A Tall Tree and a Short Rope

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[Trigger warning: strident feminism pretending not to be]

Sarah Moon writes here about complementarianism’s “ugly relationship with rape.” She poses two questions of us bad people, and they are as follows — first, how do we define rape? And secondly, what do we propose to do about it?

Okay. I would define rape as having any kind of sexual relationship with someone apart from or against her or his consent. So far, so good, probably, but she then objects to our recognition of the possibility of varying degrees of foolishness on the part of the victim, and she interprets this recognition as somehow meaning “when they say they are against rape they don’t mean all rape.”

“The woman who got drunk and woke up in a strange man’s bed or the teenage girl whose boyfriend wanted more than just the makeout session she had consented to. The woman in the mini-skirt or the wife who tried to tell her husband no. The woman who shouldn’t have been alone with that man or in that bar or that hotel room, who shouldn’t have been wearing this or doing that. These women can’t be raped because they are already impure, therefore, have nothing to lose according to evangelicalism.”

Well, no, not at all actually. Such women can be raped, and when they are, the men who take advantage of them should be punished. They should be punished for rape.

This is like someone discovering that you believe that not all murders are first degree murders, and concluding from this that you believe that if it isn’t first degree murder you must not believe it is murder at all. I hate to break to these people, but crimes have varying degrees of culpability. Culpability for murder in the third degree — a killing resulting from indifference or neglience — is not the same thing as premeditated murder. Recognizing this distinction is not the same thing as saying murder in the third degree is like becoming an Eagle Scout.

So do I believe that if some girl goes to a frat party with a hardened resolve to drink way too much, with a t-shirt on that says “No Means No,” but after three beers she takes that shirt off because all the boys wanted her to, and then the next thing she knows she wakes up in the morning having been raped . . . do I somehow believe that is not rape? No, of course it is rape. It is the rape of a dope, but it is still a rape. Should the man or men involved be punished? Of course they should, however unlikely it is that they will be in this life. But they will be dealt with at some point. God is not mocked.

In the same spirit, God will also deal with those who slander other people, saying that they approve of things they loathe. But even here, you have to look at the other factors. Sarah Moon, for example, is pursuing a degree in Women’s Studies, which is a mitigating circumstance if I ever heard of one.

Second, given what I said above, I believe that violent rape by a sexual predator should be answered by a tall tree and a short rope. But I don’t believe that the statutory rape of a seventeen-year-old girl by her nineteen-year-old boyfriend should be treated the same way. Sue me. In between those two extremes of rape are various other gradations of rape, and I am afraid to disappoint Ms. Moon, but I am not in favor of any of them. Who would have thought? I would want to punish them differently, but I would want to punish them all.

The fact that I believe that girls should not be stupid in their associations, friendships, hotel room visits, party attendance, casual use of slutwear, and so on, does not mean that I believe they were “asking for it,” except in the broadest metaphorical way. “What way is that?” they ask, starting to get huffy. The same way a skinny guy with a lot of cash in his shirt pocket, which he flashes around in various bars, is asking for it. Him being an idiot doesn’t justify the subsequent robbery, and the equal opportunity observation that women are capable of idiocy also can only be turned into support of rape by someone whose cause is desperate.

You see, even though I sometimes wander down dark alleys on the bad side of the Internet, I am not asking to be called a rape advocate. I would rather not be, but it all works out. You see, it turns out I had a pistol in my boot.



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