Do We Live in a “Rape Culture”?

This post addresses the issue of sexual assault and/or violence, which some survivors may find disturbing. Please do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

Today’s topic seems rather ominous, but it’s been talked about a lot in our society and even more recently in churches, given a fair number of sex abuse scandals. First, let’s define rape culture, then I’ll give you some background for why I’m addressing it, followed by a deep dive into whether we actually live in a rape culture.

And, of course, whatever answer we come up with, we should think about what all of this means for ourselves, our marriages, the church, and our community as a whole.

Defining Rape Culture

Let’s look at a few definitions, because that will give us a broader sense of the term. Rape culture is:

  • “A society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse.” (Oxford Languages/Google)
  • “A sociological theory of a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.” (Wikipedia)
  • “Stereotyped, false beliefs about rape that justify sexual aggression and trivialize he seriousness of sexual violence.” (University of New Hampshire’s sexual harassment & rape prevention program).

Some of you are nodding your heads. Some of you are saying to yourselves, “We don’t have that here.” Some of you aren’t sure.

Let’s look at behaviors often mentioned as part of this culture:

  • Placing the burden on women not to be raped, rather than telling and teaching men not to rape
  • Blaming the victim, such as questions about attire or behavior before the assault, as if she was “asking for it”
  • Discouraging victims from reporting sexual assault or harassment (too much hassle, not enough evidence, etc.)
  • Sexual objectification of women in the media and beyond
  • Normalizing or trivializing rape in popular culture and society
  • Responding to allegations by claiming false reports are widespread (they aren’t)
  • Encouraging men to be sexually aggressive and women to be acquiescent or pliant

Can you see that at least some of these really do happen in our society?

How all this gets talked about can go overboard at times, for sure, with people accused of rape culture when the term doesn’t quite apply. And for those wondering, yes, I’m well aware that this concept and term came from 1970s feminists, with a book from the New York Radical Feminists and a documentary titled Rape Culture.

But listen to the personal stories of victim-survivors, watch some old films and see how sexual assault was excused or even promoted (e.g., Gone with the Wind, Sixteen Candles), pay attention to the details of uncovered sex scandals, and simply consider where we’ve fallen short.

Rape Culture in Bible Times

Why is this topic on my mind? Well, there are current events—including a number of sex harassment and abuse scandals—where the term rape culture gets applied in commentary. Some writings of marriage authors have also been accused of promoting rape culture. But honestly, I was triggered to talk about this by my Bible study a couple of weeks ago in which we were looking at the Book of Esther.

Rather than simply seeing how Esther was uniquely positioned to speak up on behalf of her people and save them from destruction, this time, I saw a different side of the story.

It struck me that Mordecai and Esther are often put on the same plane as being Jewish exiles, and then later it seems like Esther is higher because she is queen. But that’s not the culture she lives in. As I wrote in my notes:

The book is titled Esther, but she gets used both by the king and by her uncle/husband.* Although queen, her power is really limited because she is a woman in two cultures where that doesn’t matter that much.

(*more on that next time)

I wanted to dig deeper, so I spent hours online, looking at different biblical translations, background of the story, interpretations, and more. When I first drafted this post, I included a lot of that here but then decided to make that a separate post for Thursday. Anyway, here’s another snippet of what I wrote after my personal study:

[Esther] was expected to sleep with a man according to his timing, desires, and ways, without regarding to any rights she might or should have had. And the king could have turned her away, leaving her in the position of someone like Abraham’s concubine Hagar or David’s daughter Tamar.

And it wasn’t just the king forcibly taking her into the palace to have sex with him. The whole culture supported this approach to women, as shown by how the king’s advisers pressed him to issue a royal decree that “every man be master in his own household.” Even Mordecai, though enduring his own mistreatment as a Jewish exile, was still master of his household—telling Esther what to do without expressing much upset for the abusive consequences or possibility thereof.

A third snippet from my notes:

In her misogynistic world, Esther’s judged almost entirely on her beauty, she can’t pick her own husband, she has no rights to her own sexuality, and she can’t even speak up and advise the king like a man. No, she has to woo and seduce and essentially manipulate the men into doing “the little woman” a big favor. She throws feasts, goes slow in making her requests, and begs twice for her people’s lives (once on her knees in tears). The king relents, in a way, and her people are saved.

By the time I finished my study, I was ranty (as you can tell). I topped off my thoughts with:

Down with the patriarchy, and all that. But seriously, can we not just discuss how horrifying pieces of this story are? How Esther is a pawn in both the king’s palace and in her family?

If I was teaching this lesson, it would be more like: Can you believe these people?! Their dysfunction gives reality shows a run for their money! And yet, God said He would preserve His people, and so He used this situation to keep that promise.

Sadly, Esther’s story isn’t the only one. We could talk about Sarah being forcibly taken into the Pharaoh’s palace to sleep with him, her slave woman Hagar being made to sleep with Abraham, David’s daughter Tamar raped by her own half-brother with no consequences to him, and several others.

Now, to be clear, it isn’t only women who can be raped! For instance, Potiphar’s wife used her powerful position to pressure a slave, Joseph, have sex with her. Had she succeeded, that would have been nonconsensual sex—aka sexual assault.

But with Esther, the fact that she was a woman living in a misogynistic culture is an important aspect of the story.

What about Our Culture?

A number of women in Bible times were sexually used and abused. And although the perpetrator bore the greatest blame, there was more going on here. The culture itself permitted and enabled such actions. It normalized viewing women as a means to a sexual end.

If we conclude these women’s environments qualify as a rape culture, we can’t go back and fix that. What we can do is ask is whether we are living in a rape culture. That’s what a whole lot of people claim.

So are we living in a rape culture?

Well, if someone tried to take your wife or daughter as a sexual favor for a high official, I suspect you’d go all Rambo on that person. Moreover, most women in our day and age can choose their own husbands, have laws against rape and assault, go to workplaces with sexual harassment policies and training, and can leave a relationship if they want. (Note: If you are in an abusive situation and don’t feel you can walk away, please get help!) If a woman reports a rape, law enforcement will take steps to investigate the matter and resources are available for support and healing.

We’re hardly living in ancient Babylon.

But if you want evidence that we haven’t arrived where we should be, go check out the stories of such predators as Jeffrey Epstein, Larry Nassar, and Bill Cosby. Law enforcement let down victim after victim, allowing more assaults long after they should have known and acted.

Then there’s how Christians have dealt with sexual abuse, such as tragic tales within the Catholic Church, the SBC (here also), Ravi Zacharias‘s Ministry (here and here also), and Camp Kanakuk. If you feel I targeted your group with my examples, believe me—all of our denominations could find sex abuse if we shined more spotlights.

And it’s not just the Powers That Be, but often friends, family, and fans who refuse to even consider allegations because “they would never do that.” Now I’m not actually in the camp of “believe all women,” because yes, false accusations happen from time to time and it matters whether something is true. But we have to take all allegations seriously. Why wouldn’t we at least look into such a weighty charge with the concern it deserves?!

So yeah, we still have something of a rape culture, in that our society often minimizes the prevalence of sexual assault (and harassment) and/or discourages reporting and following through.

An important note here: Pornography is a huge propagator of rape culture. See Is There a Connection Between Porn Culture and Rape Culture? (fightthenewdrug.org). Not only does it often portray sexual violence, plenty of “actors” are sex-trafficked and thus forced to have sex (that is, raped). If you’re watching porn, it’s time to stop.

But “Rape Culture” Has Problems

Whoever coined that term should have thought through its implications. The syntax itself connotes a culture is doing the raping, which can come across as blaming people other than the rapist for the assault.

In fact, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the US’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, provided recommendations in 2014 to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. In that letter, they said:

In the last few years, there has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming “rape culture” for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campuses. While it is helpful to point out the systemic barriers to addressing the problem, it is important to not lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime.

While that may seem an obvious point, it has tended to get lost in recent debates. This has led to an inclination to focus on particular segments of the student population (e.g., athletes), particular aspects of campus culture (e.g., the Greek system), or traits that are common in many millions of law-abiding Americans (e.g., “masculinity”), rather than on the subpopulation at fault: those who choose to commit rape. This trend has the paradoxical effect of making it harder to stop sexual violence, since it removes the focus from the individual at fault, and seemingly mitigates personal responsibility for his or her own actions.

RAINN, February 28, 2014 Recommendations

They’re not saying that rape culture doesn’t exist but that focusing on it takes our eyes off the main ball: the perpetrator who raped. We should all be ganging up on that person.

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Why Does Any of This Matter for Marriage?

To my mind, this topic matters for at least three reasons:

You or your spouse may have been through sexual trauma.

If you or your spouse was molested or sexually assaulted, that past trauma can make physical intimacy with your spouse a challenge. But in addition to the event itself, the trauma may have been made worse by others not being more supportive when it happened.

Or maybe your spouse isn’t as supportive or as sensitive as they could be.

I’m not saying the spouse is part of rape culture! I don’t even like that term and will cover that more below. However, a spouse can unwittingly minimize or dismiss the trauma their spouse went through. This can happen with actions like telling the victim-survivor they need to get over it because it happened so long ago or believing that it’s as simple as saying, “But I’m not him.”

Not providing a victim-survivor the support they need can feel unsafe to them. You most certainly weren’t the one who hurt them that way, but ask yourself how you can create a culture in your marriage that shows how much you care and helps your spouse heal.

Some marriage teachings are seen as promoting rape culture.

Some accusations hurled at this or that message from a marriage resource feel off the mark—that is, as RAINN stated, taking the focus away from where we most want it to be, the perpetrators of assault. Others sound spot-on rape culture to me, such as anyone who says that a man can force his wife to have sex because her initial “I do” was the consent. (See Can You Be Raped in Marriage? Spoiler: Yes.)

Yet, the longer I do this ministry, the more determined I’ve become to make it clear that sexual mistreatment of any kind is absolutely against God’s will and design. We must consider what kind of environment we’re nurturing and how it impacts people.

Indeed, James 3:1 says: “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

Readers and listeners can help by asking for clarification and challenging messages while giving some grace for mistakes made. There’s plenty I wish I’d said differently.

We should strive for a rape-resistant culture.

It’s not just marriage ministers or church pastors who should work toward eliminating rape and supporting victims. It’s all of us:

Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.

Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.

Isaiah 1:17

To those who live among us or interact with us, we are the culture. What are we doing to prevent sexual assault and help its victim-survivors?

Honestly, I don’t want to be ranting about rape culture—a term that tends to get misunderstood and misused and/or creates pushback among critics. Rather, as Christians, we should be talking about a rape-resistant culture.

We can’t be rape-proof in this fallen, sinful world. Despite our best efforts, rape will continue to happen somewhere, somehow, to someone. But we can build and maintain a safer environment for anyone who might have been assaulted but for our actions. We can investigate accusations seriously and thoroughly, and only then say whether an accusation is suspect or false. (Most aren’t. Most are true.) We can listen to and support victim-survivors. We can provide more marriage resources to help those who’ve been through sexual trauma. We can, and we must.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8

The Lord requires that we prioritize justice and mercy.

And it should be especially clear among Christians that we want justice against those who treat people like throwaways and we have mercy for sexual assault victim-survivors.

I’d encourage all of us to scroll back up to the list of behaviors associated with what is called rape culture (whether you like or hate that term) and ask where we could do better to help create a rape-resistant culture. Believe me, that will make a difference in the lives of individuals and for marriages.

23 thoughts on “Do We Live in a “Rape Culture”?”

  1. The crux of your post, I believe…

    “Yet, the longer I do this ministry, the more determined I’ve become to make it clear that sexual mistreatment of any kind is absolutely against God’s will and design. We must consider what kind of environment we’re nurturing and how it impacts people.”

    We each need to do our part to protect, come along side, and show compassion to the vulnerable and the victims. To the perpetrators, demand justice. And treatment, if necessary. And show mercy to all.

  2. Bottom line up front. No, I do not believe we live in a rape culture. We live in a fallen world and will always deal with sin, as you stated, so you will always see people like Epstein, Clinton, etc., but it is not the norm. It would be no different if someone stated we were living in a murder culture or theft culture. Just because it occurs doesn’t mean it is socially acceptable.

    I also believe that we should be careful to wait for accusations to be shown to be true before blindly accepting them. We don’t blindly accept accusations of other crimes. However, neither should we automatically view the a report of rape or sexual assault as false. This doesn’t seem very popular these days, but withholding judgement until the evidence is presented in court is the best approach, in my opinion. The accuser needs to be provided support, as most do not make such an allegation without basis, but we need to stop the assumption of guilt that is not applied with other crimes. And I don’t write this with a flippant attitude towards sexual assault. My wife was a victim, which is why I will be responding anonymously. It occurred before I dated her but the impact was felt long into our marriage (and God brought a lot of healing into her life).

    1. I am curious if you can expand on rape being “not the norm.” According to RAINN, 1/4 women have been sexually assaulted and 1 in 5 have been raped, yet in my experience those estimates are low. I am from a family of three girls; two of us have been raped and the other sexually assaulted. All of my close friends too. Yet I only know a small handful of people who have been robbed, and my entire life only one person I personally know was murdered. And his murderer is in jail. I don’t know a single rapist in jail. And by the way, the odds of getting murdered in America are 1-in-18,989. Versus 1 in 4 women sexually assaulted…

      So… sexual assault and rape kind of **is** the norm. Unless you mean that being a rapist isn’t the norm?

      1. Oh, Kay, that personal story is so sad! There are too many of those. Far too many.

        Some people will argue with the stats you provided (e.g., the definition of “sexual assault” can vary from survey to survey), but if anyone is inclined toward that debate, I would simply respond that EVEN IF the stats are inflated by two—and I’m NOT saying they are—would you be okay with 1 in 8 women sexually assaulted? One in 10 women raped? Rape and sexual assault are prevalent to a degree that should break all of our hearts and bring about a cry for justice.

        1. If the stats were one in a thousand, or one in a million, it would still be too much. Any sexual assault is too much. However, it does not define our culture.

  3. Sadly we are teaching our young adults a very different lesson. At many public universities, if a couple go out, have a few drinks, end up in bed and feel any regret in the morning, the woman is encouraged – almost forced – to accuse her partner of rape. When I was a Resident Advisor we were taught to encourage women to rethink any past sexual activity that involved alcohol and if there was any regret it must have been rape. Thanks to the federal government, universities are now forced to immediately suspend any male accused of sexual assault before any evidence is presented. Thousands of innocent young men have been expelled from college because they did not call a girl back for a second date. When you put so much power in one person’s version of an event you create a very dangerous situation. When alcohol, teenage hormones and being away from home and parents for the first time, very bad results can happen.

    1. Yes, there have been some false accusations like the ones you described, and like you, I believe we should properly investigate allegations before drawing certain conclusions. But some of the problematic policies and actions have been curtailed through legal pushback.

      And could you think through how it comes across when sexual assault is brought up and an immediate response is that a bunch of women saying they were raped weren’t? Wouldn’t it be better to acknowledge that sexual assault has been a horrible stain on our world for far too long and those victims should have justice and mercy more and/or before we talk about false accusations and vague definitions of sexual assault?

      Moreover, your statement that “thousands of innocent young men have been expelled from college because they did not call a girl back for a second date.” Can you show any evidence for that claim? I suspect not, because it’s a hyperbolic statement not tethered to data.

      1. For the purpose of your article, I fully agree that we need to acknowledge that sexual assault is horrific, no matter when or in what culture. I personally believe other issues relating to this topic need to be discussed, but not necessarily here (which is why I am not listing those issues).

      2. Sexual sin is a stain on our society, whether or not the sin is punishable by law or not. Only a few sexual sins are punishable by law, precisely because they are so utterly detestable and damaging. I suspect everyone reading this knows deeply loves at lease one victim of a sexual crime. We all know how devastating it is and we all come along side these victims in mercy.

        Regarding justice, we live in a judicial system where you are innocent until proven guilty. This doesn’t mean we live in a crime culture. It means there is a high standard before legal consequences are assigned. In a jury trial, the standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Our judicial system would rather risk letting guilty people go free than punish an innocent person. Sexual assault, by its nature is difficult to prove in our jurisprudence. It is horrible, but necessary, that a victim has to relive the travesty through the prosecution of the crime…especially such an intimate violation of a person. The other option is a guilty-until-proven-innocent jurisprudence.

        Regarding Will’s comments about sexual assault punishment on college campuses (narrow scope when talking about an entire culture), my precursory look could not support his”thousands of men” claim directly, but what I found was nonetheless shocking. In 2011, the federal government lowered the standard to “preponderance of evidence.” They effectively enacted guilty until proven innocent as the jurisprudence for sexual assault claims. An explanation of the changes on college campuses can be found here (https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/09/the-uncomfortable-truth-about-campus-rape-policy/538974/). The article doesn’t give good summarized statistics to support or deny Will’s claims, but gives many individual examples of what can happen when you lower the due process standard. Due process suits have exploded since these standards were lowered; 150 filed in 2011-2017 vs. 15 filed between 1991-2010. (https://www.campussafetymagazine.com/clery/accused_students_sexual_assault_title_ix_lawsuit/# ) This article does not report how many men are expelled/suspended without due process, but if less than 1 in 10 file a suit, then it could support Will’s 1000’s statement. Also note, universities are innocent until proven guilty too, so maybe not all 150 of these are legit. The increase is striking, though. Even HuffPo is expressing caution.(https://www.huffpost.com/entry/sexual-assault-expulsions-lawsuits_n_5440665). When HuffPo and The Atlantic are questioning the policy, it says a lot.

        1. I agree that the policy is problematic. As I’ve said, I believe all claims should be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated, and any permanent actions taken should be based on evidence. However, again, I’m going to ask: what is inadvertently being communicated to sexual assault survivors and others at risk when the subject comes up and the bulk of commentary is about false accusations? Can you see how that would have a chilling effect for women, and men, who need to speak up and have their allegations taken seriously?

          1. Before I answer your bold-font question, I’m going to check my assumptions to ensure we are meaning the same things when we say similar. It will make a long response, but I think it is important. We all bring presuppositions into cultural discussions like this. Anecdotal data is personal and readily available. Demographic data is harder to find and requires hard work to understand it.

            Rereading your OP, I believe I have unfairly assigned my presuppositions to you. If I have done this, I humbly open myself to correction and write the comments below with the goal of improved understanding.

            When reading, discussing this topic, people that proponent rape culture frequently follow a logic similar to this:
            1: Since 1 in 4 women are victims of assault (1 in 5 raped), then this is so widespread and pervasive that it must mean no one is teaching men/boys that no means no.
            2. Since few men face legal consequences for sexual assault, then it must mean that we normalize and trivialize the crime.
            3. When women do come forward, their cases rarely move to prosecution. Initial investigations are skeptical of their claims. This means, women are not believed when they do report the crime.
            4. Prosecuting the crime will mean the woman has to relive hell-on-earth as she faces her rapist. This means that she gets victimized twice and he probably won’t get punished (see #2).
            5. In the prosecution of the crime, the woman’s character is on trial because we blame and shame the victim rather than prosecute the criminal.

            Overall conclusion: We have a culture that meets all of the bullets outlined in your OP above and we live in a rape culture.

            A culture that normalizes and trivializes this heinous crime requires immediate action. The typical response….run campaigns to address #1, believe all women (#3) and keep the rapist from facing his accuser (#4) and suppress exculpatory evidence (#5). If we do all this, then we will increase punishment rates (#2) and end of rape culture. Basically, the seriousness of the situation means we should upend our judicial system. (See the link from the Atlantic above, this list over-simplifies a complex situation.) Your call to action differs from the typical response, so it is unfair to link you with all of my presups.

            Now, to address your question. Quote from J: “However, again, I’m going to ask: what is inadvertently being communicated to sexual assault survivors and others at risk when the subject comes up and the bulk of commentary is about false accusations?” (*end quote*)

            The standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” is the highest standard of proof in law. The criminal is innocent until proven guilty. These two standards have a chilling effect for victims who need to speak up. The communication is not inadvertent, it is explicit. If you come forward you will face your assailant and likely see him found “not guilty.” If, in spite of this, a victim musters the courage to come forward, their claims ABSOLUTELY should be investigated. If there is evidence to prosecute, it should be done. We must support the victim as she faces #4. If the investigation does not produce enough evidence to convict, should the prosecution proceed anyway? If the prosecutor chooses not to pursue charges, does that reinforce #3? Does go so far as to prove #3? The potential for circular logic here is very dangerous.

            I do not personally believe we live in a rape culture. I do believe we live in a fornication & adultery culture. As a nation sexual objectification is rampant, in our media, on our phones, our web searches, advertisements, ad nauseum. (anecdotal evidence warning–>). When a chaste, virtuous, godly, friend of mine was violently raped by a stranger, the police assumed she was an adulterer having sex outside of her marriage. Their job to determine if there was enough evidence to prove evil intent by her sex partner. Compare this cultural predisposition of Deut 22:25-27 where the woman was assumed to be virtuous.

            One final comment on #1 in my list above. I considered omitting it because this is getting long, but will include it. The break down of the nuclear family and fatherless households has a devastating effect on the development of children. All children benefit from seeing their father and mother figure out how to raise a family together. I don’t have data, but suspect that perpetrators of sexual assault are inordinately from single-parent homes. If I’m correct, then #1 in the list is confirmed, but secular approaches are not going to solve the problem.

            Even if we agree to disagree on the points of this discourse, we will agree on this: our culture needs Jesus.

          2. You’re correct in saying those presuppositions do not define my position. In fact, I clearly stated that I am for taking allegations seriously and investigating them, not believing any claim that comes along. I agree with you that we have and should have due process. However, the history of sexual assault is that it was not treated in the same way as other crimes; e.g., most thefts are taken as real enough to seriously investigate.

            Where I’m really having a problem here is that I bring up the issue of sexual assault, and now there are pages worth of “but what about the false claims?!” in my comments section. Even if that’s a big problem, it’s not the problem being discussed here—because I already recognized that investigation and truth matter—so why is the knee-jerk reaction to go there? If a rape victim reads hears and reads stuff like this, she is likely to assume that she will be accused of making false claims rather than having her accusation taken seriously. Please just try to imagine how such things could be read by others. And even if you know one, two, or more survivors who wouldn’t read it that way, a lot of others would.

            The point here is that sexual assault is too prevalent and we, especially Christians, should be striving to seek justice and defend the oppressed. By taking each claim seriously and thoroughly investigating without bias, we can hopefully find justice and help the oppressed. And yes, sometimes the person who requires justice is one unfairly accused, but often the one who requires justice is a sexual assault victim.

          3. J, I understand where you are coming from and absolutely want to see those who commit such horrific actions jailed (actually worse, as I mentioned already that my wife is a survivor and it is incredibly damaging). False accusations do incredible harm to true victims of this crime. However, while we can support those who make accusations in terms of getting counseling and not accusing them of lying, we also cannot automatically validate the accusation. It is not an easy balance, but I believe it is important to try to have this balance. I personally would have liked to see my wife’s perpetrator go to jail for a long time. I not only believed her, but I am convinced that it was real. It still angers me that he never had any consequences, and this if over 30 years later. However, there still needs to be an investigation and evidence before we accept a verdict of guilty. I hope this makes sense, as I really want women to come forward. Every woman is so valuable to our God and none should have their claim of abuse simply dismissed. I will, however, admit that I don’t have a good answer or solution.

          4. I agree, and I don’t see how anything I said suggests we should “automatically validate the accusation.” We should, however, validate the person by taking their claims seriously and investigating. Yes, there are some instances when lives have been damaged by false accusations—and that should not happen!—but far more lives have been damaged by true accusations not taken seriously enough. That’s what I’m saying.

            And by the way, I’m sad and angry that your wife went through that. I’m glad she has you to love her well instead.

  4. I don’t like the term “Rape Culture”. But both sexes talk about things sometimes without even realizing they sound “rapey”. For example J, in your post above you say “women can choose their sexual partners” uh, no they can’t, not without that potential partner’s consent. They can half choose, just like men can only half choose. It still requires the consent of the other. I hear women saying similar things like “women control their fertility”. Again, uh, nope. That assumes their is a man out there willing to attempt to impregnate them. The closest a woman can come to being truly in control of her fertility is going to a sperm bank and even then that might not be successful. Saying a “woman can choose her sexual partner” ersases the personhood of that partner. It is saying that the partner gets no vote. Has no say. As if a woman chooses a partner like choosing a purse. You just go get the one you want when you want it. Our culture is so female centric that many young men grow up hearing this stuff about they are rapists in a rape culture and that women get to do all the choosing and that their thoughts don’t matter so they are just withdrawing from the culture all together. I employ a lot of young men. When I was their age all we talked about were girls and where we were going to go to meet girls. Now, if they talk about anything its video games. Is this where rape culture has gotten us?

    1. Okay, I get what you’re saying, but I suspect 99% of readers understood that “women choose their sexual partners” didn’t mean I believed their sexual partners had no choice. I was contrasting then and now for women; whereas, men have historically had more choice in the matter, so I didn’t think about making clear what was largely a given. Now, I’m NOT saying men haven’t been raped—they most certainly have! And it’s just as awful when it happens to a man!

      So in case it is unclear to anyone, I agree that both partners must be involved that choice to engage sexually. And the way God intended, that choice happens as part of a covenant marriage.

  5. There is a newly filed lawsuit against Liberty University in which 12 women claim that the school “enabled on campus rapes and suppressed complaints of sexual assault and rape”. One of the people the school failed to act against was Jesse Matthew Jr who went on to murder two women. I would say this story encapsulates much of what rape culture is. “Good” men like Jerry Falwell Jr. failed to act. Young women were punished for coming forward. I would encourage others to research the story on their own. I don’t think what happened at Liberty University is unique.

    People say that we don’t make an automatic assumption of guilty with other crimes but we do with rape–I have to say I disagree with this statement. Where I live an illegal immigrant was convicted of murder–most were on board with his guilt from day one. No one cares that English was his second language and he probably didn’t get the best representation.

    My daughter works at the county courthouse and we live in a college town. She is aware of every plea deal, dropped charge, case that go to trial, and detectives that are seeking search warrants to investigate crimes. She would completely disagree that there is this plethora of women who “didn’t get asked on a second date” that are making accusations of rape—there isn’t a plethora period, and very few accusations go to trial.

    I think we have to face that there are predatory people out there that are one step ahead of their victims. Could be the “nice’ guy that offers to walk you home from your study group and wants to take a detour through an isolated part of campus–could be a guy you know from campus ministry. There are people out there who would prey on my elderly mother–we have no problem with that concept—but when we talk about men looking to commit sexual assault it seems like a whole different story.

    I have no doubt there are those who would make false accusations. But from where I sit, the woman who reports a rape to local law enforcement has a long ugly road ahead of her in her pursuit of justice—I think this stops many women from reporting.

    Good post J.

  6. Starting a new thread, b/c it looks like I ran out of replies.

    I apologize for mischaracterizing your position. Hopefully we are on the path to agreement. Women that are assaulted should have their claims investigated, without bias and prosecution if evidence supports it. We, as Christians, must support the victim through the whole process whether it goes to trial or not.

    Quote from J, “so why is the knee-jerk reaction to go there?” (*end quote*)
    I cannot speak for anyone else but me with this statement. My knee-jerk reaction was based on jumping to the conclusion that due process would be ignored. I will not do this again. In no way shape or form do I want to contribute to any victim suffering in silence and loneliness.

    I wasn’t a reader here in the Bret Kavanaugh days, but out of curiosity did a search. You have a post: https://hotholyhumorous.com/2018/09/24/how-should-we-treat-allegations/ I read your OP, but not the 81 comments…yet. Your section about “Seeking the Truth” is really powerful. It deserves a ping-back and I would have been in a better place if I had read it before posting yesterday. It is relevant to this conversation as we struggle with seeking truth in a case of sexual assault when our culture that promotes adultery.

    Near the end of the post, you said, “how on earth would a woman alone in the countryside with a rapist have a second witness? She wouldn’t. And yet the Bible clearly states that her attacker should die for his crime against her.” This is answered in Deut 22:22. It isn’t clear, and really didn’t matter, whether the man was stoned for adultery or rape. He had sex with another man’s wife. The woman is presumed innocent in the open country because no witnesses could attest to whether she consented or not. If she did not yell for help in the city she would die too, as they would have assumed she consented (v24). In v28, if the woman was an unbetrothed virgin, the man was not stoned. He paid 50 shekels of silver to the girl’s father, took her as his wife and was forbidden from ever divorcing her.

    These verses treat adultery and rape with the same consequence, the carve-outs in v25 and marriage in v28 are acts of compassion for the woman as she would not have been marriage material if she was not a virgin. Forgive me if this was discussed in the comments section back in 2018.

    You are correct, sexual crimes are too prevalent and we, as Christians, must stand up for the oppressed (Prov 31:8-9 comes to mind). As you noted back in 2018, seeking the truth is the hardest part. I think this is especially difficult when we penalize rape, but not adultery. We should do all we can to investigate. If the evidence is sufficient, we should prosecute. If the evidence is not there, the crime will go unpunished. Either way, we must support the victim’s healing process.

    I look forward to reading Thursday’s post.

  7. Doug I have a comment regarding your equating the breakdown of the nuclear family etc. I have no doubt individuals who come from broken homes are more likely to be involved in various sorts of crimes. However rape isn’t something that has just occurred in our history that correlates with the increased divorced rate. Rape has always occurred, especially when there is a power differential. A wealthy man rapes the household servant. A “Christian” slaveowner rapes on his slaves. Invading armies rape the women of a village. Women in these circumstances had no chance of justice.

  8. Pingback: What Esther's Story Teaches Us About Sexual Consent | Hot, Holy & Humorous

  9. This was a very well thought out article. The fact that so many women are victims of sexual assault is appalling. All allegations of assault should be seriously and thoroughly investigated.

    Your point about the influence of porn is spot on. Porn teaches that sex is about power and domination, which dehumanizes the other person.

    You asked above, “Where I’m really having a problem here is that I bring up the issue of sexual assault, and now there are pages worth of “but what about the false claims?!” in my comments section.”

    I think this is because everything in our culture these days has become polarized and politicized. Many people have a knee-jerk reaction to certain phrases because the phrase has become associated with the extremes of “x side”.

    So when someone hears the phrase “rape culture” they often assume that the author is advocating for “no due process” regardless of whether that was the author’s intent.

    Similarly someone who hears the phrase “religious freedom” may assume the author is advocating for hatred and discrimination against LGBTQ people when that isn’t the author’s intent at all.

    In other words it is easy for people to assume that an author is advocating an extreme viewpoint and they respond accordingly.

    1. That’s a great point. Certain phrases themselves seem to trigger reactions whether or not the person using them agrees with the most extreme version of that. (Oh, and whataboutism—that’s a whole other thing I get frustrated with. But I digress!)

    2. You wrote your points very well. I am fortunate to have grown up before the easy access to porn. You are absolutely correct, porn completely distorts one’s view of sexuality.

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