Rape. It’s Just Different. Wait. No, It’s Not.

So, by now, unless you live under a rock — and by that I mean a rock without wifi where you have no smartphone, no tv, no radio, and no access at all to the outside world — you’ve heard that yet another Republican candidate slipped up and admitted what he really thinks about rape, women, and living in the patriarchy.

It’s always interesting to me how differently, from almost every single other crime, we perceive rape and what this difference tells us about living in patriarchy.

The most obvious example is the way that we’re almost inalterably programmed to blame the rape victim for her rape. Thus, we hear all sorts of justifications: she was in a bad part of town, she was drunk, her skirt was too short, she let him kiss her and get excited, she’d previously (my own, almost ancient by now, moot court hypo) checked out movies that showed rape and therefore must have wanted to be raped, she was, in one way or another, asking for it.

Oddly, we don’t say those things about crimes that routinely happen to men.

Take robbery, for example. If someone shows up with a gun and demands a man’s wallet, we don’t say, well, that man shouldn’t have been walking with a wallet in a bad part of town, having had more than a few drinks, and wearing a nice suit that advertised how much money he had, as if he wanted to attract robbers. He shouldn’t have stopped and offered to give the robber a dollar before saying that, no, he wasn’t willing to give the robber all of his money. We don’t say that he’d previously checked out movies that showed people getting robbed and, therefore, must have wanted to be robbed. We don’t say that he was, in one way or another, asking to be robbed. We don’t blame it on the homeowner when there’s a breaking-and-entering. We don’t blame it on the owner of a credit card when someone commits identity theft. We don’t say that the murder victim was really asking to have poison put in his coffee. We don’t say that if your broker transfers all of your cash to her account in the Caymans, you must have wanted her to do that because you gave her access to your accounts.

You can, I’m sure, come up with many other examples.

And Mr. Mourdock’s assertion that rape victims should have to bear and give birth to the fetus that results from rape is yet another example of how rape — a crime committed almost exclusively by men and suffered overwhelmingly by women — is treated differently from other crimes. If someone rapes you and you get pregnant, that is, according to Mr. Mourdock, the xian god’s will (and what an unfeeling, brutal, weak, nasty, dirty, snarling, ill-mannered, id-controlled god he is, too). As a result the state should step in and prevent modern science and modern medicine from helping, to, as much as possible, put you back in the position that you occupied immediately prior to the rape (i.e., the state should prevent you from having an abortion or using the morning after pill).

I’m unable to think of any other crime of which this is true. In fact, in almost every other crime (and/or contract violation), returning the victim to the position occupied just prior to the infraction is the primary goal of our legal system.

If someone steals your car, the state will, if possible, make them return your car. If they wrecked your car, the state provides mechanisms that will allow you to sue the robber and get back the value of your car, the money you spent renting a car in the interim, the money you spent on counseling to make you feel better after the theft, etc. If someone assaults you, the state provides mechanisms to, if possible, make them pay for your medical bills, missed wages, pain and suffering. Even murder. If someone murders me, the state again provides mechanisms to make that person reimburse my estate, paying attention to my life expectancy, what my future earnings would have been, my value to my family, etc. I may not be able to be put back in the position that I occupied before the murder, but my estate can be and the state will labor to do so.

Yet what Mr. Mourdock proposes is that the state step in and actively prevent me, even with my own resources, from restoring myself to the position that I would have occupied prior to the rape. (As Echidne reminds me, and as I should have remembered from my good friend Literata, forcing women to carry a pregnancy to term can, in fact, be a death sentence. We don’t often sentence the victims of other crimes to death.)

Mr. Mourdock’s proposal is doubly wrong because it violates the United States Constitution. The First Amendment provides, inter alia, that:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . .

That means that the xians can believe whatever misogynistic, patriarchal, illogical, punitive shit they want to believe. That means that xian women who are raped can go ahead and give birth to the children that result from rape. That means that there’s not a damn thing I can do about that, even if I don’t think that adding to global population overload or bringing unwanted children into the world is a good thing. But here’s what it also means. It also means that Mr. Mourdock is wrong. The state may not step in and prevent me from having an abortion when I’m raped, simply because some xians don’t believe in women’s rights. My Goddess wants me to take responsibility for my own body, my own actions, any life that I manifest into this world. She wants me to be in control of my body. She wants me to have an abortion any time that I find myself pregnant and unwilling to bear a child.

I’ve been living in the patriarchy for 56 years. I’m getting tired of this shit.

(As is so often the case, my friend Echidne says the same thing, only earlier and better.)

31 responses to “Rape. It’s Just Different. Wait. No, It’s Not.

  1. Don’t you wish sometimes that our ferocity about the patriarchy was overblown and hysterical? I do. I’d love to be wrong about all this–but we’re not.

  2. I have struggled with the issue of rape from several different side. As a victim, as a counselor, and as a woman who feels what my sisters feel. There is no god, in my frame of reference, who would inflict this horror on a woman, or a man, yes it happens, Here in your incredibly well written article, is the jist of why I sought out and found the Goddess, 40 or more years ago. The male patriarchy, who are in power why?, will continue to impose their will on us. It is like being raped every day. Having to be subjected to their xtian ways, with no regard for our beliefs.

  3. I am a survivor of more than one rape as well as other violent crimes. I spent thousands of dollars on therapy out of my own pocket. I still have things I cannot do that I could do before the rapes. (One was in a swimming pool and to this day, more than 40 years later, I cannot spend much time in water. And no amount of therapy is going to undo that. And I loved swimming.) People have told me to get over it. But they’ve never been through it.

  4. Thank you, as always, for your powerful words. This is a terrifying time right now particularly, I have to say, as much as I’ve always felt enraged about the patriarchy everyone thinks we no longer live in… 🙂 Thanks for your strong moving words.

  5. I’m getting really, really tired of this shit, too.
    Thank you for a wonderfully written post.

  6. And it is not common (is it done at all?) to blame men or boys who are raped.

    • Sadly, it is if the victim is a gay man.

    • Uhh, yeah we do get blamed, whether gay or not. I was blamed, mocked, and even threatened for speaking out about my own rape. Spare me the b.s. lies about how male rape survivors are not blamed when they are raped. You clearly know NOTHING about what we experience on a regular basis.

  7. If a man was raped by a woman, supposedly, I think he is unlikely to say much. Men who have been raped by men are very likely not to say anything at all! Rape is a time regardless if it is a man or a woman. No woman’s life should be destroyed by a rape. The Goddess wants babies to be born of love not of fear!!

  8. Hec, thank you for this. I am a two time rape survivor. One aspect of my healing mission is to help people–yes, I’ve treated men for being raped–by providing soul retrieval for sexual abuse survivors at Pagan gatherings, such as FSG. It is comforting to me to help people this way. And shamanism *can help* the survivors get over some PTSD. But like others, I am not completely healed from the abuse I endured, and I don’t necessarily expect that I will be healed in this lifetime. The second rape was in 1980…..sigh……and all this Republican nonsense about rape is like being raped all over again……May Artemis rise up with the Furies to prevent anyone from being raped, SMIB

  9. Actually, people do say that about being mugged (nice suit, drinks, part of town, etc…).

    It’s all a defensive judgement of the victim because that could NEVER happen to me, I’m too smart, pure, honest, etc… and that person was a fool, which I, the hero of the piece, could never be a victim like that.

  10. I love you because you are strong and fierce when my heart isn’t able to be. Another day of trying to leverage my privilege on behalf of those with less. Your words are in my bones.

  11. I am so angry about all this shit that republican men are shoveling. I really thought we were over that. As a women who came of age in the 70’s I am appalled that young women today are not fighting for their rights.
    I really think that these men are so emboldened that they will bring back witch trials to get rid of women that will not submit to their authority.

  12. Actually I have friends who do blame the victims of robbery and gun violence for what happens to them. “There are almost no innocent victims,” one said, claiming most were either buying or selling drugs at the time of the crimes. Or they say people who have cellphones ripped out of their hands “weren’t being careful,” as though that were a thing.

    But great note. What hecated said.

  13. I felt very alone in having been raped twice in my life. I have felt shame on some level that for it to happen twice must be related to my inability to protect myself or my inability to see people clearly. I just wanted to say that I appreciated seeing people talking about having had this happen to them more than once. I don’t feel quite so alone now or like it’s a reflection of me.

  14. Brillant heartfelt posting.

    Another one here who is indeed tired of this shit.

    And tired of the self-named “moderates” who tolerate and even vote for creeps like this … who want to be “in control” of women …

  15. It is not clear that a “liberal” interpretation of the Constitution as somehow protecting a woman’s body, which is implicitly assumed to include a fetus until some unspecified point, takes precedence over other moral considerations, particularly the supposed sacredness of life. Of course if life is really sacred above all else then the question is when does a fetus become “life”? This is not defined in the Constitution although the Supreme Court took it upon itself to do it in Roe v Wade. The issue would certainly have more valid moral status if anti-abortionists really respected human life in other contexts, such as the death penalty or in war. There is in fact a real moral conundrum in abortion, although I suspect that opposition to it has more to do with the fact that it allows people to characterize their partisan opponents as “murderers” than with real moral principles. Pro-abortionists do not evade that moral conundrum by claiming to believe in the supremacy of the Constitution.

  16. I have been very fortunate to never have been raped, but so many women around me that I care deeply for have. I agree whole heartedly that this war on women, as it were, has been going on forever. It is amazing how hard we have to fight just to be heard and hold on to the rights our ancestors fought for even after they have been won. We still teach our daughters not to get raped rather than our sons not to rape, and that is a travesty. I have one son, and another on the way. I half jokingly tell people that I brought another penis into this world, and it is now my job to make sure it doesn’t turn out to be a dick. My boys, and many others like them I hope, will grow up understanding that everyone’s body, despite their gender, is their own and no one has a right to touch it, photograph it, etc. without their permission. As always, the change we hope for for the future comes with the younger generation and what we instill in them. I truly hope the day comes when these battles are all won forever, though I doubt I will live to see that day, but maybe my grandchildren will. Goddess Bless.

  17. Would also add that this different treatment is especially telling when it comes to the treatment/trope of male on male rape … which is often portrayed as the most total victimization, one of the most heinous things a man could endure, and virtually never as ‘something he was asking for’ … unless the victim is gay, of course … in which case he was already on the slippery slope to incestuous child-molesting bestiality and probably deserved to be raped even more than the standard ‘promiscuous harlot’ victim … further still, when it comes to the sexual molestation of children, there tends to be less blaming the victim of such ‘rape’ in general … but the most scandalous instances, in a sense the ‘most victimized’ victims, are the male victims of same sex molestation — whereas old perverts leching over young girls is in some sense more ‘expected’ (that is, while the conduct is viewed as perverse — its perversity is reflected from a male perspective and does not elicit the same level of scandal) … in all of these permutations, upsetting hetero-normative gender roles is evil because it disturbs the patriarchal balance of power

  18. I actually was able to have a religion teacher removed from my daughter’s high school over 10 years ago for this sort of bs. Catholic, all-girls school. The teacher was telling students that “rape is better than homosexuality” because of the possiblilty of conception. Even the principal, a Catholic nun, was outraged.

  19. Well, it’s now the same, sorta, for people who were defrauded by the banks. It’s all your fault if your bank lied to you, stole from you, wrecked your life – it’s god’s will, you just have to live with it. After all, the banker got rich robbing you, so they can’t have been doing wrong; it’s what god wanted.

  20. Pingback: The rape rap: outdated edition « Mercury Rising 鳯女

  21. Mourdock is infuriating on so many levels that I’ve lost count. Pure, unadulterated misogyny dressed up in religious language. I could say more, but Hecate and Echidne have said it much better than I could.

  22. Many thanks to everyone for the comments. Thanks, too, to Atrios and ql for linking to my little blog. In the end, I can’t and won’t believe that these misogynists will win. But I don’t believe that they’ll lose without serious and sustained opposition.

  23. In the following situation, the wingnut judge actually tells the woman it’s her fault:

  24. You are singing the same song I’ve been singing for the last 40 years. We must need a louder, angrier chorus line to get through to the patriarchal asshats. But if there is a wee tiny silver lining? It is that once I explain my stance and use the robbed rich suit analogy, and the man I am talking to STILL says “But rape is different…” I KNOW I need never speak politely, or at ALL, to that man again.

  25. Reblogged this on musings of a kitchen witch and commented:
    I’ve been thinking about how I wanted to put this into words…and here its been done, with all the elloquence I could have hoped to use!

  26. Pingback: Links 10/29/12 | Mike the Mad Biologist

  27. Melissa Harris Perry breaking it down as only someone who has been there can.

  28. Pingback: Undead sexist cliche: There is no Republican war on women | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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