One problem with religions in modern times (and no, this isn’t going to be one of those blogs) is that the popular ones didn’t come from modern times. The rules and morality largely date from a time before the measure of one’s strength of character came from anywhere other than the strength of his arm. Naturally this “might makes right” philosophy figures prominently in the moral structure of these religions. I call it the “College Football” phase of mankind’s ethical evolution. God is equated with “right”, and is also assumed to be pulling all the strings behind the scenes. Therefore, if my football team wins, it’s because god loved my team more. If I accomplished a thing, then it must’ve been okay with god, especially if I’m a pious dude. The same idea is shown as the Israelites victoriously battle various other desert tribes. (Although god doesn’t seem to take very consistently good care of his his pets where the Israelites are concerned. Okay, maybe it’s a little bit one of those blogs.)
And of course, the same idea holds true with rape.
Might may make right in the eyes of god, but historically women have very rarely held the mighty end of the stick. (No bigger around than your thumb, ya know.) And the Qur’an is hardly the only holy book that goes into detail about the proper way to subjugate the womenfolk. In America Christians often hold themselves as superior because of the way adherent Muslims treat their females, but these Christians are the same ones who ignore what their own bible has to say on the subject. (Thankfully.)
- The tenth commandment, (tenth because it’s the least important) makes it pretty plain that women are property. No consideration is given to women “coveting” another woman’s husband because, well, who cares? The rules are for men because they’re the only ones with any importance attached to them.
- If the daughter of a priest lost her virginity before marriage, she was to be burnt alive. If a woman saw her husband fighting with another guy and came to his aid by grabbing the other dude’s junk, (I’m not sure just how rife the ancient world was with this… but apparently god felt it was a big enough problem to make a law about it) then the wife got her hand chopped off. Proscriptions against dudes grabbing each others’ junk had nothing to do with fighting.
- When a woman gives birth to a boy, she has to go into seclusion for a week and pay the priests to say daily rituals over her so she doesn’t infect others with her dirty girl cooties. It’s two weeks if she gives birth to a… non-boy.
- Corinthians talks a bit about how women were created “for” men, and not the other way around. (Echoing Genesis.) It lines up the bosses thusly: God > Christ > Men > Clowns > Women.
- Witches. The bible doesn’t just suggest that you not be friends with them, it Commands You To Kill Them. (Do make sure they have land the church can use first though.)
- In Judges a dude is accosted by a mob after the bars have closed, and to keep himself safe he tosses ’em his virgin daughter and the girlfriend of a stranger. This is depicted as a totally legitimate move on the guy’s part, given the implication that the mob might have had a go for his booty-hole if he hadn’t had some chicks handy. (The “girlfriend’s” rape goes on for hours, though no one seems to give a shit.) This is not even the only place in the bible this type of scenario is carried out.
- Timothy offers Eve’s temptation of Adam as proof that women should not be allowed to speak, nor “suffered to teach a man”. (Okay, the bible could be right on this one. 😈 )
- Your wife cheat on you? Stone her to death. You cheat on your wife? Brag.
- If a dude has (unmarried) sex with a girl, he has to pay the father 50 pieces of silver. (Her virginity is his asset, not hers.)
- Ladyfolk are instructed to submit to their husbands in all things. (You know… things like anal, teaming up with her sister, or maybe donkey sex. The usual.) Men are the boss because penises require extra brains to operate properly.
- Ecclesiasticus goes on and on about the wickedness and inferiority of women. How can you tell if a woman is wicked? Are you hard? Then she’s bad!
- Judges, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Samuel, Exodus, and Zechariah all include stories about god handing over the women of defeated enemies as party favors, punishing men by having their wives and daughters raped, and the express enslavement of women, all with divine favor and even assistance. You wiccans that say god is a woman? You are not talking about the same person.
This is the short list of examples of how the bible feels about women. There are way more instances of women being treated (by Good and Pious men as well as god) as chattel… abused, defiled, and enslaved, and it’s all okey-doke with the man upstairs. Now believe it or not, this isn’t actually about god, or the bible. It’s about belief.
In the last election cycle the Republican Party swept to power in Congress on a wave of Tea Party elections. The Tea Party is dominated by what many look at as religious extremists, and the consequences are beginning to play out. Representative Chris Smith, (New Jersey) a long time opponent of abortion, has seized the opportunity presented by the elections to put forward a new bill intended to reduce the number of overall abortions — by removing federal funding from certain rape victims who lack the ability to pay for the procedure themselves. Now while I personally am in favor of a woman’s right to choose, I do understand that most anti-abortionists are acting from a good and protective impulse to prevent what they see as the murder of unborn children. (For the record, I see it that way too, I simply feel like that unborn child’s potential life is less important than the mother’s actual one.) However, this bill seeks to go about effecting that end by a circuitous and potentially dangerous route.
Smith’s bill, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, instead of simply saying that the government will no longer pay for abortions, parses out the types of rapes that it will and will not pay for. Specifically, the government would only pay for abortions in the case of “forcible rape”. Now on the surface, this seems like a non-issue, since rape is inherently not consensual, and therefore some force, whether physical or coercive, is implied. (Not sure if dinner and a movie counts as coercion. Might have to look that up.) This does immediately rule out statutory rapes where the thirteen year old wanted to make her thirty year old boyfriend happy with a quickie behind the Barbie Dreamhome… she better hope her daddy is the forgiving sort. It also eliminates funding for abortions by incest… in which cases daddy probably isn’t as likely to throw his little girl out into the streets. Unfortunately.
The biggest issue however, is that the bill doesn’t define what it means by forcible rape, leaving that up to the states. Now some states have different definitions than others, and some states have never needed to define the term at all. The result is that in some places getting roofied will qualify, and some it won’t. In others you will need to let your assailant pistol-whip you first, before he actually rapes you, since threats count differently. This is because even the states that have defined forcible rape haven’t all done so for the same purpose. In those that haven’t, expect a lot of lawsuits.
But more largely, what does this bill mean about the status of women in America? Parsing rape seems denigrating on it’s face, especially when there are more clear and effective means of stating your purpose. In our modern, non-bronze age society, a “good” Christian seems to be one who embraces the spirit of love and charity from his religion, and ignores the more inane bullshit it offers. The rise of religious fundamentalism in America brings the bullshit closer and closer to the surface, and make no mistake, some of these folks are firmly committed to legislating their religious morality. A Return to Values, they like to say. The worst thing is that while these are not bad people, they are people with a fervent belief in a thing that does not belong here any more. An ugly thing.
Too bad you just can’t keep an awful idea down.