Rape in Our Curriculum

Guest post by Genevieve Demos Kelley.  Genevieve recently posted on the Exponent Blog about her experience of rape at BYU.  This post is cross posted at http://loveliestyear.blogspot.com/

rape in curriculum
In a recent post at my personal blog, I wrote, “I am frustrated that, as Mormons, we aren’t doing a better job of teaching young men and women about rape: what it is, what it isn’t, what to do if it happens, that being raped doesn’t make you dirty or worthless, that rape is fully the responsibility of the rapist and not the victim.” In this post, I expand that idea.
Julie Smith recently wrote an excellent post for Times and Seasons titled, “Rape Culture in the Gospels.” She brings our attention to specific teachings of Jesus that are profoundly opposed to rape culture. It is important to recognize what the New Testament has to say about respecting women, helping victims, and holding criminals responsible for their crimes.
But try looking for material that specifically addresses rape—not broad Gospel principles, but rape itself—and the scriptures present a painful collection of outdated teachings and heartbreaking stories. Here is a non-exhaustive list:
  • Moroni 9:9. The soldiers in Moriantum rape the Lamanite women that they are holding captive. This is described as “depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue.”
  • Genesis 19:4-11. The men of Sodom surround Lot’s house and demand to be allowed to rape his two guests, who are visiting angels. Lot offers his virginal daughters instead.
  • Genesis 34. Shechem “defiles” Dinah, a daughter of Jacob. Modern translations such as the New International Version and the New Revised Standard Version use the word “rape.” Dinah’s brothers retaliate by killing Shechemite males and enslaving their wives.
  • Numbers 31:15-18.  Moses instructs the army to destroy the Midianites, saving only the young female virgins. Those, he says, you may “keep alive for yourselves.”
  • 2 Samuel 13. Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar and is killed by Absalom.
  • Deuteronomy 22:22-27. The law says that a woman should not be punished for being raped, as long as the rape occurred in a field, where no one would have heard her if she screamed.

It is hard to imagine a less helpful set of scriptural passages. But the real shame is that our manuals, in some cases, do further harm:

  • Commenting on the story of Shechem and Dinah, the Gospel Doctrine teacher’s manual says, “If Shechem had truly loved Dinah, he would not have defiled her.” That is indeed an important principle. But while the word “defile” may have been appropriate in Elizabethan English, it is no longer appropriate today. To “defile” is to sully or to spoil. Words matter.
  • And here’s how the Gospel Doctrine manual describes 2 Samuel 13:15: “Amnon was attracted to Tamar and forced her to commit fornication with him.” The manual goes on to give us this contextually inappropriate quote from Elder Gordon B. Hinckley: “I heard Elder John A. Widtsoe . . . say, ‘It is my observation that a young man and a young woman who violate the principles of morality soon end up hating each other.’ I have observed the same thing. There may be words of love now, but there will be words of hatred and bitterness later.” As commentary on the story of a man raping his sister, this is breathtakingly awful. No, Amnon did not force Tamar to “commit fornication.” No, they are not examples of young people who violated the principles of morality.
  • Moroni 9:9 is in the Personal Progress manual as part of the first required value experience for Virtue. Young women are instructed to use this verse to “[s]tudy the meaning and importance of chastity and virtue.” To be clear, they are to study a passage of scripture that seems to teach that one’s chastity and virtue can be taken away by another person. From a more mature perspective, it is apparent this verse is presenting us with a euphemism: “Chastity and virtue” most likely stand in for virginity in this verse. But if we don’t really mean “chastity and virtue” here, then why are we using this verse to teach young women about chastity and virtue? At best, it’s confusing. At worst, it teaches girls damaging lessons about sexuality.
We can do better than this. We can be careful to use words that are consistent with our 21st-century beliefs about sexual assault. We can more clearly teach the difference between rape and consensual sex, and the difference between virginity and virtue. It is irresponsible—dangerously so—to emphasize sexual purity without teaching those lessons.We don’t need to throw out the scriptures, but we do need to provide guidance on language and cultural context for teachers and learners. And we must stop making excuses for any artifacts of rape culture that we find in the scriptures. As a Church, we must prioritize standing up for what’s right over defending everything that we read in the scriptures. We are not fundamentalists. We can say, “Not everything in the Bible is of God.” That will do far less harm to the faith than trying to reconcile sexual enslavement with the loving God that we know.

And while we’re disavowing errors of the past, it is high time that we disavow the devastating statements about rape in Spencer W. Kimball’s 1969 book, The Miracle of Forgiveness. We can love and honor President Kimball without condoning the teaching that, “It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.”

I have great hope that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will more fully engage in the work of educating its members about rape and sexual assault. Rape happens to our brothers and sisters. When we teach chastity without also teaching the concepts of rape, assault, and consent, we are setting up victims for enormous amounts of shame and confusion. We must do better.

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48 Responses

  1. Libby says:

    THIS. Thank you so much!

  2. Ziff says:

    Great post, Genevieve. I particularly like your point at the end about how we don’t have to be fundamentalists and go through mental contortions to make everything in the scriptures (or everything said by recent Church leaders) all somehow correct. We can notice false and harmful teachings and disavow and discard them.

    And wow, the Moroni 9:9 one is simply awful. The fact that it’s used specifically in teaching young women is absolutely telling them their worth is in their virginity, as you point out. It’s such a false and awful thing to teach, but it’s very much in line with President Dalton’s push for “virtue,” which again as you note, is generally a code word for virginity.

  3. Moss says:

    This is wonderful. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  4. spunky says:

    This is so important. I feel like my words are so small, but thank you. I needed this earlier in my life. I’m so glad you’ve written it, and I pray that it will create change within the church.

  5. Andrew R. says:

    Well all I can say is. What a good job the Church saw fit to:-

    First – introduce “Come, Follow Me” as a means to aid in teaching the youth, but allowing them to be part of the teaching and learning experience – instead of the laid out manual type lessons.

    Second – has introduced Teacher Council meetings, to bring the practices of “Come, Follow Me” to ALL classes, and teaching experiences, in Church.

    Third – changed Seminary Scripture Mastery to Doctrinal Mastery, with an emphasis on individual learning.

    I believe that these three things will help to rid our curriculum of old quotes. Gospel Doctrine will soon change to a “Come, Follow Me” approach with up to the year conference quotes, rather than old quotes. Also with quotes from our sister auxilliary leaders.

    NB – Whilst I understand, and agree with the blog post, it is not always Black and White.
    If one of my daughters was raped, by a stranger, and she did not fight back I would not see that as a bad thing at all. She does not know the attacker, or what threat to her he may pose.
    If a boyfriend forced himself on her and she didn’t fight back, at least very verbally, I would not feel quite the same. Where were they, to what extent might he have thought, prior to her saying an actual no, she was willing. Not saying I wouldn’t end up seeing it as the same as the first case. But equally, maybe if she had not been in his bedroom (for instance) in the first place?
    It comes down to situations.

    • Liz says:

      Andrew, I’m also hopeful that the church will get rid of old quotes and bring our curriculum in line with what we actually believe, rather than continuing to include old quotes that muddy the waters and cause shame.

      It might be helpful to read about why many rape victims don’t fight back (this article in the Washington Post could be helpful: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2015/06/23/why-many-rape-victims-dont-fight-or-yell/). Between girls in our church being taught to defer to priesthood authority and the natural, biological reactions many women have to simply freeze rather than fight, I think many girls who are assaulted by their boyfriends do freeze and then feel a deep amount of shame about it (which can be compounded by people not believing them). I also think the video linked below about consent in the form of drinking tea can be helpful – we need to be teaching our boys that consent needs to be more of a “heck yes and a high five” than simply “she seemed into it earlier.”

    • Ziff says:

      Andrew, I am zero percent surprised that in addition to all your other lovely qualities, you like to victim blame women who are date raped.

      • Andrew R. says:

        Ziff, of course, if anyone was going to read my comments wrong (and this medium is of course prone to that) it was going to be you. Are there actually any men in the world you like, admire, look up to? Or would you prefer a men free world?

        I said I would want to have a conversation with MY child. Not anyone else, not even someone I was in a priesthood leadership position over (Bishop/SP). And I would still be calling for the full force of the law.

        My questioning would have been about situation. I do not expect my children to get into places, and positions, that would put them in such a position. What others do is not my concern.

        So, for my children, being in a bedroom alone with a member of the opposite sex is a no no, especially one they are sexually attracted to. So too would be being in a place where drink and drugs are freely obtainable, and keeping an eye on what one is drinking is hard. Just because I believe there are things we can do to avoid being raped does not mean I am blaming the victim.

        If I leave my house unlocked and go away for a week and upon my return I have lost my belongings I am a victim. However, my insurance policy is unlikely to pay out.

        And before you ask, if my child were gay I would have them consider exactly the same in relation to a member of the same sex.

      • Andrew R. says:

        Ziff, I think if you met me you would really like me. Most people do, when they get to know me. Problem is, we don’t get to know anyone here, and it has a polarising effect.

  6. Andrew R., I don’t think your comments technically violate our written comment policy, so I will not delete them, but I am asking you in the most respectful way possible: “Please, shut up.”

    Your comments could be deeply hurtful to survivors of acquaintance rape who read your ill-informed and offensive comments and perpetuate cultural attitudes that excuse men from committing rape.

    Please educate yourself further before saying anything else about rape. I will try to help by educating you a little bit and referring you to some other resources.

    First, you should know that boyfriends are not, on average, any less physically strong or any less powerful than men who are strangers. A woman can be injured or killed trying to fight off a man she knows, just as easily as she can by injured or killed by a stranger. And statistically, women are more likely to be injured or killed by men they know. You seem to think that a woman should be able to trust her boyfriend–who is most likely larger and stronger than she is–to not to hurt her as she fights him off as he tries to rape her. I certainly would not advise any woman to trust a boyfriend who had just revealed himself to be a rapist. Rapists are not trustworthy.

    With regards to the questions you would subject your poor daughter to, I recommend this article: http://rationalfaiths.com/sexual-assault-in-mormon-patriarchy/

    • Andrew R. says:

      Once again I get wrapped on the knuckles for misunderstood comments. I said, quite clearly “at least verbally”. My comments should surely have indicated that I anyone should trust their boyfriend more than any other thing.

      I do wonder why Ziff was able to tell me what I do, and do not, believe. I am sure if I had done that I would have been wrapped.

      You should also note that I like the essay, and agree that we need to modernise our lessons.

      • I read your comment. Some women are killed when they fight with their abusive boyfriends-verbally or otherwise. A woman should not be expected to fight a rapist. It is not victims’ responsibility to stop rape.

      • Kevin Winters says:


        Please look into the literature on how people respond to violence. If it us a boyfriend or someone they know and trust, the freeze response can be even more pronounced as they try to both figure out how to respond and completely rework their understanding of the known individual. It is psychologically shocking and that in addition to the shock of what is now happening.

  7. Emily Butler says:

    Genevieve, what a powerful post. Like Spunky above, I really needed your message when I was younger, and it just wasn’t there for me. I can’t count the times I sat in Sunday School/Gospel Doctrine reading the scriptures and commentary you’ve outlined and thinking, “Uh, are we going to talk about the rape part?” Thank you for shining a light on a HUGE problem.

  8. Mistress Swallowhaven says:

    Our family has always struggled mightily with the scripture in Moroni which describes the rape of the the Lamanite women “depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue.” In our family we collectively reject the notion that anyone can deprive anyone else of their chastity, virtue or worth. But if “that which was most dear and precious” were described as “the ability to have a fully trusting & joyful consensual sexual relationship with a loving partner” the scripture would actually make a lot more sense.

    Thanks for your insightful post.

    • Lauren says:

      Your latter interpretation is how I always understood that scripture. I love how you word it. Thank you.

      It would be such an excellent one to support the notion that a happy, healthy intimate relationship with your beloved was scripturally seen as “most precious and dear” it fits with all of our other intimacy dialogues a million times better than focusing on it the way we tend to.

      And it also suggests that chastity and virtue (like the priesthood in our dialogues supporting that it is held jointly by a sealed man and woman) are created in a jointly dear and precious relationship, which brings men– and their shared responsibility to have these attributes — into the picture of chastity and virtue in a way that seems quite beautiful to me.

    • Mistress Swallowhaven, thank you for that comment. I love your translation of “that which was most dear and precious.” Wonderful insight.

  9. Caroline says:

    Terrific post, Genevieve. Thanks for shining a light on this huge problem. These manuals need to change now.

  10. MDearest says:

    This is a thought-provoking post, and makes it clear that rape-culture is ancient.

    I especially liked that you included Genesis 34, which tells the story of Dinah, the only sister (we know of) to the 12 guys who are the origins of House of Israel. I think this episode spectacularly exposes the failings of patriarchy as it exists in this world, so of course we never examine this chapter. I can remember sitting in Gospel Doctrine during Old Testament year, next to a friend. We were covering the chapters just prior to and after Genesis 34, and skipped it entirely, without any mention at all. My friend and I silently read the verses in chapter 34 while the usual lesson droned on, and I wondered if the many questions raised would ever be examined in an institutional way. The events are much more complex than the synopsis above, read it for the full impact of what entitled men will do when their [perceived] ownership of the women in the family is challenged. It reads like a master class in the worst behavior patriarchy-minded men can degrade to. My biggest question, among the many raised by Gen 34, is about what place Dinah has in the House of Israel in the eternities, as the child of Jacob and Leah.

    I’m sorry if this appears to be a threadjack, but I really care about Dinah’s eventual fate. It speaks to the fate of many an abused woman.

    • “I think this episode spectacularly exposes the failings of patriarchy as it exists in this world”.

      You’re right. Chapter 34–the whole thing– gives us a vivid picture of the status of women as property of their fathers, husbands, and brothers.

      I really appreciate the way that you are thinking about Dinah’s eventual fate. You are honoring her personhood in a way that the Bible does not.

  11. Rob Osborn says:

    Patriarchy as it exists in the world vs. Patriarchy as it exists in the church.
    I think we should be careful in discussing patriarchy in that we do not confuse worldly patriarchy with the Lords patriarchal order. In some cultures men do control and unrighteously dominate women and take advantage of them sexually. But that is Satans plans, not the Lords.

    In Christs church, men preside through the keys of authority of the holy priesthood. Not to debate why it is this way, we should realize that a righteous father/husband who honorably holds and exercizes the priesthood is a great blessing to his family. I believe patriarchy is taking a hit right now being attacked by Satan because he knows that the destruction of society is done in large part by destroying the fathers/ husbands role. Its so true that when men rule unrighteously the heavens mourn because great wickedness comes from it. But, when men rule righteously, as is their role, great righteousness prevails.

    Its sad that some few minorities in society are now blaming Gods patriarchal system for sex crimes instead of placing the actual blame where it rightly belongs with Satan and his plans of unrighteous dominion. But, rather than confronting the advesary, they choose to confront Gods annointed and play right into Satans plans to secure a greater destruction by further diminishing mans credibilty and seeking to destroy Gods patriarchal system.

    • MDearest says:

      Osborn, you’re not telling me anything new. I’ve already figured out what you’re saying and gone beyond. Due to the ways I have read you engaging with others, I have zero confidence that you can understand my experiences with rape culture in the church, and in the world. Because of this, im not going to engage in a discussion with you.

      • Rob Osborn says:

        Thats fine. I know that when honest good men who honor their priesthood are doing whats right it prevents a myriad of potential abuses and protects themselves and others from abuses from happening. I also know that no priesthood holder has ever abused anyone because the moment they made the first wrong choice they no longer have oriesthood power ir authority from God. Thats important to understand in these discussions. Even Satan and his influences can and often do overcome otherwise good honorable priesthood holders which causes an immediate loss of priesthood power and authority. Its wholly unfair to place the priesthood and “rape culture” together. Man can and does use a myriad of banners to exercise unrighteous dominion and abuses but never do these unrighteous dominions or abuses happen under authority of the priesthood.

      • Kevin Winters says:


        But, as far as the records in the Church show, these men have priesthood authority and can both proactively and personally act on such in a myriad of capacities, including capacities that gives them access to potential victims and for ripe grooming scenarios (worthiness interviews being a big one). While conceptually your distinction works, in practice it all too often fails. Not to mention the social capital that a priesthood holder has in the eyes of the congregation, a capital that women simply cannot have (according to current widespread doctrinal views), it is ripe for abuse.

        Also, remember that it is the disposition of *nearly all men* that, once they have a lititle authority, they will abuse it. Those odds aren’t that great and are disproportionately in women’s disfavor.

      • Rob Osborn says:

        To hear it from your statements it sounds like you are suggesting that the priesthood itself is a grooming office to groom girls and wonen to take advantage of them sexually.

        I disagree. I believe the way the priesthood is set up that it works to counter abuse and victimizing women and children. In general, priesthood leadership protects children and women. Its sad that a few individuals use “priesthood leadership” as a front to abuse women and children. You will find this in any institution though where certain individuals will use whatever means to take advantage of women and children. In some institutions its worse than others. I do not believe some peoples claims that rape and sex abuse is rampant by priesthood holders. Where are the stats? How come they dont exist? Because its mostly conjecture. Tes, there really are tragic cases where supposed “priesthood holders” took advantage of their position to abuse women and children, but it is not as common as a few claim. The priesthood is not set up in a way that promotes or encorages sex abuse.

      • Kevin Winters says:


        If the stats don’t exist, how can you confidently claim that “it is not as common as a few claim”? Is not this also conjecture?

        Look into the many reasons why rapes aren’t reported or prosecuted, especially when done by someone with authority, and you will find your answer. According to your logic, rape also doesn’t happen all that often in the world because official reporting of it aren’t that common. Look at the BYU cases that sparked this conversation. Look at how rapes are handled and the persistent victims blaming (heck, look at any post here or in thexchange Bloggernacle, or LDS cmoments on news stories about this at the SLT that discusses this and you’ll find lots of victim blaming). Look at the stories of literally thousands of rape kits that go unprocessed by police departments everywhere. Look at the recent Brock swimmer case and how the good and talented kids are treated leniently because doing otherwise will cause irreparable harm to their lives (and, again, include the priesthood and eternal life in the weighing). Also from that case, look at the incredulous response from those who “know him” and again add decades of “faithful” priesthood service and you breed doubt from the victim and give lots of leeway to the perpetrator.

        There are *lots* of reasons why rapes don’t get reported. Remember the disposition of nearly all men. That is not a small number (and, statistically, that most likely includes you and me both, as well as practically everyone you’ve ever known and will know, if you take that scripture seriously) and sexual abuse/rape is one way it manifests.

        As for what I am suggesting, you need to read my response closer: the aura of respectability behind the priesthood makes it easier to abuse than other positions of auhority. And the access it gives to people’s sense of guilt/shame and personal struggles makes it very easy to find and groom a target, much like (but in many ways beyond) other positions of authority in the world.

      • Rob Osborn says:

        I disagree that church priesthood leaders are in a better position to rape others vs. other organisations of leadership outside the church.

        The recent case against the Stansford swimmer is tragic and points to a severe problem in our society. This “victim blaming”, “rape culture” terminology has gathered so much steam that it negates from the real underlying problems that are real.

        The perpetrator in this case brouggt out a valid real problem of alcohol, peer pressure and party culture at colleges that were real factors in how the events that night unfolded and had they not been so prevalent in our college culture he would have never made the bad decisions that led to his taking advantage of a women too drunk to understand what was happening. The victim is even more soured in his statement because she believes he is blaming alcohol and the party scene on his actions and not taking responsibility for his actions. Its sad that she missed his real intent here in stating that the culture of college partying had a major impact on his clouded judgment.

        Of course its still his fault but the whole issues that led to this tragic outcome are not being looked at correctly to prevent future incidents.

        Everyone knows that college frat parties involving consenting young males and females that involve large amounts of alcohol is basically a means to hook up and have sex. If some think otherwise they are either lying or stupid. Thats the general culture of college parties that involve alcohol and both sexes. Both could have avoided the tragic outcome if they used their brains and not been a part if the recipe of disaster. Both knew that there would be high degree for sexual promisuity combined with bad judgment or possibly a complete loss of better judgement.

        The party culture scene is a recipe of danger and we need to hetter educate and teach against the dangers of tgese vad recipes. Colleges need to do a better job of eradicating alcohol and party cultures from their campuses and students. I have been a witness to a girl who was sexually taken advantage of (incest) but because both were drinking, both lost better judgement. We found them having sex with each other and both seemed to be consenting at the time. It wasnt until the next day that she found out she had sex with him and she was very upset because she never consented. I know that she would had never consented to having sex with a close family member. Who was at fault here?

        Again, look at the factors involved- party, alcohol, both sexes, etc. Its a recipe for disaster. We know alcohol, even in small amounts, impairs the better judgement of people. I used to have to hide my brothers keys whenever he drank because he would always drive drunk and wreck into things and have no memory of it the next day. After several incidents we finally convinced him that eventually his drinking, even in a small amount would impair his better judgment and he would regret it forever if he killed someone in an accident while he was drunk. I then became his nightly taxi for many years to and from the bar so that he wouldnt drive. Luckily, he no longer drinks like that. Had he accidently killed someone does this make him a “killer”? Does two consenting college students who are drinking past their better judgement qualify the one forever as a “rapist” because he couldnt think straight?

        I believe in large part that between kids nowdays not having morals, not having better sense, and making bad decisions it leaves them in great danger to become both victim and perpetrator. I made the analogy on another post about why there is a very very astronomically low rate of rape amongst LDS sister missionaries in the field. Its because they have high morals, they are better educated in protecting themselves, they are modest and follow strict rules of chastity and modesty designed to protect themselves. Not only this but also the protection of the spirit because they are obedient. Contrast that with the Stansford case. An LDS sister missionary is compketely at the safe side of the spectrum while the Stansford girl is at the “high risk” probability of the spectrum for becoming a victim of a sex crime. If we are most concerned with prevent further tragedies from happenibg perhaps we need better education in teaching kids the dangers of immorality, immodesty, drugs and alcohol, etc, instead of our furrent approach which isnt working.

      • Kevin Winters says:


        Of course you are free to disagree, but I would argue that anyone who has access to someone’s personal details (particularly their failings) and who has a say in their “worthiness” has an inordinate amount of power and influence that is simply not had by almost any other profession (other than psychiatry/counseling and its related fields).

        On your further blaming the victim point, there are *a lot* of people who drink, party, and do drugs who *never* rape someone. The issue isn’t the “party culture”, but that people aren’t taught consent…like at all! It is not discussed, it is not part of common parlance, it is not a cultural value. So, yes, people will find *anything* to blame for their unethical behavior, whether it be alcohol or porn or “party culture” because they do not learn responsibility. They learn, per Brock, that they can just blame something else and get away with it (like Bundy’s blaming porn, forgetting the literally *millions* of other people who watch porn but don’t become serial killers or rapists or etc.). Kids grow up learning nothing about appropriate drinking, then they go to college and they *naturally* go too far. Responsible drinking is talked about (at the end of practically every alcohol add), but it isn’t really taught. Again, it is an easy scapegoat that people don’t want to lose, so it’s not talked about in any degree of detail.

        And when it is talked about, it is only in terms of abstinence, so that any actual skill in relating with drinking (or sex) in a healthy way is not developed. So naturally problems develop, people continue to blame their favorite demon, and responsibility is not expected…*exactly* like you are doing here. You are blaming the victim, you are blaming the “culture”, but you are skirting around the issue because you don’t want to admit to the reality: people get raped in non-party situations *all the time*! Dressing modestly doesn’t make a difference: rapists target those who look insecure, which often includes the “modestly dressed” because they think that is protecting them. Rape is an issue of power, not sex, and those who are already disempowered are the more likely target, regardless of dress. Sometimes this disempowering relates with being drugged or otherwise incapacitated, but that is not always the case (probably not even in the majority of cases).

        Put simply, your narrative is giving power to rapists: you are giving them a ready excuse to blame the victim, to eschew responsibility, and makes it less likely that, if it goes to trial, the judge and/or jury might think the same thing and give the rapist a free pass and shame the victim. I know (or hope) it is coming from a good place, but your narrative is *exactly* part of the issue. It is not helping…

      • MDearest says:

        Kevin, thanks for your comment. It sparked a notion that made me chuckle– in Mormon culture, the equivalent of the hashtag #notallmen should be #almostallmen, and authoritative too! (Per D&C 121:39)

      • Rob Osborn says:

        Its interesting that we both agree that drinking irresponsibly is a problem. I am suggesting that we better educate kids about the cause and effects of driking to further prevent future rapes. You seem to also agree. But, as soon as I suggest that we need to be smarter, more modest and have better morals as a defense against being victimized you cry out saying that empowers rapists. Not sure what to say brother…

      • Kevin Winters says:


        Drinking irresponsibly is a problem. But drinking irresponsibly doesn’t cause rape. It is not an entity whereby one can purge oneself of responsibility. It is *used* that way and your way of talking about it above *expilicitly*uses it in that way. The *LARGE* majority of people who drink irresponsibly do not rape other human beings. The causal connection between the two is tenuous and it is not even remotely among the *primary* causes of rape. The primary causes are mysoginy and its corrolary victim blaming. The primary causes are rapists who target people not by how they are dressed, but with how vulnerable they are. Again, yes, innebriation can increase that vulnerability, but, *again*, the *LARGE* majority of people who go to parties, get drunk or high, *do not rape*! In fact, the large majority of rapes occur to minors by family members (https://rainn.org/statistics/scope-problem).

        Again, modesty is such a *miniscule* factor that focusing on it is a red herring. As an act of power, a rapist looks for someone who is vulnerable. The woman who thinks that just because she is covered she is “safe” is vulnerable: she is not expecting it, she can be made to believe (because she “did everything right”) that she encouraged it in some way (because the common narrative is “what did she do to encourage it”), she is most likely inexperienced sexually and might not have much education (absitence only sex education is a breeding ground for this). Because they think they are safe because of something as innocuous as what they are wearing, they are an easy target.

        What is needed is to teach men (and women) *consistently* and from a young age that, no matter what the person is wearing, *even if they are completely naked*, that is not an “invitation”. The person is not a car left unlocked, a bank left open, they are *not* an object! Furthermore, they have not lost “that which is most precious”, they are not chewed gum or a cake with feces in it, they are not “damaged goods”. Those are the lessons we need to teach, not the falsehood that what they wear is going to deter someone who wants to engage in a sexual power trip. The cause of rape is the decision of the rapist. Not drugs, not alcohol, the person making the choice (or feeling entitled to making the choice) to use another human being like an object.

      • Rob Osborn says:

        Whether we want to admit it or not, alcohol on college campuses plays a major role in sex offenses. Thats a fact! Its also a fact that alcohol drastically impairs judgement. Here is a study by Rutgers University-
        “Objective: Heavy alcohol use is widespread among college students, particularly in those social situations where the risk of rape rises. Few studies have provided information on rapes of college women that occur when they are intoxicated. The purpose of the present study was to present prevalence data for rape under the condition of intoxication when the victim is unable to consent and to identify college and individual-level risk factors associated with that condition. Method: The study utilizes data from 119 schools participating in three Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study surveys. The analytic sample of randomly selected students includes 8,567 women in the 1997 survey, 8,425 in the 1999 survey, and 6,988 in the 2001 survey. Results: Roughly one in 20 (4.7%) women reported being raped. Nearly three quarters (72%) of the victims experienced rape while intoxicated. Women who were under 21, were white, resided in sorority houses, used illicit drugs, drank heavily in high school and attended colleges with high rates of heavy episodic drinking were at higher risk of rape while intoxicated. Conclusions: The high proportion of rapes found to occur when women were intoxicated indicates the need for alcohol prevention programs on campuses that address sexual assault, both to educate men about what constitutes rape and to advise women of risky situations. The findings that some campus environments are associated with higher levels of both drinking and rape will help target rape prevention programs at colleges.”

      • Kevin Winters says:


        Even in giving that abstract of the research, you are missing the point: it refers to women being “unable to consent”. What is needed is men who understand that “unable to consent” is equivalent to “does not give consent”. Yet again, the *large* majority of people who party and drink and the large majority of those who even regularly get drunk to the point of being “unable to consent” do not rape and are not raped. The alcohol is a convenient excuse, especially for those *like you* who are trying to blame the victim for getting drunk. You are trying to failsafe the system in a way that is dissimilar to how the system works: preaching sobriety and modesty as safeguards when *they are not the problem*! The problem is men who know they can use excuses like drinking or how she was dressed to either guilt them into not reporting or to have a judge give a weak sentence because alcohol was involved.

        So, I’m looking at that article (the full one, not just the asbtract): it is explicitly presenting a correlation, parimarily talking about how perpetrators use alcohol as a way to incapacitate victims. On page 38 they cite one article that includes “beliefs about alcohol” as one of the “pathways” to “forced sex”, explaining that men tend to believe that alcohol makes everyone more promiscuous, thus “belief’s in alcohol’s effectsmay have encouraged these behaviors”. They also talk about such things as “sex and gender role stereotypes” (38).

        Looking at their conclusions, I see a lot of references to social factors: “peer group” influence, the “double standard” on premarital sex between the genders (which influences *why* women may drink), the effect of having students who are “relatively new to heavy episodic drinking”, how drinking can be “both a cause and a consequence of victimization”, etc. (42). This research shows drinking more as a tool, rather than a cause. Among their primary forms of advice is that “College prevention programs must give increased attention to educating the male student that one of the first questions he must ask himself before initiating sex with a woman is whether she is capable of giving consent (Rozee and Koss, 2001). Colege men must be educated for their own protection that intoxication is a stop sign for sex (Abeey, 2002; Biden, 2000)” (43).

        I’m sorry, but even this research that you are giving points to socialization factors as being the issue, not drinking itself.

      • Rob Osborn says:

        72% of the women reporting rape involved intoxication on their part. Alcohol is the main ingredient leading to rape. Heres the facts- by not drinking women are about 75% less likely to be raped.

      • Kevin Winters says:


        No, the “main ingredient” is someone who sees women as an object, as something to be dominated.

        Also, the 72% is about a small portion of the population. Most rapes in the world happen *without* the influence or alcohol. The majority of rapes involve a known acquaintance or family member, not some random person at a bar or in a back alley. The large majority of rapes happen in non-party situations. You are skewing the statistics to blame the victim.

        Again, the “main ingredient” in *every* case is a person who sees others as objects to be dominated. The tools by which they dominate differ, with alcohol being one (and not the primary one) among many. You are pushing a bandaid. Let me say that in a different way: you are focusing almost exclusively here on a factor that is not central to the issue, thinking that it will protect you or those you love from rape. The fact remains that the *large* (*yuge*!) majority of people who drink or relate with others who drink are not raped and don’t rape. So, no, alcohol is *not* the “main ingredient”.

        And, yes, you are victim blaming because you can’t seem to get out of your own moral superiority and look at the statistics you are mentioning from an appropriate perspective. You cite the research I looked at above: the study mentions your “solution” last and as a sidenote because they realize it is victim blaming. Instead they focus on educating college students about alcohol, consent, and basic respect. *That* is the primary cause, the primary solution. You are hacking at leaves thinking that will protect the trunk. If you spent even a portion of your energy victim blaming on the above you would do a lot more to prevent rape than your monotonous and tone deaf focus on the evils of alcohol.

  12. Anon for this says:

    Andrew R.,

    I feel safe saying this here behind the anonymity of a keyboard and screen. I was habitually raped by my older brother throughout my childhood. It began with a lot of grooming behavior, which means behavior where he gradually went past boundaries to see what he could get away with, all the while still playing the role of loving big brother. Would you say that I was bringing being raped onto myself because I was confused about these behaviors and “let” them happen? Or that I didn’t know what rape or molestation was, but I knew that what was happening was bad, so I didn’t tell my parents for fear of me getting in trouble? Or how I learned to stop fighting back because it didn’t deter him?

    You should know that rapists and sexual predators rely on these kinds of manipulative tactics because so many people (like yourself) see sexual violence as a balance of culpability between perpetrator and victim.

    • Spunky says:

      I am so sorry this happened to you, Anon for this. My heart broke in reading you comment. Like you, I know none of the abuse you endured was your fault. Thank you for showing your strength by making your powerful and important comment. ((((Hugs)))))

    • Andrew R. says:

      Anon, I am sorry that anything I wrote led you to believe I would think in your case you had any culpability. Of course you didn’t.

    • Anon for this,

      I am so very sorry that this happened to you. Thank you for sharing your story.

  13. Andrew R. says:

    I found what people were saying about Genesis 34 interesting, do I read the chapter. I have also Googled it to see what others thought.

    It no where says that she was raped. It says she was defiled. I am not defending the action of the brothers, either way.

    Even if she had given herself willingly family would still see her has defiled. Finding someone to marry her in the covenant may have been harder than it was before. Having the others enter the covenant was the right choice. She may very well have wanted to be married to him, she may have loved him. Simeon and Levi killing them was wrong.

    Now if she was raped, that’s and entirely different matter.

    Either way, bargains were set up for marriage in those days. And I don’t see a whole lot of that happening in the Church today.

    • Andrew,

      It’s not an absolute consensus, but most translations and most scholars agree that she was raped. (Check Bible Hub to see side-by-side translations of the verse in questions.)

      Anyway, I am certainly not making the argument that women in the Church today are given in marriage in the same way that they were in Old Testament times.

      My point is that the word “defile,” while culturally appropriate 400 years ago, is no longer an appropriate word to use when describing a rape, or consensual sex for that matter. In today’s parlance, “defile” means to mar, to spoil, to sully, to make unclean or corrupt. I would like the Church to be more careful about word choice.

      • Judith says:

        Great post, Erika! I just adore pink and even better… It's for a good cause! :)I really love those China Glaze polishes. The colors are too pretty! And that Smashbox lipstick? Detnlifeiy need to check that out.

  14. EBK says:

    The other iffy Bible story that comes to mind for me is the story of Potiphar’s wife making a false rape claim against Joseph. No wonder men seem to think rape victims are lying because the man didn’t do what they wanted.

    • Andrew R. says:

      You are going to have to explain what you mean there.

      What is iffy?

      And this sentence “No wonder men seem to think rape victims are lying because the man didn’t do what they wanted.” in the context of the story makes no sense to me.

  15. MDearest says:

    I continue to marvel and wonder why, whenever there is a blog post with a general theme of illuminating the problems we have with rape, that the comments following eventually devolve into a few guys who don’t get it trying to dominate. Sexual assault survivors have a point of view which should be among the most important, if not the most important way to consider the topic. They should, especially in this space, be listened to and learned from. I woul like to learn from other survivors myself, and see what ways they may have found to process their pain through these scriptures. But the mansplainey tl-dr gangs with their entitled comments insure that women who have something of substance to offer won’t comment and expose their feelings and experiences to relentless and uninformed scrutiny. If my gentle rant is inappropriate, feel free to remove it, but I’m so tired of this. It happens. Every. Time. Usually I just leave the conversation along with the rest of the women with contributions unspoken.

    • Rob Osborn says:

      I read an article last night about what colleges are doing to prevent rape frequency at colleges. Its interesting that the actual things being done having the greatest effect are very things we have been debating. Most of it comes down to educating both male and females on what conditions are most prevailent in rape in colleges. The number one factor they are finding is alcohol as the new date rape drug especially for those who had previous drinking habits before enrollment at college. The next factor is sexual promiscuity where those who were more promiscuous were at a very much higher rate of raping and becoming a victim. The other factors were the first 4 months for female freshman were at higher risk. Another main factor was “parties” especially if it was at a frat house. Perpetrators themselves fit all the above in general. They have countered with this info to better educate students, especially incoming females and males as to what constitutes consent, rape, assault, etc. The big push though, and its hard to touch the situation appropriately without someone claiming were blaming the victim, is the prevention of the party environment that involves large amounts of alcohol as it is the leading contributor to sexual offenses happening. Most “party schools” skate around the issue though and dont want to address it because it may be viewed negatively as victim blaming. The actual professionals though who have done massive research already know that prevention is mostly about educating students and colleges to step up and teach this along with working to eradicate the party cultural lifestyle of colleges. Educating women how to protect themselves from risky situations has the best bang for the buck though.

      • Kevin Winters says:


        “Educating women how to protect themselves from risky situations has the best bang for the buck though.”

        It is *fascinating* that in everything you say above you are focusing entirely on the “women” needing to change things. The “best bang for the buck” is for women to take responsibility, not the men who are raping. The “best bang for the buck” is to push for the victim to change, not the aggressor. And yet you fail to see how that isn’t blaming the victim?

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