Does This GOP Candidate Understand What Rape Is?

The Michigan House of Representatives, where Robert Regan hopes to win a seat. Photo: Carlos Osorio/AP

For the past hour, I have struggled to parse an analogy that would-be Michigan representative Robert Regan made during a Facebook Live segment on Sunday. A few minutes into a discussion hosted by the conservative Rescue Michigan Coalition, Regan, who is reportedly the frontrunner for Michigan’s 74th District, said he tells his daughters the following: “Well, if rape is inevitable, you should just lie back and enjoy it.” Weird piece of information to offer up! Not to mention a heinous understanding of what rape is. What did he mean by this?

The way I understand the situation, Regan was attempting to explain the widely disproven idea that Democrats rigged the 2020 election and what he thinks Republicans should do about it now. Pretty quickly, he seemed to realize either that his household proverb defied interpretation or that he had stepped in it, and he pivoted to a more straightforward David-and-Goliath metaphor. But the casual suggestion that forced sex could be anything short of painful, if maybe also something his offspring should prepare for, is impossible to unhear. After it blew up in his face, Regan told Bridge Michigan, “Sometimes, my words aren’t as smooth and polished as the politicians are because I’m not a politician. I’m working on it.” He also claimed that “the left trolls” were agitated only because he was “dropping direct hits on an issue.”

But it wasn’t just his political opponents who took issue with the comment. On the livestream, strategist Amber Harris called it “shameful.” Per Bridge Michigan, the conservative Michigan Freedom Fund called it “dehumanizing” and “disgusting.” Michigan GOP co-chair Meshawn Maddock called it “offensive and disappointing.”

As for the daughters, Regan has three of them, and at least one has publicly stated that electing her father would be a terrible idea. In June 2020, when he was running for a House seat, Stephanie Regan tweeted, “Pls for the love of god do not vote for my dad,” and “tell everyone.” She didn’t say which of his beliefs she took issue with, instead urging Michigan voters to do their research. Speaking to The Hill, Regan countered that his daughter is a communist type whose “big thing has to do with the systemic racism that’s going on in the country.” He does not “buy into this whole systemic racism thing at all,” so they butt heads. But in light of his recent musings on rape, Regan’s social-media history has come under scrutiny: He described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “fake war just like the fake pandemic” and called feminism “a Jewish program to degrade and subjugate white men.” So yes, maybe you can see where Stephanie was coming from?

Does This GOP Candidate Understand What Rape Is?