Not ready for prime time?
Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich is running for president and has long been thought to be the (comparative) moderate in the Republican primary. But on Friday, Kasich went down the Republican “legitimate rape” hole by telling a woman concerned about sexual violence, “Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol.”
ABC’s Ben Gittleson is covering the presidential race. He tweeted:
Correction: He actually said, "Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol." pic.twitter.com/LON138Ro7b
— Ben Gittleson (@bgittleson) April 15, 2016
In other words, how to avoid sexual violence Republican style: Ladies, don’t go to places where there will be lots of alcohol. The Governor also discussed rape kits and the need for confidential reporting of rapes, so it’s not that Kasich doesn’t care, it’s that the way he sees the world is out dated and can be offensive to women.
This isn’t Kasich’s first rodeo with anti-women comments or stances.
In late February, Kasich said he had an army of people and many women who left their kitchens to go out and put yard signs up “back when things were different.” Women were not impressed.
The Republican Governor also just recently signed a bill defunding Planned Parenthood, citing the (fictional) bad things they were doing — in spite of the fact that Planned Parenthood was exonerated of these accusations and the conservative activist who presented misleadingly edited videos was charged.
So this is a sketchy position for Kasich, one he has no valid reason for but did anyway, based on illegally fraudulent “evidence”. This failure in judgment and willingness to ignore reality in order to legislate his beliefs is not presidential.
Kasich’s stance on choice shouldn’t be overlooked as just pandering to the right, as he said in 2010 that he admired a woman who refused cancer treatment because she was pregnant.
Kasich has enacted 17 anti-choice measures, so this isn’t a one-off mistake. It bears repeating that the best way to prevent abortion is through access to birth control and family planning, both of which Planned Parenthood does. Additionally, tax dollars do not pay for abortions due to the Hyde Amendment, so Kasich’s attempt to punish Planned Parenthood for offering abortion was obvious since his bill defunds organizations that provide this Constitutionally protected right.
Kasich is not all bad news for the vulnerable, however, even if he is tone deaf and out of step with society (aka, a Republican). In 2012 and 2014, Kasich signed laws to combat sex trafficking:
In 2012 the state enacted the Safe Harbor Act, which exempted minors who are victims of human trafficking from the crime of solicitation, provided them services and stiffened penalties against abusers.
In 2014 the End Demand Act was enacted in an attempt to combat market-driven demand for sex trafficking. It increased penalties for traffickers and increased protections for victims.
However, there’s no getting around the victim blaming in Kasich telling a woman to avoid parties with alcohol if she wants to avoid sexual violence, and it’s troubling that a Governor would believe that women were in charge of stopping sexual assault. It’s not that women shouldn’t be careful (sadly this is a reality), it’s that telling women to be careful doesn’t address the problem, it isn’t working, and totally avoids addressing the perpetrators — thus blaming the victim.
One in three women experience physical or sexual violence. Work and marriage are some of the places sexual assaults take place, but you don’t hear elected males telling women to avoid marriage or work. Just parties and alcohol.
We’ve tried telling women to avoid parties and it hasn’t worked, women are still being sexually assaulted. Maybe we should try telling rapists not to rape. And rub that in by actually testing rape kits and prosecuting when the evidence warrants it. RAINN reports, “But even when the crime is reported, it is unlike to lead to an arrest and prosecution. Factoring in unreported rapes, only about 2% of rapists will ever serve a day in prison.”
For a party that believed we should lock everyone up who has smoked pot, it’s weird that they don’t suggest locking up rapists but instead tell women to avoid parties. Weird, but totally predictable.
Update: After much backlash, the Kasich camp sought to clarify the Governor’s remarks with a series of tweets that claim he doesn’t blame women for being raped:
Only one person is at fault in a sexual assault, and that's the assailant. 1/3
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) April 15, 2016
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.