Skip to content

Meet the rising star of rape culture politics: MA State Representative Ryan Fattman

A youthful, Republican political star seems to be in the making: Massachusetts State Representative Ryan Fattman. Yesterday, Mr. Fattman was part of a debate with Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Local news outlets are hailing Ryan Fattman as a young, Republican hopeful with a future in national American politics. Quoted by The Milford Daily News, he said in the debate: “Being a Republican in Massachusetts isn’t always that easy, as I’m learning in the Legislature… We need you to help us fight the fight.

And what fight would that be? A fight that involves fear and injustice for rape victims. Especially if the victims in question are among the most vulnerable: undocumented immigrants. Because, as News reports:

Massachusetts State Rep. Ryan Fattman believes that rape and abuse survivors ought to be afraid to report their assault, assuming they are undocumented.

and this:

“My thought is that if someone is here illegally, they should be afraid to come forward.”

Tim Murphy, reporting for Mother Jones, contacted Mr. Fattman for clarification, and at first, he said his statement was taken out of context. But then, when he sought to clarify he added:

According to Fattman, the Telegram quote ignores some key context: “If someone got into a car accident, it’s obviously a tragic event. But if they’re drunk and they crash, it’s a crime,” he explained. “If that person was drunk and survived the accident they would be afraid to come forward. I think if someone is here illegally they should be afraid to come forward because they should be afraid to be deported.”

I asked him he thought that analogy really held weight. After all, if you drink and crash a car, that’s your fault; if you’re undocumented and get beaten up or raped, it’s absolutely not.

“But if you weren’t here, the crime wouldn’t happen,” Fattman says, reiterating that by virtue of being in the country without the requisite paperwork, undocumented residents are committing a crime.

Yes, rape survivors are the same as drunk drivers. Moreover, killing someone while driving under the influence is equated to an administrative violation (because that’s the extent of the “crime” committed by an undocumented immigrant). No mention of the vulnerability of these immigrants and how they are already targeted for abuse and systematic violations of their rights.

When asked what should happen to these illegal immigrant reporting a rape if they do come forward, should they perhaps be arrested? he shared more of his compassionate views:

I think it’s up to the discretion of the police. I have a lot of friends who are police officers and I have a lot of police officers in my district and I trust their discretion.

However, Mr. Fattman’s forays into misogynist politics are not new as he is also a co-sponsor of Bill H01333 to limit partial birth abortions. So far, Massachusetts’ Republican Party has not issued an apology or a reprimand, even though there are calls for his resignation and a petition for a formal apology by New Hope, an organization whose mission is to end domestic and sexual violence in Massachusetts.  And you know, considering none of the big Republican names that participated in the debate yesterday thought to distance themselves from his offensive statements, something tells me that Fattman’s career in politics might be a long and prosperous one. A career built on rape culture and the violated bodies of immigrant women, too afraid to report the crime and too alone to seek justice.


  1. Scott wrote:

    It’s a pretty short walk from “you’re here illegally and don’t deserve police protection” to “you’re poor and not paying taxes so you don’t deserve police protection”

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink
  2. Eli wrote:

    Ugh, the bile. As someone who used to be an undocumented worker in a European country, and as someone who was in an abusive relationship with a legal resident of that country, I feel as though someone should tell Rep. Fattman that people in similar situations are already plenty afraid to “come forward.” There is no confusion among the undocumented about the dangers inherent in contacting law enforcement. The fact that this guy feels he needs to make something so obvious even crystal-motherfucking-clearer is terrifying. “But if you weren’t here, the crime wouldn’t happen,” indeed.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink
  3. IrishUp wrote:

    I just got an alert to this too. What a douche. Another petition (started by Credo)

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink
  4. Sigrid wrote:

    Thank you for reporting on this Flavia.

    Fattman’s stance cannot be considered anything but a clear call to rapists to do whatever the fuck they want to undocumented women.

    I’ll sign that petition, as soon as I’m finished fighting tears and nausea.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink
  5. alula wrote:

    That is absolutely disgusting. And I feel like it really reveals that he doesn’t think of these women as HUMAN, although I’m not sure if the greater strike against them is being undocumented or being female. But so much anti-immigration blather is cloaked in this clinging that it isn’t about animosity towards people, it’s just about respect for the LAW, and then people say shit like this which clearly reveals that it is, very much, about (generally) racism, nationalism and dehumanization.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink
  6. octopod wrote:

    Yeah, so I read that and think “What does his record look like?” I suspect skeletons. People just don’t normally think like that.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink
  7. @octopod, I can tell you a little bit more about his stellar record. He has signed a bill to remove certain items from collective bargaining for State workers, he has sponsored a Bill that would require people on unemployment benefits to use their time doing community work (you know, instead of using that time to either search for a job, or pursue studies or just use the time to get on with their lives, as hard as it is while on unemployment). And he has co-sponsored another Bill to limit access to prescription drugs coupons. You know, the guy is a true humanist.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink
  8. Travis wrote:

    The more you think about it, the more reprehensible it gets. He’s basically proposing that we ENCOURAGE rapists to prey on undocumented immigrants as a DETERRENT to illegal immigration. “Don’t come here or you might get raped–stay safe, stay home!”.

    It’s not surprising though–we also think rape is a perfectly acceptable punishment for anyone who goes to prison for any reason.

    Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink
  9. Emma wrote:

    Ok, off topic, sort of… but Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, has written ANOTHER blog post that is freaking everyone out…

    Aptly titled “Pegs and Holes” he waxes on men’s natural instincts being deemed criminal, and he lists those instincts as: “e.g. tweeting, raping, cheating, and being offensive…”

    Cuz… cheating and dic-pic tweeting is totally the same as rape! Totally!

    Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink
  10. Dawn. wrote:

    Ugh. What a disgusting excuse for a man.

    Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink