Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,

on rape, domestic violence, etc.

(1) repost original post [and easier-on-the-eyes version from MendezBerry.com] of Elizabeth Mendez Berry essay "Beyond Gossip, Good and Evil" on domestic violence (and undercutting macho posturing in gangs)

(2) cereta's post "On rape and men (Oh yes, I'm going there)".

There's lots of good stuff in the comments -- including how insulting it is to men is the cultural idea that they "can't control themselves" (e.g., if a woman is "acting slutty" or whatever), and how problematic it is that girls grow up knowing that they're going to need to be a "credible victim" (i.e., if they accuse someone of something, they're going to need to not be vulnerable to counters that they were "asking for it" or whatever), and also the importance of teaching children that "stop" means "stop" and that there's no shame in saying "stop." 

Responding to a commenter, cereta said:
Thank you for telling this story. I really believe we should tell them, not because such acts are so worthy of praise, but because boys need to hear such stories, to hear how good men act.

And yes, GOD, if there has been one thing I have learned in my brief time as a mother, it's how much men are sometimes praised for NOT acting like raving dickheads, and how said it is that we do that. Men should be angry about that, not at the women who point it out, but at the men who create that impression.
hubbit commented:
In general Orthodox thought, a man is expected to be able to tame himself and impose both responsibility and discipline upon himself. Yes it's true that the laws of tzniuth (modesty) restrict both men and women from exposing much of themselves and from carrying on in a boisterous, attention-grabbing manner. But it's also true that a man is considered to have sinned if he gazes at a woman's little finger with the intent of deriving pleasure therefrom. This does not put the onus on a woman to cover her finger, this puts the onus on the man not to gaze, and that is a very important distinction.

We have laws, such as yichud and negi`ah, that by their own existence admit that inappropriate male-on-female contact exists, and is a concern.

Yichud mandates that a man and a woman may not be secluded together (ie, behind closed doors), unless they are parent-child, siblings, or spouses. This law is attributed to King David as a reaction to an event in which his son Amnon raped his own half-sister Tamar. Whatever its real history is, its derivation is clearly given as the result of a violent assault in which the victim pled with her attacker and he ignored her, and its intent is to attempt to prevent such acts by removing situations in which they can occur.

Negi`ah forbids men and women who are not spouses, siblings, or parents/children from touching each other. No hugs, no kisses, no arm around the shoulder, no handshakes. The one time in which this law is permitted to be violated (and then only by more modern groups) is in a business or social situation when someone of the opposite sex who is unaware of this rule offers their hand to shake. In that situation, you shake their hand without enthusiasm, because it's a far greater sin to embarrass or humiliate them by refusing to do so.

Unfortunately, inappropriate conduct does happen in our communities. Sexual abuse is a problem that has only been recognized in the religious Jewish community over the past dozen years or so, really. Getting rid the "it can't happen here" mentality has taken many people a lot of work. My wife designed the original logo for an organization devoted to assisting women who were victims of domestic violence, something that "should not happen". And yet, and yet.

The unfortunate thing is that our Orthodox religious leadership is intensely patriarchal, and in too many cases downright misogynistic. Much of the personal responsibility expected of men in regards to modest behavior has been shifted, socially, upon women, when both Talmudic commentators and early law codifiers make it abundantly clear that men should bear their own responsibility for imposing self-discipline and controlling their impulses.

It is well known to every Orthodox Jewish school child that when Adam was asked why he ate from the fruit, he turned around and blamed Eve. The same children are taught when older that the commentators state that this was inappropriate and wrong, and that Adam should have accepted the responsibility for his action since it was he himself who opened his mouth and took the bite.

Where this lesson gets lost in life, you've got me. But it clearly does, and that does no one any favors.
ataniell93 commented:
if I or boobalah catch anybody in modest_style even implying that women are obligated to dress modestly in order to control men's uncontrollable sexuality or that anyone who is raped or otherwise disrespected is at fault for it because of how she is dressed, we will ban their asses to the seventh generation. We do not tolerate that crap. The Jewish women in the comm (it's interfaith) are quite adamant that we dress the way we do as a sign that we have chosen to display certain parts of our bodies only to people who are part of our family or to our mates--to people who love us--yes, because G-d wants that but also because it is part of our self respect, that there are parts of our physical selves we reserve the right not to share with anyone.

And almost every woman in the community can tell you about some skeezy conversation she had with some "liberal" man who accused her of being "ashamed of her body" or implied that her dress was not "professional" in a way that made it totally clear the real problem was that he felt absolutely entitled to see her hair, her legs, her elbows, or some other part of her body she'd chosen to keep for herself, her partner/s or her family.

I had a huge CLICK moment once when I was trying to find a suit that met my standards and I realised that men's trouser suits cover the whole body; if a woman wants to wear a skirted suit because she likes being feminine (and I recognise not everyone does) it's damned hard to find one that doesn't put her legs on display, particularly with the sheer, easily torn and therefore restrictive stockings she's expected to wear with it. If you want to be super professional you have two choices: dress like a man or put yourself on display to men. And some men in authority make it clear that only displaying yourself is acceptable.
In linking to the post, inlovewithnight said:
Her point isn't that men are evil; far from it. It's that a societal problem like rape can't be changed as long as only half the population is working on it. Actually, less than that, because women as a group internalize our oppression amazingly well; I can't find it now, but somewhere in the comments of Cereta's post someone talks about how much of her personality and behavior has been shaped by *wanting to be a credible victim, should it ever come to it*, and yes, hi, that's me. The idea of all the things I haven't done, the experiences I passed on, because nobody wanted to go with me and it just wasn't the smart/good/safe thing to do by myself, hurts so much if I let myself think about it.
In her post, giandujakiss mentioned:
there was a comment about how people - boys in particular - need to be taught that no and stop mean no and stop, even outside the context of a situation specifically identified as "dating." Because the invasion of women's physical space and right to control their bodies occurs in all kinds of situations, not just on "dates."
She talks about an experience at a summer camp pool and how "the only way a girl could effectively signal a lack of consent to be grabbed and lifted and dunked was to not go swimming at all."

Edit: coffeeandink posted this, which links I haven't read yet.

Edit2: In returning to coffeeandink's post, one thing that really struck me was the problems that come from, as elle put it, "the fetishization of virginity."  How once you've crossed a certain boundary, your decision about whether to cross it again is given less weight.  (I keep starting to write about formulating a personal sexual ethics and how church and culture don't give us good models and tools for that, but everything I have to say feels just a little too me-centric off-topic for this moment.)
Tags: my body is my own, religion: judaism
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