he’s clarified! He didn’t mean it’s actually easy to rape some girls; what he meant was, sometimes you have consensual sex with a girl and then it turns out she’s a lying slut and she claims you raped her. So it was an easy rape! Because she’s easy. And so was the rape (“rape”). And it’s not even what he said, it’s what his daddy said. He was just repeating good advice. Because that’s really good advice: Don’t have sex, because the girl you have sex with might be a dirty lying whore. I mean, you know she’s at least a dirty whore, because sex. Lying isn’t so far off.

Have I mentioned that Paul Ryan endorsed this guy?

Also, really, what is with the Republican boner for rape? I wrote about this in the Guardian last week, and explained that the Republican rape problem typifies a more generalized Republican woman problem: They don’t particularly like women, they don’t believe that women should have a full range of rights, they don’t want to see women in power, and so they pass laws that try to coerce women into particular roles. Sometimes their deep disdain and distrust of women slips out a bit more bluntly, like Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments and this latest gem. But the ideology behind those ugly comments is front and center in the Republican party platform. Which, you know, basically says things like, “We will let women die before we will let them get abortions.” Heaven forbid women’s bodies are actually for the women inhabiting them, and not for someone else to boss around.

It’s more than that, though. Republicans also prop up rape culture, and rape culture is enabled by the kind of conservative worldview that the GOP promotes. I know I’m going full-on self-promotional here, but Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape deals with this pretty thoroughly. In the essay I wrote for the anthology, I talk specifically about the right-wing rape problem. There are a few steps to getting to the “conservatism props up rape culture” conclusion, and they are (here radically simplified):

The socially conservative worldview believes that men and women are fundamentally different — not just physically and emotionally and biologically, but in terms of what role they are supposed to fill in society. The conservative worldview sees a society in which these traditional, “natural” roles are filled as the best society. Conservatives believe that men are naturally aggressive and desiring of sex; in the best world, men are heads of households and responsible for action in the public sphere. They care for their families as financial supporters and physical protectors. But they have to be coerced into entering into that family model through a system in which they cannot get sex without marital commitment. Women, on the other hand, could take or leave sex, but they deeply desire monogamy, romantic love, commitment and support. Women are naturally subservient and desiring of stability; in the best world, women are helpmeets to their husbands and responsible for the private sphere — homemaking and caretaking of children and family. They are responsible for civilizing men, partially by withholding sex in order to get the marital commitment they want, and by establishing a nuclear family that is ultimately the best foundation for society.

In that view, sex is essentially a bartering chip. It’s not something that is good in and of itself. It’s good only when it’s used for both parties to get what they want in a socially-sanctioned way. It is something women “give” to men, once men give women what women want.

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 world.

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. We see that framework everywhere from the church to porn to abstinence-only education to dating advice. Our mainstream culture still sees sex as something women have and men get.

But increasingly women are saying no, we aren’t going to use virginity (or sex) 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 do 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).

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 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, as the conservative female is naturally chaste and subservient and refusing of sex unless she falls from grace, 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 unless you jumped out of the bushes and grabbed a virgin 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.’

“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.’

Ooookay. So many things to get mad about! But putting the mad aside for a second: This argument only works in a society that holds ideal conservative views about sex. This problem only exists in a society that follows, or aspires to follow, ideal conservative views about sex. And obviously American society is still that, at least partly (what we aspire to and what we do are two very different things). But if we all looked at sex as something awesome and healthy and natural that two people do together and that requires some responsibility and ethical treatment of oneself and one’s partner, instead of a bartering chip that women are supposed to give to men in one particular context and that sullies them if they give it in the wrong context? The Rivard rape scenario would not be plausible, because there would be no incentive to lie about rape. Put more simply: Why would the lying woman in Rivard’s story lie unless she feared retribution for having sex? And why, in a feminist world, would she fear retribution for having sex?

Feminism: Good for everyone, even men falsely accused of rape in a Republican dad’s paranoia scenario.

The fundamental problem here is that conservatives don’t trust women to run our own lives. They don’t trust us to determine the number and spacing of our own children, and they definitely don’t trust us when it comes to anything sex related. In their estimation, sex is always a tool to get something else. Women need to be controlled — by men, by the law, by the pervasive threat of sexual assault if they leave the home or if they act in unladlylike ways. And yes, that enables rape. It enables men to get away with rape. It enables the kind of mentality that Rivard expresses here.

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121 comments for ““Some Girls Rape Easy”

  1. October 10, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    JESUS FUCKING WOW. These guys. How do they even?

    • October 10, 2012 at 9:19 pm

      RIGHT? That was my initial reaction. Just… “Wow these guys. Are they still serious, and still here?”

      • October 10, 2012 at 9:57 pm

        I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the Republicans have been cursed by some powerful and pissed-off witch somewhere to “speak their hearts”, or something. There’s just been way too much sewage-spew from the Repubs in the last few months to not suspect it, from Akin to Mauch and his inexcusable slavery comments.

        I wish I could have my theory confirmed. It would be nice to shake her hand and give her cookies.

      • EG
        October 10, 2012 at 10:05 pm

        Mauch and his inexcusable slavery comments.

        I don’t want to know, do I?

      • Partial Human
        October 10, 2012 at 10:14 pm

        This. Like Liar, Liar.

        They’re as funny as Jim “WTF is germ theory?” Carrey too.

      • October 10, 2012 at 10:43 pm

        EG, there’s whole worlds of not-wanting-to-know in that man’s comments. You can google him if you want, but holy shit, be prepared to be upset as fuck.

      • Kristen J.
        October 10, 2012 at 11:43 pm

        Well. That was incredibly frightening and horrifying. I think I’ll go pet my dog and hug my husband. And may be hide under the covers for the rest of the evening.

  2. librarygoose
    October 10, 2012 at 9:13 pm


    I just curled up to hide from this whole…thing.

  3. Geoarch
    October 10, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Feminism: Good for everyone, even men falsely accused of rape in a Republican dad’s paranoia scenario.

    And yet they like to claim that men, in their worldview, are the rational ones, while women are illogical and not to be trusted.

    Just…..I don’t even. know. what. to. say.

    • SirenSong
      October 11, 2012 at 9:32 am


      This continues to baffle me. How can the same narrative, the same worldview contain both of the following ideas:

      “Women are fragile emotional beings, prone to hysteria and histrionics, cannot be trusted to lead a country/corporation (or even a god-damned film set, Bret Ellis) and don’t even get us started on her days of blood-madness!”

      “Women are a pure force of soothing calm, chaining the beast that is Man’s Lust, able to hold it, shape it, and direct it towards noble purposes”

      How the fuck is that not a double-think?

      • Melissa
        October 11, 2012 at 11:34 am

        Haha, yeah…you’d almost think that women are fully-formed human beings with a whole range of individual emotions and behaviors or something…

        …oh wait.

  4. Rathi R
    October 10, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    It looks like everything that can happen wrong to a woman is caused by her own self. Get raped, the woman is to blame. Get pregnant, the woman is to blame. Get sexually assaulted, the woman is to blame. It also looks like everything that a woman thinks is right for her also cannot escape the lens of a conservative. Decide not to get pregnant. Decide not to become a victim. Decide not to become a mother. Decide not to have a family until she is prepared. All conservative antennae get ticked off. When will the men who have perpetrated the crimes, when will they start taking responsibility? Or have we let loose all laws for the men who have committed horrible horrible crimes? Have we given them a license to do or say things just by us being women?

    Rivard, what can I say!! Some girls might rape easy. But, flash news some men rape easy too because they get the sanction from men like you. Thank you very much.

  5. Mztress
    October 10, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    “JESUS FUCKING WOW. These guys. How do they even?”

    Probably because so many of us allow them to.

    • EG
      October 10, 2012 at 10:08 pm

      Yeah, there’s always some way it’s women’s fault, I guess. Shame on us, “letting” misogynists…do what they do.

    • Partial Human
      October 10, 2012 at 10:10 pm

      Aww man. Not even ten comments in, and we’re already at victim blaming?

      Do you hear yourself, that internal monologue as you type? Or do you just engage in stream-of-consciousness digital* diarrhoea?

      *As in fingers. But it works both ways, which is nice.

      • PrettyAmiable
        October 11, 2012 at 9:55 am

        I read it as a battle cry. Like, “We elect these dipshits. Let’s vote. Let’s get folks who don’t vote to vote.” etc.

      • October 12, 2012 at 1:48 pm

        This was how I read it too. I read “us” as societal.

    • matlun
      October 11, 2012 at 1:34 am

      I think that comment is fair enough.

      The truly depressing thing is that people keep voting for these asshats. If all these comments were just from some anonymous misanthropes without influence it would be far less upsetting.

  6. duck-billed placelot
    October 10, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    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.’

    Why was Rivard – or, excuse me, Rivard’s dad, I guess – having sex with underage girls? If he (either of them) were to have sex with a girl he could refer to as ‘underage’, then yes, it is rape to, um, rape a minor.

    • matlun
      October 11, 2012 at 1:46 am

      I don’t know.
      1. I am actually in favor of Romeo and Juliet laws myself (or some other way to not classify it as an automatic crime where the age difference is small), and
      2. I do not think “rape” is in general a good term to use for age of consent situations, since it dilutes the term to also use it for less serious offences.

      • duck-billed placelot
        October 11, 2012 at 2:33 am

        I certainly take your point about small age differences, but that whole age of consent thing is about consent and the way children can not consent to sex with adults. So, yeah, a grown person ‘having sex’ with a child is rape. And yes, ‘under the age of consent’ means a child. Let’s not slice and dice which rapes are ‘real’ rapes, ok?

      • EG
        October 11, 2012 at 3:23 am

        Statutory rape is rape. It does not dilute the term, because it is not a lesser offense for a grown adult to take advantage of the disproportionate power he/she has to manipulate a kid.

        I too am in favor of laws that recognize that 18 and 16-year-olds are not decades apart, but I see no reason to bend over backwards to give this asshole the benefit of the doubt regarding his assholish remarks.

      • matlun
        October 11, 2012 at 4:18 am

        The case that was discussed in the interview in question involved a 14 and a 17 year old. It is also highly relevant to note that here the 14 year says that she did not consent.

        Whether the 14 year old did give consent or not makes a huge difference, and using the same term for both cases is very problematic IMO. It is implicitly saying that she would not be capable of giving consent in any case so her experience is irrelevant.

      • EG
        October 11, 2012 at 5:29 pm

        Yes, it is saying that a fourteen-year-old is incapable of giving consent. And I certainly agree that a fourteen-year-old is incapable of giving meaningful consent to an adult, and 17 is pushing it.

      • Donna L
        October 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm

        There’s a big difference between 14 and 17. To me, at least, it’s much greater than the difference between, say, 16 and 19 or 17 and 20. And I seem to remember (although I haven’t checked) that Romeo and Juliet laws were intended to avoid the situation where two kids who are both under the age of consent, and are no more than two years or so apart, are considered guilty of statutory rape.

      • matlun
        October 12, 2012 at 7:31 am

        @EG: “… 17 is pushing it.”
        @Donna: “Romeo and Juliet laws were intended to avoid the situation where two kids who are both under the age of consent, and are no more than two years or so apart, are considered guilty of statutory rape.”

        My take on it:
        “Romeo and Juliet law” in general reduces or eliminates the penalty when the age difference is “small enough”. There can be additional conditions as for example both parties being over age X (lower than the general age of consent). For example in Texas the conditions are less than three years in age difference and both parties over 14 years old.

        I think I agree with EG that 14 and 17 as ages is kind of a close call.

        Even so, I maintain that there is a huge qualitative difference as to whether the 14 year has “subjectively” given consent or not. I have a hard time accepting that the same term should be used to describe both situations.

      • yes
        October 14, 2012 at 4:25 pm

        I think there’s something to be said for how you use language when something is “a close call” or “pushing it” because you bring legitimate ambiguity to to something often plagued with illegitimate ambiguity.

  7. Radiant Sophia
    October 10, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    I’m not sure what to say about this. It would seem, lately, that conservatives are far more conservative than when I was growing up. Or maybe they are only now actually speaking what they have always been thinking.

  8. October 10, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    I wouldn’t put these dudes in charge of planning a high school blood drive or a paper route. How is it that they get to be running ANYTHING?

    • Marksman2010
      October 10, 2012 at 10:59 pm

      It’s not a case of running for office, it’s a case that they actually get elected–and re-elected, in many cases.

      • October 10, 2012 at 11:24 pm


        I really want views like theirs to be FUCKING EMBARRASSING to have and say in public. They get you laughed out of any public office or serious debate. Still reeling whenever I find out they aren’t.

  9. shfree
    October 10, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    Just another hatchmark on my “number of times Republicans have gotten their hate on publicly for women” chart. It really is a huge weight on my shoulders, every time I read a new article where someone else says something utterly reprehensible. I try my hardest to be surprised that one of them can spew such idiocy in this day and age, but I just can’t anymore. And I find that even more depressing than the bullshit they are spewing.

  10. October 10, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    There are few things that enrage me more than the “women cry rape all the time” rhetoric. People who regurgitate it are truly some of the worst human beings on the planet.

    “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.”

    Yet another reason for me to despise Warren Farrell. I fucking hate this guy.

    • Esti
      October 11, 2012 at 12:14 am

      Holy fuck. That quote, I can’t even.

      • quint
        October 11, 2012 at 12:50 am

        Entire quote here.

      • October 11, 2012 at 2:30 am

        So apparently he also believes in tacit consent and thinks that feminists only regard verbal consent as important. And I thought he couldn’t get any worse…

      • October 11, 2012 at 2:32 am

        Oh, and it looks like he believes that all women fantasize about being raped. Yup, this guy is a rape apologist creep without a doubt.

      • im
        October 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm

        That is more than an apologist. …

        And stringing along people is the male equivalent of rape?


      • Bagelsan
        October 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm

        Yeah, that’s just a flat-out rapist! “Exciting”? Go fuck yourself.

    • Athenia
      October 11, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      God I hate Warren Farrell too!

  11. Steve
    October 11, 2012 at 12:46 am

    I think the biggest problem with politics might be that there are too many men and not enough women. Sorry conservative dudes but you guys suck the worst. Any woman in power would be better than one of you. I know you guys fear powerful women because of how good they might be at handling it, not because of how bad.

    • yes
      October 11, 2012 at 5:54 am

      Palin. Bachmann. /thread

      Nice gender essentialism, though.

    • Kara
      October 11, 2012 at 11:10 am

      Uuhhhh…. “ANY woman in power”?

      There are plenty of conservative/Republican women who are just as bad as the men.

      Sarah Palin
      Amy Baughman
      Ann Coulter
      To name a few

      I don’t want any of THEM in charge either!

      • im
        October 11, 2012 at 4:38 pm

        At least two conservative women are not just bad but spectacularly bad. (palin and bachman)

        It’s stuff like this being voted for that made me into a cultural imperialist in my own land.

  12. matlun
    October 11, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Just since it was not very clear from the OP: the comments were made in a discussion related to a case where this type of false accusation is claimed to have been made (by the defenders of the accused).

    • Partial Human
      October 11, 2012 at 2:31 am

      So what? It’s not appropriate in any fucking context.

      Men need to take responsibility for their apparent inability to control their mouths and genitals.

      What doesn’t need to happen is someone saying:

      “Ah, but context!!”


      “This victim-blaming comment is appropriate”,


      “Meh, even though I don’t know how old this man was when he was fucking. young girls, here’s a note from my boner, saying’It’s all good. It’s not rape-rape anyway, age of consent laws are totes too strict'”

      • duck-billed placelot
        October 11, 2012 at 2:37 am

        Or, I could have refreshed the page and read matlun’s continued request-for-side-eye and your totally on-point response. Rape apology on a thread about rape apologist: who could have guessed?

    • Annaleigh
      October 11, 2012 at 3:29 am

      Anddddddd no thread dealing with sexual violence or street harassment of the sort is complete without a clueless comment by matlun. Makes me want to scream.

      • Partial Human
        October 11, 2012 at 8:26 am

        It’s like he has a compulsion to let us know how we caused our SA or rape, and then shove in an opinion on the many ways that rape isn’t fair on the poor rapist.

        matlun – why? Surely after this many years of shit-stirring here, you’re bored?

        Sorry if you’re a woman and I’ve misgendered you.

    • matlun
      October 11, 2012 at 5:59 am

      WTF? How did that read as a defence for his comments?
      I reread it now and I just do not see it.

      To clarify:
      1. I thought the fact that he was commenting on an actual case rather interesting, and
      2. Wouldn’t this actually reflect negatively on him? Doesn’t it make the comment worse that there was a specific case and he arguably implicitly accused a specific girl of lying?

      • Kristen J.
        October 11, 2012 at 10:21 am

        Ugh. Just. Ugh. I mean not onlyis he a misogynistic little fuck,but he’s specifically aiming that misogyny at a 14 year old girl? Also, that article is the definition of rape apology. Some *children* *think* she consented. That’s reportable news? He hopes it doesn’t derail his chances of joining the military? Oh VOMIT.

      • Esti
        October 11, 2012 at 11:22 am

        Especially since the law in question applies whether or not she consented. Age of consent is 16 is Wisconsin. Whether the girl is “crying rape” or not doesn’t have any bearing on the case.

      • doberman
        October 11, 2012 at 11:46 am

        That’s kinda the point though… If different places have different ages of consent it kinda shows that the concept is meaningless. As soon as an 16 year old girl crosses into a state where the age of consent is 18 she magically looses the cognitive ability to provide consent to a guy?

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m disgusted by the idea of old guys doing it with teen girls, but really the question is whether she consented or not? I think any girl above the age of say 13 has the ability to reason and think about sex and provide consent. Yes it’s icky, but we have got to respect people’s choices.

      • October 11, 2012 at 12:04 pm

        I’m not sure how I feel about your last sentence, Doberman.

        There’s a power difference between older and younger people that comes into play which muddies the ‘meaningful consent’ waters.

      • matlun
        October 11, 2012 at 12:18 pm

        If different places have different ages of consent it kinda shows that the concept is meaningless.

        No, this is very wrong.

        We should all be able to agree that a 30 year old having sex with a 9 year old is wrong (to use a ridiculously low age to ensure agreement…), and that an 18 and a 17 year old having consensual sex is not a problem in principle (even though some states have an 18 year age of consent).

        The fact that there is no simple black and white line does not mean that having laws about the issue is pointless. Age of consent laws can certainly be problematic, but they also address situations that should to be handled by the law. The current laws are just the current compromise for doing this. You can argue that they need to be improved, but they are not “meaningless”.

        Real life is complex. Deal with it.

      • Esti
        October 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm

        Yeah, the age of consent is an arbitrary line, Doberman. But it’s no less arbitrary to set the line at 13 like you just proposed doing.

        And I think most people would agree that we don’t always and without question “have to respect people’s choices” when the people you’re talking about are thirteen. Which is why we don’t let 13 year olds vote, or drink, or drive, or smoke, or consent to medical procedures, or sign binding legal documents. The question isn’t just “did she say yes” but “is she capable of giving meaningful consent.”

      • doberman
        October 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm

        I see where you’re coming from but it still seems pretty disrespectful to me to say “OK maybe you think you gave consent but it doesn’t really count, you got raped”. I knew girls growing up who had sex with older guys when they were that age, and I certainly wouldn’t tell them it was was actually rape, and they don’t view it as rape.

      • matlun
        October 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm

        As stated above, I agree with this and that this type of situation should not be called rape. But it should still be illegal (according to some well chosen criteria which can be debated).

        In fact, many jurisdictions do not call it rape. From wiki:

        Different jurisdictions use many different statutory terms for the crime, such as “sexual assault”, “rape of a child”, “corruption of a minor”, “carnal knowledge of a minor”, “unlawful carnal knowledge”, or simply “carnal knowledge”.

        (Ok, one “rape” was in there, but you get the idea)

      • Esti
        October 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm

        Except that there’s a difference between the legal definition of a crime and the way in which an individual views their experience. I wouldn’t necessarily tell a 14 year old that she was raped if she believed she hadn’t been, but that doesn’t mean that the adult who had sex with her didn’t commit a crime. Likewise, I wouldn’t tell a woman that she wasn’t raped just because what happened to her didn’t fit the legal definition of sexual assault in whatever jurisdiction she happens to be in.

      • October 11, 2012 at 2:24 pm

        Judging by the rape stats for women in the military, I would say that no, being a rapist does not damage his chances of entering the military.

        …reason #35235235235 to side-eye straight white guys in the US military.

      • im
        October 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm

        My view on social power gradients is that they are something which exists more on a group rather than individual level. THings have to be analyzed case by case.

        Big age differences, however, SHOULD NOT be happening in the first place unless the younger party is truly exceptional, and even then I;d say they should just not happen.

  13. John
    October 11, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Good article. It seems to me also that you need to bear in mind that the GOP won’t let you own your own body by having an abortion after you have been raped and impregnated. Romney will appoint Justices to your Supreme Court who will overturn Roe the first chance they get.
    It just staggers many of us outside the USA how people like this can be elected to anything, let alone lawmaking bodies and POTUS. Is it the effects of fundamentalist Puritan religion, or what? They say when America catches cold, Europe sneezes, but so far we haven’t had this sort of fruitcake stuff in our national politics.

  14. Rhoanna
    October 11, 2012 at 7:39 am

    “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.’”

    But, but, if she got pregnant, everybody knows it wasn’t legitimate rape, because the female body’s got defenses against that sort of thing. So why would anyone believe her? Which is also why you shouldn’t use contraceptives, so the chance of her getting pregnant (and therefore provably not legitimate rape) is higher.

    • EG
      October 11, 2012 at 8:48 am

      Of course, if the young lady could get an abortion without parental consent, they wouldn’t have to know, and they wouldn’t be mad as any kind of hen at all. Just saying.

  15. Marissa123
    October 11, 2012 at 8:27 am

    I agree with everything with one caveat — that this is relegated just to conservatism. Conservatives take it to a whole ‘nother level for sure and all of this is exacerbated to the extreme, but I’m seeing a whole hell of a lot of exactly what you have described from so-called progressives and self-proclaimed liberals.

    My very democrat and self-proclaimed liberal parents will spout the same shit about rape and roles for men and women. I cannot even count the number of times in the last few months that so-called progressive men have mansplained to me these very things about rape and gender roles, all the while telling me with their male authority that men and women are/should be equal and that rape culture simply does not exist and systemic victim-blame is a lie for which they need better than statistics and better than anecdotal-evidence proof of its existence.

    Absolutely definitely the GOP platform is friggen scary and there is no trust of women whatsoever. But I just wish for a bit more analysis about these as general tendencies of our social climate, some areas exceedingly worse than others. You do discuss this to some extent by talking about how these problems are systemic and cultural. But this still becomes a binary that produces the misconception that the opposite side is somehow safe for women. Better for women to take their chances with sure. Saf-ER even. But I think we should be almost equally calling out the democrats and so-called progressives for abandoning women and creating the myth that they are somehow pro-women’s rights.

    I’m really feeling quite disillusioned by so many so-called progressives and democrats and supposed-liberals at the moment. To the point where my extreme liberalism – extreme because I’m extremely concerned with women’s rights, lgbti rights, trans rights, anti-racism, etc – has been called out by so-called progressive men as somehow being anti-progressive…? Basically this was caught up in these white dude’s free-speech arguments because I loudly advocated for public figures not to encourage violence against minoritized people. Yeah… about that.. anyways…

    • Esti
      October 11, 2012 at 9:13 am

      I think this is an important point. There are so many fuckwit Republican politicians saying this stuff that it becomes easy to use Republican as a shorthand for misogyny or rape apology. But just as there are Republicans who *don’t* believe these things and are horrified by how many politicians from their party do, there are a ton of Democrats (and non-affiliated people) who do. On the whole, there’s more of this crap coming from the right, but it’s certainly not an attitude that the left is immune to.

      • Radiant Sophia
        October 11, 2012 at 9:33 am

        I agree that democrats are not immune to having this attitude, but I have never encountered a modern conservative who didn’t. The current conservative party in the U.S.A. is built upon this, and ostracizes from it’s ranks any who disagree.

      • Esti
        October 11, 2012 at 10:57 am

        I agree the current Republican party is built on this, but I don’t think it’s inherent to small-c conservatism. There are Republicans who hate this crap about their party and want to see it change its stance on reproductive rights, and I’m really glad they exist — the Olympia Snowes and Susan Collinses of the world are incredibly important to having a functional two-party system. As we saw over the past two years, there have to be reasonable voices on both sides of the aisle or government just doesn’t work.

      • October 11, 2012 at 9:39 am

        Right. Definitely wasn’t implying that only Republicans hold this view. What I was trying to get it is that these views on rape come from a conservative, right-wing mentality — which is held, to varying degrees, by large majorities of Americans. The difference is that the Republican party enshrines that mentality into their platform and policies.

      • Marissa123
        October 11, 2012 at 12:31 pm

        “The difference is that the Republican party enshrines that mentality into their platform and policies.”

        I absolutely could not agree more. The GOP party is founded on this shit and it is certainly enshrined. I brought up my point in no way to undermine yours, my apologies if it came off that way, but to extend the conversation ever so slightly. As I mentioned, you did describe how these beliefs are systemic so you certainly weren’t arguing it doesn’t exist beyond or outside the GOP. I didn’t intend to call you out for something that you missed, because you clearly did not. And I mean certainly focus on what the GOP is specifically doing. That shit’s appalling and extremist to put it lightly. And it’s not like every piece of writing ever can address all of its implications and intersections. But I do think underscoring a bit more the ways these ideas are reproduced, even if to a much lesser degree, within what is perceived as “the other side” is important too, just to underscore its systemic nature.

        Anyways I really really wasn’t disagreeing in the least. Only intending to extend the conversation. Mostly because I have been personally finding all of these so-called progressives in my life that like to pretend that racism, sexism, and homophobia are “over there,” while completely ignoring their own roles in perpetuating these very isms, mistakenly thinking they are better than that or too educated to think that. But, not so…

      • October 11, 2012 at 12:38 pm

        I brought up my point in no way to undermine yours, my apologies if it came off that way, but to extend the conversation ever so slightly.

        Didn’t come off that way at all! It was an important contribution. Thanks for raising it — you’re right that this is not in any way a Republicans-only thing.

    • tawanda1313
      October 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      Robin Morgan (a feminist of my vintage) wrote a wonderful essay entitled “Goodbye To All That.” Wonderful point of view about how women were treated during the 1960’s social revolution. Treat yourselves!

  16. roro80
    October 11, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Good lord, that is really deeply revolting. Great exposition on all the surrounding issues, Jill, but I’m still stuck on being revolted…

  17. Lori
    October 11, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Wake me up because I must be dreaming. Who are these people? From what planet do they come? It’s seriously fucked up that there are people who hold these views in 2012.

    And Jill, might I add that I think this is the best, most thoughtful thing you’ve written in a long time. And I’m always a fan of your writing.

  18. C. Mike Tripp
    October 11, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Help put a stop to the War on Women, ensure that Rivard is voted out of office and contribute to his opponent’s campaign. Help elect Stephen Smith. Check him out on Facebook or at his websitewww.stephen-4-75thwi.com

  19. October 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    It’s good to know the fevered MRA paranoia dream of the False Rape Accusation Epidemic has eventually found a voice with a mainstream politician.

    Oh wait, no it’s not.

  20. Delinke Freed
    October 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Susan Griffin, in 1981, published a book called “Pornography and Silence: Culture’s Revenge Against Nature.” A startling book, sometimes very painful to read, but so very relevant. She speaks of the “pornographic mind” of our misogynistic culture. An important book to read in light of all the misogynistic, “war on women” stuff that has exploded currently.

  21. Kristen J.
    October 11, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Things overheard in my office today?

    Oh well, I’m sure he didn’t mean it that way

    We know what he really meant.

    Its not PC but its true. Women do those things.

    • October 12, 2012 at 12:49 am

      Dear Rape Culture,

      Please stop existing forever.


  22. Marksman2010
    October 12, 2012 at 6:08 am

    I wouldn’t put these dudes in charge of planning a high school blood drive or a paper route. How is it that they get to be running ANYTHING?

    One the brilliant Republican minds at work in my state’s legislative body is receiving criticism because of the following statement he made about slavery: “The institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise.” He also added that African-Americans were better off than they would have been had they not been captured and shipped to the United States.

    And a former GOP state legislator–who’s running for a state House seat–just stated that all Muslims residing in the U.S. should be deported.

    And these two guys…have and will receive votes.

  23. October 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Sounds like Roger Rivard (and those who think like him,) was an inspiration for a sub-plot of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill 2.

  24. William
    October 13, 2012 at 10:31 am

    I think a lot of these kinds of statements are the natural outgrowth of a post-9/11 culture and a black man in the white house.

    None of these statements, from the endless parade of Republican rape “gaffes” to comments about slavery doing good, are even remotely new. They’re the things people have felt for a long time. Really they’re the things people never actually stopped saying but just said behind closed doors. These are the things some fathers say to their children, they’re the things grandma says and everyone silently thinks “thank god we weren’t in a restaurant,” they’re the things chuckled over at the water cooler or traded in a locker room. The difference today is that the sense of shame has been pushed back. After 9/11 an enormous portion of America got a taste of what it was like to be able to hate on a minority group without any fear of social opprobrium or serious challenge. People started to be able to say the things in public that they used to say only amongst themselves. Around the same time that xenophobia started to get routed towards immigration and, again, people could get away with saying a lot more than they used to. Gay marriage started to become a more serious issue and suddenly the kinds of things you used to only hear from your drunken uncle became part of the political discourse. Then came Obama and all the ugly racism that festers in the US started to have a more public voice.

    Ten years in and the Republicans are starting to realize that saying what they mean helps them. It worked to whip up anti-muslim sentiment. It worked to whip up anti-immigrant sentiment. It worked to whip up gay panic. It damn near worked to put a senile old man and a semi-sentient fundamentalist in office over a qualified black man. You can’t be shocked they’d try to use it against women.

    This country needs a good plague.

    • October 13, 2012 at 11:03 am

      William, dear gods, get yourself a blog so I can link to it all over the place! That is probably the most brilliant analysis of the recent Republican spew that I’ve ever seen. Love it love it.

      • October 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm

        Seconded! William is just fabulous.

    • Stella
      October 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      It has not so much to do with what “people can get away with” but with how more and more people nowdays seem to think and feel. Through the internet a campaign can get a pretty good grasp on how certain viewpoints would resonate among the public and with that info what could be considered political suicide might turn out to be a home run, when the data suggests that a large chunk of the population will see those “gaffes” with favor rather than scorn.

      Also feminism has gone from a mainstream movement to a closed doors no menz allowed movement, so many men do not know to begin with what a no go is supposed to sound like.

      • Stella
        October 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm

        However what you wrote about the general population might be true. The GOP is just cashing out on it, else it wouldnt be such a close race.

      • EG
        October 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

        Also feminism has gone from a mainstream movement to a closed doors no menz allowed movement.

        That’s just not true. Feminism has always been perceived as a fringe movement, and it is far more mainstream now than it was forty years ago.

      • Stella
        October 13, 2012 at 1:01 pm

        More mainstream than 40 years ago, but it has had setbacks for 10+ years. How is a dude supposed to not vote for a candidate, because the candidate said something anti feminist, when most guys thesedays are like feminism? Whats that?

      • EG
        October 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm

        What I am saying is that it has always been that way. Men in general have always excoriated feminism and/or been completely ignorant about it. That’s nothing new.

        And the past ten years? You mean the past ten years in the US and Europe when the political discourse has been almost unceasingly dragged rightward in every conceivable way? Of course feminism has been set back. So has every progressive movement.

      • Stella
        October 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm

        Its just that I recall a time when feminism had more influence 10+ years back. And the feminists were quite happy to exclude men, because frankly men only got more interested in it because feminism gained traction and power and many women felt like, why should we let them on board now. However that has led to a situation, where instead of more people becoming familiar with feminism the reach of feminism diminished and along with it its reach and today less people are familiar with feminism.

        Anti feminism is not political suicide if more and more people have to look it up or see it as a thing of the past.

      • EG
        October 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm

        Anti-feminism has never been political suicide, though.

        Ten years ago was shortly after Bush 2 took office, about a year after 9/11. I really don’t recall feminism having much influence at all, politically.

      • William
        October 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm

        How is a dude supposed to not vote for a candidate, because the candidate said something anti feminist, when most guys thesedays are like feminism? Whats that?

        …because even if you don’t have the language to talk about rape culture and can’t pick Gloria Steinem out of a line up that doesn’t mean you’re not squicked right the fuck out by “some girls rape easy”?

      • Stella
        October 14, 2012 at 7:48 am

        The reaction is to be seen. The problem isnt what politicians say, but why they say it and are they right about it.

        Is it truly a gaffe, or did he say it with the expectation of a positive outcome among the voting public because their research showed sentiment changed in such a way that talking like that will net him votes? The problem isnt the GOP, but a public whom supports the GOP in their views.

      • William
        October 14, 2012 at 10:06 am

        Is it truly a gaffe, or did he say it with the expectation of a positive outcome among the voting public because their research showed sentiment changed in such a way that talking like that will net him votes? The problem isnt the GOP, but a public whom supports the GOP in their views.

        I don’t need to do polling to know that if I’m in a room full of evangelicals I probably shouldn’t mention being a thelemite but could make friends by talking about how evil queers are. This is the danger of the delusion that somehow the GOP is just a corporate machine that has invaded our political world. Its not. The public who supports the GOP is the GOP.

        This is part of our country. Part of our country thinks women are basically property and that the natural order of things has been upset. Part of our country sincerely believes that patriarchy is not only a good option but one mandated by god. Part of our country thinks a black man shouldn’t be in the white house but would do well to be a slave. Part of our country thinks that reproductive rights are a sinful perversion of the divine plan. Part of our country believes that rape is theft from a father or husband. For years those parts of the country have used dog whistles and obfuscation to talk to each other in public because they couldn’t get away with it. Thats changed now. I absolutely think that some people in the GOP (Romney springs to mind) are just using the faithful fools, but a significant percentage of the Republican Party really is staffed with theocrats, racists, and the kinds of people who need lead aspirin.

      • Stella
        October 14, 2012 at 11:57 am

        I believe you are right William. And yet the action is too much focused on the GOP, instead of going about to change the mindset of the voter base of the GOP, so that the GOP has to change or lose votes.

  25. SB
    October 14, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Pigs. I’m nauseous. This is why I’m Libertarian – in the hope these creeps will have less power over all of us. Rape is not funny. Also was Rivard’s father saying it’s okay to manipulate or force underage girls? just don’t get caught?

  26. Sam
    October 15, 2012 at 6:27 pm


    In that view, sex is essentially a bartering chip. It’s not something that is good in and of itself. It’s good only when it’s used for both parties to get what they want in a socially-sanctioned way. It is something women “give” to men, once men give women what women want.

    I’m late to read this and I agree with almost everything you say. In fact, I’m thinking you’re rephrasing a lot of what I’ve said here (http://www.realadultsex.com/archives/2009/01/bogus-two-rules-desire-aka-shorter-no-sex-class-paradigm#comment-17675) about female and male double binds.

    Still, there’s two things I think deserve a second glance. For one, I think, for a lot of people, the feminist model, at least superficially, looks *a lot* like the conservative model you describe with respect to the belief about who owns “sex” and who doesn’t. Most men don’t believe in the possibility of something like Millar’s performance model of sexuality, because *they* don’t believe they have anything to give that women could want. And I think that is an assumption which is also present in a lot of feminist thought and writing: the difference in the assumptions being that men supposedly aren’t biologically “like that”, but “merely” in a culturally embodying way. While not different for the actual men, it’s an argument that allows to both blame men for the consequences of their (currently embodied) sexuality and to simultaneously claim they aren’t “aren’t (biologically) like that”, since, in the latter case, the feminist message that “men need to deal with their potential sexual sociopathy on their own, women shouldn’t bear the costs of that” would be much less plausible. But while logically sound, the argument often feels disingenous, because the feminist discourse keeps emphazising the consequences of potential male sexual sociopathy, thereby making it much harder for guys to start believing in a world in which their sexuality could actually be something to be *given* or shared, or played with in a jam-session.

    I’m not saying feminism should shift it’s focus away from problematic male behaviour, but it’s a focus that, I believe, is definitely conflicting with the ideas mentioned in this post in all but pure abstract theory.

    The other thing I’d like to mention is that feminists (as opposed to non-feminist women, in my experience) have more difficulty to believe that the male fear of false rape accusations can be at the same time overblown and a very real problematic factor, despite it’s relative statistical irrelevance. Mocking certainly has its appropriate moments, but there should be an understanding that the fear, though unrealistic, is still real fear, as are a lot of kinds of fear. And mocking is not usually part of anxiety therapy. I’m not sure why that would be different in a social discourse.

    Of course, the latter is certainly connected to the first problem. If (more) men believed (more readily) they had something to give that was equally valuable (as female sexuality), they may not as easily believe that a woman would falsely accuse them of taking something from her (because they wouldn’t believe she’d need to protect that value – as you rightly point out in the OP)

    Sadly, my first point interferes, and thus, I believe that, to many men (also women), false rape accusations seem a priori plausible in because “taking” is kind of the standard way for them to think about male sexuality (remember “Superbad”? “We can be *that mistake*!”) And as long as that is the default way of thinking about it, men will remain defensive in this area, and having a jam session will be difficult.

    For a jam session approach to work, every musician must believe that she/he will get a chance to play. If that doesn’t happen, and people still want to play, playing will get a price, and we’re back to a commodity model. And that’s the problem.

    Are male and female sexualities *actually* sufficiently compatible for a jam session model? I mean, sure, all people are snowflakes. But there are also distributions. What if you replaced “marriage” with “love” in the OP? I think that’s still the way most people, both women and men, think about sexuality, and love. And, alas, I’m not really sure how that mindset could be changed.

    • EG
      October 16, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      And mocking is not usually part of anxiety therapy. I’m not sure why that would be different in a social discourse.

      Because I’m not your fucking therapist. Your unrealistic fears are your problem to deal with, not mine.

    • PrettyAmiable
      October 25, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      The other thing I’d like to mention is that feminists (as opposed to non-feminist women, in my experience) have more difficulty to believe that the male fear of false rape accusations can be at the same time overblown and a very real problematic factor, despite it’s relative statistical irrelevance.

      Really, asshole? When no one believed me when I talked about my assault, you think I didn’t understand that the “male fear of false rape accusations” is “a very real problematic factor”?

      I just don’t give a fuck how it affects men because I, as a woman who was assaulted, will always have to deal with the actual problematic aspects of that stupidity on your (read: men who are dumb enough to think this is an actual thing that happens) part. So fuck you, you ignorant shitsack. Read a motherfucking book, try to develop some fucking empathy for people with real problems, then try to have a chat with the grown ups again.

      Go. Away.

  27. TomSims
    October 16, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    “The other thing I’d like to mention is that feminists (as opposed to non-feminist women, in my experience) have more difficulty to believe that the male fear of false rape accusations can be at the same time overblown and a very real problematic factor, despite it’s relative statistical irrelevance. Mocking certainly has its appropriate moments, but there should be an understanding that the fear, though unrealistic, is still real fear, as are a lot of kinds of fear. And mocking is not usually part of anxiety therapy. I’m not sure why that would be different in a social discourse.”

    I agree completely. You are spot on. Perception trumps reality every time.

  28. October 25, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    The GOP is clueless. I can’t wait to vote against them down the line.

  29. AR
    October 26, 2012 at 10:00 am

    These republicans are waging a war against women, families, and our economy.

    It’s a war against women because what they are trying to do (overturn Roe v. Wade, outlaw certain forms of birth control, make it harder for women to get birth control) puts women in the U.S. quite a bit closer to the horrors women in the Middle East have lived through for decades.

    It’s a war against families because it prevents families from taking care of the children they already have by preventing the birth of additional children they do not want and cannot afford. It’s an intrusion into our sexual lives and the freedoms that many of feel we have within our own homes (and something that Republicans have historically said they were out to protect).

    It’s a war against the economy because if women end up losing the ability to control childbearing, they will slowly drop out of the workforce. No society can be prosperous when 50% of the population is unable to work or works less. It will result in fewer jobs because an entire service industry (childcare and all the other things working parents regularly pay for) will cease to exist. There will go millions of jobs. Also, when more unwanted children are born, a nation ends up paying more for social services (health care, welfare, etc) and prisons (unwanted children are far more likely to end up in the penal system).

    Everyone, men and women, need to wake up and listen to what these idiots are saying during this election. It impacts our entire nation. It will impact our freedom and privacy and economy.

  30. Jonathan
    October 27, 2012 at 9:33 am

    That these comments aren’t made mainstream and discussed at length in the US media is terrifying. Of course any right-minded person would think along the lines that you are.

    I have one knit-pick however, simply because it’s important to get the facts straight. I haven’t looked through the whole website. But the link to Focus on the Family you talk about doesn’t seem to be about women specifically. They seem to be talking about chastity in general, rather than women’s chastity as you make out. What they say is in my mind horribly twisted, but I think it’s important to cite them as accurately as possible.

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