Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Say No

August 24th, 2012 by Adam G.

A T&S blogger posts about being sexually assaulted. Not rape, it didn’t go that far, deo gratia, but groping and pawing.

The comments have the usual mealy-mouthed pieties and the whole thing has an unseemly undercurrent of advocating for the death of unborn children, but ignore all that, the post is very much worth reading.

Here is what is most striking about the post. The assaulter apparently didn’t realize that his advances were unwelcome. The girl froze mentally when he first touched her and said nothing, did nothing. She even had something of a physical arousal response (this is not unusual, and for good reason–rape would be physically quite destructive without some of the concomitants of female arousal). As the bloggress admits, its very possible that the creep has and had no idea that he had trespassed on her body.

The liberal arts college solution is for careful and explicit consent at each advance in intimacy, preferably in writing. But as long as men want to seduce and women want to be seduced, from the foundation of the world to the end of mortality, that solution is risible. I did not ask my wife first when first I kissed her; it would have been a false note if I had.

In Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball said

Even in a forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation where there is no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.

Kimball’s counsel is a counsel of perfection. He does not actually suggest that the woman should resist unto death, but he suggests something akin to it, so in its way his counsel is a heroic counsel.

Heroism is too much to expect in the real world. Women may freeze. Men too–I have been put in a number of situations that called for heroism in a small way, and sometimes I have shone and sometimes I surprised myself with my own mewling cowardice.

So Kimball’s model is a model, something to aspire to, not a reality. But as a model I like it better than the victimhood model where women do not speak their minds or defend their persons. I like Kimball’s womanhood. She is Molly Pitcher, Betty Zane, Mary Murray Murdoch, Gianna Molla, Gabrielle Helms . . .

Let us continue to encourage ourselves to be strong, and have compassion when we are not.

Comments (9)
Filed under: Deseret Review | Tags: , , , ,
August 24th, 2012 10:33:13
9 comments

Vader
August 24, 2012

I sometimes think my life would have turned out much better if I had adopted the liberal arts college mode d’amour. Or had just stuck with the Jedi Code.

That aside, I thought you made a very praiseworthy comment at T&S, and said so there, but it bears repeating here:

You are right that there is no real tear-free abortion policy. I think much of the bitter national debate over abortion reduces to a contest over whose imaginary tear-free abortion policy will become the national legal fiction.


Agellius
August 24, 2012

Whipple wrote, “I am thankful he didn’t full-out rape me.”

Is it just me? I don’t get how it was rape in any sense at all.


Adam G.
August 24, 2012

Not just you.

Certainly *she* experienced it as sexual assault.

She says she feigned sleep, but its not clear the guy was taken in by this, or even knew she was feigning. The fact that he kept talking to her suggests otherwise. It sounds like from his perspective what happened was that he made a pass at this girl and she closed her eyes and relaxed.

If he thought she was asleep then I could see it as sexual assault of some kind.


Moses
August 24, 2012

In the Law of Moses, if the couple was in town, and the woman didn’t scream for help, it was not considered rape.

In any case, giving men all the responsibility seems an odd way to liberate women.


Agellius
August 24, 2012

“If he thought she was asleep then I could see it as sexual assault of some kind.”

Right. Or if he had acted or spoken to her in a threatening manner, then I could understand her being afraid to offer even verbal resistance.

It sounds to me like she was just plain too chicken to speak up. Which I’m not condemning, it happens to the best of us in trying circumstances.


Vader
August 24, 2012

Moses,

His Majesty once characterized it as giving the man all the responsibility while giving the woman all the control.

Which still seems odd.


Vader
August 25, 2012

I’ve been thinking about this some more, and I confess I’m not entirely happy with where my thoughts are taking me.

The guy was a creep. But he was not a rapist. I suggest he was not even guilty of a sexual assault.

Why? Our Anglo-Saxon tradition of law recognizes that a crime has both an actus reus, the objective criminal act, and mens rea, the underlying criminal intent. The story as Rebbecca herself tells it is entirely compatible with the conclusion that temple boy (I do appreciate the irony of Meldrum’s label) believed Rebbecca was consenting to what was taking place. Now, don’t misunderstand me; the story is equally compatible with the conclusion that Rebbecca was not in fact consenting, but was simply petrified with fear. Failing to resist because she was petrified with fear does not make Rebbecca guilty of any kind of unchastity.

But neither does it make temple boy a rapist.

Because Rebbecca is LDS and temple boy is nominally LDS, and what he did violated our LDS norms of dating behavior, our perception of this incident is going to be shaped by LDS preconceptions and prejudices. Consider if neither was LDS, and this incident was taking place at (let us say) Berkeley rather than along the Wasatch Front. Given this slight change of setting, there is a high probability that a girl who appeared to be closing her eyes and relaxing as her date worked his fingers towards her crotch was enjoying the experience. It would still be a violation of chastity as we LDS understand it, but it would be a mutually welcome violation of a concept of chastity neither party had ever really bought in to. I don’t think you could call the guy a creep.

Part of what creeps us out about this incident, as it actually occurred along the Wasatch Front, is that the guy’s remarks suggest that he views the standards of worthiness protecting the temple, our most sacred of spaces, as little more than irritating constraints on his quest for sexual fulfillment, and a temple marriage as little more than a license for sexual indulgence. And, by golly, he’s going to push the limits of his outwards behavior right up to the point where he’s not quite in obvious violation of the law of chastity. After all, his fingers didn’t make it all the way to her private lady parts, so he’s not guilty of actual petting.

But he was furiously petting her, and likely much more, in his heart the whole time. Which is what makes him a creep.

We rightly see temple boy as a rank hypocrite. And rank hypocrisy is probably a pretty good starting place for the definition of “creep”, especially when the hypocrite assumes (as most hypocrites to) that everyone around him, including his dates, are also hypocrites.

And this is why this whole thing is making me uncomfortable. Hypocrisy comes from the Greek for “under the mask.” I am myself well-known for living under a mask, and this whole story forces me to confront my own creepiness. It’s not a pleasant thing.

I can think of two times I misjudged how ready a date was to take it to the next level, and in both cases the next level was holding hands, which probably sounds pretty innocent. I still felt like a creep afterwards. And there are so many other ways to be a creep. Sometimes I really hate being human. Though, to be sure, a lot of me is Class C medical devices at this point — and I wonder what it says about me that I sometimes welcome this.


Bookslinger
August 25, 2012

Ya know, even a consentual hug, if one party lingers too much after the other party releases can be considered an assault. The sense of violation on the part of the unwilling party is real.

I wonder if there are any half-serious/half-joking “Consent Forms” floating around the Internet. I can imagine up some LDS and non-LDS versions.

We’ve got lawyers in the ‘nacle. Surely we could come up with something.

One form I’ve been cogitating on is a consent form for posthumous proxy temple ordinances. I don’t know if the church would recognize it or not. Suppose you try to get your non-members friends to listen to the missionary discussions, and they decline, just whip out the consent form for posthumous temple ordinances, and say “Okay, sign this. It’s the next best thing.”

On the one hand, the humor aspect of it would be totally inappropriate to the solemnity of the temple and the saving ordinances. On the other, it would be a legal and legitimate way of getting their temple ordinances done if they have no LDS descendents.


Zen
August 25, 2012

The problem with most rape discussions, is that it leaves no responsibility on the woman’s shoulders. On one hand that seems simultaniously very chivalristic and what feminists demand.

The problem is, you can’t have responsibility without power, and you can’t have power, without responsibility. Denying responsibility both saps their actual power, and encourages behavior that would put them in harm’s way. This sticks deeply in my craw because I have daughters, and they can do more than anyone else, to keep it from happening. I don’t mean bad things don’t happen to good people, but I have seen far too much bad behavior justified because the alternative is “blaming the victim”.

We have been a little too allergic to blaming and shaming, and I think they are necessary. Indeed, we never really got rid of them, society just said certain things were not to be shamed, eg promiscuity.

I have very little sympathy for her wholesale shifting of blame and responsibility.

On a different note, Vader is exactly right that a lot of this goes back to differing cultural expectations in Utah and Elsewhere. We have allowed ourselves to obsess and hunger for sex like the world, and then act surprised when people behave badly. We think of lust too narrowly.

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