John Kasich's casual victim blaming "advice": If you don't want to be raped, "don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol"

It doesn't matter how earnest Kasich comes off, the message remains problematic

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published April 15, 2016 6:53PM (EDT)

John Kasich (Reuters/Rebecca Cook)
John Kasich (Reuters/Rebecca Cook)

While John Kasich's daughters were off in Arizona with their mother on a college tour, the Ohio Governor was in New York continuing what can only be described at this point as a desperate campaign to join the Republican ticket as a vice presidential nominee. But based on his most recent problematic comments about women, it remains to be seen if he is actually helping or hurting his cause amongst leery conservatives.

At a town hall in Watertown Friday morning, the Ohio governor answered a college freshman's question about his plans to improve campus safety nationwide "regarding sexual violence, harassment, and rape," with a dated reference to "coeds" and an even more dangerously dated bit of casual victim blaming.

"You ought to absolutely know that if something happens to you along the lines of sexual harassment or whatever," Kasich began, well enough, calling for increased access to rape kits, "you have a place to go where there is a confidential reporting, where there is an ability for you to access a rape kit, where that is kept confidential, but where it gives you the opportunity to be able to pursue justice, after you have had some time to reflect on it all."

Mentioning his own twin daughters, who were reportedly strolling around a college campus at the time, Kasich then told the St. Lawrence University student, "I’d also give you one bit of advice."

"Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol."

That's it. That's all Kasich had to offer. No free advice for the young men in attendance, policing their recreational activities and whereabouts. Just traditional, casual victim blaming disguised as earnest, goodnatured "advice."

Although a spokeswoman for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center did concede to ABC News that Kasich does have a solid track record of helping victims of sexual violence in Ohio, adding that it was “too bad he didn’t slow down” with his answer, the man tagged as a "moderate" by his party's rapid drift to the extreme right has joined with his fellow conservative governors in defunding Planned Parenthood, a vital women's health organization.

And Kasich's clumsy (to put it generously) finish to an otherwise decent answer is part of a pattern, or his style, if you will. After all, this is the same Kasich who infamously bragged about inspiring an army of women to leave their kitchens to come out vote and for him.

"Kasich’s pattern of dismissing the concerns of women is disturbing enough," Executive Vice President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Dawn Laguens said in a statement, pointing out that Kasich eliminated domestic violence prevention programs when he defunded Planned Parenthood. “John Kasich’s plan for combating sexual assault as president is to blame women who go to parties."

Watch Kasich's comments below, via Slate:

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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