Oh No, Rick Perry Said Something Gross About Fossil Fuel-Use Preventing Sexual Assault 

Trump administration Energy Secretary Rick Perry spoke with Chuck Todd of Meet the Press and Axios CEO and founder Jim Vandhei on Thursday about his recent trip to Africa, according to The Hill, and things got weird. The focus of the interview was supposed to be on energy policy and the expansion of fossil fuel use. However, Perry took a sort of weird turn by asserting that sexual assault could be prevented by the increased use of fossil fuels in the region of Africa he had recently visited.

First, Perry noted that the use of fossil fuels in remote African villages will have a “positive role” in peoples’ lives and told the story of a young girl he met who said often times she read by the fire which has toxic fumes, explaining why energy is very important to her.

Perry did not stop there, though, and took the uncomfortable leap into the issue of sexual assault: "But also from the standpoint of sexual assault, when the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will on those types of acts.”

Critics of Perry were quick to point out how the comments seemed to opportunistically use recent cultural conversations around sexual assault in order to bolster his argument in favor of fossil fuels — and how it felt extremely insensitive and inauthentic. 

Meanwhile, others pointed out that his position — which was already problematic for assuming that you can just turn the lights on and solve a larger systemic problem like sexual assault —also ignores the realities of developing countries embracing renewable energy sources and wrongly equates "electricity" with "fossil fuels." 

Correct us if we’re wrong, Mr. Secretary, but sexual assault prevention is better off beginning with teaching people to not sexually assault other people and holding sexual assailants accountable. Your push for fossil fuel expansion is totally irrelevant here.