If Immodesty Caused Rape…

As I continue to read Rebecca Davis’ book, “Pure,” on purity culture she continues to lay out the devastating psychological consequences of being told, as a young teenager, that her body would cause other men to sin, and could even cause them to rape her.

“This is such utter nonsense!” I kept thinking, “Does anybody actually believe this?” As she gave example after example, I began to recognize some messegase that sounded all to familiar. Yes, we do communicate this message. Maybe not always in so many words: but women are often told in the church, “Be modest, or you might get raped!”

…but this is ridiculous!

If immodesty really caused rape, what we would see is:

  1. Rape happening all the time at public beaches, right out there in public. After all, men can’t control themselves, can they? But actually, strangely, we find that men can control themselves rather well when other people are watching.
  2. Rape would dramatically diminish during the winter time, and dramatically increase during the summer, due to the wearing of more clothing. Rather, it seems that it stays pretty stable.
  3. Rape would be virtually non-existent in in Muslim and Amish and other communities. Tragically, rape seems to be just as present in very religious communities.

…if we really cared about girls getting raped, here are some suggestions:

  1. Teach them basic safety, such as “don’t walk down dark alleys at night.” Seriously — do we even tell girls this in our religious subculture? Or are we afraid that it will be too naughty to say?
  2. Teach them basic self defence. Are we teaching girls that the best thing they can do is to hit an attacker hard in the groin? Or will they be confused in a situation of violence, frozen by hours of teaching about “turning the other cheek”?
  3. Teach them that their “body” is their best friend: often, that feeling “in your gut” that a person or a situation is not safe is your first and best defence. Teach them to listen to that and to never, ever, ever put yourself in a vulnerable situation with someone who makes you feel unsafe. …or are we teaching them that their bodies are evil, and their “hearts” are “deceptively wicked,” that “women are emotional, and emotions deceive people,” and that it is an act of witchcraft to “listen to your heart”?
  4. Are we creating an atmosphere of trust with our children, and giving them the vocabulary for the human body, and for healthy sexuality, so that they can determine what is appropriate and what is not? Or is “sex” a dirty word in our homes — and “penis,” “vagina,” and “breast” equally forbidden? Will she even know how to explain to her parents or a police officer what has happened? Can she explain her great discomfort with inappropriate conduct which may have preceded a rape? Or has she been gagged into silence by a culture afraid of their own bodies?
  5. Teach that most rape does not happen by a stranger, but by a trusted friend, authority figure, or family member. This should not lead to mistrusting everybody, but there should be discussions of what is normal and what is not normal for a man to ask a young girl. A man of any age, and no matter their status or relationship, should not seek to be alone with a girl. Period. Do they know that? Or have they been taught that “women are weak,” “women need men to help them make decisions,” and that a girl should (I have actually heard this taught) always listen to the oldest male in the room, as though he were giving her instructions from God.

…and if we really cared about young girls, we would teach them safety. Basic, common sense, idiotically simple safety.

Rape is not about temptation: any woman with a vagina is a temptation to a wicked man. Rape is about availability, and the belief that they can get away with it.

Let’s face it: this doctrine tends to make girls vulnerable, and makes it far less likely that they will successfully flee or report the crime.

And if we really cared about victims — knowing that despite our very best attempts, a very large percentage of girls will be violated before they reach adulthood — we would be sure to tell them that rape is never, ever, ever a girl’s fault.

Pathological shame and guilt follows all traumatic events. This is because traumatic events overwhelm a brain: it cannot cope. It stores the event in fragmented, terrorizing portions all over the brain. (I will write more about this in future posts). The brain become obsessed with thoughts like, “I could have done more,” and “how can I prevent this from happening again?” These thoughts are not a weakness, and they are not the fault of the victim. They are as a result of a basic survival instinct: it happens because when the brain feels as though it has come in contact with a , the most important thing is to figure out why that happened, and to stop it from happening again.

…but this shame is a profoundly destructive force. Many victims of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome report that when they realized that it was not their fault, most of the debilitating symptoms of PTSD diminished. They were able to find their peace with their trauma, without blaming and punishing themselves.

…and yet this horrendous teaching of purity culture not only locks victims of rape into a never-ending hell of PTSD, but it also seems to have the effect of traumatizing them before the fact, by presenting them with impossible situations.

…they are made to feel as though there is literally no way that they can avoid stirring up lust in others, and causing themselves to be raped.

This feeling of powerlessness, and hopelessness, and intense danger takes its toll. It is profoundly dangerous psychologically.

It is this phenomenon that Rebecca Davis continues to talk about, in her book “Pure.”

“Be Modest or Men Will Stumble!” — False!

Unbiblical sermons #1
“Women need to dress modestly so that their weaker brothers will not be caused to stumble.”
Well, actually…
1) “Stumbling stones” normally refers to adults corrupting or harming little children. It is not about grown men shaming others for their sins. Matt. 18:5-10, Mark 9:42, Luke 17:2
2) The discussion of “weaker brothers” is not gender specific, and is in regards to the ancient question of eating meat sacrificed to idols. This has nothing to do with lust or modesty. (1 Corinthians 8 )
3) Modesty is only explicitly adresses once in the Bible. The purpose of modesty here stated is contrasting inner vs. outer beauty, staying that a beautiful spirit and a kind life are better adornments than braided hair and jewels. Male lust is mentioned nowhere in this book. 1 Tim 2:9-10
4) Men are specifically addressed by Jesus, told that if they are “lusting,” they are sinning. Period. The modesty of the woman after whom they may be lusting is not mentioned. (Mat. 5:28)
5) We are told that “pornea” (sexual sin) comes “out of the heart,” and not from externals (Mark 7:21)
6) Using figurative language, Paul tells men to “possess their own vessel in sanctification and honour.” (1 Thess. 4:3) He does not add an addendum, “…unless she’s really hot” or, “…unless she’s immodestly dressed,” or, “…unless you’re really tired, or feeling entitled.”
7) Paul tells the young Timothy to “flee from youthful lusts,” (2 Tim. 2:22) and “treat younger women as sisters in all purity.” (1 Tim. 5:2) And to be an example of purity (1 Tim 4:12)
8“) “Yes, but what about very provocative women who are really trying to seduce men? What if alcohol is involved?” In Proverbs 7, the question of seduction is looked at in depth. There are three men, and one seductive woman in the scenario. The seductive woman is out seducing. A man goes to her, becomes intoxicated, and commits adultery with her. He is held completely liable for his actions, called a fool, and the commentary is that he did not know that her steps lead down to death. There is also a father and son in the scenario. The father resists “going down” to the seductrice. He instructs his son to avoid situations like this, and warns him of the mortal danger that they represent. Elsewhere, he tells him of the joys of married love, prays he finds a good wife, and blesses him: “may her breasts always satisfy you! May you always be intoxicated with her love!” (Prov. 5:19) Lesson: even if a prostitute is flaunting her wares, men are still responsible for their eyes, for their “vessels,” and for how they model integrity to the next generation. Sex is beautiful, and desireable. We should tell our daughters and sons how wonderful it is, so that they can be motivated to save it for the person of their dreams! What a beautiful gift! ❤️
…but telling women that unless they dress modestly, they will become a victim of male lust, (or even responsible for their own rape! 😵) is a form of victim shaming. It is wrong, it is unhealthy, it is abusive, and nobody can show me where it is in the Bible. This verse does not exist.