Rape in Provo

January 30, 2008 | 291 comments
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90% of Provo rapes are not reported to the police.

This is just one of many disturbing facts in a Deseret Morning News article about rape in Provo. (The article is a few years old according to its byline, but it showed up this morning as #3 on the “Most Popular Articles” list on the Deseret website — I’m not quite sure why.) According to the BYU police officer cited in the article, “most Provo residents are religious and have a tendency to stigmatize discussion of sexual assault and sometimes to demonize the survivor.”

The officer discusses some incredibly disturbing interviews with rape victims. About one victim, he notes, “She said, ‘I should have died before I let him do that to me.’” About another: “I’m a perversion to the good saints of my church,” wrote the victim, who said she wished she were dead. And he warned that the internet could be a tool for rape and abuse, saying, “In my mind, (the Internet) is the biggest cesspool ever created. I tell coeds all the time: You’re stupid if you hang out in chat rooms.”

I found the article really disturbing. And I have to wonder to what extent some of these phenomena stem from attitudes that exist in church culture.

On some fronts, I think the church does very well. For instance, the article points out the problems of online sexual predation. And church leaders that I’ve seen tend to do very well at emphasizing the potential problems of the internet.

On other fronts, I’m less sure. The officer discusses a horrifying blame-the-victim mentality that seems to affect the decisionmaking of many Provo rape victims. It is an ugly idea, reminiscent of Victorian era ideas that tended to reduce a woman’s entire worth to her virginity. And yet, I’ve seen similar attitudes among church members with whom I’ve spoken. Some church members have casually mentioned to me that they’d never marry a non-virgin, even if she was a rape victim. If she’s still alive, she must not have fought hard enough. That idea seems terribly misguided to me; yet, incredibly, I’ve heard people cite both Mormon Doctrine and The Miracle of Forgiveness as evidence for this kind of stance.

If 90% of rapes are really going unreported in Provo, I have to wonder to what extent this connects to church culture. If, as the article suggests, it’s true that rape victims are sometimes afraid to report their assaults for fear of being demonized by other church members, then something is very wrong with our culture as a community.

A significant fraction of women will be victims of sexual assault at some point in their lives. Our community can do better in the way it treats these victims.

This kind of approach leaves assault victims with the terrible choice of risking ostracism and condemnation for their victim status, or trying to recover from their trauma alone. Meanwhile, a reporting rate of only 10% leaves dangerous predators unimpeded, to continue to prey on the community.

I think the article does a good job of highlighting some of the problems with a condemnatory approach toward rape victims. I’m wondering just how prevalent these attitudes are. In your observation, are blame-the-victim attitudes existent or prevalent among church members? Are these ideas more prevalent in particular segments of the population? What are the sources of these attitudes, if they exist?

And how can we, as church members, cultivate better attitudes and social mores in this area? How can we be clear that rape is not a victim’s fault, and that being a victim of rape is in no way a violation of any commandment? How can we be more compassionate towards victims of sexual assault?

(Please bear in mind when commenting that this is a very sensitive topic. Statistically, it is all but certain that some T&S readers have themselves been victims of sexual assault. Please be especially sensitive in comments.)

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291 Responses to Rape in Provo

  1. mmiles on January 30, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    I have a hard time with these kind of statisics. If they aren’t repoorted, how do they know that 90% more assaults happened?

    I have mentioned this on the abortion theology thread at BCC, I do have a friend who was sexually assaulted who blamed herself because she had been drinking. However I’m not sure this is unique to Mormon culture. I have another friend who was date raped and blamed herself for taking it too far. Maybe it is underreported, and maybe that does have something to do with our culture. Shouldn’t we be asking, though, if there is something in our culture that makes men think they do such things?

    As far as perpetuating crazy ideas, I had a seminary teacher in 9th grade who brought up rape and how a woman’s chastity is far above rubies. He then said he counseled us to discuss with our husbands whether or not we should “allow” ourselves to be raped, or get killed fighting it. He said, “It’s a tough decision.”
    I don’t think it helps that that Moroni 9:9 characterizes rape as being deprived of chastity. Those verses have always bothered me immensely. So now a woman is not chaste because she was raped?

  2. Anonymous for Now on January 30, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    When I was 13 or 14, a male friend telling me he had read that a general authority that it was better to die fighting than be raped. I also have a friend whose sister, when she told her bishop about being raped, was told that she must have been doing something wrong to be in that situation.

    In my criminal law class at BYU law school, one of the things brought up by a fair number of was a fear that many reported rapes were actually consensual, and that the woman was lying because she didn\’t want to be accountable for having sex.

  3. mmiles on January 30, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    There is also always the, “You girls don’t know the effect you have. You need to dress modestly…” as if we are responsible for what a guy thinks, and how his body reacts, which I began being told when I was 12 in jooint YM/YW sessions.

  4. SilverRain on January 30, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    I find this:

    “In my mind, (the Internet) is the biggest cesspool ever created. I tell coeds all the time: You’re stupid if you hang out in chat rooms.”

    a pretty disturbing example of why the prevailing attitude is against the victim, and it has nothing to do with Church culture. Not a word about the stupidity of the perpetrators, just the “stupid coeds” who socialize in chat rooms. Grr.

  5. Anonymous Female on January 30, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    To the comment in #4 on the quote: “In my mind, (the Internet) is the biggest cesspool ever created. I tell coeds all the time: You’re stupid if you hang out in chat rooms.”

    I disagree that this is discrimination against victims. I see it as training in some of the things you can do to prevent yourself from being victimized.

    Crime is not the fault of the victim. However, there may be things that women can do to make themselves less likely to be victims. Law enforcement should certainly share these warning signs and danger zones if the things they advise are based in fact and not in prejudice. If they are seeing chat-room-based crime, by all means inform the community. This is not blaming victims. It is trying to prevent future violence.

  6. Anonymous for Now on January 30, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    I agree that there are things that women can do to make themselves less likely to be victims. However, I agree with SilverRain’s point. If you are a victim of rape due to someone you met on a chat room, you might hear a statement like “You’re stupid if you hang out in chat rooms” and interpret it as “You were stupid and you got raped,” or worse “You got raped because you were too stupid to stay away from chat rooms.”

    I think as far as the victim jumping to blaming themselves or anyone else blaming the victim is a lot easier with a statement like that. There is a difference between saying, “We see a lot of sexual violence that happens because a woman met someone she’d chatted with online. There are a lot of predators online, so be careful…” and “You’re stupid if…”

  7. mmiles on January 30, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    #5 There is a difference between appealing to women and saying, ” You should be cautious about hanging out in chat rooms. You need to be vigilent and protect yourself,” and saying, “You’re stupid…” which looks more like blame.

  8. mmiles on January 30, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    #6 and I were apparently typing at the same time.

  9. Melinda on January 30, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Good post, Kaimi. The idea that men only want to marry virgins far predates Mormonism or even Victorianism. Deutoronomy 22:20-21 says that if a man discovers that his bride was not a virgin on their wedding night, he can have her taken out and stoned “so shalt thou put evil away from among you.”

  10. James on January 30, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    A casual search of the internet will find this 90% unreported rape statistic in a number of different places. That suggests that Provo, Utah is just a mirror of the rest of the world where this kind of crime exists. Which means that the people there have just as far to go as the rest of the world in understanding the nature of the crime and the real innocence of the victims.

  11. AHLDuke on January 30, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Great post Kaimi. It looks like a couple of years ago the reporting rate for rape nationwide was about 16%, so the rest of the country is not doing much better. Even so, I don’t think you can discount the role of LDS culture in this. I have absolutely no doubt that a number of girls are failing to report the rape because it decreases their chance of attracting the “right guy” to marry. The inability of some (you mention a couple of anecdotes, and I have some of my own) to look beyond not only involuntary sexual activity but even consensual activity repented of is deeply disturbing evidence of the lack of a Christlike nature.

    I have never worked in YW (obviously, I am a man), but I wonder if anything is explicitly said to our young women in Church about just this kind of situation. I know that they might get the “don’t blame yourself” angle from public school sex education classes, but good little Mormon boys and girls probably give greater credence to what they hear at Church. I wonder if they are getting mixed messages. If so, and the public schools happen to be on the right side of this issue, wow. Just wow.

  12. Ray on January 30, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    It’s not Mormon culture; it’s socialization of thousands of years – that needs to stop, ASAP. I have lived around the country, and it is common everywhere for rape to be under-reported.

    I also have a very hard time with “90% go unreported”. There simply is no way to make that claim legitimately. In my experience, it is based on the per capita rate seen elsewhere and applied to population stats for Provo. In other words, it assumes that rape happens in Provo at the same rate that it does elsewhere, so, based on the population stats, 400 rapes “should” have happened. Since only 40 were reported, that means the other 360 assumed to have happened did not get reported. I’m certain the actual number was well over 40, but to assert that it was 400 simply is irresponsible without more to back it up than was offered in the article. Plus, the assertion leads to all kinds of religious speculation that simply feeds stereotypes all around. (Couldn’t resist using the word “speculation”.)

    This is a terrible problem that needs to be addressed, but until I see the methodology I simply can’t believe that only 10% are reported.

  13. Ray on January 30, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    #11 – My wife recently was the YW Pres in our ward. There is NOTHING in the correlated YW/YM materials that would lead to the conclusion that the victim is to blame. Individual leaders might say such things, but it’s not in the materials.

  14. cj douglass on January 30, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Kaimi,
    This reminds me of a PBS program I saw about a few Scout Leaders in Idaho who had molested some young boys. The community was outraged at the man reporting the story because they could not believe that these men were capable of such things(and he happened to be gay and thought he had an agenda against the Scouts. This is part of the problem with rape education (or lack thereof). Telling women and girls not to go into chat rooms is just not good enough. There needs to be far more rape prevention taught in our chapels and universities. Failure to do so partially stems from the delusion that the threat does not exist.

  15. Brad Kramer on January 30, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Until quite recently, the GHI instructed Bishops that, in counseling women who reported being raped, one of their duties was to determine the degree to which she was responsible for it.

  16. mmiles on January 30, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    cjd-
    You bring up the under represented group, men a boys who are victims. For sure they are even less reported.

  17. mmiles on January 30, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    BK–
    Aack!

  18. AHLDuke on January 30, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    OK, Ray. If there is “NOTHING” in the correlated manuals that would lead to the conclusion that the victim is to blame, then count this as instance #1 when I am in favor to having leaders stick only to what it says in the correlated manuals. You note the absence of any impositions of blame on the victim. But does it say anything specific about rape, incest, etc. and offer leaders any guidance as to how they might affirmatively explain to girls that victims are not to blame?

    BK- another sad example of a quick move to assess and distribute blame rather than rushing to aid and reassure the (alleged) victim.

  19. Julie M. Smith on January 30, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Re #18: For the Strength of Youth (which every YM/YW should have) says:

    “Victims of rape, incest, or other sexual abuse are not guilty of sin. If you have been a victim of any of these crimes, know that you are innocent and that God loves you. Seek your bishop’s counsel immediately so he can help guide you through the process of emotional healing.”

  20. Ray on January 30, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    This is one of those emotional, fine-line issues that is easy to oversimplify – on both “sides” of the discussion.

    I remember vividly a discussion I had when I was in college. The question was precisely, “What can a woman do to minimize the chance that she will be raped?” It was a “feminist” and “empowering” discussion for women, explicitly because it was being asked by a female professor “pre-rape” as preventative. I mean that seriously. Each comment made by one of the female students was given extra gravitas, while many of the comments made by the male students were challenged and disputed – even though most of them were nearly identical to the ones made by the female students. (“Don’t walk down a dimly lit alley late at night alone.” “Don’t dress like a hooker.” “Don’t flirt suggestively with a stranger when there is nobody else around.” All these suggestions were seen as wise counsel when they were offered by other women. They were seen as judgmental and blaming when they were offered by the men.)

    I bring this up only to give some degree of clarity to the GHI section mentioned in #15. If we are to discuss rape openly and honestly, we simply must discuss it fully – and part of that discussion has to include steps women can take to try to avoid being raped. It’s generally accepted to have that discussion pre-rape; it’s generally condemned as insensitive and sexist to have it post-rape – especially when the “questioner” is a man.

    Having said all of that, if the way the discussion is handled leads the victim to blame herself for what happened and NOT place primary responsibility on the perpetrator, then it should be roundly condemned. If, however, it is handled sensitively and simply to help someone recognize if there is something that can be avoided in the future to lessen the chance that it happens again, I can find no way to criticize that discussion.

  21. Ray on January 30, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    #19 – Thanks, Julie. I was going to quote that section, but didn’t do so.

  22. mmiles on January 30, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    Ray,
    ” Don’t dress like a hooker,” should not be part of the discussion by men or women.

  23. not this time on January 30, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    I think most of this stems from older LDS culture. I remember vividly being taught that it\’s better to die fighting than to lose your virtue… We need to realize that your \”virtue\” is not taken away from you when you are raped or molested. \”Better dead and clean than alive and unclean\” used to be a popular LDS mantra. Those are dangerous words that we need to turn around and admit we were wrong as a church to stand behind. I was molested as a young boy on two separate occasions by older teenagers in the neighborhood… one male, one female, on 2 separate occasions. Lessons like this drove me to hate myself intensely and wish I were dead. It\’s only been in the last few years I\’m finally realizing I don\’t need to forgive myself for these events, and that it\’s better than I\’m alive. I was terrified to talk to anybody about these incidents, since I felt responsible, and also understood these \”sins\” to be just shy of \”murder\” on the scale. No 8 year-old should be made to feel like they\’re almost as filthy as a murderer because of a church lesson.

  24. J. Nelson-Seawright on January 30, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    mmiles #1, there are a number of different ways of estimating the reporting rate of rapes. One approach is that rape crisis centers and hotlines can check with police the percentage of women they work with that end up filing charges. Hospitals that help raped women can perform similar checks. A second major approach involves victimization surveys, in which people are asked (carefully, using techniques to ensure anonymity and reduce social shame) whether they were raped and, if so, whether they reported the rape. These different approaches (there are others, as well) obviously produce somewhat different estimates of the rape reporting rate, but they’re all in the neighborhood of 10-20%. Although each method is incomplete, getting similar findings from diverse measurement techniques provides a kind of triangulation that makes the overall measurement picture more reliable.

  25. John Mansfield on January 30, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    I’m reminded of one of Tony Hillerman’s early Jim Chee novels. In the first chapter, someone fires three shotgun rounds through the wall of Officer Chee’s trailer. In the second chapter, Lt. Leaphorn and Capt. Dodge want to know what Chee was up to that would make someone think oftrying to kill him.

    There is a problem in insisting that there isn’t, couldn’t possibly be, any fault in a victim. The problem is that often there is some fault in us associated with harm that we suffered. If victims are by definition innocent people, and we know we’re not completely innocent, then that must mean we’re not victims. That’s not correct. We may be the victims of someone else’s wrong-doing and not to blame for all that happened to us, while at same time we are responsible for some lesser fault in our own actions.

  26. Starfoxy on January 30, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Can I just say, before I come back and write a more on subject comment, that I really dislike the type of language that says “she was raped” and “what women can do to avoid being raped.” Women don’t rape themselves, and phrasing things that way handily removes the rapist from the conversation. Instead say things like “someone raped her,” or “what women can do so that it is harder for someone to rape them.”

  27. Ray on January 30, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    #22 – I disagree. The way a woman dresses should not be used as a reason to blame her for being raped, but to say that it should not be a part of the discussion at all also is wrong, imo. I shared it because it was said by a woman – and the women agreed with it when it came from another woman. I was trying to make a narrow point.

    Sorry if it sounded like I thought it was a justifiable reason for rape. I certainly don’t believe that.

  28. Ray on January 30, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    #24 – Thanks, JNS, for that summary. I probably am wrong about the 10% reporting rate.

  29. Ray on January 30, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    #26 – Interesting point about language. Frankly, I had never considered that. I’ll have to think about it a bit.

  30. mmiles on January 30, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    JNS-
    Thank you.

    JM-
    I’m not sure what you mean. In the case of my friend who was raped while drinking, she is responsible for the sin of drinking. While this made it easier for the rapist to rape her, she is still 100% the victim of rape, with zero responsibility for the crime of the rape committed.

    Starfoxy-
    Excellent point.

  31. mmiles on January 30, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Ray,
    Just because it came from a woman does not mean the argument is valid. It is not.

  32. Ray on January 30, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    #23 – Thank you for sharing that. One of our “foster” sons had a similar experience, and I spent countless hours trying to help him deal with the aftermath – over 10 years after it happened.

  33. Ray on January 30, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    I agree, nmiles. That’s what I was saying.

  34. A. Nonny Mouse on January 30, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    “Victims of rape, incest, or other sexual abuse are not guilty of sin. If you have been a victim of any of these crimes, know that you are innocent and that God loves you. Seek your bishop’s counsel immediately so he can help guide you through the process of emotional healing.”

    It’s said that or something like it in the church handbook of instructions for more than 10 years and 2 editions.

    I think the church has been trying to make this point institutionally for quite some time. I think like a lot of other things, we still have a lot of misconceptions and “folk doctrines” (if you will) amongst the membership; it certainly could be restated from time to time, but having been a life-long member I can never remember a discussion where it’s been even remotely implied that a victim of sexual assault is responsible for it. So, I think the message is definitely out there, even if in a few anecdotal instances it’s not stated explicitly enough.

    Another place which seems to show that the church has for quite some time not placed any blame on the victim of sexual assault can be seen in the exceptions to the policy on abortion: abortion of a baby that is the result of sexual assault or incest is explicitly not eligible for church discipline, and has been for quite some time.

    -ANM

  35. TMD on January 30, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    22 Nevertheless, we can still advise people not to dress like hookers, as a general principle, right? Because it is, in itself, an intrinsic and immodest thing to do?

    And Kaimi, are you really friends with people who say “that they’d never marry a non-virgin, even if she was a rape victim,” presumably under the age of 40? Where do such people exist, be it in or out of the church? ‘Cause I’ve never met any. Frankly, I can’t even imagine that coming up in conversation among the guys in the church I know (who are largely YSA’s or recently married).

  36. TMD on January 30, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    should read ‘intrinsically bad’ thing to do

  37. Brad Kramer on January 30, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    TMD,
    You ever been to BYU?

  38. Brad Kramer on January 30, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    I should clarify (as a BYU alum) — I’m not saying that all males at BYU think this way, but there definitely are young men out there who believe that they’re entitled to a virgin with no room whatsoever for compromise.

  39. mmiles on January 30, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    I had a friend whose boyfriend dumped her when she told him her sexual history. They were planning on getting engaged, but that was the deal breaker.

  40. Liz Busby on January 30, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    #37: I don’t know about TMD, but I go to BYU and have lived in Utah my whole life and never run into anyone with such an attitude. I’ve had discussions with large groups of men and women about this very issue, and I have yet to hear one person say, “No way, never.” There’ve been some strict reservations about marrying someone who had been sexually active, but most people agree things depend largely on the circumstances of the event and the circumstances of the heart of the person.

    Where are all these psycho Mormons that everyone claims to have found? Not in Cottonwood Heights apparently.

  41. Brad Kramer on January 30, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    I have a close friend who was sexually abused as a child. She was petrified to tell men she dated at BYU for those very reasons. I’ve had guys I otherwise respected and liked admit to me that it would be a deal breaker, even if it was technically unfairly blaming the victim — they still wanted nothing of it.

  42. Kaimi Wenger on January 30, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    Thank you, all, for comments so far. The comments have been very civil and thoughtful, which has made for a good discussion.

    Okay, some replies and responses:

    mmiles (1),

    As far as perpetuating crazy ideas, I had a seminary teacher in 9th grade who brought up rape and how a woman’s chastity is far above rubies. He then said he counseled us to discuss with our husbands whether or not we should “allow” ourselves to be raped, or get killed fighting it. He said, “It’s a tough decision.”

    What a terrible, terrible thing to say.

    Unfortunately, it’s a luck of the draw if a youth teacher is going to be teaching things like this. It reminds me that I need to educate my children, unambiguously, about this.

    Of course, if a woman herself feels that she would rather resist violently, and perhaps die, that is her choice. But it’s crazy to suggest that women should ask their husbands what their preference is, as if any husband’s possessive ideas about having a “pure” sex partner were important enough to die for.

    I don’t think it helps that that Moroni 9:9 characterizes rape as being deprived of chastity. Those verses have always bothered me immensely. So now a woman is not chaste because she was raped?

    Oh, wow. I hadn’t even realized the import of those verses. The only rape victims in the entire Book of Mormon, aren’t they? And they’re characterized as losing their chastity. Wow.

    AFN (2),

    I also have a friend whose sister, when she told her bishop about being raped, was told that she must have been doing something wrong to be in that situation.

    Insane, outdated, patriarchal bull****. And a frighteningly common attitude among folks I’ve spoken to.

    In my criminal law class at BYU law school, one of the things brought up by a fair number of was a fear that many reported rapes were actually consensual, and that the woman was lying because she didn\’t want to be accountable for having sex.

    This is a very common point, too.

    On the one hand, there are some false accusations made. And there are a number of “gray area” cases.

    On the other hand, the general assertion that “well, some people make false accusations” seems to often be used as a cop-out, to avoid admitting or discussing the fact that the real, compelling problem is rape. And it reframes it, and amazingly, turns it into a problem for men. “Oh, those poor men, they might be falsely accused.” Well, how about doing something about the societal background where rape is sufficiently common that false accusation becomes conceivable?

    And it says volumes about our attitudes about sex in general, that sometimes such accusations are made. Historically, they have been known to happen where a woman was engaging in especially forbidden (such as interracial) sex.

    mmiles (3),

    There is also always the, “You girls don’t know the effect you have. You need to dress modestly…” as if we are responsible for what a guy thinks, and how his body reacts, which I began being told when I was 12 in jooint YM/YW sessions.

    Amen, sister.

    Melinda,

    Good point on the history. Throughout the vast majority of recorded history, women have been treated as property, and ideas about sexual purity have been interwoven with this view. Fathers were the owners of a daughter’s virginity, and rape was compensable to the father (who would presumably have a harder time marrying off the now-less-valuable property); after marriage, rape was an offense against the husband, as a taking of his property.

    Lovely stuff. And then you import the social norms of a 2000 year old tribal society into today’s world, because everything the Bible says about culture must be good . . .

    AHLDuke (11),

    I have absolutely no doubt that a number of girls are failing to report the rape because it decreases their chance of attracting the “right guy” to marry. The inability of some (you mention a couple of anecdotes, and I have some of my own) to look beyond not only involuntary sexual activity but even consensual activity repented of is deeply disturbing evidence of the lack of a Christlike nature.

    Yep. And yet, it’s a common enough part of Mormon culture that it shows up in places as vanilla as Jack Weyland.

    CJ (14),

    This is part of the problem with rape education (or lack thereof). Telling women and girls not to go into chat rooms is just not good enough. There needs to be far more rape prevention taught in our chapels and universities. Failure to do so partially stems from the delusion that the threat does not exist.

    Amen to that. You’re right, too, that sometimes the attitude becomes kill-the-messenger. We don’t always want to _hear_ that there’s a problem in our midst.

    Better rape education would absolutely be helpful in dispelling some of these ideas.

    Brad (15),

    Until quite recently, the GHI instructed Bishops that, in counseling women who reported being raped, one of their duties was to determine the degree to which she was responsible for it.

    Horrendous. Absolutely, mind-bogglingly wrong and misguided.

    Ray (20),

    I think you’re right, that sometimes the same advice will be interpreted differently, depending on the gender of the speaker. Is this appropriate?

    On the one hand, it does seem unfair, particularly if both speakers are saying exactly the same things. On the other hand, it’s understandable. Men and women really aren’t equally situated as potential rape victims. (Yes, men can be rape victims, but the statistics are overwhelmingly on the other side.) And perhaps some listeners find it better to hear from speakers who are situated as they are.

    NTT (23),

    I think most of this stems from older LDS culture. I remember vividly being taught that it\’s better to die fighting than to lose your virtue… We need to realize that your \”virtue\” is not taken away from you when you are raped or molested. \”Better dead and clean than alive and unclean\” used to be a popular LDS mantra. Those are dangerous words that we need to turn around and admit we were wrong as a church to stand behind.

    I agree, that one very welcome step would be to repudiate old teachings and unambiguously say, “if you are a victim, it is not your fault. You did not have an obligation to die first.”

    The Strength of Youth pamphlet is a good step. More discussion in conference, including repudiation of older statements, would be very good, too. (Otherwise, older statements may just be incorporated, into weird attempts to harmonize the two.)

    And of course, these messages are especially harmful for children. It’s horrible that some people end up receiving a message that they should have died first, when they were abused at very young ages.

    I was molested as a young boy on two separate occasions by older teenagers in the neighborhood… one male, one female, on 2 separate occasions. Lessons like this drove me to hate myself intensely and wish I were dead. It\’s only been in the last few years I\’m finally realizing I don\’t need to forgive myself for these events, and that it\’s better than I\’m alive. I was terrified to talk to anybody about these incidents, since I felt responsible, and also understood these \”sins\” to be just shy of \”murder\” on the scale. No 8 year-old should be made to feel like they\’re almost as filthy as a murderer because of a church lesson.

    Wow. Just, wow. There’s no way anyone should be subjected to that kind of mental and emotional torture, just no way. Not anywhere; and absolutely not in God’s church.

    ANM (34) — do you mean the Strength of Youth pamphlet Julie mentions in 19? Because I don’t know how helpful a statement like that would be, if it were in the Handbook of Instructions. The Handbook only goes to church leaders, and so not many women (especially, not many young women) have access to it.

  43. shannon on January 31, 2008 at 12:24 am

    I once told my high school pre-calculus class I taught that I’d rather die than be raped. They were totally shocked (especially the guys). They seemed to think that was terribly extreme. It is extreme, but I still feel that way. Though I know in my head and heart that victims of rape are not to blame, I can imagine that I would still feel horrible and “dirty”, if not somewhat to blame. I know this may disturb some people. Even if everyone in the church does everything possible to teach young women that they should never blame themselves, it’s possible that some would still feel that way anyway.
    I don’t see anything wrong with educating girls about things they can do to possibly prevent rape. Although I never had any desire to dress “immodestly”, I was very naive as a YW about the level of temptations faced by YM. Please understand I am not defending or excusing YM who act on those tempations.

  44. Melinda on January 31, 2008 at 12:25 am

    Another thing the Church should do differently is to ban certain object lessons while teaching the law of chastity. I remember as a YW sitting in a chastity lesson where the teacher brought beautifully frosted cupcakes. She asked if we wanted one and of course we all said yes. Then she licked all the frosting off one, and asked us who wanted the licked cupcake now. Of course none of us did. The idea was that virginity is like frosting, and no one wants a licked cupcake.

    My friend is currently a YW counselor. In a stake YW meeting just last year, the leader held up a beautifully wrapped package and told the girls that their purity was like the package. They wanted to be perfectly wrapped on their wedding night for their husband. Any hanky-panky before marriage would tear the wrapping paper.

    Those object lessons teach virginity on your wedding night. There is a lot more to the law of chastity than being a virgin on your wedding night. I doubt any of those object lessons are in the manuals, but they get passed around anyway.

  45. Kaimi Wenger on January 31, 2008 at 12:27 am

    JNS (24),

    Thanks for the background on how these kinds of statistics are generated — it’s very interesting background.

    Starfoxy (26),

    Can I just say, before I come back and write a more on subject comment, that I really dislike the type of language that says “she was raped” and “what women can do to avoid being raped.” Women don’t rape themselves, and phrasing things that way handily removes the rapist from the conversation. Instead say things like “someone raped her,” or “what women can do so that it is harder for someone to rape them.”

    Agreed. Rapes don’t just _happen_. People commit them. And the proper focus is definitely not on “what did she do to be raped?” Blame analysis goes to the perpetrator; questions about the victim should be along the line of, “what can we do to help her?”

    Mmiles (30),

    . In the case of my friend who was raped while drinking, she is responsible for the sin of drinking. While this made it easier for the rapist to rape her, she is still 100% the victim of rape, with zero responsibility for the crime of the rape committed.

    Exactly right.

    There was an interesting discussion on this a few years back, when a misguided religious leader in Indonesia made a widely reported statement about women who are raped after not wearing burka and veil — he said, “if you leave out meat, and a cat comes and eats it, is it the cat’s fault, or yours for leaving out the meat.”

    This very problematic analysis assumes that men are simply mobile brainless penises, walking around and waiting to be aroused by flashes of female skin, and who will immediately lose all control and rape any woman they see without a veil.

    Let’s not talk about why she was drinking. She didn’t force him to have sex, whether or not she took a drink. Instead, he made a series of decisions and very problematic thoughts — hey look, it’s a vulnerable woman, I’ll bet I could get away with something. The blame is on the rapist.

  46. not this time on January 31, 2008 at 12:36 am

    Thanks for the kind words, Kaimi, I agree with you completely, and appreciate where you’ve taken this discussion.

    I think that the social stigma associated with sexual discussion within mormonism makes it difficult for us to help bear one another’s burdens, when the burdens are of a sexual nature, and even more so when they are of a violent sexual nature, such as in the case of rape. These secrets gain power over people through loneliness. I think this is likely a problem world-wide, and not isolated to church culture, although certainly we can do things without our cultural sphere to get better…

    You would be shocked to discover who among you have have dealt with the pain of rape and/or other sexual abuse. Some of us hide it so well, you would never know. We often seem strong and happy, like we’ve got it together. But really we could use more support. There are many of us.

    Abandon all damaging rhetoric, and start a new dialog that is open, free of blame, and safe. I think the community can do much more to help victims heal, but that can only happen if we toss the shame and blame (of the victim) out the window.

  47. Kaimi Wenger on January 31, 2008 at 12:38 am

    Shannon,

    I can understand and respect that decision. Your own value system is important to you. It’s obviously a very personal decision. If that’s your own view, that’s what matters, and it’s as valid as judgments by soldiers that they would die for a country or an idea, or as judgments by firemen who die trying to rescue others. We each have things that we would risk ourselves, or perhaps die, in order to preserve.

    What I do object to is a larger society which tells women that this is the only valid judgment, and that all women should be ready to die before rape, and that rape survivors (who by implication have rejected that particular choice) are tainted in some way.

    (And personally, I would a thousand times rather a child of mine, or person close to me, choose to live. People are strong and resilient, and some of the best people I know are rape survivors.)

  48. Ray on January 31, 2008 at 12:55 am

    Two things:

    1) I wish rape were classified as a crime of violence, not a “sex crime”. It is a violent assault first and foremost; it is “sexual” only in “location”.

    2) I have four daughters. I talk openly and honestly with them about anything, and I have no problem talking with them about things they can do to try to avoid rape – including the potential for problems with drinking and rape. On the other hand, I would never imply that if someone does rape them (thanks, again, Starfoxy) it is their fault. I also hope with every fiber of my parental being that they would choose to live and work through the aftermath.

  49. A. Nonny Mouse on January 31, 2008 at 12:59 am

    ANM (34) — do you mean the Strength of Youth pamphlet Julie mentions in 19? Because I don’t know how helpful a statement like that would be, if it were in the Handbook of Instructions. The Handbook only goes to church leaders, and so not many women (especially, not many young women) have access to it.

    Kaimi, I was saying this to sort of semi-refute Brad’s “Until quite recently, the GHI instructed Bishops that, in counseling women who reported being raped, one of their duties was to determine the degree to which she was responsible for it.”

    Consider it the equivalent of inserting the [citation needed] in a wikipedia article. I don’t think that it has actually said that for quite some time, if ever, but could be convinced otherwise if somebody can find a reference. In general, because of the restricted circulation of the GHI, I think it’s usually kinda pointless to make statements about it like that, particularly semi-inflammatory ones, in conversations like this, though I’ve probably been known to do similar things myself.

    My point was that while Brad’s comment seems to indicate that this notion of sexual assault victim blame has been an institutional part of Mormonism for quite some time, I don’t think that’s the case. That is has been a cultural part of Mormonism is almost undoubtable, given the number of anecdotes people have reported here (the Nonny Spouse also says she heard similar “it’s better to give up your life than your virtue” rhetoric at standards night growing up) but I think for quite some time the church has made it clear to leaders that they are not to put insinuate that victims of sexual assault are guilty of any sin at all.

    You’re right that this cultural message, like many others, (blacks and the priesthood vs. Cain descendancy comes to mind) probably deserves a slightly more clear institutional rebuking, but, if I recall correctly, Elder Scott has given at least one strong talk about helping victims of abuse in a recent conference. My point was not that the church can’t do a better job, but that it’s already done quite a bit more than some of the comments might lead us to believe. There’s essentially little or no wiggle room for a church official to think that a rape victim is guilty of any sin, given the official messages for the last 15-20 years.

    Gotta get back to my homework, otherwise, I’d go look up the Scott reference.

  50. Mother on January 31, 2008 at 1:08 am

    Our karate teacher teaches an intense three-hour defense-against-rape every other month. Both my preteen daughters and I have taken it, and will more than once. One aspect in particular that impressed me, was the repeated emphasis that we were learning strategies to fend off, escape if possible, but most primarily, to live through the assault or attempted assault. To live. Fending is winning. Escaping is winning. Living through it is winning.

    It’s not even the same planet as “die fighting.” “Die fighting” is a headspace that undercuts you. I want my child to survive.

    I invite you to use the language of “to live,” when speaking of strategies against sexual assault with your children and with others.

  51. m&m on January 31, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Oh, wow. I hadn’t even realized the import of those verses. The only rape victims in the entire Book of Mormon, aren’t they? And they’re characterized as losing their chastity.

    I think there is another possible way to consider this verse. Rape shows no respect for women and for their divine value and worth, nor for the value of chastity and the purpose of sexual relations. But chastity and virtue are more than just about the ‘do nots’ right? Rape offends and violates the principles that we try to teach our children about what sex is all about. We talk often of teaching chastity by teaching the beauty and divinity of marital sexual relationships. A woman deserves to be able to have her body, her chastity, her virtue, her desires, be hers to share by choice, not by force. A man who rapes a woman disregards all of that. Chastity and virtue are about agency, and rape takes that away. A rapist takes that which is not his to take, and that which she has not chosen to give.

    I realize this may come off a bit strained given the verbiage of that scripture, but I think we have to think of it in different terms given what we are taught by living prophets. I also think that if we are adamant about teaching chastity as more than just the ‘thou shalt nots’ then we should consider scriptures like this with a broader view of what chastity and virtue really are and what they really include. They involve more than just physiologically losing one’s virginity.

  52. Ray on January 31, 2008 at 1:27 am

    nmiles, just to add to what you wrote about changing our terminology, I wish people (especially men, but anyone who has not had someone rape them) would stop saying, “I feel like I was violated” after any type of offense – implying that somehow what happened to them was like being raped. If you don’t know firsthand what you are talking about, don’t go there. Period.

  53. m&m on January 31, 2008 at 1:39 am

    Ray, I mean no disrespect for or insensitivity to rape victims, but it seems to me that there is more than one way to be violated as a human being, isn’t there? I don’t think of that word as being specific to or reserved only for rape situations, and personally, I think we could create more trouble if we try to make such limitations. If it were really that that word was misused, I’d agree, but I don’t think it is and I worry about making it a charged word when it shouldn’t be.

  54. mmiles on January 31, 2008 at 1:55 am

    M&M–
    I understand you want to insure we won’t lose our testimonies of the Book of Mormon over this (which I assure you I haven’t), but that seems to be a really convoluted way of looking at it. If you look in a dictionary, besides the action of refraining form sexual relations of one’s own volition, chastity simply means virginity. The obvious usage here is simply that the women were deprived of their virginity. You can’t (and shouldn’t) swing it any other way. I understand completely that the wording came from a 19th century translation, and I see how that translation doesn’t transfer very well into 21st (or even 20th) century Mormon speak. But there it is, saying our chastity (which from a straight reading now-a-days means our restraint from sexual impurities) is gone.
    If we look at it from the virginity reading, is that to mean then that a woman or man can’t consider himself/herself a virgin if he or she was raped? What if the crime was very sexual in nature but would not be considered sex in a traditional sense (trying not to be graphic– think Pres. Clinton)? Can a victim of such a heinous crime then be considered a virgin?
    Anyway you swing it, I still dislike the BOM wording. And I retain my testimony of the book.

  55. sol on January 31, 2008 at 2:33 am

    What sticks with me as I read the OP and the comments, is the fundamental flaw in the idea that a victim of rape can be to blame. We are so steeped in the doctrine (false, that is) of having no moral agency when it comes to sexual thoughts and desires that we can actually twist the violent, repulsive act of rape into a situation wherein the perpetrator was somehow robbed of the full use of his/her agency. This is one of the first lines of defense for those who would excuse their violation of the sanctity of womanhood or their own sexuality- be it through rape, pornography, lust, or any other deviant or unauthorized expression. They believe that they are helpless to their own desires.

    Recently we were privileged to be fed a heaping spoonful of grotesque false doctrine by a high councilman. He said a great many things about women and womanhood that made me highly uncomfortable, but the clencher was the story of a recent conversation he had had with his teenage daughter. They were discussing prom dresses and the issue of modesty came up. He then recounted how he had shared with her a story of a \”problem\” he had with a girl when he was a teenager. He then said, \”And I told my daughter I NEVER would have had that problem if that girl had dressed more modestly.\” What?! And that\’s exactly what I said. Out loud. Oops. I was furious.

    At the same time, I respect the words of Elder Oaks cautioning young women in the way they dress: \”…please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you.\” I think this comment can be misinterpreted as meaning that women who dress immodestly ARE pornography for others to see.

    I think what is being taught is the reality that there are many who choose to view women as objects of desire and pleasure, who are capable of seeing women as pornographic rather than as equal creatures in Christ. Because this reality exists, please do not give them the opportunity with you. I think the reasons are to protect the sanctity of womanhood from those who would defile it, even if only in their minds, and to protect those men from themselves. Much like you would not place beer in front of an alcoholic. I think he is asking women to do something out of charity- to not present opportunity for the problem of moral degradation to be magnified. Not because men can\’t help it, but simply because some of them won\’t.

    I particularly like the phrase \”some of the men\”. This is a beautiful thought. In a society where we have been indoctrinated with the lie that men just can\’t help seeing women \”that way\” we have an apostle of the Lord clarifying that this is not a problem inherent in manhood. This is a choice by \”some of the men\”. We are counseled to cover our bodies not because the men just can\’t handle it, but because \”some of the men\” won\’t.

    Women need to be taught that being viewed as an object to be used for personal gratification is not an inherent part of the male-female relationship. It is a lie. We also need to be aware of the reality of the problem and, I believe, out of charity for those who struggle around us due to their own choices (not because of us), we can make choices that will at least not make those struggles harder for them.

    I use modesty in dress only in the context of giving an example of agency. I do not use it to even remotely convey the message that modesty and rape are related and, therefore, responsibility is linked back to the woman/victim. I emphatically reject this idea. Just as I reject the idea that any act of disrespect for the sanctity of womanhood, manhood, or sexuality can be provoked to the point of losing one\’s agency.

  56. m&m on January 31, 2008 at 2:34 am

    I understand you want to insure we won’t lose our testimonies of the Book of Mormon over this

    Hm. What makes you think that is my motivation? You are waaaay off there.

    If we insist that teaching children chastity is more than just the thou shalt nots (which I imagine everyone here believes) then why can’t we consider that chastity and virtue could mean more here?

    If we are going to insist on a dictionary definition, then why insist that the Church and we as parents and leaders should teach more than just ‘be a virgin’ when talking about chastity?

    I understand disliking the way it’s written. I’m not a fan of it myself. I was just suggesting that we might be able to look at it more broadly, just like we do in other situations with this topic. I can accept that you disagree with me. That’s the beauty of discussion, no? I’m just sort of sorting through thoughts anyway.

  57. mmiles on January 31, 2008 at 2:37 am

    Hey M&M–that was a bit snarky of me. I just don’t like taking scripture out of context. I left a message at your blog.

  58. Ray on January 31, 2008 at 2:41 am

    #53 – Yes, there is, but there is no denying that “feeling violated” generally is meant as “feeling attacked” or “feeling dirty or unclean” or other messages that rely on the effects of rape as the foundation image. This is especially true when the term is used after someone has broken into one’s home and stolen or ransacked what is there. I don’t know how many times I have heard, “I felt violated” in that situation. (I could get fairly graphic in comparing the legal terminology for such a crime to the actual elements of rape, but I won’t go there.) It is this usage that is the most egregious, imo.

    BTW, “My rights have been violated” is a completely different expression and not included in what I was addressing.

  59. Ray on January 31, 2008 at 2:50 am

    sol, If I had heard that talk by one of our High Councilors, I would have pulled him aside and told him exactly what I thought about it. Given my current calling, I probably also would have gone straight to the Stake President and explained my feelings about it – and asked if I could address it in our next full Stake Council meeting, without naming the HC or referencing his talk. That is horrible.

  60. m&m on January 31, 2008 at 2:57 am

    Hm, Ray, I can see what you mean, but I guess I have thought of the word more broadly than that, because I think there are different ways to be violated. But I do understand what you mean. I am going to watch that and at least be aware that some people may find such other-usage offensive.

    mmiles, I sent you an email.

  61. sol on January 31, 2008 at 3:00 am

    Ray, I have addressed it twice with the stake president and one of his counselors. The response? “Oh, yeah, we keep meaning to talk to him about that.” Frustrating, but they are busy men and I genuinely feel they are not patronizing me. Just not as high on their list as it is on mine.

    I wish I would have said something afterwards. I am not a shy person, nor am I generally intimidated by authority, confrontation, or being seen as a pariah the rest of my days. However, I am often opposed to coming unglued in the front of the chapel, which is most likely what would have happened on said occasion. Wish you had been there. Wish even more one of the presiding priesthood leaders (stake presidency member included) would have corrected that before closing the meeting.

  62. Sara\'s Mom on January 31, 2008 at 3:08 am

    When I was a freshman at BYU in the mid-80\’s, our bishop held a dorm meeting where he talked about the problem of date rape and sexual assault at BYU. The DN article reiterates statements he made in that meeting about low reporting, issues of survivor guilt etc. He spent a lot of time admonishing us not to be naive–that Mormon men were just as capable of sexual assault as any men. There was never any talk about rape victims being \”soiled\” or \”used merchandise.\” We were explicitly counseled that if anything ever happened we should get medical and police help for ourselves or for our friends and he would support us. He was the first local church leader who I\’d ever heard this kind of information from. His attitude that rape victims were \”victims,\” not responsible for or asking for the assault because of dress or behavior, was refreshing.

    In contrast, my daughter has found the most disturbing attitudes on this subject from fellow *female* co-eds. Recently, there was some kind of dust up over wearing above the knee skirts with leggings not being dress code. The reason given to my daughter by a group of girls in her ward was, \”We\’re pornography for men if we don\’t dress appropriately.\” BYU coeds believing they are pornography if they reveal their knee caps. What is this–Tehran? Do these girls think BYU should be handing out burquas? And what do these attitudes say about how these women see and relate to men, who obviously have no self-control if they see a girl in a short skirt and are thus compelled to all sorts of impure thoughts and behaviors? It is so bizarre and out of balance that I have a hard time wrapping my brain around it. If this is the attitude some BYU women have about their sexuality–that simply by wearing certain clothes they are \”pornographic\” and arousing male BYU students–is it any wonder that there\’s an issue with them reporting sexual assault?

  63. sol on January 31, 2008 at 3:18 am

    Sara’s Mom,
    Exactly! Boys are being taught they can’t help relating to women this way (In fact, it is the mark of a man for many), and girls are being taught the same. To take it a step further, I think girls are often given the message that boys can’t help it BECAUSE OF the girls. Being seen as pornography is something that happens, but that is a choice on the viewer’s part. We have a choice in what we find attractive, arousing, or exciting.

  64. Mark D. on January 31, 2008 at 3:46 am

    mmiles (#3),

    Following the same logic, would you suggest that indecent exposure laws be repealed, as a matter of principle?

  65. Bored in Vernal on January 31, 2008 at 3:51 am

    Shannon, I respect your right to choose how you would react to a rape. However, your comment disturbs me on a number of levels that I feel I must discuss. I’m copying your comment in full because I would like everyone to see what happens when morality is taught the way it is in many of our youth programs in the Church.

    I once told my high school pre-calculus class I taught that I’d rather die than be raped. They were totally shocked (especially the guys). They seemed to think that was terribly extreme. It is extreme, but I still feel that way. Though I know in my head and heart that victims of rape are not to blame, I can imagine that I would still feel horrible and “dirty”, if not somewhat to blame. I know this may disturb some people. Even if everyone in the church does everything possible to teach young women that they should never blame themselves, it’s possible that some would still feel that way anyway.
    I don’t see anything wrong with educating girls about things they can do to possibly prevent rape. Although I never had any desire to dress “immodestly”, I was very naive as a YW about the level of temptations faced by YM. Please understand I am not defending or excusing YM who act on those tempations.

    Somehow we must communicate to our youth that they are not “dirty” when something like this is done to them, as well as not being to blame. Nowhere in this discussion has anyone mentioned that if you are a child or a woman who is not as strong as your attacker, you may not have the choice to fight to the death. Many women and children can easily be overpowered by a person who is bigger, stronger and outweighs them.

    Lastly, Shannon, what in the sam hill are you doing having this conversation with your high school pre-calculus class? This is massively inappropriate. If my daughter were in your class I would have a real problem with this “teaching.” As “Mother” says above, I want to teach my daughters to live. To have victory over this crime is not to lay down our lives. BoM verses notwithstanding, our chastity has not been compromised when someone else has committed this crime against us.

    M&M, you say, “we have to think of [that scripture] in different terms given what we are taught by living prophets. This is one instance when I really wish you would quote some GA’s. What exactly are we taught by living prophets on this issue? If they do address the issue in a sensitive manner I would like to disseminate their words, as well as the comforting words in the FSY pamphlet and give them as much air time as the horribly destructive counsel that the YW need to dress “modestly” so males will not be “tempted.”

  66. Jessica on January 31, 2008 at 4:34 am

    Sorry, but I had to jump to comment before I finished reading the rest of the comments so I could go to bed, but I had to get this out there.

    I get very angry if I think of a guy/girl breaking of a potentially wonderful relationship due to his/her partner’s sexual history. So many members are converts these days, and so many life-long members have times where they fall away from righteousness, it’s near impossible to find someone with a spotless history. And what makes me more angry is if an RM refuses to be with someone with a past. Makes all of their teaching of the power of repentance quite hypocritical.

    end rant.

  67. Jessica on January 31, 2008 at 4:35 am

    Oh, and to clarify, I was only referring to consensual sexual history. I’d need way more time to rant on the rape issue.

  68. Ziff on January 31, 2008 at 6:03 am

    Regarding the case of being blamed for being raped while drunk, raised by mmiles, even a current Young Women’s manual isn’t very sympathetic. Consider this example from a lesson on “Maintaining Chastity Through Righteous Living”:

    The following story illustrates how a young woman lost her chastity because she was not obedient to gospel principles.

    Alice was thrilled to be invited to a party with all of her new friends. She knew several would be drinking, but she decided she would just say “No, thank you” if anyone offered her a drink.

    At the party, several people offered her drinks. She refused the first few times, but she finally had one drink. This one drink multiplied into several. As the evening progressed, Alice lost her ability to control both her mind and her body. This loss was indeed heartbreaking because she later had to live with the reality that she had also lost her chastity.

    It’s vague, but the point of the example might easily be read as “If you drink and you get raped, it’s your fault.”

  69. Xena on January 31, 2008 at 8:09 am

    My sister was raped by two priesthood-holding, returned missionaries at BYU. They drugged her drink and had their way with her. When she came to, she was so horrified by what had happened that she showered and erased all evidence of their crime. When she attempted to go to the police, they didn’t believe her and basically told her she was “asking for it” because of the way that she dressed. When she went to her bishop for guidance and support he told her that she’d just had sex and was feeling guilty and told her she needed to repent. I don’t think she has ever fully recovered from the emotional trauma that she experienced not only at the hands of her attackers, but by the authorities and her priesthood leaders. My sister is now inactive in the church. I don’t blame her.

  70. John Mansfield on January 31, 2008 at 8:17 am

    mmiles (#30), again, by perpetuating the notion that a victim always bears no responsibility for the offense against him or her, you withhold compassion towards those who know that in their case they do have some measure of responsibility for creating a situation that generated harm to themselves.

  71. SilverRain on January 31, 2008 at 8:23 am

    I think it’s pretty obvious that chastity has little or nothing to do with the physical status, since we promise to be chaste even after we are married. The problem is not in the definition. It is in the application.

    Additionally, there is a fine line between assigning blame and yet realizing that we all affect one another. Though a girl is not to blame for a man’s impure thoughts, it is naive at best to expect that she can wear what she pleases and not affect men who are sincerely trying to control their thoughts. If she dresses in a way that to her society is immodest, patently disregarding the affect her clothes may have, she carries a burden of guilt. It is not guilt for the impure thoughts, it is guilt for the utter disregard of another of God’s children and for refusing to help them bear their burdens. Or, in other words, she is displaying a lack of charity along with her lack of good taste.

  72. Peter LLC on January 31, 2008 at 8:30 am

    BYU coeds believing they are pornography if they reveal their knee caps.

    The thought is even more disturbing given the fact that the knees in question weren’t even bare, but covered in leggings.

    John,

    I think your compassion might under some circumstances be much better off withheld.

  73. John Mansfield on January 31, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Why, Peter? Because it’s not reserved only for those pure as the driven snow?

  74. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 10:47 am

    most Provo residents are religious and have a tendency to stigmatize discussion of sexual assault and sometimes to demonize the survivor

    I doubt it immensely.

  75. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Adam: I suspect that you are right. On the other hand, one needn’t suppose that most folks “stigmatize sexual assault and sometimes demonize the survor” for such attitudes to nevertheless have a significant impact. It seems to me that even a vocal but small minority would be sufficient to traumatize many victims.

  76. Eric Boysen on January 31, 2008 at 10:55 am

    How we dress symbolizes who we are. The issue is not with the message we are sending, but with the message that others receive. There are some men who can see a woman dressed in a hajib and have impure thoughts, but immodest dress certainly lowers the bar.

    Dressing modestly is a defense against rape, not because it is a physical barrier, but a psychological one. More important are staying away from situations that put one at risk, not allowing ones judgment to be impaired (drink, drug or passion) and knowledge of personal self defense techniques. Together they are a defense in depth that would prevent most rapes from ever happening.

    To use another home break-in analogy, I have upon occasion left my door unlocked, or worse open. This is never a conscious choice, but in my haste to leave, I fail to check the door knob and ensure my house is secure. If a burglar were to rob me because my house was so easy to get into, I would feel stupid in not having checked the door knob, and responsible in some degree for encouraging someone to a sin against myself though the moral choice of whether or not to rob me was not mine.

    This is a natural feeling that leads people into blaming victims. The parallel to sexual assault is direct. Telling my daughter to dress modestly to prevent rape is kind of like having someone tell me to lock my door to prevent burglary. Beforehand it is so commonsense that it is insulting to my intelligence to have anyone to tell me, and afterwards it is just an insulting “I told you so.”

    Thinking of a victim of sexual assault as “damaged goods” I think is demeaning to women, not because of the “damaged” but the “goods” aspect. Women are not chattels. But one who has been raped is damaged. An outside agency has inflicted emotional wounds that may never heal.

    Death before dishonor has a long history. If you are not squeamish, read Shakespear’s Titus Andronicus, a tale of rape and mutilation of the victim to prevent her from revealing the guilt of the rapist. Her later death, executed by her father, seems in the context more a mercy killing than a matter of honor. Perhaps we should be more charitable toward those in the past who have given us these traditions. I hope that would not keep us from extending our hands to heal wounds of those who suffer in the aftermath of rape rather than rejecting them or forcing them to live forever with a secret shame that should never have been theirs.

  77. Kristine on January 31, 2008 at 11:03 am

    “Dressing modestly is a defense against rape, not because it is a physical barrier, but a psychological one.”

    I can’t even begin to respond to this. I don’t know enough swear words.

  78. Kathryn Lynard Soper on January 31, 2008 at 11:12 am

    mmiles, I share your feelings about those BOM verses.

    #76: Oh boy.

    Rape doesn’t happen because, oops, I left too much of my breast or leg “unlocked.”

    MEN DON’T RAPE WOMEN BECAUSE THEY’RE TURNED ON.

  79. Eric Boysen on January 31, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Look, I’m an old Army guy who thinks about defense as a military operation. A physical barrier is like barbed wire, a psychological barrier is something that discourages the would be attacker to make him less interested in the target.

    Please, however, don’t hold back.

  80. Eric Boysen on January 31, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Yup, but YOU might be the one targeted because he is going to get someone and he sees easy pickings.

  81. Kathryn Lynard Soper on January 31, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Again:

    MEN DON’T RAPE BECAUSE OF SEXUAL “INTEREST.”

    They don’t go around looking for the woman showing the most flesh, the way a burglar might go around looking for unlocked cars. They don’t see a bare midriff and think, Wow, she’s hot, I THINK I’LL RAPE HER.

  82. Melinda on January 31, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I had a singles ward bishop who addressed the issue John Mansfield is talking about – the issue of whether a victim has some responsibility in creating a situation that lead to harm. The bishop assured us he had permission to tell these girls’ stories anonymously, and they had long since moved out of the ward.

    One girl let her date take her shirt off. Then she wanted to stop but he didn’t stop. He raped her. The girl was sure it was all her fault because she had voluntarily let him partially undress her. The bishop helped her see that while she could repent of the fondling, she had no need to repent for being raped. She had gone over the line in taking her shirt off, but getting raped was not a consequence of that sin. Her sin was limited to taking her shirt off. The date’s sin was raping her and she wasn’t guilty for his sins.

    Another girl had a few drinks, and thought that meant it was her fault she got raped. The bishop again separated the sin of breaking the WoW from the sin of pre-marital sex. This girl could repent for drinking, but had no need to repent for being raped, she needed to be healed from the rape.

    Without the bishop’s willingness to listen to these stories, these girls might have gone on thinking, “no, it really was my fault. If people would listen to what I did, they’d know it was all my fault.” This bishop really listened, and let them know the rape was not their fault. I guess he’d had several situations where the girls were blaming themselves for being raped because their conduct was not pure as the driven snow. He wanted to make it clear that a minor sin did not mean the girl was guilty of the major sin. (Sort of a contributory negligence vs. joint and several liability distinction, for you lawyers.)

    If a girl is insisting that she contributed to the crime, listen to her! If it’s just that she had bare kneecaps, then help her see how that’s just wrong. But if she did cross a line, let her know she can repent for whatever line she did cross, but she bears no guilt in being raped. Telling someone they’re innocent doesn’t help much when they know they’ve got some guilt. Your denials won’t necessarily make her feel better. They’ll just make her feel like you don’t really want to know what happened and she really is completely alone.

    Those are situations best handled by a counselor or a bishop, though. As a friend, just listen and pass no judgments at all. And of course, never ask questions that imply you’re searching for some guilt on her part. This comment applies only in those situations where the victim herself is insisting it was partly her fault and wants to talk about why she feels guilty. Let her talk!

  83. Kristine on January 31, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Eric, the problem is not that I don’t understand what you meant.

  84. sol on January 31, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Wow! I shall inform my friends to cover themselves in long, loose-fitting clothing to protect themselves against rape. Oh wait, what if some guy really gets off on loose clothing. Crap. Maybe gain a ton of wait so as not to fit the societal mold of sexy? No, my quite obese friend was brutally raped, so that won’t work. Yes, the only solution is to keep women locked away (and, yes, lock that door or you are stupid and probably asking for it, right?) so that they can’t trigger thoughts in men that drive them to violent acts Thanks for the heads up.

  85. Eric Boysen on January 31, 2008 at 11:29 am

    All women are hot. Sopme men attack nuns in full habit. Rape is a crime of violence, physical or emotional. Some rapists will be detered by dress. That is why I lock my bicycle even though I know a determined bike thief could cut the lock in a second. It is a barrier barrier that keeps away only a fraction of thieves, but the fraction is enough that it is a partial defense.

  86. Eric Boysen on January 31, 2008 at 11:31 am

    There is NO defense that works all the time, and I don’t recommend locking anyone up to prevent their victimization.

  87. ECS on January 31, 2008 at 11:32 am

    “easy pickings”? Yikes.

    I don’t know how people can read these kinds of articles and statistics (and scriptures) and then still reject feminism.

  88. dpc on January 31, 2008 at 11:33 am

    I think that people need to be taught that sexual assault is not about sex, it’s about power and humiliation. Let’s be honest. If someone really wants sex that bad, they can go out and pay for it. A person’s desire to rape is not brought about by how someone may be dressed or how they were acting with the attacker before the attack. There’s a reason that they call rapists ‘sexual predators.’ What rational, self-respecting man wants to force a woman to perform certain acts when she doesn’t desire him and doesn’t consent? Part of a healthy sexual relationship is that you are giving something to the other person. In this way, sexual assault is almost like stealing. The attacker takes something without consent. And does any one ever blame a bank for keeping money there, just tempting the robbers to come and steal it?

    I think that St. Augustine did a good job of explaining why a rape victim is not at fault. He thought that in any sin, there was a guilty act and a guilty mind (These categories may be analogous to actus reus and mens rea of criminal law). A woman may have been forced in a given act, but if in her mind she did not want to participate, then she does not have a guilty mind and retains her virtue.

  89. Eric Boysen on January 31, 2008 at 11:39 am

    “If someone really wants sex that bad, they can go out and pay for it.” Yes, but then they KNOW their bad, but if they convince themselves of the guilt of the one tempting them they will rationalize that they are not at fault. This education thing needs to go to everyone, not just women. No means no!

  90. Kathryn Lynard Soper on January 31, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Eric, here’s a tip for your next Blockbuster night: rent “The Accused.” Maybe it will help you get my point.

    On second thought, don’t. You’ll see Jodie Foster flirting with a guy in a bar, then see her gang raped on top of a pinball machine, and you’ll probably shake your head and say “she should’ve locked the door.”

  91. sol on January 31, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Thank you Melinda. Great explanation.

    “I think that people need to be taught that sexual assault is not about sex, it’s about power and humiliation.”

    Exactly.

    “All women are hot”

    You should probably leave now.

  92. Eric Boysen on January 31, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Kathryn, I am not saying sexual assault victims ask for what happens to them. I am saying sometimes they have not been prudent. Personally I think hanging around in a bar is a great way to get in trouble of all sorts so I don’t go in.

  93. Eric Boysen on January 31, 2008 at 11:48 am

    91 – I should have added “to some sicko.”

  94. Taryn Nelson-Seawright on January 31, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Um, do you all think that women who wear burkas in Muslim countries aren\’t raped? They are, and not just by local men – example 1, example 2, example 3. Huh. Maybe Purdah customs and burkas are too revealing?

    Of course, we can\’t forget how enticing U.S. military uniforms are: Of course, we can\’t forget how enticing U.S. military uniforms are.. Oh, wow, fatigues sure do make a woman look hot.

    Rape isn\’t about sexual stimulation. It\’s about power. In some cases it may be about the perpetrator\’s sexual enjoyment of power, but that\’s certainly not something which will be controlled by women\’s dressing like nuns.

  95. Taryn Nelson-Seawright on January 31, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Sorry, something weird happened with my html.

  96. Kathryn Lynard Soper on January 31, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Eric, I’m glad. But I think you need to be careful about bringing up “prudence” in discussions about why 90% of rapes allegedly go unreported. Reasoning like yours could very well be one of the causes.

  97. John C. on January 31, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Eric,
    It is not the victim’s fault. Pointing out that they are wearing “slutty” clothes or some such is, to some small degree, saying that it is the victim’s fault. In the most common scenario (as I understand it), rapes do not happen at bars nor in poorly lit parks. They happen in homes (houses, apartments, dorm rooms, etc). Most commonly women are raped by people they know and possibly may already trust. There is no normal behavior that is going to ward off a rape. There is no normal behavior that is going to invite or incite a rape. What the woman is wearing, singing, or doing should not ever be understood as construed as subtle justification of the rape or as if she was asking for it. There is not a “type” of woman more likely to get raped. There is not a behavior that certain women exhibit that makes them less likely to be a victim of rape. And if you believe that clothing is an effective barrier against rape, then I have some fine Kansas beachfront property that you might be interested.

  98. John C. on January 31, 2008 at 11:58 am

    To further my point about who rapes folks, see the statistics here

  99. bbell on January 31, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Eric,

    Step away from the keyboard

    Admin?

  100. John C. on January 31, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Finally, more statistics (whose derivation I do not know). I haven’t found one that directly supports my “most rapes take place in homes” assertion, but most “acquaintance” rape does and that is the majority of most rapes. FWIW.

  101. Eric Boysen on January 31, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Well, I have dug a deep hole!

    I agree with a good part what people have said in their arguments against my position, and thought I had made that clear in my comments, but I don’t think my conclusion is false.

  102. sol on January 31, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    For what do we blame children who are victims of sexual or other abuse? Or are we distinguishing between the age of accountability, puberty, legal consenting age? At what point does someone move from being a “true” victim to being somewhat responsible for someone attacking them? Do you say an 83 year old woman who is attacked was somehow responsible? No, these arguments tend to single out those who are at an age/body of “hotness”. Of course a seven year old in a tank top isn’t responsible, but a kinda hot 18 year old? Well…

    Do you who make this argument not understand that what you are defending is your own “right” to see women as objects? What you are propagating is the lie that some things are just hot and there’s no way to see it otherwise. What you are saying is that women are somehow contributing to the problem simply by being female. You don’t make the same arguments when it comes to kids because that would just be gross. But “developed” girls of a certain sexual maturity? You are saying that once a girl fits the societal norms of being sexually “ready” a man has no choice but to view her through that lens. Therefore, if she knows what’s good for her she’ll not tempt those men more than she already does by simply being female. Falsehoods and lies all of them. Man up and get some accountability.

  103. observer on January 31, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    “I think that people need to be taught that sexual assault is not about sex, it’s about power and humiliation.”

    While I think that statement is true in many cases of rapes, I don\’t think that can be applied to all of them. Next to thirst, the sex drive is the most powerful bodily appetite and some people (I\’m thinking mainly of males) will go to ANY lengths to satisfy it. I think it\’s more accurate to say rape is often more rooted in selfishness than in seeking power or to humiliate.

  104. anon on January 31, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Following up on #96, I think this discussion could benefit immensely from a reading of this essay by Chris Clarke. I sincerely apologize for a couple language problems in there, but his is an outstanding, outstanding articulation of precisely how misguided some mens’ purported dispassionate (and unintentionally profoundly un-compassionate) analysis of violence against women is. He was talking about online harassment, but I think the analogy to arguing the degree to which a rape victim might be responsible, is direct enough that everyone should be able to put it together. Here are some excerpts, although I really encourage reading the whole thing:

    In the recent discussion[2] about Kathy Sierra and Markos’ febrile and clueless response to her[3], I see there are some kind, helpful men who are taking pains to make sure emotion doesn’t run rampant in the discussion, that unfair accusations of misogyny or characterizations of harassment statistics get spread in an understandable emotional response to a few very upsetting instances of harassment by piglike men who fall far outside the norm. Surely, these men reason, we mustn’t let these nasty experiences color our judgment of the actual events involved. Surely it helps no one to make wild and baseless charges without looking, in uber-dispassionate detachment, at the actual statistics and methodology and margin of error of the studies that show women get harassed more than men. Come, let us reason together calmly, they say. References to Salem and the McMartin pre-school and such come unbidden to their lips.

    I’m a big fan of dispassionate, rational, fact-based discussion of the issues myself, and it is in that spirit that I offer, to my brethren who’ve taken it upon themselves to be a shining light of dispassion on this topic, these fraternal words of guidance:

    Shut the **** up

    …..(bunch of reasons why)….

    — Finally, let’s assume just for the sake of argument that you’re right. You aren’t. But just as a gedankenexperiment, let’s pretend you are, and that the women who are talking about …[harassment]… just need to be set straight with a calm, measured dose of logic and fact-checking.

    In most situations, that’s a fine impulse. There really is no reason to get upset about LSD in blue star tattoos, and Bill Gates really isn’t paying people who forward a chain email.

    But this situation is qualitatively different. When the topic at hand is men not taking an issue seriously, suggesting that the issue might not really be all that serious is not being dispassionate. It is, in fact, taking a side. And the people on the side you’re taking, incidentally, include the gropers, the rapists, the sexual-favor-demanding bosses.

  105. Taryn Nelson-Seawright on January 31, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Eric,

    Your reasoning is faulty, but your conclusion isn’t?

  106. h on January 31, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    I am utterly shocked that ANYONE could believe that death is favorable over being raped. And the fact that church leaders and seminary teachers (and whoever else) are out there perpetuating this is just disgusting. Absolutely disgusting not to mention IGNORANT. What a dangerous thing to teach.

    Yes, our church does believe that you should save yourself for your future husband/wife. And I\’m sure this comment will throw a lot of people into a tizzy. But come on! Its just sex! The most natural thing on the planet. And yes, I know that rape is different but come on! You really believe that death and sex are on the same playing field??

    The fact that we are taught from the time we are little that sex before marriage is shameful, sinful and wrong implants the idea into your head right from the beginning that if you are raped or even if you make the mistake of having pre-marital sex then you are unworthy and tainted. And that is just sad and wrong and a false belief that is perpetuated by many ignorant members of the church.

    I was raped when I was 16. Not all rapes happen by a stranger. Not all rapes happen in a \”bar\” or because the women is \”flirting with a stranger\” or because a women was being \”stupid in a chat room\” or because you were \”drunk\” or \”high\” or \”alone in a dark ally\” or because you were \”asking for it\”.

    After being raped I then spent the majority of my teenage years feeling unlovable in the Lords eyes and unworthy of going to the Temple someday, let alone even finding a man who would want anything to do with me. I cried almost every day for the loss of the \”worthy\” and \”clean\” girl that I used to be. I wish I had not been brainwahsed to believe that sex before marriage, in any form, is the greatest sin. I guarantee I would have healed so much faster.

    And all because of the ridiculousness and ignorance of some members. I would advice anyone out there who says that they would rather die than be raped to maybe actually try getting raped first. SHAME ON YOU SHANNON FOR SAYING SUCH IGNORANT AND DANGEROUS THINGS TO AN ENTIRE CLASSROOM FULL OF STUDENTS THAT YOU TEACH! That is disgusting. Think of the damage a statement like that could cause.

    I am now married to the most fantastic man. We were married in the Temple. And I will teach my children that saving yourself for you future spouse is wonderful. I will not however teach them that sex is evil and rape is a sin.

  107. Eric Boysen on January 31, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    No, my reasoning is fine. It includes everything everyone has said except that I believe there are a small fraction of cases where dress could make a difference.

  108. sol on January 31, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    “I would advice anyone out there who says that they would rather die than be raped to maybe actually try getting raped first”

    That is an alarming statement. One which I would not encourage. However, if someone would like “try”, apparently you can do that simply by revealing that you are female and are somewhat sexually developed. Shouldn’t, by these standards, be too hard to accomplish. It’s a wonder women make it ten minutes on the beach with all that exposed skin!

  109. kris on January 31, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Just adding my voice to the chorus about the problematic nature of the comments on this thread. Blaming a person’s dress or telling them they would rather be dead than raped is unbelievably horrible and it’s sad that Mormons are still handing out such advice.

  110. Carl Youngblood on January 31, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    mmiles (3) and those who commented about it,

    “There is also always the, ‘You girls don’t know the effect you have. You need to dress modestly…’ as if we are responsible for what a guy thinks, and how his body reacts, which I began being told when I was 12 in jooint YM/YW sessions.”

    While I agree that men are totally accountable for their actions, I feel that many feminists (which I would also consider myself to be) have irresponsibly claimed that women should be allowed to wear (or not to wear) whatever they want, and that any difference in men’s behavior toward them as a result is purely a sign of men’s inferiority/stupidity/chauvinism/neanderthalness/what-have-you.

    In my opinion, this is selfish and immoral. If women feel this is unfair, then biology and Darwinism themselves are to blame, not men (although one might make the argument that there is a subtle and secondary component of choice and accountability in the actual course of evolution). Men are visually stimulated. A male who sees an attractive female whose body is sufficiently visible to stimulate a sexual response has but to look at her for such a response to occur. I personally can remember experiencing such responses to visual stimuli at the age of 4, before I had any clue of what they were. Of course, this does not mean that men cannot control their actions resulting from sexual stimuli, but the male body’s response to such stimuli is there and it is hard-wired. This also doesn’t mean that a different response cannot be conditioned to occur over time, but the default male response is fairly automatic and takes a significant amount of discipline to overcome. For this very reason our leaders encourage us to shun pornography, because even looking at it has such a powerful and addictive effect.

    In my opinion, to assume that women share no responsibility for others’ (especially men’s) reactions to them as a result of their dress is to deny the existence of this biological component, which I believe is immoral. While I would not claim that an immodestly dressed woman is guilty of a serious sin, I would claim that such behavior is uncharitable, because it forces men to exert more effort to control their biologically programmed response than they otherwise would be required to if the woman had worn less revealing clothing.

    I believe that any feminist approach must account for these factors before it can be considered truly equitable and fair.

    While I disagree with some of her positions, Wendy Shalit has talked a lot about modesty and its importance for those who truly advocate women’s empowerment:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendy_Shalit

  111. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    ECS, Kristine, Kathryn, Taryn: Do you believe that it is possible to engage in behaviors that increase the risk of rape?

    This is a purely empirical question. I am not suggesting that those who engage in such behaviors are morally reprehensible or somehow deserved to be raped. I am simply asking whether you think we can identify behavior that increases risk.

    Now the non-empirical question: If we can identify behavior that increases risk, should we counsel young women about these risks? If we do, is it possible to prevent victims of rape from constructing this argument in response:

    1. Rape is evil
    2. Behavior X increases the risk of rape
    3. I engaged in behavior X.
    4. I was raped.
    5. But for 3, there is a possiblity that I would not have been raped.
    6. Ergo, I contributed to my own rape.
    7. Ergo, I have engaged in sin.

    FWIW, I think that this argument is wrong and pernicious. On the other hand, it is hardly an unexpected result of teaching that behavior can increase the risk of rape.

    (BTW, I take no position on “sexy dressing.” I have never seen anything suggesting that there is solid evidence that it increases the risk of being raped.)

  112. dpc on January 31, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Observer said:

    While I think that statement is true in many cases of rapes, I don\’t think that can be applied to all of them. Next to thirst, the sex drive is the most powerful bodily appetite and some people (I\’m thinking mainly of males) will go to ANY lengths to satisfy it. I think it\’s more accurate to say rape is often more rooted in selfishness than in seeking power or to humiliate.

    That’s why I said if someone really wants sex to the extent that they are willing to violate another person, they can go out and pay for it. It’s not just selfishness, it’s a desire to take something from another person by force.

  113. Kathryn Lynard Soper on January 31, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Nate, you asked if it’s possible to identify behavior that increases risk. Based on the information available, my answer is a flat NO.

  114. Kristine on January 31, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    I think there are a few things one can do to avoid being the victim of assault, but whether or not the assault includes rape is entirely out of the control of the victim, and has to do only with what kind of criminal attacks you.

  115. observer on January 31, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    DPC,

    While your argument is logical, not all people are logical. Espcially people who are willing to go to extremes to satiate their sex drives while in the ‘heat’ of the moment.

  116. heathermommy on January 31, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    When I was at BYU there was this big controversy about one strap backpacks and how they were immodest because the emphasized the breast area! LOL. But seriously I have to agree with many who have said that so much of the discussions about rape take the blame away from the men who rape. It’s as if we are saying men are just animals who can’t control themselves. I am sorry that is not doctrine. Anyone who goes along this line of reasoning is just not right. We are all given agency and we are never held accountable for other people’s sins (think about the 2nd article of faith). Sometime we are victims of other people’s choices but not responsible.
    I see this same attitude in the extended family of some young boys (3 and 5) I know who were molested. Some family members have seriously sided with the molester and blamed the little boys! Sadly this is all too common.

  117. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    #111,
    that makes sense, Nate O. I would add that if Behavior X is itself felt to be sinful (e.g., drinking, in the case of date rape), then the chain of “logic” that you lay out is likely to be even stronger. And in a context where you have parents and leaders warning about Behavior X because it increases the likelihood of rape, then Behavior X is itself sinful because it is disobedient. So I think quite often in LDS cases you’d get a chain of “logic” that is even stronger than you suggest. Its not ‘if I had avoided doing such and such, I wouldn’t have been raped,’ its ‘if I had avoided such and such sin, I wouldn’t have been raped.’

    I don’t want to come up with pat explanations for human psychology, but I wonder if at least in part its not a way of reasserting control over the situation by claiming responsibility for it. I noticed this a lot when we were associating with parents and friends of children with brain cancer. They were usually frantic to know what might have caused the cancer. Obviously finding the cause wouldn’t help their actual child any, but the idea that the cancer might have been in principle avoidable seemed to give them comfort, even if it meant making themselves in some way responsible for the cancer. At least they would be an actor in the tragedy and not just a victim.

  118. anon on January 31, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    A male who sees an attractive female whose body is sufficiently visible to stimulate a sexual response has but to look at her for such a response to occur…..but the male body’s response to such stimuli is there and it is hard-wired

    Carl, with all due respect, rape is not an involuntary bodily response. I couldn’t care less if a man looking at me unintentionally has a particular bodily reaction that we all know what I’m talking about from those embarrassing jr high days. I can’t believe you would somehow equate that with an involuntary raping of me.

  119. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Kristine: What would you do about date rape, which is rather more common than the random violent man in the back alley who assaults someone? Can we identify any risky behaviors there?

    Kathryn: I respect your answer, but it is rather disheartening. I want to believe that there is something that I can tell me daughter that will make her safer. Note, I am concerned her with relative levels of safety, hence I don’t see much force to the objection “But people do X and get raped.” The question is about aggregate levels of risk. For example, would you say that alchohol does nothing to levels of risk for date rape? Remember, I am asking a question about probability rather than culpability.

  120. John C. on January 31, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    I’m going to echo Kristine. If it is wise counsel to tell women to not jog alone in the dark, why isn’t it equally wise counsel to tell men the same? Do we believe men can outrace bullets?

  121. heathermommy on January 31, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    oh I also wanted to say that if I were a man I would be totally offended by these statements implying that men are slaves to their sex drives.

  122. Latter-day Guy on January 31, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    I can see––somewhat––what Eric was saying, though I hope that he misspoke. There are higher risk situations that any person should try to avoid. I do worry about my little sister at BYU and hope that she avoids dangerous situations, but I feel we ought to re-think the whole “better to die than be raped” logic. Perhaps we could mandate that young women get a concealed carry license as part of the Personal Progress. Then we could teach what seems to be a much better view: better to kill than be raped. (I am only half joking about that, really.)

  123. John C. on January 31, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Nate,
    How exactly does the woman’s alcohol level increase her likelihood of being raped? I can see how drinking might lead to a loosening of prohibitions that could push an almost-rapist to being a rapist, but I don’t see how it pushes an almost victim into becoming a victim?

  124. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    “Do we believe men can outrace bullets?”

    No, but we might plausibly believe that men are less likely to be victims of assualt while jogging because they are men. It is certainly a pipe dream to believe that gender is not a good predictor of behavior in all sorts of situation. For example, I don’t think that you can find any society anywhere on earth at any time in human history where the majority of violent crime was not committed by young unmarried men.

  125. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    If 90% of rapes are really going unreported in Provo,

    Yeah, I’m pretty sceptical too. I happen to know someone who assists Utah law enforcement in giving sexual abuse/sexual violence preventative seminars and in private conversation this person has admitted to me that this person uses made-up statistics in these seminars. This person’s defense was that the statistics could be true and that people need some shocking figures before they wake up to the real problems out there. I can’t recall if unreported rapes was one of the things we specifically discussed, but that would be the kind of thing.

    I can readily imagine, though, that rapes often go unreported. Reporting rape to law enforcement officials isn’t obviously something that helps you out. Like many crimes, there’s really no point in reporting it other than as an act of civic obligation or, possibly, for revenge. But when you’ve just suffered great psychic trauma, civic obligation is probably the last thing on your mind.

  126. J. Nelson-Seawright on January 31, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Nate, the argument you suggest is a great example of why pragmatic advice about avoiding risk should not be mixed with moral discussion about the fault for sin or crime.

    No one is ever morally to blame for things other people do to them. We should distinguish between causation and responsibility. In order for someone to send me a spam email message, it’s a requirement that I have an email address. Hence, in a very straightforward sense, having an email address is a cause of receiving spam; if I get rid of my email address, I will also surely eliminate the spam. Yet it strikes us as inherently goofy to claim that I am responsible for the spam simply because I have an email address. In the moral sense, the only person responsible for the spam is the person who decided to send it. I might have ways of reducing my exposure to spam, and the infrastructure of the internet could be changed to interfere with sending spam; both are causes of my receipt of spam, and we might want to change them. But neither I nor the internet are morally responsible for some Russian gangster’s decision to advertise herbal supplements; only the gangster is to blame.

    How much more true is this when the issue is a coercive physical assault?

    But because people often don’t make these distinctions, and often assign moral blame to victims, it’s best to simply avoid mixing the two together at all. They should be entirely separate conversations.

    As a final note, it’s hard to imagine anything resembling a comprehensive list of behaviors that might entice violent crimes like rape. Some rapists have a sort of serial pattern where they pursue women with specific physical traits. So should tall women, then, be considered responsible for not getting their legs shortened to avoid rape? Or blond women for not dying their hair? Or all women with hair for not shaving it off? Or women in general for not deliberately subjecting their faces to acid baths to deter male interest? Or for even leaving the house? Or, e.g., being women?

  127. observer on January 31, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    #121, if you’re referring to my statements about sex drive, I’m trying not trying to argue whether it’s a choice for men or not. Of course it’s a choice. I am trying to argue what the motives are for rape. And I’m saying I think they vary.

  128. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    John C.: As I understand it, alchohol and other seditives are common tools of many date rapists, who rely on chemicals to make victims easier targets.

  129. Latter-day Guy on January 31, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    If 113 is true, than guns-for-girls I think is all the more urgent.

  130. Kristine on January 31, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Nate, men are (on average) bigger than women. If a man wants to rape a woman, there is, in the end, not much she can do about it. Not getting drunk is a good idea for lots of reasons, but won’t really protect you from rape. You might want to tell your daughter not to go on dates–that seems likelier to protect against date rape.

  131. John C. on January 31, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Gender might be a good predictor of criminal behavior, but I don’t understand why it is a predictor of victimhood. If I have a gun and you don’t, what do I care regarding your genitalia?

  132. Kathryn Lynard Soper on January 31, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Nate, read the statistics and see if you can identify any behaviors that increase risk.

    I, too, want to help my daughters stay safe. But I will do this through general discussions about avoiding danger (per Kristine’s comment about assault). I won’t ever say to them, “Don’t drink or wear revealing clothing or go down dark alleyways because it increases your chances of rape.” That kind of reasoning might sound practical and wise on the surface, but it perpetuates multiple falsehoods that hurt girls and women.

  133. John C. on January 31, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Nate,
    Is the issue the alcohol or the perpetrator? Would avoiding the alcohol necessarily avoid that crime or would it be more likely to just delay it? I ask this not knowing the answer.

  134. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    How exactly does the woman’s alcohol level increase her likelihood of being raped?

    One of the typical images of date rape is the girl who is passed out drunk; or who is conscious but too drunk to give meaningful consent or to resist; or who has something slipped into her drink. I don’t know how much these images fit with reality, though I have the impression that the first two do happen. And since young women are more likely to get drunk in settings where others are drinking, there is, as you point out, the possibility that when drinking young women will be around people whose inhibitions (or prohibitions, if you prefer) are lowered.

  135. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    “No one is ever morally to blame for things other people do to them. We should distinguish between causation and responsibility.”

    JNS: Very well stated. I agree. I also suspect that your pessimism about our ability to idenitfy risk may be correct. I just hope that you are wrong. I would hope that the inability to produce a comprehensive list doesn’t preclude us from idenitfy at least some risky behaviors. As should be clear from reading between the lines of my post, I worry that a concern for the possiblity of blaming the victim ex post may deter folks from discussing risk ex ante. The ex ante discussions do require that we sharply distinguish causation and culpability. (A distinction, incidentally, that is a bed rock of much of legal analysis. It’s why we distinguish between homicide and murder, negligience and non-negligence, etc.)

  136. Anonymous Female on January 31, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    # 124 “…the majority of violent crime [is] committed by young unmarried men….”

    That’s certainly the case in the large city that I live near. It’s the case in the suburbs where I live. At least for the reported crimes.

    So let’s lock up all the young unmarried men. That will do wonders for the violent crime statistics.

  137. John C. on January 31, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Well, they are, undoubtedly, menaces to society.

  138. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    “Is the issue the alcohol or the perpetrator? Would avoiding the alcohol necessarily avoid that crime or would it be more likely to just delay it? I ask this not knowing the answer.”

    The perpetrator is clearly the party that is morally culpable, but I don’t think that it is unreasonable to think that perps engage in some sort of logical calculation of marginal costs so that in choosing between two victims they choose the vicitim that will be easier to dominate. I’m not a criminologist, so I can’t claim to have much more insight here than an arm chair model of incentives.

  139. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    “So let’s lock up all the young unmarried men.”

    The problem with this reasoning is that the vast majority of young unmarried men are not violent predators. On the other hand, if you are walking down a street and are worried about being assaulted, it is entirely rational to be more frightened of a man between the age of 15 and 25 than a woman between the age of 45 and 55.

  140. Starfoxy on January 31, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Eric #107 Is that small fraction of cases worth all the hoopla? When you consider the amount of victim blaming, and the increase of restrictions on women’s behavior these sorts of ‘warnings’ produce, is it really worth it? I don’t want to live my life in fear just to reduce my risk by 0.5%

    As I was thinking about this last night, and I decided that my earlier comment about language really gets at what drives me nuts about these types of discussions. The criminals disappear, it’s like they don’t exist. We’d rather spend all day discussion what women can do to make it harder for someone to rape them, rather than talk about what it is that makes men rape. These men aren’t shady foreigners, who just like causing pain for the fun of it. Most women know, are friends with, are romantically involved with, or are related to their assailants. We’ll all readily admit that rape is a horribly crime, but we just can’t bring ourselves to admit that our friendly, seemingly normal, friends and relatives are committing these horrible crimes.

    There was a study in 1984 (Malamuth was the guy who published it) that indicated that a sizable percentage of men would commit rape acts if it wasn’t called rape and they could be assured they would ‘get away with it.’ (link) This horrifies me on so many levels.

    In many ways we identify with the rapist rather than the victim, and so we push the blame away from where it goes to keep from implicating ourselves and our friends. Even I struggle with that. I grew up with and was friends with the family of the LDS AZ state senator who’s son was tried for sex crimes a couple years ago. No part of me wants to believe he did what he was accused of, he was a lovable guy, and I still am fond of him. It’s easier to believe that things were blown out of proportion, or he was wrongly accused, or it’s not his fault, or or or… Or I can swallow my pride and admit I was wrong about him, admit that he probably did a terrible thing, and hurt lot of people.

    Whenever you hear the stat that says 1 in [x] women are raped, try to remember that probably 1 in [x] men rape. You probably know a woman that someone raped, and you probably know someone who raped a woman.

  141. sol on January 31, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Hmmm, I have been thirsty. Very thirsty. So thirsty my tongue literally swelled in my mouth. I was frantic for water. I would have done almost anything to get it. Almost. Someone with me at that time did have water, but would not share. Why didn’t I bash her head in with a rock and get that water I so badly desired? Because even in that moment of extreme deprivation I HAD MY AGENCY. Holy crap people. If sexual desire is second only to thirst, it still has no bearing on AGENCY. Does anyone else get this?

  142. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Gender might be a good predictor of criminal behavior, but I don’t understand why it is a predictor of victimhood. If I have a gun and you don’t, what do I care regarding your genitalia?

    In the case of rape, if most of the criminals are male, then most of the victims are going to be female. If you look at rape statistics, the victims are disproportionately women, and this isn’t just because men aren’t reporting Deliverance.

    Who is more likely to be a victim of a crime depends on the criminal and the criminal’s motives. If I’m trying to blood my way up a violent status hierarchy my victims are going to be male, because men are the ones who do that kind of thing.

    But if I’m looking for easy victims for a mugging, then assuming equal apparent wealth, my victims are more likely to be elderly, female, small, and uncertain, because young, strong, confident men are more likely to resist even when its stupid for them to do so and because psychologically its less nerving to confront the elderly, female, small, and weak then it is otherwise. Also if there were different profiles of victims who were less likely to report a crime, then that profile is more likely to be victimized. Dunno, however, if women are less likely to report a crime than men.

  143. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    “That kind of reasoning might sound practical and wise on the surface, but it perpetuates multiple falsehoods that hurt girls and women. ”

    I can think of at least three dangers:

    1. It will cause them to over-estimate certain risks, leading them to live with fear that is unnecessary.
    2. It will cause them to under-estimate certain risks, so that they think because I don’t do X I am safe.
    3. It will cause them to make the pernicious argument to themselves ex post that I outlined in my first comment.

    I take it that Kristine’s primary concern is 3, which doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable, particularlly if one can discourage risky behavior on other grounds. I am guessing that you have the same reaction. I suppose that I just have this viceral reaction against the notion that more information is bad, although I am very sympathetic to the notion that much of what passes for “information” is simply rumor, etc. unsupported by much evidence.

  144. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    sol: I don’t think that anyone on this thread has argued that rapists are not fully culpable for the evil that they cause.

  145. Kathryn Lynard Soper on January 31, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Let’s talk about risk of assault, by all means. Women shouldn’t unduly endanger themselves. We don’t do ourselves any favors by saying “it’s not my fault if someone hurts me, so I won’t take any precautionary measures.” The door-locking argument has merit in a general discussion about safety.

    If we counsel our daughters to protect themselves in general, they will already be doing everything in their power to guard against the relatively few rapes that happen in typical assault situations, and they won’t have any of the baggage that comes from “don’t-do-this-or-you-might-be-raped.”

    I don’t want to give my daughters any hint of an idea that lack of modesty is a risk factor. It’s vital to avoid burdening women with the lie that their sexuality is to blame for vicious crime. I will teach them about modest dress for a long list of reasons, but I will not bring up rape prevention. If there’s one in a million rapists that will attack a woman because she’s so hot in that low-cut dress, my daughters will already be protected from him because they’re following my counsel on other grounds.

    We must empower women through education, and it can be done without setting them up for self-blame in cases of rape.

  146. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Starfoxy, I’m going to have to disagree that most of us identify with the rapist. I’m also going to have to disagree that we spend more time trying to prevent women from being rape victims than we do trying to prevent men from being rapists. Even in the church setting, when we are preaching to men about respecting women, abstaining from violence, the sacredness of sex, we are preaching, inter alia, against rape. Governmentally we have far more resources and laws to deter and punish rapists than we do laws to encourage women to avoid rape-vulnerable behaviors, which is as it should be.

    In any case, if we do spend more time trying to prevent women from being rape victims than we do trying to prevent men from being rapists, its probably because we don’t want women to be rape victims, not because we identify with the rapist. Unless you assume the worst about everyone you know you are much more likely to think that the people you know would be the *victim* of an evil then that they could be the perpetrator of it. My father, for instance, has passed on various warnings about avoiding frauds to me. He has rarely if ever sat me down and warned me against committing fraud myself.

  147. John C. on January 31, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    According to this, men are more likely to be the victim of violent crime than women.

    That mixes up murder, assault, rape, and other such. I’ll look for assault stats next.

  148. Jeremiah J. on January 31, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    “I have a hard time with these kind of statisics. If they aren’t repoorted, how do they know that 90% more assaults happened?”

    “Yeah, I’m pretty sceptical too.”

    The study of unreported crime is a serious, scientific field of research. The main source of data that I know of is surveys of the general population which ask people if they have been the victim of a crime. These surveys follow the same statistical methods used in the social and natural sciences. In some surveys people do indeed lie, but not instinctively and not all in one direction. One would have to come up with some reason why unvictimized women would lie to anonymous survey-takers (in the affirmative, enough to balance out true victims lying in the negative), at a much greater rate than they might lie to the police. It doesn’t seem plausible to me. If, of course, the 90% statistic is made up or estimated by the cop, that’s a different story, but it could very well be an ofifical crime statistic and in that case it should be trusted, or critiqued on its methodological merits rather than met with a vague, cynical mistrust.

    I want to keep my daughter safe, so I don’t have any problem with telling my daughter to avoid risky behaviors (binge drinking is one of them, even if teetotaling is no absolute protection). Another one of those risky behaviors or attitudes, however (which bad men seem to be able to spot a mile away) is the tendency of some women to blame themselves when abused. If see my daughter acting ashamed rather than indignant if she is treated badly by a man, I would be much more alarmed (about her safety) than if I saw her dressing inappropriately. There are few ideas that would be more appealing to a rapist than the idea that if a woman survives an attack she is partly to blame.

  149. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Kathryn: I agree with you on modesty, and in any case I am doubtful that it is much of a risk factor for rape. On the other hand, I do think that it is dangerous to teach people to think of rape in terms of the unknown stranger who assaults you. The much greater danger is date rape, and I doubt that the advice to prevent assuault necessarily has spill-over effects on date rape the way that it does on stranger rape. I don’t want to pathologize sexuality either, but I do want to address — if possible — risks associated with the sort of situations where women are most likely to get raped.

  150. Kathryn Lynard Soper on January 31, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    And I should add:

    I will certainly teach my daughters about rape. I teach them that rape happens to women of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. I will make sure they understand that the attractiveness of the woman has nothing to do with it. I will make sure they understand that men most often rape women they know. And I will teach them that if they are in a rape situation they should do whatever they think will help them get the hell out of there as quickly as possible, whether that be fighting back or lying still. I will not lump rape together with crime in general.

    And I will never, ever tell them that rape is worse than death. I am sad thatsentiment was printed in the Miracle of Forgiveness, of all places.

  151. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    1. It will cause them to over-estimate certain risks, leading them to live with fear that is unnecessary.

    I think this is more likely. Like KLS points out, most of the risk factors I can think of for rape are probably things that are bad ideas anyway.

    I don’t want to give my daughters any hint of an idea that lack of modesty is a risk factor.

    OK, but doesn’t that depend on how much of a risk factor we’re talking about? Avoiding giving the wrong impressions about culpability is all well and good, but if it actually appreciably reduced rape I’m willing to take the risk. I just don’t know. You’re probably right in most circs, but I know if my daughter were foolish enough to work in the Green Zone I’d tell her to dress in a body-covering woolen blob.

  152. Anonymous for Now on January 31, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Starfoxy in 140: When I was in seventh grade, we had a class assignment where we split into groups of four and then had to create our “ideal” society and what our respective roles in that society would be. I remember the two boys in my group laughingly decided they would be the “rapists.” I think they were thinking this would ensure they would get to have lots of sex without any punishment for the rape. It was really disturbing to me then, and it is even more disturbing to me now! Also, in college, I had a male friend tell me that how they had done an anonymous poll in one of his classes about how many guys would rape a girl if they could get away with it and how it was some strong majority. He told me this while we were walking across campus in the dark and I was suddenly afraid of him.

  153. Kaimi Wenger on January 31, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    This is a really sensitive topic, and I thank commenters for their sensitivity so far.

    Some of the discussion has focused on causation and blame. I think that, along the lines Nate writes, one can unravel and construct chains of logic that place victim actions in a causal chain. That much is clear. We _can_ link victim actions to rape, as a matter of causation. That’s clear. I’m much less convinced that we _should_.

    As legal theorists can tell you, there are an _infinite_ number of theoretical causes of any particular event. Thus, assigning cause becomes not just a simple matter of factual deconstruction, it is also a value laden exercise in _which_ theoretical causes we want to highlight.

    For example, suppose that Victim does the following actions:

    1. Does homework from 6 to 8.
    2. Goes grocery shopping from 8 to 9.
    3. Walks home from grocery store at 9 pm
    4. Is abducted, and assaulted.

    What action is the cause of her assault?

    We could literally list infinite acts that contribute to the causal chain:

    -She was walking home late at night.
    -She chose to do homework first and not shopping.
    -She made various decisions which resulted in her not possessing a car at the time.
    -She chose to go to college to begin with.
    -She received enough education to attend college.
    -She was initially ever born.

    And of course, there are the actions that the perpetrator took. He chose to drink; he chose to do past acts which contributed to his attitudes towards women; his friend called him and said let’s go shoot pool in this neighborhood; etc.

    In calling something a cause, we choose to link it to the act in certain ways. So, in a theoretical sense, her high school education caused her to attend college which caused her to be in that place. Absent her high school education, she would not have suffered this particular assault. Would we therefore say that high school causes rape?

    Or in this case, if Victim hadn’t done homework, she would have shopped earlier. Is her teacher to blame, for assigning homework? Is she to blame, for doing her homework? Is homework the cause of rape?

    So, the first main point is that calling something a “cause” is _not_ just a simple factual exercise. It is a value judgment, and we absolutely choose which events in any particular, infinite, causal chain, we are going to highlight as “causes” of a particular effect or result.

    The second main point is that there are pernicious consequences to assigning causation to a victim. We can see this when we move outside the rape context and into the context of other horrible tragedies.

    For example, many Jews in 1930s Germany realized that the government was rather unfriendly, and some stayed anyway. Should we say of them, “The Holocaust was terrible. But it’s partly their fault, you know. They should have left Germany sooner.”

    There is no doubt, if you examine the causal chain, you can say that “remaining in Germany” is one link in the chain. Why not call that a contributing cause? We don’t say that, do we? And we shouldn’t assign blame to rape victims either, for a couple of reasons.

    First, because there is implicit blame-sharing when we call an action a cause. And when one party does a particularly egregious act, the most important concern is recognizing and condemning the bad act. Another reason is that victims need to be able to heal. Discussion that tends to put blame on victims — even partially, and even incompletely — can hurt this process. Do we think that victims don’t blame themselves enough, and so we really need to heap it on?

    A third reason, particularly relevant in the rape context, is the awful history of victim blaming. This is not just a theoretical concern. Until very recently, formal, legally sanctioned victim blaming has been a huge part of rape trials. It has just been in the past three or four decades that victim conduct has ceased being a part of the rape trial. Until then, defendants could (and did!) say, she was dressed provocatively, so she deserved it. Or, she was just a white trash woman, she probably wanted it. Or (I’m not kidding), she was black, and everyone knows that black women always want sex, so she must have been consenting.

    And with that the idea that rape was only a crime if a certain chain of events happened; but if the victim was black or dressed provocatively or had a sexual history, that she wasn’t worth it.

    The trial becomes not about the rapist’s actions, but about “how much should we value this particular victim’s personhood?” Some women are worth more than others. Statistics from just two decades ago (!) in Texas showed an average sentence of (as I recall, I’ve got the article around here somewhere) eight years for raping a white woman, five years for raping a Hispanic, and two for raping a black woman. (!)

    Focus on victim conduct or character takes the rape and turns it into, once again, not “how bad is this act, and should it be punished?”, but “how much is this particular victim worth?”

    Because of that, victim-blaming causation arguments should probably be avoided, even though they could certainly be constructed from the infinite causal chains that lead to every event.

  154. John C. on January 31, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    This is a chart showing violent crime rates for the past 30 odd years. Crimes against men vastly outnumber crimes against women.

    This is a chart showing the gender of people hospitalized due to violence in New Jersey over a five year period. Once again, men outnumber women.

    Gender is no security blanket.

  155. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    “Another one of those risky behaviors or attitudes, however (which bad men seem to be able to spot a mile away) is the tendency of some women to blame themselves when abused. If see my daughter acting ashamed rather than indignant if she is treated badly by a man, I would be much more alarmed (about her safety) than if I saw her dressing inappropriately. There are few ideas that would be more appealing to a rapist than the idea that if a woman survives an attack she is partly to blame. ”

    A very good point…

  156. John C. on January 31, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Um, I have two comments caught in a filter (for links, I think). Could someone free them. They contained relevant links/stats (although the first is repeated in the second)

  157. jimbob on January 31, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    “But seriously I have to agree with many who have said that so much of the discussions about rape take the blame away from the men who rape.”

    Sadly, I think the assumption is that there are now and will always be men who rape. And these men make me–like almost everyone else–sick. But I don’t know if any society has ever really figured out how to stop men intent on raping from raping (apparently mandatory castration is creul and unusual, and it may not help anyway). So the natural impulse appears to be to help protect women by asking them not to put themselves at risk. (That, of course, only works if there is an assumption that a woman has the ability to increase or decrease her risk, which I am not arguing one way or another.) That is, I think we believe as a society that we don’t know how to stop rapist prospectively very well, but we feel we have a chance to tell prospective victims to avoid certain behaviors. But by doing so, I don’t think that very many people are consciously trying to take away the blame from the ultimate perpetrator, the rapist. Unfortunately, by focusing on changing the behaviors we think we might be able to legitimately modify–i.e., the victim’s–the end result is that we probably unconsciously start to blame the victim for not having avoided these putatively risky behaviors.

  158. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    You’re preaching to the choir, Jeremiah J. If you read my comment thoroughly, you would realize I wasn’t criticizing social science surveys but unprovenanced “statistics.” The one in the article is unprovenanced.

  159. Kathryn Lynard Soper on January 31, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Nate, I was typing when you were. I agree 100%. And my approach is this: teach avoidance of all situations involving drugs and alcohol. Teach young women to never accept drinks of any kind from strangers. If there is a percentage of date rapes that hinge upon these factors, my daughters will already be protected from them if they follow the general safety rules. I won’t say “If you get drunk you might be raped.”

  160. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    KW, your conclusion doesn’t follow from your premises. All that follows is that when dealing with a specific victim our response shouldn’t be to tell the victim how he or she was responsible. It doesn’t follow that we should avoid any discussion of how certain behaviors increase or decrease risk.

    And even when dealing with a specific victim it the victim is likely to suffer the same fate in the future without a change of behavior, you’d probably better hurt their feelings and tell them anyway. A lot of the polemic about how Jewish passivity contributed to the Holocaust comes from the Jews themselves, and the reason is they don’t want it to happen again.

  161. Jeremiah J. on January 31, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    “You’re preaching to the choir, Jeremiah J. If you read my comment thoroughly, you would realize I wasn’t criticizing social science surveys but unprovenanced “statistics.” The one in the article is unprovenanced.”

    Okay. It’s true that this thread is pretty much free from the idle rejection of the statistics compared with the comment thread of the Des News article. But perhaps some people don’t know that there are pretty reliable ways that the police have for finding out rates of unreported crime. Mmiles, for example, it seems.

  162. anon on January 31, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    #146–“Starfoxy, I’m going to have to disagree that most of us identify with the rapist. I’m also going to have to disagree that we spend more time trying to prevent women from being rape victims than we do trying to prevent men from being rapists.”

    Adam, take a look at this thread. I count several comments with people making remarks about how they have/will/would talk to their daughters and the various advice they would give their daughters. I don’t see a single comment that off-hand mentions they plan on speaking with their son about not being a rapist.

  163. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    A couple of quick points on Kaimi’s comments:

    1. The notion of legal causation that he presents is drawn from the thinking of Herber Wechsler, who noted that for any act there are infinte but-for causes and hence finding primary causation is always a normative rather than an analytic inquiry. I would just point out that this is a very American, post-realist way of looking at it. Hart and Honre put forward a very different account of causation, although I confess that having been educated at a very American, post-realist law school, I don’t understand it.

    2. I think that Kaimi moves too easily from assigning causation to assigning blame. I think that we can keep these concepts seperate. Furthermore, I think that there is a danger in saying that one should never have discussions of causation for fear that people will mistakenly draw conclusions about culpability. We may lose something very valuable if we can’t discuss causation.

    Cause and fault are not the same thing.

  164. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    John C.: What happens to those statistics when you break out young-unmarried-male-on-young-unmarried-male violence?

  165. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Teach young women to never accept drinks of any kind from strangers. . . . I won’t say “If you get drunk you might be raped.”

    What other reason is there not to accept drinks of any kind from strangers at parties? If you’re telling your daughter to not let a stranger get her a Sprite at a party, don’t you need to give her a reason?

    Anyway, if getting drunk at parties creates a real risk of getting raped, why wouldn’t you want people to know that? I’d want to know that.

  166. anon on January 31, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    #157–But I don’t know if any society has ever really figured out how to stop men intent on raping from raping….So the natural impulse appears to be to help protect women by asking them not to put themselves at risk.

    Jimbob, I think part of the reason that this is the case, is precisely what others have been complaining about in this thread, which is that we spend a gazillion times more time and energy discussing, debating, studying, publicizing, teaching and moralizing about how women can do more and more backflips and jump through more hoops to prevent themselves from being raping, and we don’t spend that time and energy discussing how to keep men from raping.

    Maybe if we did, we would have an answer by now.

  167. ECS on January 31, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Hi, Nate – I hope you don’t find me rude for not responding substantively to your very good questions, but I think Kristine and Kathryn are doing an excellent job of covering the issues you raised, and I’ve got a busy day in the office today. Thanks for the interesting discussion.

  168. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    “But I don’t know if any society has ever really figured out how to stop men intent on raping from raping”

    I don’t know that this is true. We can certainly identify societies where rape is more common than others, and I think you’ll see that the single biggest differences is the success in controlling male misbehavior. Post-war Germany in the Soviet zone of occupation had an incredibly high rape level, and I don’t think it had anything to do with how German women were dressing. On the other hand, the deliberate choice of Stalin and other high Soviet leaders to encourage rape by refusing to punish rapists probably had a great deal to do with it.

  169. mmiles on January 31, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    #144-

    NateO-
    John Mansfield has. Se #70

  170. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    I count several comments with people making remarks about how they have/will/would talk to their daughters and the various advice they would give their daughters. I don’t see a single comment that off-hand mentions they plan on speaking with their son about not being a rapist.

    Neither do you see anyone talking about how they will tell the daughter not to fabricate a rape allegation as an act of petty revenge. The reason is that since we assume the people we’re around aren’t monsters, we’re much more likely to think they might be the victims rather than the perpetrators of a despicable act. If you’d read the rest of my comment you’d see that I’ve already made this point.

    In any case, we do spend a lot of time telling young men not to take advantage of young women, that sexual impulses were meant for marriage and not elsewhere, and so on. Those are about a lot more than rape, but they include rape.

    Anyway, there’s ways of communicating other than by directly saying ‘don’t be a rapist.’ No one has explicitly said that in this thread, for instance, but no one reading this could reasonably walk away thinking that rape was ok. My dad never told me not to be a rapist, or ever thought that I could be one, but he did say when reading the paper sometimes that he wished we could bring back the death penalty for rape. Message received, loud and clear.

  171. anon on January 31, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    While much has been made of how horrible it is to say, “it’s preferable to die than to be raped,” as someone who has been abused sexually, part of me can agree with that. Just being killed leaves so much less baggage for the victim.

  172. John C. on January 31, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    This is a graph of victim age nationally.

    This is a graph of perp age in NJ.

    This is a graph of perp gender in NJ.

    Those are the stats that the proverbial 5 minutes on the internet provided. No marriage data that I saw. I am unsure how this demonstrates (or could demonstrate) that it is safer to be a man on the street than a woman. Arguably (if we assume that men and women are roughly equal in number) it could show that men would be safer if they just stayed home.

  173. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    169,

    No, John Mansfield hasn’t argued that rapists aren’t fully culpable for their acts. Suppose, hypothetically, that I work at a restaurant and decide to spit in your drink. I’m fully culpable for that. Now, suppose, hypothetically, that a coworker offers me $10 if I’ll spit in a drink, and I do. Is my coworker partially culpable for the sin? I’d say yes. But does that reduce my culpability? I’d say no. Thinking that the evil we do is diminished if we get other people to participate in it is one of Satan’s biggest mistakes.

    Now suppose that a customer treated me rudely and I spit in his drink. The customer is responsible, in a strictly causative sense, for the spitting. But I am still fully and solely culpable for it.

  174. Kathryn Lynard Soper on January 31, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Adam, I’ll tell them why they shouldn’t accept drinks from strangers. I’ll explain that some date-rape situations involve drugs that the rapist puts into his victim’s drink. But I won’t say “If you accept a drink from a stranger you might be raped.” Small changes in approach can go a long way in avoiding the blame traps women find themselves in.

  175. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    I see no difference in those statements, KLS, but I’m not a woman or part of your family, so I’ll take your word for it that there’s the difference you say.

  176. anon on January 31, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    The reason is that since we assume the people we’re around aren’t monsters, we’re much more likely to think they might be the victims rather than the perpetrators of a despicable act.

    Adam, isn’t that part of the problem? We don’t discuss it in totally explicit terms, rather relying on oblique “respect women” stuff, because we don’t want to believe that our friends, sons and brothers could be rapists. But, in fact, some are. This perception that only Other people who are Bad Evildoers, unlike everyone I know, are rapists is a huge part of the barrier to preventing rape. Don’t you think that part of the reason that it seems really bizzare for us to tell a kid to his face that he shouldn’t rape (I admit that seems a little bizzare), is part of the whole mindset we have that enables rape and tends to blame the victim?

    I was told not to get an abortion. Does that mean my mom and my YW teacher think I’m a “monster” (your word)? Why can’t we tell YM not to be rapists, in as many words? The discussion could also include this myth that only Other people rape. Seriously, dream big–why not?

  177. mmiles on January 31, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    The OP started out wondering if there was anything in Mormon culture that can lead to rape. I think from this thread I’ve been able to identify a few. Starfoxy is right, who talks to their sons about not being a rapist? If sex outside of marriage is acceptable in larger society, sons are more likely to be told, “No means No.” Within church, it is hoped, and assumed, that you aren’t going to have sex. So no one thinks to tell their son, “No means no.” This is a problem. I am sure date rape is much more common than random stranger attacks, and much less reported (having 4 friends that were date raped and did not report it).
    Also, the victim is so stigmatized. We are taught from the pulpit not to say that we were vicitimized. Victims feel really lonely. Sexual assault in any form really affects your whole life. I understand that we shouldn’t go around spreading the nitty-gritty details of sexual assault, but to simply say one is a rape victim shouldn’t be so taboo either. There is so much shame attached to it.
    I think I raised valid concerns about your status as a virgin in #54. I remember a talk by a bishop about repentance. He was explaining that, “You can still be a second-hand virgin.” He somehow thought that was comforting. So a victim of a sex crime is considered used goods? Something really needs to change–I am beginning to wonder if 90% unreported is a low-ball figure.
    It doesn’t help that the EFY pamphlet describes in such detail what a girl can’t wear-but simply tells boys to, “be modest.”

  178. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    “Don’t you think that part of the reason that it seems really bizzare for us to tell a kid to his face that he shouldn’t rape (I admit that seems a little bizzare), is part of the whole mindset we have that enables rape and tends to blame the victim?”

    I am skeptical of this claim. I don’t know that we reap some big benefit by saying, “Don’t be a rapist” rather than saying “Rape is a horrible crime and rapists are wicked.” The question is not whether or not we are directly encouraging YM not to be rapists but rather whether we are instilling in YM a proper horror of rape.

  179. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Actually I think the monsters are a minor percentage of the population. If you were right that there’s a significant likelihood that a son of mine were likely to be a rapist then it would be worth talking about, but I doubt there is a significant likelihood. I doubt I will specifically tell my daughters not to have an abortion either.

  180. mmiles on January 31, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Mr Greenwood,
    A woman can not cause someone to rape her!

  181. sol on January 31, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    “the male body’s response to such stimuli is there and it is hard-wired.”

    Tell that to my gay neighbor.

    Why is it that men get to have all the almost uncontrollable sexual urges, whilst women who would do so are whores? That d@$# UPS guy and his short shorts. How can he do that to me?

  182. Brad Kramer on January 31, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    “We don’t discuss it in totally explicit terms, rather relying on oblique “respect women” stuff, because we don’t want to believe that our friends, sons and brothers could be rapists. But, in fact, some are. This perception that only Other people who are Bad Evildoers, unlike everyone I know, are rapists is a huge part of the barrier to preventing rape. ”

    A couple summers ago, I saw a rape prevention poster at BYU that made this point rather eloquently. There were pictures under a caption “this is not what rapists look like” — shadowy, hooded figures in police composite sketches, mugshotted men with tattoos and scary eyes, etc. There were more pictures under the caption “this is what rapists look like” — clean shaven, well dressed, could-be-your-home-teacher looking college age guys with straight teeth and charming smiles. Since this thread’s title includes the word Provo, props should be given to BYU for what I think is a very effective and necessary means of putting a human face on potentially violent criminals.

  183. Norbert on January 31, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    I stopped reading comments around fifty, but for the record, the phrase ‘dresses like a prostitute’ is useless and obnoxious. Would the prostitutes be better somehow if they dressed differently? If immodest clothing whatever that is, violates a principle of the gospel, then identify it and go with it, but let’s not reduce outward appearance to such a judgment. Ick.

  184. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    A woman can not cause someone to rape her!

    It might be true that nothing a woman does or does not do can ever make a difference to rape, but I doubt it. Anyway, are you sure you’re not giving ’cause’ a moral meaning, or wrongly reading it as ‘sole cause’?

  185. mmiles on January 31, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    They should add a poster that shows rape not being just a man with a gun in an alley, but a couple making out after being at the Wilki and the guy not stopping. I don’t know how you would make that into a poster though.

  186. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    But is that really true, Brad Kramer? What’s your basis for believing that tattooed men with a criminal record are less likely to be rapists than LDS college men from good backgrounds? Saying it don’t make it so.

  187. sol on January 31, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    “sol: I don’t think that anyone on this thread has argued that rapists are not fully culpable for the evil that they cause.”

    But there is a general tone from some suggesting that the power of sexual desire should somehow be taken into consideration. And that this is fair reasoning for a victim shouldering some responsibility: Dressing in a way to arouse such desires, or even putting yourself in circumstances (drunk in the presence of men) wherein men might find it hard to control themselves.

    And my comment was in response to Carl, who pointed out (based on what evidence?) that sexual desire is second only to thirst. What does that have to do with anything we are discussing? My point was that desire or biological response ( a topic on which Carl and I disagree greatly) has nothing to do with the choice to assault another person.

  188. anon on January 31, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Thanks Brad, interesting tidbit.

  189. mmiles on January 31, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    A. Greenwood,
    Read his comments again. Women and children should not feel guilty for any cause.

  190. Kathryn Lynard Soper on January 31, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Adam, the wording has to do with blame/fear vs. empowerment. It’s a psychological thing.

    If you never take a drink from a stranger, you can be sure you won’t be duped into taking the date-rape drug

    vs.

    If you take a drink from a stranger, you might be raped.

    This particular warning (about date-rape drugs) is different than the other general safety rules because it’s exclusively about rape prevention. So I am upfront about the tie there. By contrast, I discuss the dangers of alcohol in terms of general safety (keep your judgment from being impaired, and steer clear of people whose judgment is impaired).

  191. dpc on January 31, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    They should add a poster that shows rape not being just a man with a gun in an alley, but a couple making out after being at the Wilki and the guy not stopping. I don’t know how you would make that into a poster though.

    Maybe they could distribute a DVD instead…?

  192. Brad Kramer on January 31, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Not sure what your gripe is, Adam. The point of the poster, as I understood it, was that BYU students were more likely to be raped by men who looked like other BYU students than by men that looked like they belonged in a casting call for a lowest-common-denominator crime drama. My basis for believing women who frequent the Wilkinson Center in Provo are less likely to be raped by tattooed men with criminal backgrounds than by men who look like BYU students is that there are far more men in Provo that fit the latter than the former description. Add to that the overwhelming likelihood that a rapist will attack a woman with whom he is fairly well acquainted or even friends or relatives, and I think the case makes itself.

  193. anon lady on January 31, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I had a male friend in college who once said that a women should be able to walk completely naked down the middle of the street in the dead of night in the poorest spot in town and not be harmed. And he\’s right in principle. I wish I lived in that kind of world. A world where rape was just not an option. Or one in which everyone REALLY believed that rape was never justifiable (even just a little bit). (You know like killing someone and eating their flesh–just not OK.)

    But in the meantime it would be great if righteous people could be unified in the concept that \’no means no\’ (even in marriage, even after consensual foreplay, even in the middle of the actual act, no matter what). And that men (or women) who rape are always wrong, always reprehensible. Always.

    Sad to say we\’re not even close. My guess is that at least a few readers here just thought of an instance where \’always\’ wouldn\’t apply.

  194. John C. on January 31, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Adam,
    The reason that Starfoxy’s stats and the BYU poster are disturbing is because they attack basic assumptions about rapists. The most basic of which is that we can safely consider them “them” and not “us.” The reason that they are important is because rapists come from amongst us. While everyone understands that rape is shameful (amongst several other adjectives), some people do it anyway. It isn’t because they come from some other planet where it is considered okay. It is because they do it in spite of their considering it shameful (they will also usually come up with justifications to make this particular rape unshameful, but these are excuses they wouldn’t repeat in public).

    Statistics are that a woman is more likely to be sexually assaulted by an acquaintance or intimate than by another source. That means that the rapists is more likely to be someone who dresses like the victim, goes to the same activities as the victims, has similar tastes to the victim and so forth. The people raping in Provo are, statistically speaking, likely to be young active Mormon men. There is no getting around that. Pretending it ain’t so ain’t gonna help.

  195. John Mansfield on January 31, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    mmiles, women and older children should feel guilty for many causes. Everyone should. As Hamlet put it, if we all received what we deserve, who would escape whipping? You don’t like what I’ve written. Please read comment #82 by Melinda. Perhaps you will find her way of expressing the point more acceptable.

  196. J. Nelson-Seawright on January 31, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Kaimi, on a distant side track, I would note that there’s a whole world of really good thinking about causation outside of legal theory. Without going into extensive details, let me point out that:

    (a) There are a number of theories of causation that allow us to distinguish causes in terms of empirical, rather than simply normative, importance.

    (b) The number of causes of an event depends heavily on the definition of the event. The number of causes is only infinite if the event is conceptualized in great detail. Suppose the event in question is conceptualized as: “I am murdered by such a man in a red scarf.” In this case, a (rather important) cause of the event is my murderer’s decision to put on a red scarf. If we instead conceptualize the event as: “I am murdered by such a man,” then the man’s clothing decisions suddenly lose all causal relevance.

    So the theory of causation you refer to is perfectly correct, if we conceptualize all events as consisting of the totality of every detail involved in each event. But since our interest is almost always much narrower, the number of causes relative to a more germane conceptualization is much narrower.

    (c) According to one of the leading philosophical accounts of causation, the most important cause of an event is the cause whose absence could have prevented the event that could have been true with the smallest possible alteration in the world being necessary to bring that cause about. In rape, I have to imagine that the most important cause in this sense is always the decision of the rapist to attack the woman; that decision could always have been different with, e.g., changes to the rapist’s decision-making at the moment of the attack. Changes that involve the woman will almost always be earlier and involve more details of the world — and hence would be less important.

    (d) Finally, broader conceptions of causation allow us to realize that, when we’re concerned about the event of rape in the abstract, rather than the specifics of particular rapes, our knowledge allows us to identify few if any causes of rape that women have the capacity to manipulate. Empirical data simply don’t support the proposition that people from religious backgrounds rape less than others, that women who don’t go out alone in the dark get raped less than those who do, etc.

    That is to say, I think the hazard here comes not so much from discussions of causation — which, if carried out systematically and with attention to the importance of causes either in an empirical or a philosophical/counterfactual sense, will lead us directly to a close examination of the perpetrator. Rather the very real risk of blaming the victim, which you usefully highlight, arises when we accept or perpetrate myths about the causes of rape, i.e., when we falsely and in the face of the empirical evidence suggest that women could reduce their probability of being raped by dressing differently.

  197. TMD on January 31, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Hmmm. This very long discussion started with the citation of an admittedly methodologically unsound citation about reporting rape. One rather direct way to respond to that, as such, might be to instruct bishops to encourage victims to go to the police (note encourage, not instruct or themselves report). Would this be a good thing?

  198. mmiles on January 31, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    JM–
    I obviously meant they are not culpable in sexual crimes against them. Please don’t intentionally misread me. I don’t think Melinda meant what you think she meant.
    If a married couple are both naked and drunk in bed getting busy, and the wife suddenly says stop on the werge of intercourse–but her husband does not stop, it is rape. Full stop. She is not responsible.

  199. mmiles on January 31, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Oops! verge of intercourse, although werge would be a terrific word.

  200. Kaimi Wenger on January 31, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    You expect me to look outside of legal theory, JNS? Hah! I laugh at your puny philosophical distinctions. All philosophers are just wanna-be lawyers who couldn’t pass the bar.

    Actually, that concept — it’s typically called Last Clear Chance, in the legal context — comes up a lot in legal discussions of causation. And yes, it definitely tends to require, in this area, that it is the rapist’s actions which should be considered causal.

    But in one sense, we’re being awfully ahistorical to even frame this as a causation question. It’s a very modern approach to consider the rape as a man/woman offense and look to causation. Traditionally, rape was viewed as a man/man offense, whereby one man (the rapist) interfered with the property of another man (the woman’s father, or her husband).

    And so the discussion of what-she-did, historically, had much less to do with determining causation. It had more to do with determining what type of property was harmed. Did the rapist damage a Cadillac, or a mere VW bug? Let’s bring out her sex history, what she was wearing, and where she was. If she was wearing a miniskirt and hanging out at a pool hall, then clearly she wasn’t really valuable property to her owner, so let’s not punish the rapist as if he had damaged really valuable property.

  201. Starfoxy on January 31, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    John C. Said it really well in #194. Believing that the only rapists out there are monsters means that when Johnny from next door rapes a girl, no one is going to believe her because Johnny isn’t a monster. ‘She must be lying, or rationalizing, or hallucinating. Poor Johnny, this shameless hussy is making up stories about him.’ I would call that identifying with the rapist.

    And chances are good that little Johnny doesn’t think what he did counts as rape. So saying to Johnny “Don’t rape” wouldn’t have stopped him. Explaining to him what rape actually is might have. Explaining that women don’t owe their dates anything, even if the date was expensive. Explaining that the idea of ‘what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her’ is sick and wrong, and having sex with a sleeping/unconscious woman is unequivocally rape- even if she is your wife, or date. Explain to young men that there is no such thing as a “point of no return” during sexual relations, either of you can call it off at any moment.

    In the study I mentioned they didn’t ask the young men “would you rape a woman?” They told the men a story, and then asked “would you do what that man did.”

  202. mmiles on January 31, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Kaimi–It goes in further. Perpetrators who assault boy and men get more jail time than those who assault women because historically it is assumed girls and women will have sex eventually anyway.

  203. Adam Greenwood on January 31, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Believing that the only rapists out there are monsters means that when Johnny from next door rapes a girl, no one is going to believe her because Johnny isn’t a monster.

    I do believe that rapists are monsters. I don’t see how believing that rape is this inexplicable thing that nice people inexplicably happen to commit helps anything. I don’t believe that enough men are rapists that its OK fo ryou to conceptualize them across the board as ‘potential rapists.’ And I don’t believe having a general assumption that the men around you aren’t rapists prevents you from changing your mind when the occasion arises.

    Anyway, y’all can have the last word. To the extent I’ve said anything worthwhile, those who have ears to hear have heard.

  204. Ray on January 31, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    I’m only at #145, but that was a great comment, Kathryn.

  205. Kevinf on January 31, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Late to this discussion, but I will just weigh in affirming what others have said more eloquently. Any sort of thinking that puts blame on the victims of rape for any reason whatsoever, is wrong, and a relic of misogynistic middle ages view of women as chattel. Rape is a crime of violence, that just happens to be sexual in nature.

    Yes, we can all do things that reduce our likelihood of being victims of all sorts of crimes. But to ever stipulate that a woman is ever responsible for being raped is ludicrous. One of Satan’s biggest efforts to mess with the plan of salvation has been the historical objectification of women, and we are not completely over it yet.

    Sad that so much of this negative thinking is still out there.

  206. Jami on January 31, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Eric Boysen 76.”read Shakespear’s Titus Andronicus.” (Speaking of eating human flesh.) Honor killings go farther back than that and you’d have a hard time convincing me that that bloodbath has something producive to add to this conversation.

    John Mansfield 195 “women and older children should feel guilty for many causes. Everyone should. As Hamlet put it, if we all received what we deserve, who would escape whipping.” Because Hamlet is so stable and kind to women we should pay strict attention to his insights on male/female relationships?

    OK, shall we quote Othello and Iago on happy marital situations while we’re at it. Tragedies, all. Bad outcomes. Dead innocent victims. I think I may be missing your points.

  207. Ray on January 31, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    #177 – fwiw, I tell ALL of my kids, male and female, that “No means no.” I don’t point it directly at sex; I say it about everything. If one of my daughters is pressing another one to play a game, and that second one says, “No,” I tell the first one, “She said, ‘No.’ No means no. End of story.”

    Again, an application of #145. I also tell my sons, “Don’t have extra-marital sex.” (and I explain why) I don’t say, “Don’t rape anyone,” because I already am telling them that with my other counsel. If I’m wrong in that, I’m wrong.

  208. Mark B. on January 31, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Re: #15

    Brad Kramer said:

    Until quite recently, the GHI instructed Bishops that, in counseling women who reported being raped, one of their duties was to determine the degree to which she was responsible for it.

    Before we begin slashing ourselves with razors because of how horrible the old Church was, it would be wise to see what the General Handbook really said. I’ve had access to the handbooks almost continuously since 1981, and I don’t remember seeing the language Brad cites.

    Back to a thought experiment: imagine how different your reaction would be if the language in the GHI instructed Bishops, in counseling women who confessed to having had sexual relations outside of marriage, to determine the degree to which she was a willing party. I suspect that there might be some Bishops who understood such an instruction as cause for determining culpability of woman claiming to have been raped, but none of the bishops seem likely to have done that.

    Ms. Soper’s statements about rapists’ motives (they don’t do it because they’re turned on or because of sexual interest) seem inapposite in the case of date rape and questionable in the case of the stranger in the dark alley. I’d be interested in seeing the data, but I would guess that date rapes involving the use of a “date rape” drug are a relatively small minority and that those involving alcohol are probably a majority. Doesn’t the rape in most of those cases stem directly from the sexual interest of the rapist in the victim, and the rapist probably did not begin the evening with the intention of raping her?

    In the “stranger rape” cases, motives may well be different. (Where are the data?) But that doesn’t mean that rape is not a sex act. Nor does it mean that the rapist is not sexually aroused. If he weren’t, a rape couldn’t occur. I think what you were saying is that the stimuli that cause sexual arousal in the rapist may be completely off-the-charts different from what causes sexual arousal in a consensual relationship. And that nothing about the victim (age, dress, behavior, appearance) is a predictor of whether a rape will occur, since those stimuli may be entirely in the subjective consciousness of the rapist.

  209. J. Nelson-Seawright on January 31, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Adam #203, I think it’s possible that you’re missing the intended point. Rape is a monstrous act, indeed. Yet those who perpetrate it might not seem monstrous. The assumption that those who don’t seem monstrous wouldn’t commit rape is the problem.

    For example, many assume that Mormons probably don’t commit as many rapes as non-Mormons. Yet empirical data don’t fit perfectly with this supposition. The U.S. average rate of reported forcible rape per 100,000 inhabitants (men, women, infants, whatever) was 32.2. 2004 rates in highly Mormon states: Utah, 39.1; Arizona, 33.0; Idaho, 40.9. Granted, some of those rapes will have been perpetrated by non-Mormons. But the rates are at or above the national average, which at least suggests that Mormons are probably not substantially less likely to commit rapes than anyone else.

    More specifically Utah-focused data of high quality are available, by the way. A really wonderful way to move past superficial ideology and toward more informed understanding is to read this report, based on a very serious victimization survey procedure. One finding of direct relevance to this thread is that the rape reporting rate for Utah as a whole is about 15%, and it’s even lower for other forms of sexual assault. This is a number based on a genuine, sourced social-science victimization study, not a guess or a made-up statistic. Another one: 12.8% of Utah women report that someone has raped them at some point in their lives, and about one in three have been victims of sexual violence of some kind. Finally, regarding the idea that getting drunk is a major cause of someone deciding to rape you, the data show that for most rapes (i.e., 87.4%), the victim hadn’t used drugs or alcohol.

  210. jane on January 31, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    I strongly agree with all the commenters who say that victims should not be blamed for rape. However, I am struggling to understand why feminists often insist that rape is only a crime of violence, not a crime of sexuality. Whether the rapist is primarily motivated by anger, hatred, desire for power, or sexual desire, it is an evil, intolerable act. Why do some women deny that sexual desire might be a component of rape? I suspect that many rapists are sexually aroused by the violence; the violence and sense of power heighten the sexual thrill. I find this horrifically disturbing. But am I missing something in the feminist argument? Kathryn Lynard Soper, or others, can you enlighten me? I would sincerely like to understand your argument, but your simply capitalizing the letters isn’t adding to my comprehension.

  211. Kristine on January 31, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Mark B.–if you have old handbooks around, you could do us a favor by checking. I’m pretty sure it was in there at least until the 87 iteration… I hope I’m wrong.

  212. Anonymous for Now on January 31, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Jane–there are actually different arguments from different feminists. Catharine MacKinnon, for instance, does not see sexual assault/rape as being about sex instead of violence, but instead argues that violence and sex are intertwined (because so much of violence is sexualized). It’s far more complex of an argument than I can do justice to, especially here, but you could read her book, Feminist Theory of the State, for more information.

  213. Mark B. on January 31, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Re: 198.

    Agreed, as to the wife and husband drunk and happy and she says stop and he doesn’t. That’s rape.

    But it’s damnably annoying for the husband when she does that. (Again, lest I be misunderstood, it doesn’t justify rape.)

    Flip it on it’s head: Big night out planned, dressed to the nines, hair, make-up all ready, sitter ready, husband comes in from work, says, sorry, dear, there’s a big game on tv tonight, we’re not going.

    Doesn’t mean she’s not responsible for throwing the crockery and all the damaged property, but there is an explanation for why she’s so irate.

  214. A. Nonny Mouse on January 31, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Wow. This discussion turned around overnight :) That’s what I get for not coming back often enough, I suppose…

  215. Mark B. on January 31, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Kristine: Usually when the new handbooks come out the instruction is to destroy the old ones, so I’d have to look in some old pile of stuff that I haven’t checked in years.

    If it helps, I was in positions during those years when I might have had reason to follow those instructions (if indeed they were there), and I don’t think I would have. And I suspect that a lot of bishops/stake presidents wouldn’t have, simply because none of us follow instructions very well–for the most part because we don’t know them.

    That of course suggests that even if the current CHI has enlightened instructions on the topic, there may be bishops who don’t follow those either.

  216. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    JNS: Thanks for the link to the report. Real data is always cool.

  217. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    JNS: I actually think that 1 in 10 vicitims under the influence of alchohol is actually pretty high. Also the study shows that about one quarter of the perpetrators were drunk. Clearly being around booze doesn’t make you into either a rape victim or a rapist, but the presence of alchohol seems to be a pretty common part of rape. (On the other hand, it looks like the secret-drug in the drink scenario is relatively rare: 1.8 percent). I thought this conclusion interesting:

    “Sexual assault victims were more likely than non-sexual assault victims to beiece that community response to violence has improved.”

  218. J. Nelson-Seawright on January 31, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Nate, it really depends, doesn’t it? Some comments in this thread seem to suggest that most rape victims are drunk, which just isn’t the case. Staying away from alcohol, places that serve alcohol, and people who’ve had alcohol may reduce your odds of being raped — but the large majority of Utah rapes don’t involve alcohol.

  219. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    JNS: I agree. On the other hand, I guess that I wasn’t really expecting to see some overwhelming common denominator (other than the fact of acquaintance). I am assuming that any risk factor that one might identify will show up only at the margins.

  220. Nate Oman on January 31, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    I just glanced quickly through a similar report for Virginia, and on its face the biggest variation seemed to be according to time. Most rapes in Virginia are most common in the summertime between the hours of midnight and 2 am.

  221. Dan S. on January 31, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    An interesting web-site article on Rape Myths/Facts (I did not verify the statistics presented, but they mostly sound reasonable). http://www.cuw.edu/Tools/current_students/student_services/counseling_services/rape_myths_and_facts.html

    Another website article with interesting information on how to escape rape and/or minimize the most amount of harm when faced with a rapist. http://www.crime-safety-security.com/rape-escape-options-prevention.html.

    Some interesting points, between the two articles:

    (1) Rapists prefer to target vulnerable and accessible victims (e.g., women who they know are passive, women that are alone, etc.), not necessarily women who are provocative;
    (2) One in four women and one in eight men will be the victim of a sexual assault or rape in their lifetimes (probably US statistics).
    (3) 35% of sexual assaults occur within the family. It is estimated that incest occurs in one out of twenty families. Most rapists are ordinary males with no history of mental illness. 68% of rapes happen at a party, 32% in a dorm room, 28% in a fraternity house, and 29% in an apartment.
    (4) FBI statistics report that only about 1-2% of reported rapes are false.
    (5) Rape is considered a violent crime, but studies show that there is a strong sexual motivation for the behavior.
    (6) Around 90% of all rapes are planned.
    (7) Most rapes (85%) involved threat of physical harm, but only 7% of “acquaintance” rapes (which constitute 85% of all rapes), actually involved a weapon or threat with a weapon.
    (8) You have about a 60% chance of deterring a rape if you act aggressively toward the rapist (e.g., screaming, threatening, attacking – although, there is the 11% chance that aggression makes no difference and a 7% chance it could make the situation worse).

  222. Melinda on January 31, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    I interviewed a woman who runs a rape crisis center. She said there were ways to talk to boys about appropriate physical activity with a date without accusing them of being potential rapists. You talk to them about respecting the girls’ boundaries, rather than pushing boundaries. This helps them avoid scaring a girl, or being in a situation where they might be falsely accused. And, of course, it lays down the law so they can’t argue, “I didn’t know!” Boundaries include everything from making curfew, to not talking her into watching a movie she doesn’t want to see, to respecting physical boundaries.

    For example, many young men really don’t get that “no means no.” A strong, definite “no” is hard to misinterpret, but what if the girl is giggling ? Her answer is to tell them that they are hands off and three feet away. Clarify that any “no” means “no,” even a lame, wimpy “no.” Guys can get confused about this because maybe they watch porn, or they listen to locker room talk where someone is bragging, “she totally wanted it, but some girls like to pretend to fight,” or they saw a movie where a girl was giggling “no” but really wanted the guy to keep going. There are lots of confusing messages guys can get about whether or not “no means no.” Don’t assume your son or YM class knows.

    She also said to tell guys to ask outright, “is this okay?” “Do you like holding my hand?” “Is it okay if I put my arm around you?” This is because teenage guys have a hard time reading girls’ body language. Also, she said some rape victims simply freeze up and can’t say “no,” because they can’t say anything. No guy should assume that silence means “yes.”

    Give a few ideas about girls’ body language. If you put your arm around her, and she leans into you, that’s a good sign. If you put your arm around her and she leans away or gets stiff, take your arm back. This is especially important if the girl is too “nice” to say “no” outright, but her body language is saying “no.”

    She also suggested to encourage good guys to keep a lookout for bad guys. For example, if they’re at a party and they see a guy who is always bragging in the locker room about his sexual exploits coming on to Nelly Naive, the good guy should go interrupt. Cast the guys in the role of the defender. Ask your teenage sons about the reputations of the guys who want to date your daughter.

    Anyway, there’s more to talking to guys about date rape than just saying, “don’t be a rapist.”

  223. Desperate father on January 31, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Under reporting–like many on this thread, I believe many rapes are unreported. I’m skeptical of the 90% figure.

    Also like many on this post, I immediately think of what I can do to help protect my daughters. I believe most 12 year-olds can grasp the nuance that some behaviors increase the risk of rape, BUT those raped are not guilty. The rapist is guilty; the victim should not have been drinking, but the drinking did not “cause” the rape. The rapist caused the rape. I would not hesitate to warn my daughters of behaviors that increase the risk of rape.

    What about the importance in our religion of being “nice”? My wife and I have had discussions where she felt like one of the most important values in her family growing up was being “nice”–particularly the daughters in the family. A value I hope to instill in my daughters is the ability to say “hell no.” Maybe “hell no” and an instinctual punch. I don’t know. I have no sisters and now I have two daughters. As of today, I don’t discourage my daughters from stealing toys and hitting their male peers. I don’t dish out the high-fives, but I don’t put them in time out.

  224. Desperate father on January 31, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Thanks Dan S. (#121).

  225. Desperate father on January 31, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Thanks Dan S. (#221). oops.

  226. Anonymous Female on January 31, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    I find lots of this talk about the perfect way to talk about rape and the perfect way to feel about it to be very enlightening. I especially find it enlightening that when someone actually stated that they had been in the situation and felt a certain way about it, they were totally ignored. Comment 171 (not by me). I don’t think a strident feminist rage is going to heal a victim of rape any more than would a mind-numbing reversion to middle ages concepts of women as property.

  227. dpc on January 31, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Melinda (#222)

    I’m worried that what you are saying is that instead of consent to engage in hand-holding, a person needs permission. And nothing kills the mood faster than, “Can I hold your hand?” And it’s a long way from hand-holding to sexual assault.

  228. J. Nelson-Seawright on January 31, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    “I’m skeptical of the 90% figure.”

    Why, I wonder? It’s probably not exactly correct, but a wide variety of different data-collection procedures produce results that between about 10% and 20% of rapes are reported. There’s no evidence to support a figure much outside this range. So any other numbers are probably more the results of some kind of (probably very understandable) hopeful thinking, rather than actual information.

  229. Desperate father on January 31, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    My skepticism has more to do with my ignorance of the data-collection procedures. I’m skeptical of any statistic dealing with “unreported” events; I simply don’t know how you get reliable information on events people don’t report, events as private as rape. I can be convinced.

    As far as the real substance behind the figure, I don’t doubt that unreported rapes in Utah County is a problem.

  230. dpc on January 31, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    “Why, I wonder? It’s probably not exactly correct, but a wide variety of different data-collection procedures produce results that between about 10% and 20% of rapes are reported. There’s no evidence to support a figure much outside this range. So any other numbers are probably more the results of some kind of (probably very understandable) hopeful thinking, rather than actual information.”

    I wonder if the statistic involves just ‘rapes’ or all forms of sexual assault?

  231. mmiles on January 31, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    #226
    It is not ignored. It did not require a response. But if you want one, a lot of us in similar shoes would like to live. I know I do.

  232. DG on January 31, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    KLS – Re: \”Teach young women to never accept drinks of any kind from strangers.\” Shouldn\’t it be teach young women never to accept drinks of any kind from ANYBODY? If the majority of rapes are date/intimate/acquaintance, then just avoiding drinks from strangers is not going to cut it. Agreed? Just trying to close out any loopholes.

  233. Carl Youngblood on January 31, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    anon (118) and sol (187), I stated quite clearly that my comment was about what mmiles (3) said in regards to some LDS advice on modesty. In my own post I made it quite clear that none of this justified rape. I was talking about something that mmiles brought up that was tangential to the original subject. That was very clear in my post and I think you are not justified in your conflation of my argument.

  234. mmiles on January 31, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Carl– I think it is justified, and my comment was not tangential. If we are teaching YM/YW that the girls are responsible for the boys reactions, then we are teaching them to view girls and women as sex objects. Objectifying women and not seeing them as a person is part of rape.

  235. Friend of the Blog on January 31, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    I learned that a girlfriend of my wife was raped by her boyfriend where she used to live. I\’m pretty sure she never tried to report the incident to the authorities or the Church (he was also a member). I understand she continued to date the boy, then broke up and decided to serve a mission. When she started into the interviews she was apprehensive about telling her priesthood leaders. When she did, she was either told she couldn\’t serve a mission or she would have to wait for some months beforehand (I can\’t remember which).

    Is this some kind of Church policy or the eager judgementalism of certain local leadership? This kind of treatment is more than \”blame the victim\”, it\’s \”punish the victim\”. She had to invent alibis for friends and family who wanted to know when her papers were getting in. One story she told was that her leaders felt inspired she should get married rather than serve a mission.

    I can see why people don\’t report these incidents if they face \”help\” like this. If this leader wasn\’t following Church policy, it should certainly be communicated more clearly to leadership (and probably general membership).

    She didn\’t end up serving a mission and later married a vastly better man.

  236. Carl Youngblood on January 31, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    To clarify my position in 233, I feel that some feminists’ attitudes towards modesty are uncharitable and unfair. When I was talking about automatic biological responses, I was obviously not referring to rape, just to the fact that men are programmed with certain biological responses, which I believe charitable women take into account when deciding what to wear.

  237. Kathryn Lynard Soper on January 31, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Jane, the capital letters were my restrained response to Eric’s unpalatable remarks, including a nice dig about “easy pickings.”

    When you talk about feminist arguments, you need to pick which one. There are several philosophies of feminism, and they have different (and often conflicting) takes on rape. Catherine Mackinnon, one prominient feminist theorist, is vehement about rape being sexual in nature. And I agree that we mustn’t overlook the fact. But the conversation here has focused on sex and rape in a different way than feminist theorists do. Some participants here have lumped rape in with typical sexual behavior or even deviant sexual behavior like sex addiction. Rape in assault situations is not about a man desperate for sex. The arousal is a pathological psychological state. Again and again, rapists don’t happen to see a woman showing skin, get a hard-on, and decide all of a sudden to hold her at knifepoint and rape her. I geared my responses in that direction. You’re coming at me from a different angle.

    Mark B., anyone who rapes after administering a date-rape drug commits a premeditated crime. Of course they start the evening with the intent to rape, that’s why they have the drug on hand in the first place! Do they pick women they’re attracted to? I would imagine so, but what are you going to do with that–suggest that attractive women are walking risk factors for rape? Does a woman in a short skirt put herself at greater risk in these situations? I don’t see any data either way, but my guess is no. Again, this is a premeditated crime. Clothing does not make a woman easier to drug. And if a guy could pick any woman in the room to have sex with, I don’t think skirt length would be the determining factor.

    For the last time, generally speaking, if we tell women they should dress modestly so they won’t be raped, we”re doing much more harm than good. Adam pointed out that there are extreme situations which may be exceptions, and I agree.

    I realize I’ve invited questions and comments with my assertions, but I’m bowing out of the conversation at this point. Too many hours already invested, and the topic is too complex to tie off neatly. I’ve had my say.

    Except for one last thing.

    #226 strident feminist rage is not going to heal a victim of rape

    Nobody ever said it would, sister.

  238. J. Nelson-Seawright on January 31, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Desperate father, for a very brief overview of how rape reporting rates are estimated, see my comment #24 above. If you want more detail on the victimization survey method, which is probably the most widely used approach, here’s a Bureau of Justice page linking to extensive documentation of the National Crime Victimization Survey.

  239. Russell Arben Fox on January 31, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    What about the importance in our religion of being “nice”? My wife and I have had discussions where she felt like one of the most important values in her family growing up was being “nice”–particularly the daughters in the family. A value I hope to instill in my daughters is the ability to say “hell no.” Maybe “hell no” and an instinctual punch.

    This is something I can instinctively see the truth of, and therefore consider the costs of, far more so than no-doubt-present-but-always-somewhat-dubious-and/or-marginal instances of priesthood leaders or parents teaching false doctrines regarding the responsibility of women for controlling male sexual appetites or some such thing. I’ve never gotten clear grasp of how often or how it is that such terrible misinterpretations of church teachings can so completely undermine the good judgment of women in the church, but I have seen, and can relate in some detail, the harms which follow from the repeated, explicit and implicit teachings given in Young Women and Relief Society that Mormon women are not, or not supposed to ever be, “mean” or givers of offense. Hence the importance of self-defense classes, or other means of giving girls real, physical and social confidence, the confidence to scream “Get the hell away from me!” when the situation warrants it.

    You have about a 60% chance of deterring a rape if you act aggressively toward the rapist (e.g., screaming, threatening, attacking – although, there is the 11% chance that aggression makes no difference and a 7% chance it could make the situation worse).

    My wife can attest to this: twice she resorted to physical aggression in response to threatening advances during her dating years (while in high school in Michigan)–once got her much-too-friendly date a solid kick in the groin, the other time her stalker got a ball-point pen jammed in his face (she almost took out his eye). Who knows? Maybe she was lucky, maybe it could have back-fired on her, maybe it didn’t save her from anything and she was overreacting. Still, she’s at peace with it, and so am I. All other reasonable considerations and precautions aside, we’ll be teaching our four daughters, when the time comes, to go for the balls.

  240. Carl Youngblood on January 31, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    mmiles (234), I’m sorry if tangential was a poor word choice. I’m thinking of the word in its basic definition (“of, relating to, or along a tangent”). The subject of modesty is related to but not the same as the subject of rape.

    I understand your argument about the objectification of women, but I still think that it is not fair to ridicule those who teach youth that due to the nature of human biology, women’s choice of clothing has an effect on men.

    However, I agree that men should be taught to be responsible for their actions, and to rise above their biology, and that it should be emphasized that although women’s dress may have an effect on men, women are not responsible for any abuse that they receive at the hands of men because of it. Once again, it comes down to concern for one’s neighbor. I don’t believe that immodesty is indicative of lasciviousness, but I believe it does show a lack of charity.

  241. sol on January 31, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    #236 & 233- “When I was talking about automatic biological responses, I was obviously not referring to rape, just to the fact that men are programmed with certain biological responses, which I believe charitable women take into account when deciding what to wear.”

    And I was just addressing what I feel are falsehoods in your understanding of men, women, and agency. These misconceptions run deep in our society and others and have everything to do with the problems we are discussing here.

    As for being charitable, I addressed that long before you got on the scene. Though, you and I have completely different reasons behind it. You are asking for charity toward the helpless victims of maleness. I am describing charity for those who would choose the view you describe.

  242. A. Nonny Mouse on January 31, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    #235: “Is this some kind of Church policy or the eager judgementalism of certain local leadership?”

    I don’t know any of the circumstances involved, but if your question boils down to this:

    “Is it official church policy that rape victims aren’t allowed to serve missions?”

    The answer is, no, it is not official church policy and a local church leader who made such a determination would be in error.

  243. Carl Youngblood on January 31, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    “For the last time, generally speaking, if we tell women they should dress modestly so they won’t be raped, we’’re doing much more harm than good. Adam pointed out that there are extreme situations which may be exceptions, and I agree.” (Kathryn Lynard Soper, 237)

    I just want to make it clear that this is not what I’m saying. I’m not saying that immodesty in any way justifies rape, nor that such a thing should be taught. I am saying it is ethical to be modest, and that some of the previously mentioned comments ridiculing those who consider biology when discussing modesty are naive and unfair.

  244. jane on January 31, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Thanks, Anon for now and Kathryn for your responses. Kathryn, I think now that I read your clarification that I agree with you. Thanks for taking the time to do that.

    I have a copy of Feminism Unmodified, by MacKinnon, that I never got around to finishing. I think I’ll try to read some more of it this afternoon; this conversation has got me thinking about this topic, and I remember that she was very provocative (no, not that way, Eric).

  245. bbell on January 31, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Personally,

    When I really think about this society needs to do a better job teaching men that sexual violence against women is always bad/immoral etc. It would help the situation if more young men came from intact homes with good fathers. Younger men get mixed messages from real porn to billboards to TV shows that suggest that women are sexual objects. The gospel teaches that women are not sexual objects

    I have a hard time blaming a victim for a violent crime.

    I think the YM and EQ teachers and lessons on chastity and respect for women go a long way in socializing LDS men to treat women with respect in this area.

  246. Carl Youngblood on January 31, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    “And I was just addressing what I feel are falsehoods in your understanding of men, women, and agency. These misconceptions run deep in our society and others and have everything to do with the problems we are discussing here.” (sol, 240)

    sol, you make passing mention to divergences in our point of view without clearly defining them. Are you denying the influence of biology? Are you saying that it should not be considered when developing a system of ethics?

    Just to be clear, I’m talking about modesty, not rape. I don’t believe that any level of immodesty justifies rape.

  247. Jonovitch on January 31, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    This statistic bears repeating: 87 percent of rape victims (and 67 percent of attackers) in Utah did *not* use drugs or alcohol. That number is surprising to me, since I assumed (and it sounds like a lot of others here do, too) that drugs and alcohol *are* involved in a majority of cases — but it’s not true! Fascinating how real data can clarify common misconceptions.

    It kind of got buried in comment 209, so I’m linking the report here again: http://www.justice.utah.gov/Research/SexOffender/RapeInUtah.pdf

    Jon

  248. sol on January 31, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    #244- Then we should probably start by eradicating such teachings as “If you look once, you’re a man. Look twice, you’re not a priesthood holder” and ” Yes, to lust after a woman is wrong. Unless you’re married to her, then it’s great.”

    The first my husband was taught by a YM leader, the second by a seminary teacher. We are teaching boys that viewing women as sexually stimulating is inherent in manhood. We are teaching girls the same thing, and that they should feel responsible for it.

  249. Mark B. on January 31, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    Ms. Soper:

    Mark B., anyone who rapes after administering a date-rape drug commits a premeditated crime.

    I agree completely. My previous comment included these fragments:

    . . . that those involving alcohol are probably a majority. Doesn’t the rape in most of those cases stem directly from . . .

    It turns out that my guess about booze was wrong, but the “those cases of the second sentence fragment was intended to refer to the non date-rape drug cases in the previous sentence. Sorry for the lack of clarity.

  250. observer on January 31, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    sol,

    “We are teaching boys that viewing women as sexually stimulating is inherent in manhood”.

    You don’t need to ‘teach’ boys that.

  251. Carl Youngblood on January 31, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    sol (247), I consider both of these examples as untactful and inappropriate ways of talking about chastity and sexuality, but I think your wording is interesting: “We are teaching boys that viewing women as sexually stimulating is inherent in manhood.”

    My argument is that men are biologically hard-wired to find women sexually stimulating, and that this fact is fairly undisputed by science. I believe if you ignore this reality when constructing a system of ethics, then your ethics is lacking.

  252. Mark B. on January 31, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Of course, Sol, if a man needs to be taught that women are sexually stimulating, then the teaching won’t do him any good, will it?

    As far as I know, in most males, it is not something that has to be learned–i.e., it’s not an acquired taste, like scotch (or so I’ve been told).

  253. Cindy Sue on January 31, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    We are teaching boys that viewing women as sexually stimulating is inherent in manhood. We are teaching girls the same thing, and that they should feel responsible for it.

    Not entirely.

    Just as some men can’t see a woman without thinking “sex,” some people (either gender) can’t see an open garage door without thinking “burglary.” We lock our doors to guard against theft, but when theft happens we haven’t committed sin or crime. In the painful coming to grips with loss, we might blame ourselves — “if only I hadn’t left the garage open, the burglar wouldn’t have come into the house and stolen my grandmother’s jewels” — but that’s emotional, not rational, and sometimes break-ins happen even when the doors *are* locked. Still, we lock our doors, and teach our kids to do the same.

    Except that the stakes are more serious, I don’t see much difference between locking doors to guard against theft, and dressing modestly, avoiding dark alleys, abstaining from alcohol. No, the woman isn’t to blame if something happens, regardless of her dress. No, she didn’t cause the rape because she walked alone after dark. If she blames herself afterwards — “if only” — that’s the emotional reaction, not the rational one.

    Women have to learn to protect themselves as much as possible — why make it easy for the thief, whether he’s cruising for cash or for your body?

    I don’t understand the multiple condemnations of urging safety precautions. A woman isn’t responsible if she is hurt, but she’s foolish to take unnecessary chances. Parents and big brothers who don’t teach safety precautions to girls should perhaps take a share of the blame when women *are* hurt.

  254. sol on January 31, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Yes, after I posted that I realized my wording was poor and incomplete, and, therefore, inaccurate. I would really like to address what I meant to say and what I think are differences in my view and Carl’s. Suffice it to say that the above statement is not an accurate representation of my feelings on the matter. I need to go help my kids with homework and make dinner, but I would be happy to come back later and explain what I meant to say in the first place. That said, any other comments directed toward that statement are most likely unnecessary, as I am already admitting is it a misrepresentation of my thoughts on the matter.

  255. sol on January 31, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Sorry, #253 was in reference to #247.

  256. Carl Youngblood on January 31, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    sol, after reading through the thread a little more carefully I noticed some comments of yours that I had missed, which I believe help me to understand your position better:

    181: “‘the male body’s response to such stimuli is there and it is hard-wired.’

    “Tell that to my gay neighbor.

    “Why is it that men get to have all the almost uncontrollable sexual urges, whilst women who would do so are whores? That d@$# UPS guy and his short shorts. How can he do that to me?”

    This helps me understand your position, which I believe is in error. First of all, I think raising the issue of homosexuality backfires on you. Are you trying to say that the existence of gays proves that our biology has no influence on our sexuality? Second, I’m merely discussing the differences in male and female biology, not accusing anyone (man or woman) of sexual immorality.

    Finally and more importantly, to support my position, I’d like to share some statistics about pornography usage and how it differs between men and women:

    http://tinyurl.com/9ys2k

    Quick summary: 72% of all visitors to porn sites are male, 28% are female. I believe these statistics make fairly obvious what most people already know through personal experience: there is a big difference between male and female sexuality, and men are much more visually stimulated than women.

    While I think that any system of ethics should take these differences into account, I want to reiterate that I am not trying to claim that immodesty is ever an excuse for abusing women.

    Also, you’re misquoting me in 187:

    “And my comment was in response to Carl, who pointed out (based on what evidence?) that sexual desire is second only to thirst. What does that have to do with anything we are discussing? My point was that desire or biological response (a topic on which Carl and I disagree greatly) has nothing to do with the choice to assault another person.”

    I never said anything about thirst. That was somebody named “observer” in 103. Please don’t attribute that to me.

  257. kadusey on January 31, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    The small discussion on causality earlier reminded me of my husband’s frequent comments of the differences between causes and correlations. While there may be correlations between many risk factors for being assaulted and rape, I think, as several others have mentioned, that they cannot be called causes of rape.

    #40 – I grew up mostly in CottonWood Heights, and attended BYU, and ran into the ideas in both places (among both males and females) that it would be better to die fighting during a rape attempt than to live through it, and that it was perfectly acceptable to break it off with someone if you found out that they had been sexually active, or sexually assaulted or abused in any way, prior to your relationship. It was rather disturbing all around, as was the idea that I heard so many of my friends and roommates espouse that they would not consider marrying a man who was not a returned missionary. I’m only 25, so the ideas were floating around fairly recently, though I would hope they’ve decreased in frequency and further propagation in the past several years.

    I also remember sitting through a Relief Society “Safety” Seminar while at BYU, where one of the local police officers came and scared us all silly by telling us several different statistics and stories and advising us to avoid online chat rooms and walking alone at night and other such “risky” behaviors. While I think it’s important for people to realize that yes, rapes do happen to a certain percentage of women, even in Provo, I’m also frustrated by the fact that I was terrified to walk up or down several different dark poorly lit hills on campus by myself on my way home from evening classes for months after that, imagining guys hiding behind the bushes just waiting for a lone female to walk by that they could molest (I have a rather overactive imagination after dark). Informing people is one thing, shocking and scaring a bunch of largely naive girls into a state of constant paranoia is another. There was a small self-defense section of the seminar where we were taught how to break a couple different holds, good places to stamp and kick a guy, and to go for eyeball gouging if the opportunity presented itself (as well as the well-known teaching to start screaming your head off). I think they can all be useful deterrents, but as my husband has reminded me several times, if an attacker is truly determined, they may not help, and the opportunity to fight back may not be there at all in some cases. I’m fairly certain the officer also mentioned that if any of us were ever the victim of rape or assault, that it was not our fault in any way, but I think I was too busy being scared at the moment for that part of it to really sink in much.

    I think I would have appreciated a stronger emphasis (in church, at school, and at home) growing up on the issues of blame and self-worth in a variety of scenarios, including having someone commit a crime against you, depression and other mental health issues, and…I can’t think of any others at the moment, though I’m sure there’s plenty. The preferred emphasis, of course, being that “It’s not your fault, you’re not to blame, you’re not a failure because this has happened to you.” When I was in fourth grade, my family moved to Utah, and my new school class was doing a packet on Self-Esteem. Several of the questionnaires and activities within the packet implied that if points a, b, and c were all true, then you must be suffering from low self-esteem. I had just moved partway through the school year, had not made any friends yet, was shy, and often felt lonely and like I didn’t fit in with my new classmates, and due to the packet, came to the conclusion that I had low self-esteem, after which I began a long cycle of not liking myself very much and blaming myself for a great many things over the years that were not my fault in any way. It took quite a while to be able to separate my self-esteem from my self-worth and realize that I was a worthwhile individual, a worthwhile Child of God, even when I didn’t like myself, or when I made mistakes, or when bad things happened to me, or when others took my agency away from me. I fully intend on teaching my children that they have an intrinsic worth which nothing can ever remove or lessen in any way.

    I always enjoy seeing such open discussions about sensitive topics that are often taboo among church members.

  258. m&m on January 31, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    mmiles, I share your feelings about those BOM verses.

    Not that this is relevant to the extra 150+ comments that have shown up since I last commented, but those verses in Mormon 9 are uncomfortable to me, too. I was simply exploring some thoughts, not trying to dismiss the potentially problematic wording in those verses. FWIW.

    If they do address the issue in a sensitive manner I would like to disseminate their words, as well as the comforting words in the FSY pamphlet and give them as much air time as the horribly destructive counsel that the YW need to dress “modestly” so males will not be “tempted.”

    BiV, I dont’ have time to gather a bunch of quotes right now, but if you were to look for talks and on healing from abuse, I’m sure you could find plenty.

    I wish we could have discussions about this withough dissolving into blaming the Church for the problems of misperceptions about sexuality and rape and objectification of women. If we are going to defend the principle of owning one’s behavior, then we need to not blame the Church for people’s misperceptions about sexuality. Teachings about modesty are not to blame here. Misunderstanding of the principles may be, but that is not the Church’s ‘fault’ per se.

    the Church and its counsel for misperceptions about sex. If we can’t blame women for men’s sexuality, then we can’t blame the church for our or others’ misperceptions of things.

  259. Carl Youngblood on January 31, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    To add to this discussion of differences between the sexes–I realize this is fairly anecdotal, but people might find a This American Life episode called “Testosterone” interesting:

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=220

  260. m&m on January 31, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    ha, well, obviously, I didn’t erase part of my draft comment. sorry

  261. mmiles on January 31, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Carl-
    Do you have the same bio-physiological reaction to a topless Bush woman on a National Geographic program as you do to Baywatch babes? I ask seriously.

  262. Carl Youngblood on January 31, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    mmiles, while I feel comfortable discussing male sexuality in general, I don’t feel nearly as comfortable discussing my own, except in vague terms, and it just feels wrong to me to enter into a discussion of what aspects of female anatomy are pleasing to me. Please forgive me.

  263. mmiles on January 31, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    Carl-
    Sorry. I didn’t mean to go there. I was just trying to point out that really, not all women are hot, contradicting EB’s suggestion. This shows choice in the matter trumps biology.

  264. mmiles on January 31, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    And yes, that would be really wrong. I

  265. Carl Youngblood on January 31, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Thanks mmiles, I see your point. However, that does not mean that the response elicited is not biological. Without going into too much detail, it is very possible that the “babes” you mention more closely adhere to a pattern that the male brain finds attractive. That said, I will go out on a limb and say that as a small child, the earliest time I remember noticing a sexual response in myself was when I saw topless African natives in a National Geographic program.

    Furthermore, your comment about how “choice in the matter trumps biology” makes me worry that I need to make something more clear. I am not arguing that men can’t or shouldn’t control themselves. I have stated this a number of times already but I’ll say it again just to be safe. I am simply saying that biology should be factored into one’s ethical system. In other words, if it can be demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt (and I believe it has) that most men have a strong visually-oriented sex drive that is different from women’s, a woman who accepts this fact and is considerate of other men will want to dress in a way that doesn’t incite gratuitous sexual responses in them. This doesn’t mean that she is responsible for their actions. It merely means that she is considerate of their feelings.

    That said, let it not be inferred that I am advocating an extreme Taliban-like code of dress. Just a general courtesy in conformance with social customs that is rooted in an understanding of the differences between men and women.

  266. mmiles on January 31, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    CY-
    Agreed. You explained it well.

  267. Ray on February 1, 2008 at 12:05 am

    #238 – Still plowing through the gazillion new comments, but this is perfect.

  268. MSG on February 1, 2008 at 4:08 am

    A bit of FYI here…I was a student at BYU in the late 70′s. I now have a daughter attending there. All this talk about BYU and Utah and the culture has captured my interest in light of her experiences living on campus. We are not from Utah. The number of students, both male and female, in her generation at BYU who have openly talked about how “lots” of LDS kids in Utah (residents) have STD’s (genital herpes, etc.) and that if you date a kid from Utah you need to be aware of that. There are also many LDS kids from all over who have experimented having oral sex and a few of the kids she knows, certainly more than I ever knew when I was at BYU, have had sex willingly. So, to the contrary of what’s being said here about girls thinking if they’re raped that no worthy LDS fellow will want to marry them—there seem to be quite a number of LDS kids, both genders, who this thought doesn’t occur to them because they openly “air their dirty laundry” and don’t think twice about how it will be received. They expect to date and marry LDS kids no matter what their past has been. And if they have repented, they should be able to do so.
    I was even wondering whether LDS parents or the Church had somehow dropped the ball getting the message of the seriousness of the Law of Chastity over to these kids. My point in all of this is simply this–rape is NOT a willing loss of chastity and how sad if we put such a high price on virginity that some people think that a girl should die before succumbing. (I may be wrong but I have always thought that one may not be a virgin due to a rape but one’s chastity, one’s purity of heart, can very much still be intact.) Equally disturbing is a flagrant disregard for chastity and virginity that the sacredness of one’s body and someone else’s becomes so casual. Both attitudes need an adjustment because they’re both too extreme–as is the sorrow they cause.

  269. MSG on February 1, 2008 at 4:55 am

    Sorry for the long post above…but it just occurred to me that there IS a
    difference between chastity and virginity. When we go to the temple and enter into covenants with the Lord we covenant to keep the Law of Chastity. Most of us are married and we’re not covenanting to live celibate
    lives. We’re not virgins but we are still considered chaste.

  270. susan on February 1, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Well, I and both of my daughters have experienced rape, all of them at the hands of a trusted acquaintance. None of us reported the rapes. It certainly affected us in our relationships with men, we all have various levels of trust issues, etc. I was actually raped by my ex husband, I never said anything to anybody about it for lots of reasons – didn\’t want to hurt the kids, etc. There is a lot of pent-up anger though after something like this happens. I took the route of joining a martial arts class and obtaining a black belt – I would DEFINITELY fight with everything I had to prevent something like that happening again. I am confident in being able to fight off an unarmed attacker – but realistically don\’t think I could do a very good job of defending myself against anyone armed with a knife or a gun, despite my 5 years of training. Incidentally, I was molested at the age of about 8 by an uncle. This is a topic that I haven\’t seen as much comment on in this thread – but talk about defenseless victims. After a rape, there are several possible responses – from depression to anger to promiscuity, etc., depending on the persons emotional make up. I experienced all three responses. It takes a long time to heal from a rape – lots of processing, etc. I don\’t think the church as a whole does anywhere near enough to either prevent or help to heal from sexual abuse and rape – although they probably have improved some in the past 10 years – they are definitely not very proactive, more reactive. One other comment about sexual inequality in this world – I noticed many comments about \”dressing like a prostitute\” – no comments on why women become prostitutes. It is universally about money worldwide – prostitution is the only way some women can make money, in some cases it is to support a drug problem – but in many cases it is to support themselves and their families. In Thailand, I have seen 11 and 12 year old girls working as prostitutes – the money they make is sent back to the countryside to support whole families of people. I am currently assisting a young pregnant woman who seriously thought about prostitution as the only viable way to continue to support herself and her two children. As a physician in my practice, I have had several female patients who supported their little families by prostitution – if we want to end this evil practice – we need to find ways to economically empower women.

  271. KLC on February 1, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    mmiles, I don’t want to call you out personally but your comments about National Geographic and Baywatch and the UPS guy illustrate a common pattern in several threads about male/female sexuality I’ve read in the bloggernacle over the years. Like you did in this thread, many women cannot get past their own sexual responses when talking to men about theirs. The unspoken assumption in these comments is, “I don’t find this sexy at all so you shouldn’t either”.

    It’s always entertaining to read a thread about pregnancy, birth plans, etc. where a male intrudes with his opinions. He is immediately shot down as someone who has no experience and therefore no right to decide what is good or bad. I think that is entirely appropriate. Unfortunately, many women don’t extend the same courtesy when the tables are turned. One thing Carl Y. is very nicely trying to tell you is that male sexuality is something you know nothing about on a personal level but he is willing to try and explain it. To dismiss that view because it conflicts with opinions based on extrapolating female experience is not only erroneous it is demeaning to the real experience presented by someone who knows.

    Of course there is some common ground in our sexual response, just like there are similarities in our responses to pain, but see how far that argument flies the next time a discussion about childbirth elicits a comment from a man that he may not have ever been pregnant, but he has had kidney stones so he know exactly what the women are talking about.

    Do I need to say that these comments have nothing to do with rape, rapists, blaming the victim, burkas, the Taliban or even modesty? Those are different discussions and my above comments are not veiled attempts to justify or rationalize any of them.

  272. annahannah on February 1, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Thanks Melinda.

  273. John Mansfield on February 1, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    I can’t agree that a person has to be blameless in order to receive our compassion. If my son throws a rock up in the air, and it comes back down and gives him a concussion, I’m going to feel bad that he’s injured and I’m going to help him recover.

    I also find ridiculous the notions expressed that a rape victim can’t possibly play a blameworthy role in bringing harm to herself. If a woman were to dance naked on a bar, then climb down and rip the pants off the nearest drunk, apparently according to the doctrinaire, when that drunk rapes her, she has absolutely no responsibility for that happening to her. I’m sure that someone is going to respond, “That’s right, she is still 100% innocent of what happened to her.”

  274. Peter LLC on February 1, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    The number of students, both male and female, in her generation at BYU who have openly talked about how “lots” of LDS kids in Utah (residents) have STD’s (genital herpes, etc.) and that if you date a kid from Utah you need to be aware of that.

    That sounds more like your standard denigration of the “townies” by the out of town students living amongst them. You should hear what the locals have to say about the Zoobies.

  275. PTiger on February 1, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Is it possible to read the aforementioned (and, as yet, unquoted, unless I missed it in the comments) passage in Pres. Kimball\’s book \”The Miracle of Forgiveness\” to say this:

    \”It\’s better to die defending yourself against a rape than to willingly engage in premarital sexual relations.\”

    rather than this:

    \”It\’s better to die defending yourself against a rape than to live through it.\”

    Does someone have the exact quote available?

  276. Peter LLC on February 1, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    “That’s right, she is still 100% innocent of what happened to her.”

    Ok, I’ll counter your unhelpful and extreme example with another one: A naked woman gets down off the bar after dancing on it, rips the pants off a nearby drunk and challenges him to rape her. He politely declines, unwilling to surrender his agency to this freakish woman. She pulls a gun out of her handbag and threatens to blow his kneecaps off if he doesn’t comply with her demand to be raped. He declines again, this time impolitely. She then blows his head off in frustration at her inability to overcome the man’s divinely appointed agency.

  277. ZSorenson on February 1, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    I’m not sure if this point has been made yet, I haven’t read ALL the comments, but I want to explain the logic behind “better to die clean” language.

    If you are a girl with a trusted man, maybe boyfriend. Let’s say you start kissing, and the boy starts taking it to far. Let’s say he turns out to be not-so-good and is more or less forcing the girl to engage in sexual activity. Many girls might not resist, being confused, maybe afraid. Perhaps knowing that ‘fighting’ is important, the girl would and this not-so-good guy might get the point and no sex will happen.

    Rape is hard to define sometimes. Sometimes sex might seem consensual even if the girl doesn’t really want it.

    That doesn’t nearly cover the scope of this issue, and I don’t think it justifies the “better to die clean” attitude, but I think such situations might be common enough for it to be good that a church leader tells young women the importance of resisting, of being clear. I know its a myth that girls aren’t sexual like men are, but men probably do take ‘initiative’ more than girls.

    The real issue is, and this is tough and seems to be at the core of many mormon cultural problems, how do we follow the prophet? Sometimes prophetic/apostolic counsel is very subjective (so it seems), though following it is necessary.

    Example: Don’t listen to loud/bad music. Sorry folks, certain styles of music and certainly lyrics drive away the spirit. Yet, I don’t think you can unequivocally condemn ‘rock&roll’ for being so spiritually damaging. Where’s the line? With so many other issues, there is great confusion. Many people live spiritually off of the lips of church leaders. Others die spiritually because they treat those lips as naught. Where’s the balance. We have to have our own, independent, spiritual compass, see the counsel and not the subjective part of the presentation. We also have to trust the counsel when it doesn’t seem right, because we’re wrong probably more often then our teachers. Anyway, another thought…

    I think the one-strap bag/breasts comment is interesting. I was a young man just recently (I still am), don’t think I didn’t notice the ‘emphasis’. It’s not about girls being ‘pornographic’ to men, it’s about de-emphasizing sexuality in the public environment. That’s what holiness is. Things like breasts, legs, etc. are sexually suggestive. It wouldn’t look toward individuals, but rather the community, for creating and ‘environment of holiness’. That is, instead of individual girls being ‘pornographic’. We have to see it positively and not negatively.

    That’s just an example of being reasonable minded. If we follow gospel principles and good counsel, we’ll know these things. However, there seems to be a big problem with this, and we thrive off of more explicit counsel like, “Don’t be walking pornography.”

    A lot of people don’t really think for themselves, that’s why “Stay moral, go oral” happens. That sort of stupidity is countered by strong counsel that confuses people even more. Why aren’t people just smart?

    Well, if it wasn’t a tough world, the whole plan wouldn’t really seem worth it. (Enter anti-mormon, “Only a mormon would think God ‘required’ things to be hard”)

  278. Kaimi Wenger on February 1, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Okay, thanks for your comments, all. I’m going to close this thread shortly, since it looks like most folks have had a chance to say what they’d like to about the topic.

  279. sol on February 1, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Kaimi,

    Can you give me a few minutes? I promised Carl a response last night. I’ll make it brief. Thanks.

  280. mmiles on February 1, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    KLC-
    My sincere apologies for my insensitive and nauseating example. It was poorly chosen indeed. Perhaps I can explain better. I am not a man, and don’t want to step on biologically toes of maleness. I am female though. Your comments display the pack of lies you have been taught your whole life. Women are not inherently less sexual than men. I’m bowing out now.

    ZS– Legs and breasts are not sexually suggestive by their nature. You have been taught to view them sexually.

  281. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 1, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Ms. Soper’s statements about rapists’ motives (they don’t do it because they’re turned on or because of sexual interest) seem inapposite in the case of date rape and questionable in the case of the stranger in the dark alley. I’d be interested in seeing the data, but I would guess that date rapes involving the use of a “date rape” drug are a relatively small minority and that those involving alcohol are probably a majority. Doesn’t the rape in most of those cases stem directly from the sexual interest of the rapist in the victim, and the rapist probably did not begin the evening with the intention of raping her? — actually, in many college situations, the perp started the evening with the thought that they were entitled to sex. The rape only occurs because someone disagreed with them. Look at college campus statistics of rape vis a vis fraternities and athletes. The feeling of entitlement issue is rarely addressed.

    It has been interesting to read through this thread, though painful. I’ve served on the boards of both a child advocacy center and a rape crisis center. Both were difficult experiences, though no where near as difficult as the experiences of the people the centers existed to serve. We have so much further to go.

  282. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 1, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Comment by susan — 2/1/2008 @ 12:04 pm

    I only hope you and yours have found support and help. Congratulations on the black belt and the MD. You’ve done well.

  283. sol on February 1, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Carl,

    I never got back on last night, and I haven’t had time to read everything else here, but I want to respond to you before the thread closes.

    Upon reading your #264 I feel that we agree more than I had supposed. I think what you are saying reflects to a great extent what I said many many comments ago about modesty being an act of charity. I would like to explore further what may be similarities or differences in the way we view the role of biology in sexuality. I think there is not time here, but I will post something very soon at:

    http://stuporofthought.wordpress.com/

    I hope you will check for it and join the discussion. I don’t think you have accurately captured my view in your statements to me, and I am sure I have not fully understood yours. I hope we get the chance to continue the discussion. I find it very interesting. Thanks!

  284. sol on February 1, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    I have to echo mmiles here and say that legs and breasts are not, by nature, sexually suggestive. If that were so, men would find their own daughters suggestive. Some do, but I’m pretty sure the majority of us would find that “unnatural”. Doctors see bodies all the time. Most of us count on them not seeing us as suggestive or arousing. If body parts are inherently suggestive, how are they sometimes not? Maybe your wording was poor. Maybe you were referring to “presentation”- images meant to arouse biological responses. Even then, we are not locked in to what we find stimulating. Child porn is meant to be arousing. Most of us don’t find it so. Much in the world today is meant to be arousing. I think it is possible to see those things and not be aroused. It is possible for a man to feel charity (as has been so discussed is a woman’s duty) and have his heart break at images that defile women (and women that defile themselves). Again we can continue this at http://stuporofthought.wordpress.com/

    I will get something up this weekend.

  285. KLC on February 1, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Please mmiles, I never said that women are inherently less sexual than men. I think my comments adequately expressed my view that men are different than women when it comes to sexual desire and arousal, and either sex that uses their own experience to extrapolate what should be true for the other is in error.

  286. John Mansfield on February 1, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Peter, yes, my example is some one-in-a-million extreme, and you cranked it up to one-in-a-billion. We can also crank it down to a more realistic level, however. Do women never intentionally provoke men? Not accidentally, or incidentally, or just by breathing, but intentionally by design? I don’t think this is a factor in most rapes, but I also suspect it plays into some fraction of them. (5%, 10%, 20%? I don’t know.) Those victims should be cared for, too.

  287. Carl Youngblood on February 1, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    sol, I’ll try to engage in the discussion on your blog. About legs and breasts, I think that the instinctual aversion to incest trumps the sexual attraction of these body parts, but they still trigger innate biological responses. If most men were to see an attractive woman’s body with the head cropped from the picture, and they did not know whose body it was, they would probably experience some level of arousal, even if it was a close relative.

    While sexual response may be instinctual, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible to develop more extreme types of sexual perversions if certain behaviors are persisted in, but I think that is a different subject.

    I think you’re just plain wrong if you are trying to claim that there is no innate biological response in males to certain female sexual organs. Having experienced such things at a young age before I even knew what they meant, I just know that it happens.

  288. Carl Youngblood on February 1, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Clarification: when I said “certain female sexual organs” it would probably have been better to say “certain female traits.”

  289. Carl Youngblood on February 1, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    oops, in 287, I meant to address my comment to mmiles (280).

  290. Carl Youngblood on February 1, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    One further thought. mmiles, I think I see what you’re saying that there is a cultural component to sexuality, and that certain cultures who wear less clothing don’t experience the same arousal at seeing body parts as ours. But this is sort of a chicken and egg problem. Does this happen because of conditioning or because of biology? I would argue that the biology is definitely there to start out with, but after long conditioning it becomes possible to control and suppress it. However, I am willing to admit that some of men’s response to suggestive images may be the result of cultural conditioning. But it would be absurd to claim that biology has no influence.

  291. sol on February 1, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    No, let’s let “female sexual organs” stand. You are characterizing sex organs as traits? Legs as sex organs? An “an attractive woman’s body” as a sex organ? Oh my, we are more different than I first supposed. I did not know we were discussing sex organs at all. Guess we took different anatomy classes.
    BTW, as previously stated, you do not know where I stand on biology. I have not answered that. You are assigning a meaning and extreme I have not expressed.

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