Denver Riggleman thinks it's up to women to stop men from raping them.
When Senate Republicans voted this weekend to confirm alleged sexual predator Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, they proved once again that the GOP is the party of rape.
And just in case you thought that was a fluke, Republican congressional candidate Denver Riggleman stepped in on Monday to claim that rape and sexual assault can be prevented by "educating females."
During the fifth debate in Virginia's 5th Congressional District between Riggleman and his Democratic opponent, veteran journalist Leslie Cockburn, an audience member asked both candidates how they proposed to reduce incidences of rape and sexual assault.
Cockburn replied with a thoughtful answer about proposals to address sexual assault in the military.
Riggleman replied with ... this.
"As far as what's going on on campus ... I think a lot of it comes to educating females, specifically in the fraternities and sororities that they're a part of," Riggleman said.
It's cringeworthy enough that Riggleman used the word "females" as a noun to describe women and girls.
But far worse are the offensive, victim-blaming implications of his remarks — that the burden is on women to avoid getting raped, and not on men to avoid committing rape.
Lecturing women on how to avoid getting raped isn't just insulting and frustrating; it also doesn't stop rape from happening. Demanding that women dress more modestly or avoid parties with alcohol is a way to restrict their freedom, but it's not a way to prevent them from being targeted by a predator. It also doesn't prevent that predator from targeting some other woman.
It's not entirely clear what sort of "education" Riggleman has in mind to help America's young "females" avoid being raped. He makes references to fraternities and sororities, so he probably has drunken parties in mind.
But plenty of women get drunk at parties and meet men without getting raped. The difference isn't what the women do — it's whether the guys they meet decide to rape them.
Riggleman wasn't done after his offensive "females" remark. He also went on a bizarre tangent that sounded like an endorsement of fathers exercising vigilante justice against rapists.
"Me, I'm a fan of law enforcement," Riggleman said. "As a dad with three daughters, I'll tell you this. I think rape, sexual assault, anybody who imposes their will on another in a way that's that evil and dastardly, needs the maximum force of law thrown at them.
"And I think there's a lot of dads who would say, if the maximum force of law is not thrown at them — I think there are some dads that would take care of it."
Before that, he praised campus groups that he said are offering support to people who want to report their assaults "to proper authorities."
It's always good for women and men on college campuses to know what steps they need to take to report an assault, and to be supported when they do so. But that's only useful after an assault has already occurred. It doesn't help prevent it.
And for many victims, the process of reporting an assault to authorities can be even worse than the assault itself because victims are so often disbelieved by law enforcement and community leaders.
After rambling for more than a minute about educating females and raging dads, Riggleman finally got around to tossing off this remark: "I also think that sons need to be educated."
Riggleman, by the way, is the same candidate who brought us the bizarre "Bigfoot erotica" mini-scandal this summer.
My opponent Denver Riggleman, running mate of Corey Stewart, was caught on camera campaigning with a white supremacist. Now he has been exposed as a devotee of Bigfoot erotica. This is not what we need on Capitol Hill. pic.twitter.com/0eBvxFd6sG
— Leslie Cockburn (@LeslieCockburn) July 29, 2018
The race between Riggleman and Cockburn still leans Republican, according to the Cook Political Report.
But given the massive gender gap Republicans are facing in the November midterm elections, Riggleman probably isn't doing himself any favors with remarks like these.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.