I was shocked several days ago to hear Gov. Paul LePage’s remarks likening political discord to a forced sexual act.
Eliza Townsend (executive director of the Maine Women’s Lobby) stated that this “feeds into our society’s dangerous rape culture.” His office responded that he is a supporter of the domestic violence movement and abhors violence against women. This is excellent information, but is irrelevant.
Firstly, this is about sexual violence, not domestic violence. While those are two issues that certainly overlap, they are separate. Secondly, the statement is not necessarily about violence against women. Sexual violence is not a gender specific concern.
This is not an issue of political correctness. The problem is that it was triggering and insensitive to a large portion of the population of this state (those affected by sexual violence).
A recent study conducted by the Muskie School of Public Service showed that 32.1 percent of women and 5.3 percent of men in Maine report being victims of sexual assault (the real number is likely higher). That is 37.4 percent of Mainers. Coincidentally, LePage was elected with around 38 percent of the vote.
Here is how he can fix the mess: he needs to take responsibility for his actions and apologize without caveat, and do something good for the sexual violence movement. Maybe he could draw attention to the issue and how it affects different populations, such as the elderly.
He could also start wearing a teal tie to support sexual violence awareness; it couldn’t hurt.
Alyssa Pelchat, Poland