How the Cultural Treatment of Women Impacts the Acceptability of Sexual Violence
Warning: Due to the nature of this topic, some of the links in this post may contain inappropriate language or disturbing descriptions. Reader discretion is advised.
Have you heard the one about the comedian who joked about his audience getting gang-raped?
In July 2012, two young women attended an event at a comedy club where Daniel Tosh, known for his “envelope-pushing” humor, was performing. When Tosh started joking about how rape and rape jokes are always funny, one of the young women spoke up, saying, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!”
Later, she described Tosh’s response to a friend:
After I called out to him, Tosh paused for a moment. Then, he says, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…” and I, completely stunned and finding it hard to process what was happening but knowing I needed to get out of there, immediately nudged my friend, who was also completely stunned, and we high-tailed it out of there. It was humiliating, of course, especially as the audience guffawed in response to Tosh, their eyes following us as we made our way out of there. I didn’t hear the rest of what he said about me.
To be fair to Tosh, he later stated that he was misquoted and offered an apology via Twitter. Questions of his exact wording aside, the incident highlights a growing concern: sexual violence is being normalized, and our culture is being transformed into a so-called “rape culture.”
Women’s Bodies as Objects
The lives and actions of women have always been defined by a unique understanding that their bodies are often viewed as sexual objects apart from their personhood. Until the last century, this was partially due to the fact that the livelihood of many women literally depended on their sexual purity. If a woman was not a virgin (whether she chose to have sex, or whether she was raped), the value she brought to a marriage was lessened, and she ran the risk of not being able to marry at all—a terrible risk for a woman in societies where her options were limited in the first place.
Because a woman’s value was in her purity, the onus was usually placed on the woman to protect herself, sometimes to the point of absolving men of all responsibility. Think Muslim women in burqas: one of the ideas inherent to such excessive modesty is that men can’t be held responsible for their actions if they catch sight of a woman’s bare ankle or hair.
Even in less extreme situations, the emphasis is put on what the woman should do to protect herself. Women are taught to avoid unsafe areas, like dark city alleys, and to park their cars under lights in parking lots, because you never know where a stranger may be lurking (never mind that in two-thirds of rape cases, the victim knows the rapist). Women are told to never lose sight of their drinks at parties, lest someone slip a drug into it. They are warned against showing the least bit of cleavage or leg, lest they attract the wrong kind of attention. They are even warned that the cop pulling them over on the deserted expressway late at night may, in fact, be a rapist in disguise.
These tips may be wise, but when rapes do occur, they often serve to enable victim-blaming, rather than addressing the crime: “She shouldn’t have dressed like that,” or “It’s her own fault for going to that party,” or “She should have brought someone with her.” Few seem to ask why that dark alley didn’t have proper lighting, or how those kids got ahold of date rape drugs, or what led the attacker to think that sexual violence was an appropriate course of action in the first place.
Real Cases of Victim-Blaming and Rape Culture
Take the Steubenville rape case of August 2012. A teenage girl lied to her parents and attended a party where she got drunk to the point of passing out. Allegedly, two local high school football players then took advantage of her inebriated state, taking her to other parties and sexually assaulting her repeatedly. Certainly the girl should not have lied to her parents or started drinking, but in reality, who is the more to blame: the unconscious girl, or the boys who saw it as an opportunity to act out sexually?
And yet, despite photographic evidence taken by other party-goers, there are some in the Steubenville community (where the high school football team is a main source of community pride) who claimed that the girl was lying—that she was attempting to damage the school and team’s reputation in order to protect herself. According to the New York Times, one of the team’s volunteer coaches claimed, “What else are you going to tell your parents when you come home drunk like that and after a night like that? She had to make up something. Now people are trying to blow up our football program because of it.”
This sort of victim-blaming is not uncommon when the accused is part of a “hero cult.” In fact, sometimes those in charge of “protected” groups (like highly popular football teams) knowingly withhold facts in order to protect their organization’s reputation or quality. After all, nobody wants to have their group known for sexual assaults committed by its members. Penn State’s legendary football coach Joe Paterno, for example, was criticized and eventually fired for not following up on a case of alleged sexual abuse of a child by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The university itself was heavily criticized for “protecting Penn State’s brand instead of a child.”
The military is another example of this gross abuse of justice, where victims are blamed and the perpetrator goes free. A recent article in Rolling Stone estimates that a third of all women in the military are sexually assaulted—twice the current estimates of one in six women for the US population as a whole. The article also reported:
An anonymous DOD survey found that in 2010, an astonishing 19,000 service members were sexually assaulted; a mere 13.5% of those attacks were reported to authorities. Victims have little incentive to report, since the military’s insular justice system rarely holds perpetrators accountable. Of the sliver of sexual assaults reported last year, 92% never saw the inside of a courtroom but rather were dismissed or administered wrist-slap penalties like fines, reduced PX privileges or counseling—a prosecution record even outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has called “an outrage.”
Why the low reporting in the military? Those who claim rape are often labeled sluts or “walking mattresses,” and are sometimes even charged with crimes like fraternization or adultery (punishable offenses), while the perpetrators go free. If the woman had passed out (even as a result of date rape drugs), she may be asked if she simply imagined the attack. In theory, this is to protect servicemen with otherwise good records from false accusations; in practice, it ignores that only 2 to 8% of rape cases are invented.
Army investigator Myla Hadler of the Army Criminal Investigative Division explained to Rolling Stone:
“Understand, they think they’re doing the right thing […] They don’t see it as mishandling the case, or traumatizing this victim. They see it as, they’re making sure some innocent service member’s career doesn’t go down the drain because some lying whore filed a report.” That’s why when Haider herself was raped by a fellow CID agent, she chose not to report it—a decision supported by the agents she confided in. “Nothing good could come from it,” she says.
Porn and Rape Acceptance
Meanwhile, pornography (particularly rape-porn) has normalized sexual violence.
First, an important acknowledgement: some studies have found a correlation between the rise of porn and a decrease in rape. However, they do not seem to consider whether the historically-low rates of rape reportage to the police increased or decreased over the same time period. It is also possible that because many women are more open to casual sexual encounters, interactions that would have once resulted in the rape of the woman instead result in consensual (or, at least, non-violent) sex.
It’s also important to note two things about the pornography cited in these studies. First, the porn in question is non-violent, depicting intercourse between two consenting adults. Second, even in this “normal” porn, attitudes regarding rape were shown to shift, and in one study just a few hours of porn viewing led the viewers to believe that a rapist in a particular case deserved a lighter sentence. (For a full review of this study, download the free e-book, Your Brain on Porn.)
The acceptance of rape myths by porn users has been backed up by other studies as well. A meta-analysis of 46 studies found that porn use was correlated to a 31% increase in risk of accepting rape myths.
While non-violent “softcore” pornography does not correlate to the likelihood of rape, it has been found that violent porn, depicting acts of sexual aggression and non-consensual sex, does correlate to an increased likelihood to rape.
Studies (all listed in our 2013 Pornography Statistics) have found that early exposure to porn also correlates to rape and rape acceptance. Among perpetrators of sex crimes, adolescent exposure to pornography is a significant predictor of elevated violence and victim humiliation. Another study of 804 Italian adolescents, ages 14 to 19 years old, found that viewing pornography was correlated to both active and passive sexual violence and unwanted sex.
Perhaps most chillingly, in a study of 187 female university students, researchers concluded early exposure to pornography was related to subsequent “rape fantasies” and attitudes supportive of sexual violence against women. If the rise in porn has been correlated with a decrease in rape, then it’s possible that this is simply due to women themselves believing forceful coercion to be okay or normal.
For a moment, take these statements at face value:
- Normal porn decreases rape rates, but increases cultural tolerance of rape.
- Violent porn increases the likelihood of using violence or coercive measures.
- Early exposure to porn increases the likelihood of using violence or other coercive measures.
Now consider the known neurological impact of habitual porn viewing. The viewer is never satisfied with one image. Rather, as the brain becomes inured to a certain type of image (“soft-core,” consensual porn, for example), it increasingly requires more variety, which usually plays out in more sexually deviant materials, such as BDSM or rape porn.
Will everyone who views porn eventually get to child pornography, the lowest of the low? Certainly not. But if the seeds of addiction are planted in youth exposure to porn, and if 90% of boys are exposed to pornography before age 18, then it is likely that sexual violence will begin to rise…and at the same time, the victims will be blamed and the perpetrators protected. In fact, this attitude is already being adopted by high schoolers.
Victim-Blaming and Pop Culture
Victim-blaming and rape-positive attitudes have also seeped into pop culture. Victims often bear the brunt of rape jokes, for example. Take Tosh’s rape joke. The message was that it would have been acceptable for the dissenting audience member to be assaulted, and that it was her own fault for going to a place that made her uncomfortable. Similarly, at colleges, students will often joke about being “raped” by an exam, with the implied fault being placed on the student (the “victim”) for not protecting himself by studying hard beforehand.
Part of victim-blaming is the concept that the victim has the power to change the actions of the perpetrator. Consider Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades trilogy (an unfortunate pop-culture phenomenon, which helped bring BDSM into mainstream consciousness). Their relationship may be consensually violent, and by the end of the trilogy the violence may have disappeared. Still, their fictional relationship sends the message that, hey, even if the woman does not like the sexual acts being forced upon her, if she endures them long enough, eventually her patience will change the man, no professional counseling necessary.
One blogger points out that this sort of relationship exists even in benign kids’ movies like Disney’s Beauty and the Beast:
The movie Beauty and the Beast is a fairly cut-and-dried abuse-apologist narrative. It is quite literally a movie about a woman who takes a wild beast and tames him with her love. It is a movie that says, “Here is a man who is literally a beast, and here is a woman who shows him love despite that! And lo, her love changes him. Her love makes him better. Her love saves him. Her love—quite literally—transforms him from the dangerous and abusive personality he is at the beginning of the film into someone else entirely.” In short, it is a movie that says, “If you love your abuser enough, they’ll stop being abusive. You just need to love them more. It’s your job to love them, to fix them, to change them.” Which is, of course, a terrible and dangerous and very pervasive lie.
Later, the same blogger addresses the movie Love Actually, in which one female character is transferred to a different department because a person in power hit on her (because, after all, it’s her fault for being attractive). The movie requires her to apologize twice for being a temptation to another man before she and her love interest can finally be together.
The message in both movies may be subtle, but it’s there: a woman’s love can change a man, and if he doesn’t change, it’s her own fault. (As the blogger points out, it’s okay to like these movies, but it’s important to remember that they do not portray healthy relationships.)
This, then, is rape culture: it’s a world where sexual violence against women is normalized and even defended; where the victim is blamed and the perpetrator is merely a victim of insurmountable temptation. It’s a culture wherein it is okay to commodify a woman’s body; where cat-calling is supposed to be considered a compliment; where students joke about an exam anally raping them; where comedians play the threat of rape for laughs. It’s a world where a woman can get fired for being distractingly attractive and where posting “trigger warnings” before descriptive articles to brace victims for the possibility of flashbacks is an unfortunate reality.
The Bechdel Test
In the words of G.I. Joe, “Knowing is half the battle” when it comes to changing rape culture. The other half comes from training yourself to be a conscious consumer (or dissenter) of culture, and training your children to think critically as well. Sometimes this is as simple as not laughing at sexist or rape jokes, or gently reminding those who make lewd comments about women that they have value beyond their physical appearance.
Another lens to use is the Bechdel Test. Named after a comic artist who recorded it, the test brings to light the way media (especially movies) treat their female characters. A movie is said to pass the Bechdel test if it:
- has at least two female characters with names
- who talk to each other
- about something other than a man.
This is, of course, an imperfect measure. A number of movies with strong female characters (such as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings) never make it past the second point. Even Les Miserables, which contains a strong critique of the limited options available to women, only passes because Madame Thernadier tells young Cosette to go to the woods for water. However, the test is handy as a basis for conversation.
For example, let’s say you have a young son and daughter who are watching Beauty and the Beast for the first time. Ask them how many female characters have names (answer: Belle and Mrs. Potts), and whether Belle is given any female friendships (no) or interests (yes) outside of her relationship with the Beast. Is Belle’s self-sacrifice noble? (Yes.) However, in the real world, do good girls change the hearts of their bad-boy boyfriends? (Rarely, at best.) Is her relationship and lack of female friendships healthy? (No.) For that matter, is Beast’s lack of male friendships beyond his servants healthy? (No.) Should your daughter start a relationship with a man like the Beast? Should your son seek a relationship with a girl with no female friends?
Again, a movie can be very enjoyable and even valuable to watch while still failing the Bechdel test. However, if the movie fails the test, or even if it passes but otherwise serves to limit the value of women, it should serve as a conversation point regarding how the women are treated in the movie and how they should be treated in real life.
Ringing the Bell
Beyond becoming smart consumers of media, there are also practical steps to take to help reduce victim-blaming attitudes and the threat of rape. One is, of course, to limit kids’ access to pornography through Accountability and Filtering, and to spread the word to other parents about the very real impact porn has on young, still-forming minds.
India, known for a culture where rape and domestic violence is common, has offered another practical suggestion: ring the bell. Do you live in an apartment complex with thin walls? Can you hear your neighbors fighting? Disrupt the argument by knocking on their door and asking for a cup of sugar. This will both disrupt the act and subtly remind the offender that they are being watched.
In suburbia, this will translate to different behaviors. If your neighborhood is not well-lit, you may want to keep your porch light on all night. Get to know the neighborhood kids as well, and let them know that if they are ever walking alone at night and feel unsafe, your home is a place of safety. And if slut-shaming or cyberbullying takes place at your children’s school, train them to be the heroes and defend the victim. If you’re discussing a nearby rape around the water cooler at work and someone blames the victim for putting herself in that situation in the first place, remind the person that nothing a victim does should ever excuse a violent attack.
While there is sin in the world, rape will never fully disappear. But with small steps, we can at least bring the cultural understanding of the crime back down to the horrific act that it is.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cascade_of_rant/
Pure Minds Online | Issue 30 | March 2013 | More in this issue: Slut Shaming: Teens’ Sex Lives on Display | Snapped: An Innocent App Goes Wild | The Bible and the Brain | 10 Steps to Finding a Great Accountability Partner
Your writing is awesome. Thanks for the information!
Great Article, but having 3 daughters, thought I must make a slight correction on Beauty and the Beast. It is not Belle’s love that changes him, it is his learning to love her. It is very clear both in the narration itself at the beginning of the movie and near the end. To break his spell, the beast must learn to love and be loved. He changes in part because her kindness is winsome to him, but in the movie he lets her go because he loves her. She discovers, after he lets her go, that she loves him as well., Still, I don’t want my daughters marrying a beast. We also watch Cinderella a lot. Overall, I would guess that Princess stories help girls to avoid these kind of men and understand gender roles better.
Good point about Beauty and the Beast. Many of the Disney kids’ movies do a good job of demonstrating heroic self-sacrifice and other positive traits, even if the relationships shown wouldn’t be healthy in the real world. After all, Disney’s goal is to tell an entertaining story in 80 minutes, not portray a 100% perfect example of healthy manhood and womanhood. Still, it’s good to use a critical eye on all media, and train your kids to think critically as well.
I find the point on the Bechdel Test to be immensely helpful in regards to my writing as an author. I’m taking a creative writing class at college and our class has be wrestling with the integration of our Christian faith and our writing as we go to a Christian liberal arts college.
Per the recommendation of the professor, reading other works of fiction to write our own fiction stories allows us to write better. This morning, I was particularly frustrated by a short story that depicted a graphic sexual encounter and just as its readers can get drawn into its content, I too was drawn in. I immediately felt sick to my stomach that sexually charged writing has this affect on its readers and I turned to God and told him this frustration.
That being said, this note of the Bachdel test has come at a good time. I want to glorify God with my writing, but when sexually charged writing exists in the world, it disappoints me to and threatens to derail my own writing.
However, you have given me hope for my writing that I can use strong female characters who are not a part of the sex culture to portray the beauty and God made humanity of woman instead of an objectified character. The wikipedia article on the Bechdel test states, “The Bechdel test is used to identify gender bias in fiction.” This can directly apply to my writing as one way that I can look objectively for bias in my writing that could in some way lead to the objectification of women.
In some way, I now see more hope for writing that despair.
Give your female characters female friends and interests beyond men, and you’ll do better than a lot of writers out there.
That is all fine and interesting but where is the gospel? where is the gospel when it comes to teaching your children the reasons why we follow God’s commandments? Why? Because He died for us, he suffered, died and rose again to pay for our sinful lives so that we might spend eternity with Him in heaven. We don’t watch porn because of what Christ did, we don’t murder because of what Christ did, we don’t blame the girl of rape because of what Christ did. People who do are not taking serious the payment Jesus suffered for them.
In the interest of keeping an already lengthy article tolerably short, I chose to focus on raising awareness of the issue, not so much on providing detailed solutions. You’re right that the Gospel should be central to our discussion of handling sin, so I invite you or any other commenter to weigh in on this.
It should not surprise us that Rape has become more prevalent in all societies, Western and Asian, including the United States and India. This has taken place over a period of several decades as most of the sexual morality that once was considered normal has completely disappeared and is now considered abnormal. In other words, the virginity of unmarried persons was assumed for many generations but as Freudian attitudes have become more prevalent virginity has taken on a negative attribution.
Today the fornicator, male or female, is glorified and there is no price to pay for said sinful behavior. A man who impregnates a woman can simply pay for the abortion/murder of the human fetus and the impregnated woman can simply get an abortion/murder performed as easily as going to the dentist. There is little opprobrium today and, in fact, there are many Godless people who defend abortion as a good thing.
Child sexual abuse is a separate matter but it is my understanding that we now have close to one million sexual predators in the United States. Children are no longer safe and the situation is not likely to improve.
Ultimately, until the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa have a genuine return to real sexual morality, Rape, Child sexual abuse and Abortion will continue. The modern day Freudian mind-set focused on masturbation, fornication and other sexual pleasures may appear to be beneficial but it is a total disaster in the long term. The consequences of the sexual revolution include widespread venereal diseases including AIDS, rampant divorce, Child sexual abuse, Rape, Abortion, psychological problems including depression and Suicide.
Finally, the old sexual morality existed for good reasons. We are not the equivalent of other animal species and if we choose to lower ourselves to a lower level of behavior we will reap the consequences, ultimately returning to the jungle from whence we came.
I am utterly blown away. I would first assume a comedian would consider this social ‘suicide’, but that people were actually laughing. In the culture we live in, it seems many people who would otherwise vehemently disagree with such nonsense would speak up, but I’ve noticed a nervous unease between groups of young people that have trouble planting their feet in the ground and saying “Hey! That’s wrong, and I want no part.” I pray that I can be bold enough to be that person in spite of the way the world acts and thinks.
The church is nominally the body of believers in Christ who have received the Holy Spirit. I have quit attending church and instead attend only a small innocuous men’s Bible study to fulfill God’s command to “not forsake the fellowshipping of the saints.” This is my approach after a lovely gal turned her arce and panties in my face after a conversation I had with her. Just prior I told her I was an engineer and promptly received that sanctimonious snarky sideways ‘sucks to be you’ response as she did her deed and I looked away as I have trained myself to do. I spoke with the pastor about it and he said that I have “a spirit problem.” Meanwhile I have seen on more than one occasion what seemed to be her flirtation and extra friendliness with a tattooed married man also at that church. The church is where a young man goes to die.
In college the Baptist Student Union had something called Christian Challenge. When the yell leader said, “Everybody let’s stand up and praise Jesus,” there would be more pairs of women’s underwear in the peripheral vision than you could see on campus in one day, and the same thing when it was time to sit down and “listen to the speaker.”
What I know about Christianity today is that sleeping with your future spouse is par for the course and the most frequent way to get married. Check out the divorce stats for Christians, they are no better than non-Christians. Or find the abortion stats, 2 of 3 abortions have a Christian involved, perhaps because many Christian parents appropriately do not attempt a cover-up of their children’s promiscuity by prescribing birth control measures.
The church cannot or will not discern between those who choose to be single and celibate and those who are ‘single’ and live a player lifestyle. They look at me like a criminal and I have personally been likened by a St. Pat’s day Catholic – one that does not attend mass regularly and likely not a true believer – to a future terrorist on par with Osama bin Laden for my views. Pure puke.
The church in America including the Baptists, Methodists, other Protestant denominations and the Catholic and Orthodox churches are criminal in thier willful ignorance, indiscretion and addiction to comfort. That is what brings persecution of Christians and their beliefs in America: the lies of those established within the church and the unwillingness to admit their stuff stinks as well and to deal with it Biblically. They seek to stuff, stymie, patronize, paralyze, bamboozle, marginalize and demean the common man for them to have someone to stand on. That says too much about the church. It is a stifling, muzzling, murderous, padantic, insulting, cruel, devastating torture zone where the true believer is the ceremonial black goat, the ‘lone-wolf Christian,’ the one that can stand alone in Christ and present an insufferable danger to the pretty, the polished, and the pre-established. The church is where a young man goes to die and become an institutionalized fairweather pansie. The church has forgotten for Whom it exists – Christ Jesus – who resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Arrogance and prior standing have place in a country club but not a church that represents Jesus Christ and His message of dying to live. Perhaps there are many in the church willing to lay down their life for Christ but confessing Him before men is the first step. The difference between a liberal and a Christian in America is that a liberal can tell you proudly what they believe though they cannot conjure a legitimate reason for it.
In a world where being a Christ-follower is always cause for ostracization by the powers that be, it is particularly troubling that those Christians with a comfortable life give a flatulent pass at those who struggle to do the right thing in the midst of persecution. They can wear a jacket that says North Face on both sides, accuse you of being a conspiracy theorist on your birthday as you navigate hell – oops I meant work, work for a pro-life counseling center, have a significant other of more than ten years, and live in a house not their own as you standby for their everpresent petulent twits.
There is no reason for a single Christian to attend a house of whoreship to be further tempted and falsely accused at what is supposed to be a place to come closer to God. Personal revival starts with the individual before God and His Son Christ Jesus by reading and obeying His Word. No building nor pompous suppository of festive crass indifference is the work of the Holy Spirit. Sports are god, education is god, family is god, romance is god, America is god, money is god, image is god, the green lawn is god, and none of them are God. The heroes are the prophets of God in the Old Testament, destitute and afflicted vagabonds that were sawn in two, torn asunder, who forewarned of God’s judgment upon Israel and who told of Christ’s first coming, of whom the world was not worthy. The Biblical canon is closed and needless suffering does not bring those who are apart Christ closer to Him. A simple and quiet life including fellowship with other Christian non-V.I.P.’s will do just fine. Everyone is a V.I.P.
A lot of thoughts here, Rhett. I’m not exactly sure the connection of this rant to the topic of the article, but I could just be overlooking it. Can you elaborate more on what this has to do with rape culture and rape myths in the broader culture?
I am from Hong Kong and my church’s Man Ministry brought over the Pure Desire course (by Dr. Ted Roberts) from East Hill Church, US. It deals with exact problem you are talking about, where most if not many churches are ignoring or dont have the resources to face – the sexual addiction instead of restoration in God. A place where broken man like me can come together with other men to support, to be healed by the Lord and to set our moral standard back on the lord. My point is, there are still hope in the Church community. God places difficulties and sufferings so that we can go preserve them with faith in him to grow strong.
The Pure Desire course is such a great tool and I encourage those who are/ were struggling with sexual addiction like me to break from addiction and isolation, stop using our own means to numb pain but to rest totally in the lord!
I liked your suggestions for helping to counter the culture should rape ever come up in conversation. I’d thought about The Little Mermaid’s (parenting failure, rewarded disobedience and lovestruck marriage) but never about Beauty & The Beast and abusive relationships. Wow! It really does encapsulate what our culture imagines should happen with a “bad” guy.
Thanks for sharing the Bachdel Test. I’m going to have to try that out. I think there will be a lot of movies that fail. It will be an interesting experiment and a new perspective.
BDSM- I can assume this is some violent porn/ sexual practice but writing out the acronym might help me understand what “the guys” are talking about without looking where I’d rather not.. Out of habit I almost Googled it but thought better of it.
Great article. Love The Bechdel Test.
I appreciate how you laid out the three research based theories on how porn affects rape and the public’s view of this violence.
Good call on not Googling it. It’s an overlapping acronym that stands for Bondage/Discipline (BD), Dominance/Submission (DS), and Sadism/Masochism (SM). It covers a broad spectrum of voluntary sexual violence.
Much of the focus of articles, media reports is on how women should protect themselves and what increasingly women have to deal with. However i think there has to begin to be an entirely different focus and that is on men, They have to decide for themselves what sort of human beings they want to be. Most users of porn are men. Are they realising what they are actually doing to themselves as human beings when they use it? Do they spend any time reflecting on their actions? Do they ask themselves – do i want to be influenced by all this misogyny and violence? Or do i want to be a spiritually enlightened fun loving man who teaches my sons, nephews colleagues a better way of being. Men have to start taking responsibility for themselves, their actions and their sexuality.
That’s exactly right.
Thanks for writing this article Lisa. As someone who has been down the horrible road of porn addiction, I appreciate your candor and openness about this topic. I have recently found freedom from the slavery I was in and can relate to the story of Aslan tearing off the costumes of the child. That is almost exactly how I have felt over the last few months. But the freedom that God has given me is nothing short of pure beauty. I don’t deserve it, never will, but I came understand that God’s love is freely given which was a turning point for me.
To respond to Rhett Larson’s comment, I understand where he’s coming from as I have experienced the same feelings at many churches. But what I think needs to be said is that we are all deeply flawed with this thing called ‘sin,’ all of us. As Christians, we probably already know that, but it should come as no surprise that God’s church is also filled with other people who are also flawed and are in need of grace. Even women who dress perhaps a little too provocatively for our sin filled minds. While you may have a ‘spirit problem’ and the women at your church may have a ‘wardrobe problem,’ you are both in need of grace, which God abundantly provides and is offering you right now. This is not something you can earn, nor something that we need to be in a right mind to receive. It just simply is. Much like God simply is: He is the great I AM.
The problem I faced for the longest time was the belief that I was forgiven, but was still in my sin. A mentor of mine recently dispelled this lie with a few verses from Romans and Ephesians. God not only provides for our forgiveness through Christ, but he GIVES us his righteousness. Think about that for a second. Every I look at porn and feel crappy about it, I no longer need to feel that God is pointing the finger at me, eternally angry for what I did. Instead, since I am in Christ, I can say, ‘Wow! I should feel ashamed, but God, through Christ has forgiven me! And now he sees Christ righteousness as my own!’ What a relief! This essentially is saying that God loves me no matter what I do! Which is true, since I am in Christ. But if this causes me to take it as a license for sin, I am in a truly bad place. I am asking the wrong question. The correct question should be: Why would I want to go back to my sin?
Paul admitted to struggles with besetting sin (Romans 7), which should encourage us. But to abandon the church of God because it is full of sinners is to miss the point. After all, God admitted in Genesis that it is not good for man to be alone. We are meant to be in community. But this community should encourage us towards Christ.
My attitude toward women’s responsibility to protect themselves from rape is basically the same as yours, Lisa. Even acting like a tramp doesn’t begin to justify a violent sexual crime.
But unless I just missed it, I didn’t see anyone place any burden on the men responsible for these possible or actual rape victims. You’re right to point out that rape will never be eradicated, but wouldn’t it be lessened if husbands and fathers took a more active role in the protection of their wives and daughters instead of letting them “fend for themselves” so much? I’m not suggesting that a woman should never be somewhere by herself, but I AM suggesting that a woman accompanied by a man (or even another woman) has to be a huge deterrent to a rapist. What do you think about this angle?
That would deter some rapists, sure, although you still get cases like the Delhi rape victim in India, where the male friend of the victim was knocked unconscious before the woman was raped.
Unfortunately, most rapists don’t just lurk in dark alleyways, waiting for unsuspecting women to walk past. In fact, in two-thirds of rape cases, the victim knows the attacker. This means, in many cases, that the victim (and possibly her parents) knew and probably trusted the man who attacked her. The rapist may have been the brother of a friend of the victim, or a man from her church, or that totally hot football player she’d been crushing on for, like, ever. Sometimes it’s even the victim’s own father or brother. And yes, it’s possible for a husband to rape his own wife, if he’s using violence or other coercive measures to force her to have sex. Quote whatever scriptures you want about a husband and wife owning each other’s body…if either partner is using force for sex, I would not call it an example of husbands loving their wives as Christ loves the church.
So do the men in the victim’s life play a role? Heck yes, but it’s not as easy as escorting her when she needs to run errands after dark. Probably the best thing for a father to do to help protect his daughter is to demonstrate to her (and to his sons) what a godly man is and does. If a husband shows his kids that a godly man loves, cherishes, and respects his wife, then daughters will look for men who treat them like that (instead of, say, frequenting shady bars looking for any kind of love), and sons will strive to be men like that (instead of being the guys at the shady bars, treating women like conquests). There’s no guarantee the godly girl will never be raped, but she may be better at avoiding the situations in which rape is more likely to occur.
Thanks WasabiJane for a well-written article.
I don’t want to be part of the rape culture. You have given men an alternative. Do we want to be passive agents trying hard not to look at porn or active “heroes” defending women as more than sexual objects and taking a stand against a prevailing trajectory in our culture? I want to be proactive.
Let’s fight against the notion that rape is acceptable or that it was the woman’s fault. It wasn’t. It’s the man’s fault for the violent-sexual act and appropriate consequences should follow. I pray that God would change the hearts of those in our culture who think rape should be tolerated. Oh God, show us how terrible rape is in the eyes of your infinite holiness (Hab 1:13). Have mercy on us and forgive us of our sins!
I also agree completely with your military reporting. I’ve served in the military eight years and that’s the way it is. It’s a crude sexual environment and servicemen have a protected status regardless of their actions. It’s unfortunate, but the way it is.
Keep up the good work!
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. Psalm 14:1 NIV
I still fancy Beauty and the Beast let you do have a good point I know many of female that is under the impression that dating a jerk guys going to change him
I’m not agree with this that immodest clothing cause the rape because I always clothing modestly but I raped 3 times.. And that was not my fault. What you would say about that?