April 21 2016
Red Alert Politics
featuring Charlotte Allen
While at a St. Lawrence University town hall in New York on April 15, John Kasich caused a stir for telling a female student “don’t go to parties where there is a lot of alcohol.” The response in response to a sexual assault question drew particular fire from the DNC for “blaming victims,” which even suggested “it is no wonder women are turning away from the Republican field in huge numbers.”
Charlotte Allen, for Independent Women’s Forum, provided an amusing but serious take on why Kasich should stay away from such responses. “A generation or two ago,” she noted. “‘Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol’ was known as “good advice from your mom and dad.” Now, it’s known as ‘victim-blaming.'”
Kasich clarified his answer on Twitter that same day.
Only one person is at fault in a sexual assault, and that's the assailant. 1/3— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) April 15, 2016
That's why John Kasich has worked so hard to provide campuses with the tools they need to make sure victims have the necessary support. 2/3— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) April 15, 2016
Victims needs to know we're doing everything we can to have their backs, and that's happening in Ohio under John Kasich's leadership. 3/3— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) April 15, 2016
CNN noted in their reporting that Kasich clarified his response to reporters after the even on Friday. “That has nothing to do with saying that somebody who has been a victim is somehow responsible,” he noted after explaining that alcohol “obscures the ability of people to seek justice,” a point which he emphasized to Dana Bash for Sunday’s State of the Union.
“I’m the one that has led the way in the country to fight this and to get justice served in these conditions.” Kasich also claimed. Cincinnati.com spoke to rape survivor groups and those involved with the state government to look into what they called “a bold claim.”
Ohio is one of the few states which sets aside money to collect data and train school staff to respond to campus sexual assault, which includes $2 million in the state budget and $3 million federal money. “Ohio and the governor have had a good record on this issue,” says Scott Berkowitz, president of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). Terri Poore, Policy Director for the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence echoed that view.
Nearly all schools in Ohio will have a campus climate survey provided by the Ohio Domestic Violence Network. It is “the first time that state government has provided funding in this manner for a statewide effort like this,” according to Rebecca Cline, the group’s prevention program director. Survey results will be compiled and explained over the summer.
“I’m not aware of any other state comprehensively tackling sexual violence in this way,” noted Kerry Soler, who is involved with Ohio’s efforts with the state Department of Higher Education.
Kasich’s remarks may sound insensitive, but that does not mean he’s engaging in victim blaming. Since people sadly still commit rape, it can’t hurt to remind their would be victims to defend themselves any way they can.
Such remarks are not taken too kindly though, especially when they’re made by Republican men running for president. Fortunately, Kasich has his state’s record to provide helpful context.