Sin Culture: Part 1, its creation and effects

A week or so ago, a friend directed me to this link. It discusses the notion of rape culture and, in particular, how bystanders may often be complicit in rape, even if it is never something they’d do themselves. The blog begins by linking to a video, which I’m going to summarize because most folks will find it very offensive (and as the link notes, it may be a trigger to victims of sexual assault (If you want to watch it, here is a link; the relevant portion is from 37:36-47:22)).

In the video, a young man tries to make a comedic monologue out of a sexual assault that he committed. His friend was hit on by a woman and gave him her number and address. He went over, even though she was expecting someone else. She immediately told him to leave, but when he asked her to get him a phone number, she left the door slightly open. He took this as an invitation and walked in. She again asked him to leave. He started kissing her. She said no. He did it anyway. The trend continued until they had intercourse and he left. Based on his demeanor in the video and the subsequent information mentioned on various blogs, it appears that he didn’t believe that he had done anything wrong. Probably, he is a nice enough fellow under most circumstances. But he’s a self-admitted rapist (or, at least, sexual assaulter). How do nice people do horrendous things?

I listened to a radio broadcast once regarding the Rwandan Genocide. In it, the reporter spoke with Hutu men imprisoned for attacking Tutsi people. Initially, the prisoners denied involvement. Over time, they admitted their relatives and friends may have been involved. Finally, they talked about the crimes that they committed. One of the threads through their testimonies was the realization that there would be no immediate consequences for their acts. No-one would stop them from killing their neighbors, nor would they be punished afterwards (so they believed). Why not kill your neighbor? You could get their store, their stuff, their home? It was your patriotic and familial duty. Of course, many Hutus resisted this reasoning. But many didn’t. People who’d been friends before were now murderers. Seemingly, all that was required was permission.

One of the things that is striking about the video is that the young man is forever looking for permission. The woman made herself available sexually to someone else. The woman doesn’t close the door entirely. The woman tells him to go, but doesn’t fight off his advances (he insists that she was stronger than him). After the encounter, he is informed that she found him not good in bed. See! Permission everywhere. Unless the woman didn’t want to have sex with him. Unless the woman didn’t close the door because she didn’t think she’d be followed into her room. Unless the woman didn’t fight because she figured she’d just get the rape over with, thinking he might get violent otherwise. An awful lot of permission seeking is permission finding, whatever the intent of one’s putative partner.

One of the ways that we approach the problem of rape in America (and in the church) is to attempt to keep the potential victim from giving inadvertent permission. So we warn our young women to wear skirts below their knees and to avoid “becoming pornography,” capable of exciting the blood flow of local ne’er-do-wells. Unfortunately, there are three fundamental problems with this approach.

First, by establishing one set of guidelines to give women the right to avoid inadvertent permission, you also give permission to men to do whatever they want to women who deviate from the guidelines. For instance, Islam is proud of the fact that women who wear headscarves or more to cover up their bodies are generally not sexually harassed in public places. Unfortunately, it is often the case that women who don’t cover are. Because, the thought goes, if they minded it, they would cover up.

Second, all of these guidelines are ignored by actual rapists. Your relative who rapes you, your date-rapist, your creep in an alley, none of those guys care about what you wear. They may mention it as a means to have more control over you, but it is irrelevant. There is nothing to indicate rape is more likely to happen to someone dressed “slutty,” which is the message of the recent spate of “SlutWalks”. Even if covered head-to-toe in burlap, looking something like Grimace, most rapists will convince themselves their victims were teasing them or asking for it.

Third and worst, it tends to render victims complicit in their own rape. Should a woman be asked to consider how she brought a rape upon herself? Does dissecting her behavior, dress, or location provide real insight into the causes of her assault? Note how the young man in the video spends a lot of time considering how the woman he assaulted should have reacted for him to consider himself in the wrong. As far as he is concerned, she got what she wanted. Except that she explicitly said she didn’t want it, over and over again.

In all this, I’m suggesting that the current American (and by extension Mormon) approach to rape prevention is inadequate. Of course, it makes sense to teach women to defend themselves and to avoid unnecessary risk, but they should not be considered responsible for their own rapes. Once a woman says no, that means no, even if she leaves the door open.

Comments

  1. I read a book entitled “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin De Becker. In it he described an unhealthy cultural idea that frustrated me when I was in the dating scene. “When a man says “no,” he means “no.” When a woman says “no” it is the beginning of a negotiation. In our movies the plot goes thus: boy meets girl, girl doesn’t like boy, boy persists, wins over girl and they sleep together.

    I was in a situation where a guy I had been dating wanted to go somewhere I didn’t feel well and didn’t want to go. He wouldn’t accept the answer and kept insisting that I come with him thinking that I was playing a game with him when I was definitely not playing any games. To my knowledge this guy did not have bad intentions. He was socially clueless and acting on faulty cultural assumptions.

    I know that I will be teaching any boys within my circle of influence that if a girl says “no” to anything, you better take her at her word. Not doing so could land you in jail.

  2. Interesting stuff, John C. The degree to which I am complicit in some pretty ugly stuff scares the heck out of me.

  3. Excellent post.

  4. “The decision to kiss for the first time is the most crucial in any love story. It changes the relationship of two people much more strongly than even the final surrender; because this kiss already has within it that surrender.” (Discuss)

  5. Bob,
    There’s an awful lot wrong in that quote. Who’s the source?

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    Great post, John.

  7. You know, watching that discourse made me realize how prevalent sexual assault is in marriage. We women just think we have to acquiesce when we don’t want to have sex because we are married.

  8. I am troubled and sometimes horrified at what we humans do to each other. I am trying to figure out how I feel about the second to last paragraph in the Elder Oaks talk. I never want to be any part of blaming a victim of sexual assault for any part of their ordeal. I don’t think that portion of the talk was trying to do that, but is it in the same category? Humans do influence each other. Part of mortality is trying to be boss of our carnal natures. Biology has engineered us to react to certain stimulus in a certain ways. I see spirituality as bossing our biological natures as best we can to respond only to certain things and only in certain situations, and I don’t just mean human sexuality. That being said is there a place to suggest that we should be considerate of one another in the way that we interact (including dress) because we do influence each other, both men and women. At the same time aknowledging that each is responsible for their own thoughts and actions?

  9. .

    We find we’re looking for, whether we’re talking about sexual invitation or anything else.

  10. an unhealthy cultural idea [...] When a woman says “no” it is the beginning of a negotiation.

    I work with two Filipinas and they told me (after asking them why they keep offering to share their lunch when I’ve said several times I don’t want any) that where they come from, “no” means “I’m being polite by saying no; ask again if you’re really interested.”

  11. #5: John C,
    Emil Ludwig quotes (German Biographer and Writer who is internationally known for his many popular biographies, 1881-1948).
    Yes, there are things wrong in the quote__but there are also things right in it.

  12. Bob,
    Like what? And how do you perceive that quote pertaining to this discussion?

  13. For instance, Islam is proud of the fact that women who wear headscarves or more to cover up their bodies are generally not sexually harassed in public places. Unfortunately, it is often the case that women who don’t cover are. Because, the thought goes, if they minded it, they would cover up.

    A long time ago (1993) I witnessed an example of this in Egypt. We were there as a group of visiting students from the BYU Jerusalem Center – and a smaller group of us went out at night to see some mosques and just to get a sense of what it was like in an Egyptian city. The street we were on was very crowded – as a group, at some points we were holding hands so as not to lose each other – and pushing through the crowd in order to move around. A blonde girl in our group did not have her head covered. I guess because we were in the midst of such a thicket of people and people thought they could get away with it – and because she was obviously a foreigner, they took this as ‘permission’ to grope her. She started hollering against what was happening and ended up punching one guy in the face.

    We got out of there and felt relieved that something worse didn’t happen – but years later when I read about a blonde news reporter (Lara Logan) who was attempting to report on the Arab Spring in Egypt – having her clothes torn off and basically being raped by a huge crowd of men – I recognized the dynamic that was at play.

  14. Bob,
    The basic problem with the quote is that it deliberately elides a lot between the first kiss and the final surrender. Also, it uses the term “final surrender” which is inherently creepy.

    Peter,
    Patriarchal cultures (which include the Philippines) often take that approach. It justifies a lot of sexual assault.

    Danithew,
    I’ve heard lots of stories like that. Lots.

    SilverRain,
    I don’t disagree, but I also don’t want to think too hard about what you said.

    Dovie,
    If the sort of person who is going to rape or sexually assault you is going to do it regardless of the message you send, does how we dress or behave really matter?

    rk,
    I’ve only heard good things about that book.

    Theric,
    Ain’t that just the way.

  15. #12: mmiles,
    I read this post as being about ‘sexual invitation’ and/or ‘sexual surrender’.
    But it maybe I am wrong again?

  16. Good topic. I agree with Dovie that Elder Oaks in his talk probably didn’t mean it to portray this rape culture you speak of, but labeling women as “becoming pornography to some of the men who see you” does seem quite harsh to me.

    In our last stake conference the sister who was speaking said “young women, when you dress immodestly do you know what that does to the young men who see you? Do you know what thoughts you put into their heads?” I was appalled. She had thought of the message she was trying to share with the YW, but did she not see the horrible horrible message (and permission) she gave to the YM?

  17. I thought the post was about sexual assault, but maybe that’s just my idiosyncratic reading!

  18. John, I appreciate you writing this post. It’s a sensitive and clearly argued handling of a complex and important issue. It’s great to see men who “get it” on this issue and are willing to speak out publicly about it. I only wish that it were less remarkable, because everybody “gets it.”

  19. Bob,
    I’d suggest you read it again, but I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t help. There is no surrender in the post. There isn’t an invitation.

  20. @19: mmiles (ande john C)
    Both of you need to read more Romantic Novels. I believe they are still the most popular books among women.
    They are all about ‘sexual invitation’ and/or ‘sexual surrender’.

  21. Bob,
    I think that is part of the problem. John explicitly commented on those kinds of movies in the OP.

  22. Bob,
    Following the advice of most “bodice-rippers” will get you incarcerated in all 50 states. Rape fantasies and the like such not be taken as tacit approval of the act.

  23. Do any of you think that how we teach this is getting better? I was in YM in the 80’s and I can still remember the “Better dead clean then alive and unclean” lectures and lessons. At least that nonsense seems to be behind us.

  24. Andrew,
    I agree. It is getting better. And thank goodness.

  25. John C.—Of course not. I don’t, either. But imagine how marriage dynamics would be changed if both men and women respected a woman’s domain over her own body, married or not.

    Then, sex would always be a gift given by a woman freely and willingly, out of love and a true desire to bring joy to the marriage, rather than a submission to keep the peace, or out of fear that her husband would leave her if she did not.

    “If the sort of person who is going to rape or sexually assault you is going to do it regardless of the message you send, does how we dress or behave really matter?”

    Yes. It does. Not to prevent rape, but for my own peace of mind to know that I am not leading someone on, or sending a message that is not consistent with my own self.

    I know of plenty of women who dress immodestly because they don’t feel valued otherwise. They tell themselves it is for themselves, but what they themselves often don’t realize is that it is only “for themselves” insomuch as they get attention from others. If they are dressing a certain way, consciously or not, to make themselves into a visual object, “walking pornography” seems to be an apt descriptor, even if it is harsh.

    In my opinion, it is an appropriate way to discuss deliberately dressing to make oneself an object. However, it shouldn’t be discussed without the accompanying statement towards men that ogling and encouraging such dress and behavior is participating in pornography, aka. viewing women as primarily sexual objects.

    And yes, rape fantasies have nothing to do with rape. Usually, people who engage in that type of sex have a safe word, which means they have some level of control over the situation, which makes it patently not rape.

  26. observer fka eric s says:

    (23) you’ve got to be kidding.

  27. I’d like to thank Bob for his helpful illustration of how far we have to go on educating people on this issue, how wrong-headed our culture has been on this, and how people’s non-reality-based (taken from books, movies, etc) notions of what sex is supposed to be support and excuse rape & rapists at the expense of victims.

  28. SilverRain,
    I think most marriages work more like that than you think–except I’m still not comfortable with the idea that the wife gives her body to her husband in the way you described.

    “Then, sex would always be a gift given by a woman freely and willingly, out of love and a true desire to bring joy to the marriage, rather than a submission to keep the peace, or out of fear that her husband would leave her if she did not.”

    It still sounds unequal. Isn’t it a mutual thing? Why is it a gift from a woman and not from a man? Isn’t it something husband and wife do together out of love?

  29. A great post, John.

    As for the bodice-ripper/rape fantasy idea: there was some good talk about this in a recent podcast from Mormon Stories (the one about having good sex in your LDS marriage), and I appreciated the point that, generally speaking, in a rape fantasy the fantasizer experiences some sense of control or power, even if s/he fantasizes being in the submissive role. That doesn’t mean they condone the actual act of rape/sexual assault itself. They aren’t “asking for it”, and the difference is the controlled and safe environment of the fantasy versus one in which your agency to refuse is ignored, violently or otherwise.

    Personally, that’s what skeeves me out most about the “walking pornography” quote: the tacit sense that someone can be “asking for it”. Obviously, not the intended message of that particular statement, but one that’s there nonetheless. And while we should recognise that how we dress and present ourselves *does* send a message to other people, I see no room in the Saviour’s gospel for any statement that tries to place the onus of responsibility on victims, even in part, no matter how they are dressed. It just reminds me of the lesson I gave my YW yesterday: what’s on the outside doesn’t matter, it’s the person’s thoughts/words/intent that count. Granted, we were talking about not judging others, but I think 1 Samuel 16:7 applies just as much to “no means no” as it does to seeing the divine worth in people who appear so different from us.

  30. mmiles—Of course, but I was writing to address a very specific concern.

  31. SilverRain,
    I think that we simply don’t have the vocabulary in America to describe a good, mutually respectful sex life. I don’t know a way to overcome that at present, but more discussion is probably helpful.

    I also think that the notion of sending mixed signals is 90% male justification. I don’t think women send signals they don’t intend to send. That male receptors are often faulty isn’t the woman’s fault.

  32. Were you asking if my question was kidding? Or if I was making up the “Better of Dead” garbage?

    To the second part, I am not kidding. It was taught by members of the First Presidency at one time. J Reuben Clark taught it in the 40’s and 50’s, I am pretty sure SWK was still teaching it in the 70’s and my Bishop/youth leaders were teaching it in the 80’s. It even comes up in one of Dutcher’s “God’s Army” movies. I am at work or in class until late tonight but I will try and post some references later.

  33. Danithew, both situations you describe, with your friend and the reporter were on the continuium of terrible to horrific, and in no way were either of the women in any measure at fault. From what you describe both seem to have been targeted because in that circumstance in that culture they stood out. Is it possible to or appropriate or to say both “It is a good idea to be careful wear a headscarf and don’t stand out.” and “If the horrible happens, no matter what the circumstances, you are in not way at fault.” I want to say both things. When I think of my daughters I want them be as smart as possible to avoid being assaulted in anyway, but if heaven forbid the unimaginable should happen I want them not for a second accept any part of the blame. I know this can be difficult I remember walking home in Jr. High with a friend. We would walk through a cemetery it was a lovely walk. One day a man drove up slow beside us in a low set brown hatch back. We could easily see inside. He was exposed and masturbating. It was sickening experience. We were both traumatized. Once we realized what was going on we ran away. We laughed and cried at the obsurdity of it. Then we swore each other to secrecy. Here i am breaking my vow. There was some guilty gross sick feeling that was present for quite some time for both of us even though we both knew logically that we were in no way responsible. I can’t imagine how complicated the trauma a victim of a more serious assault must work through.

  34. Cynthia (#27)—Brava!

  35. Dovie, in no way would I blame either of the victims I was talking about. I saw the crowd of men that accosted them as acting as inhuman, unthinking beasts. Maybe I didn’t make that clear.

  36. >>>First, by establishing one set of guidelines to give women the right to avoid inadvertent permission, you also give permission to men to do whatever they want to women who deviate from the guidelines.<<>>Second, all of these guidelines are ignored by actual rapists. Your relative who rapes you, your date-rapist, your creep in an alley, none of those guys care about what you wear.<<>>Third and worst, it tends to render victims complicit in their own rape.<<< Here I just disagree. If I accidentally leave my door unlocked, and am robbed because of it, is it my fault that a thief broke in? Of course not. I do think we need to stress that the victim is not at fault for the rapist's decisions and actions. But I don't think that means we need to discourage people from taking reasonable precautions.

  37. Mike,
    I’m not clear what you are disagreeing with. I’m certainly not encouraging people to take risks.

  38. “Give me a kiss to build a dream on, and my imagination will make that dream come alive…”. Louis Armstrong__Great song to me, but I will let you guys put your own meaning on it.
    #21: Where did I talk about moives” Or where did John C.?

  39. Bob,
    You’re really not helping your case. Kisses don’t seal the deal, as it were. Using pop culture to argue otherwise doesn’t prove anything.

  40. Maybe we’re just misunderstanding Bob. Bob, can you give a yes/no answer to this question: If you are a dude, and a woman kisses you, can you interpret that as it is ok to have sex with her?

    Your quotes seem to argue yes, but I think it would help to have a yes/no from you so we can understand where you’re coming from or what you are trying to say with those quotes.

  41. Danithew, I didn’t mean to imply that you were blaming the victims. I’m sorry I made it sound that way.

  42. #40: Thank you Cynthia,
    My answer is no__but I grew up with in a Mormon culture.
    These quotes and songs are not mine, but I think they tell us a lot about how others see these things.
    I don’t think most people see “Gone With The Wind” as a rape story. They don’t hear the song “As Time Goes By” as evil. They don’t see DH raping his wife when she says “No, I am tried” and he says “Oh come on” (and they do).

  43. Well, again, you’re just hiding behind others rather than speaking for yourself. Instead of saying “I don’t think most people think…” why don’t you just say what YOU think? Do you think “most people” are right? Do you think there are things pervasive in pop culture that are harmful to an ethic of mutual consent? Or does pervasiveness in pop culture, or some imagined “most people” demographic, indicate what is normal in a way that we should take our cues from in deciding what is right?

  44. http://nymag.com/news/features/70976/
    http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/trends/n_9437/

    The mainstreaming of pornography has not “made men into raving beasts. On the contrary: The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as “porn-worthy.” Far from having to fend off porn-crazed young men, young women are worrying that as mere flesh and blood, they can scarcely get, let alone hold, their attention.”

    I think the same holds true for “walking pornography.” Mormons (and Muslims) are really uptight about what constitutes “immodesty.” But for the rest of the world, provocative dress is merely normal, hardly something to get excited about. Sure, an average guy might say “I would hit that,” but only a Mormon (or Muslim) is going to turn away in shame and frustration, cursing the “immodesty” of today’s women. For the rest of the world, the “Playboy Club” on NBC is not even pornographic.

    Is violence against women increasing because of increasing pornography, on the street, or in media? I don’t have statistics to back me up, but I think that probably the New York Magazine articles are right. As society embraces a more immodest standard, that this leads to a decrease in libido overall.

    As a missionary in Italy, the pornography all over the billboards was a constant source of hellish torment, same as it was for the Muslim immigrants, driving them to insanity. But for the Italians, even the LDS Italian members, it was just ho-hum. They had just built up a different level of cultural and sexual tolerance.

    Ultimately, it’s a question of inoculation and exposure. A Muslim gets a rise from a woman’s hair. A Mormon, from a woman’s midriff, and a Gentile, only from a woman’s completely shaved you-know-what.

    I think it’s a bit naive for Mormons to be discussing trends outside of LDS culture, within our own paradigm of what constitutes “modesty.”

  45. Cynthia, I think Bob answered your question with a very clear, “No.”

    He then added that what he’s trying to say is that our greater culture presents things all the time that actually are rape and sexual assault as normal and right – even though his own answer is, “No.”

    I agree with him on both points – that my answer is, “No,” but much of our culture says, “Yes” – which is one of the points of the OP, right?

    Iow, I think Bob is agreeing with the OP.

    Having said all that, excellent post, John.

  46. “I think it’s a bit naive for Mormons to be discussing trends outside of LDS culture, within our own paradigm of what constitutes “modesty.””

    Um, Nate, I find your use of “our” to refer to yourself as a Mormon a little bit at odds with your derision for those “uptight,” “naive” Mormons. At this blog, I think we have a track record of pretty non-uptight, non-naive discussion of modesty, thankyouverymuch.

  47. #43: No one has ever said I hide my feelings. My answer was NO! But I have only kissed one girl and have been married to her 45 years. I wasn’t even sure I had her permission for sex even after our Temple marriage. Is that personal enough?

    I have no idea what you mean by “pop culture”? Is that anything not Mormon culture?
    “Sexual surrender” IS a mutual consent. And is unually started with a passionate kiss.
    “I wonder who’s buying her wine, for lips that I thought were mine? Another great song.

  48. Steve Evans says:

    Bob, I think you need to take a break.

  49. Our lesson in Elders Quorum Sunday was on the Law of Chastity. Right off the bat, the discussion swerved to “modesty” and stayed there for nearly the duration of the class. People were arguing about whether or not preschool-aged girls should have to wear clothes that would cover garment areas. One guy mentioned that he say a young woman in the ward walk down the streets in “Daisy Dukes” and did a double take. (And one clever prospective elder, who is preparing for his mission, put him on the spot by saying: “You know, I’m not sure there’s a big difference between an ‘I can’t believe she is wearing such an immodest outfit’ double take and a ‘Woo-hoo, look at those legs’ double take. Both of them are creepy.”)

    Anyway, (despite the clever future missionary,) the discussion just got worse and worse, and after a few people echoed the “walking pornography”-type comments, I finally had to speak up. I said something like: “I have no daughters and four boys, and I really fear that when our discussions of modesty for young women center around what monsters boys are, they give my boys tacit permission to be monsters.” One guy piped up and said “Well, I’ll admit, I use that on my daughters sometimes when they’re going out the door in tank tops.” And I rather curtly said “Tell your daughters whatever you want, but not when my boys are around. Because I don’t want my sons to think they are the reason your daughter shouldn’t show her shoulders.”

    It was so, so infuriating. Why is it so difficult to replace the discourse of temptation and danger-avoidance with the discourse of self-worth and objectification-avoidance? Perhaps it has to do, in part, with the way we talk about pornography, and the way we treat any depiction of nudity as such? It doesn’t seem like our warnings against porn every get very far past “It’s bad because it shows the naughty bits.”

  50. Not sure what happened with my prior post but at any rate:

    >>>First, by establishing one set of guidelines to give women the right to avoid inadvertent permission, you also give permission to men to do whatever they want to women who deviate from the guidelines.<<<

    My main disagreement boils down to: How do you reach your conclusion here? By teaching women self-defense classes is society giving men permission to assault women who have not taken such classes? By locking the doors of our homes are we giving permission to criminals to break into homes with unlocked doors? Of course not. There's doesn't seem to be any basis for concluding that establishing guidelines or taking precautions necessarily gives permission to criminals to attack those who deviate from the guidelines. So how do you conclude that encouraging women to dress modestly gives men permission to attack immodest women?

  51. #48:
    I will end Steve, But note that #4 was the only comment of mine that was not asked for.

  52. John C. wrote in the OP:

    Once a woman says no, that means no, even if she leaves the door open.

    SilverRain said in #7:

    You know, watching that discourse made me realize how prevalent sexual assault is in marriage. We women just think we have to acquiesce when we don’t want to have sex because we are married.

    John C. replied in #14

    SilverRain, I don’t disagree, but I also don’t want to think too hard about what you said.

    What SilverRain brings up is something that I almost always think about in conversation like this one: According to the last sentence of the OP (quoted above), I would bet that a ridiculously high percentage of all marital sexual intercourse could at least be argued to be sexual assualt.[1] While I agree with John C.’s sentiment that this is really difficult to think about, I think it’s important to at least try to understand what, if any, meaningful difference exists between “force” and “persuasion” in the context of sexual intimacy (what about differences–if they exist–between “persuasion” and “gentle persuasion”?).

    Does the maturity of the relationship play any role whatsoever in such differences–again, if they exist–or is the unqualified statement above–No Means (Instantly) No–equally applicable to couples married for 30 years, couples married for 20 days, couples dating for 2 months, couples on a first date, and perfect strangers?

    [1] For example, consider the following:
    Husband: “Hey Dear Wife–you want to fool around tonight?”
    Wife: “No, Dear Husband, I’m totally not in the mood.”

    At this point, the woman has clearly said no. Any action beyond this point moves into trouble, according to the OP, including:
    Husband: “Ah, c’mon–it’ll be fun, and I’ll put on the Barry White to take care of the mood.”
    Wife: “Oh snap–you know I can’t resist Barry. Play the tunes, Dear Husband!”

  53. Bob is saying we asked fot it. I feel so violated.

  54. Cynthia L., I didn’t mean to accuse people at BCC of being uptight about modesty, but only Mormons in general. The reason we at BBC discuss it so openly is that we are directly confronting what I think we all agree is the general uptightness, or sometimes misguided concern of Mormons on the subject.

    What is naive, is to analyze a like this one, rape, which is not specifically LDS in nature, using exclusively our own LDS paradigm of modesty, (or reaction to it).

  55. MCQFTW.

  56. observer fka eric s says:

    Wow. I am fairly confident that the purpose of this thread was NOT to make one reflect on reasons for looking at pr0n. But if there was ever a reason, I would say the thought planted in my brain by SilverRain #7 comes pretty close. “Honey, can we fool around tonight? But if you feel it would be acquiescence sex then I’ll just go post up on the computer for a while.”

    Thanks SilverRain, it’s gonna take me a while to get over that one.

  57. With regards to “rape fantasy,” I think it is important to state that a woman can, if she likes, fantasize about being “taken by force” by a studly Fabio all day long if she likes, but when it comes to a real live man standing in front of her wanting her to have sex, she still retains the right to say “No,” and have that right respected.

    With regards to clothing, a woman has the right to run naked on the beach, and still, if a man presents himself and expresses a desire to have sex with her, she retains the right to say “No,” and have that right respected.

    I agree that making men the arbiters of what is provocative in women’s clothing and therefore, what a woman may or may not wear in public, is only giving men permission to abuse women and to blame women for their own abuse. In cultures where public nudity is common, it is no longer provocative. It is the very coverings which are supposed to “protect” modesty which make the body parts they cover appear to be “immodest” when seen uncovered. Bare ankles become an “invitation” to rape. The curve of a cheek, the glimpse of a naked, vulnerable neck becomes provocation for violation.

    Women are not responsible for being raped.

  58. And, incidentally, for Bob:

    Consent to a kiss is not consent to *anything* but a kiss.

  59. And, incidentally, for Lorain:

    Bob prefers the term “surrender” to consent. It’s more consistent with his paradigm of sexual intimacy.

  60. This awesome post shows an authority responding to a mugging report the way some do to rape reports:

    http://downlo.tumblr.com/post/10176644689/a-useful-rape-analogy

    Just one highlight:

    Officer: “So you willingly gave the man your money without calling for help, fighting back, or trying to escape?”
    Man: “Well, yes, but I was terrified. I thought he was going to kill me!”
    Officer: “Mmm. But you did co-operate with him. And I’ve been informed you’re quite a philanthropist, too.”

  61. # 49 Jeremy – Awesome comment. Way to make the EQ actually think.
    # 56 observer fka eric – What the heck is “pr0n?” are we not allowed to use the “P” word at BCC?

  62. Brad – Good point. I’ll make a note of it. ;)

  63. This discussion puts me in mind of the difficulties faced by prostitutes who are raped. By definition, a prostitute sells her body for money, and is generally pretty willing to have sex with almost any man for the right price. She generally dresses in revealing clothing. She solicits sex by her behavior.

    And yet, legally, she still has the right to say, “No,” if she does not want to have sex with a man, for money or for free. If she is raped, it is legally NOT her fault.

    However, unfortunate though it is, she still has trouble proving rape in a court of law, so most men who rape prostitutes get away with it. It’s kind of like trying to prove marital rape (though that’s getting *somewhat* easier).

  64. Scott, I think the difference between what is ok and what is not ok is pretty straightforward:

    (1) If you are in the midst of an act with somebody, and that person does not want to participate, that is not ok.
    (2) If you are in the midst of an act with somebody, and that person does want to participate, that is ok.

    The end.

    If you ask somebody if they want to participate, and they say no, and then the person actually changes their mind so that they do indeed want to participate, then rule (2) applies, no? If somebody says upfront they don’t want to participate, and you keep pestering somebody trying to change their mind, that is annoying. Moreover, you run the risk that you end up in rule (1) because you are being so willfully out of tune that you blatantly ignored clear signals indicating the person didn’t want to participate, as happened in the video in the OP. There may be times (especially re: spouse) where a spouse isn’t personally in the mood for their own sake, but nonetheless wants to participate out of consideration of the other person, in which case you are in rule (2). If you don’t know if you’re in rule (1) or rule (2) then you have to ask yourself, if it were (1) do I care and would that stop me? Probably the answer is no you don’t care and no it wouldn’t stop you, because if you really did care, you would have been paying more attention.

    (general “you”, not you personally :) )

  65. I have to agree with Scott B. #52 is right on the money. I have a problem with this whole rape in marriage thing. I don’t mean that rape in marriage doesn’t happen. But I think that saying the woman has the final say in sexual intercourse is a dangerous thing. Sex is a two way act. A woman may not feel like having sex but she should also be considerate of her husbands feelings and desires. Absolutes such as “No means No.” simply have no place in a marriage where sexual intercourse is an essential part of the relationship. Men and women get married knowing full well that sex is something they will be doing. Now for two unmarried people it is a completely different story.

    But for a married couple there will be times when a husband has a desire and the wife may have to give in. But there will also be times when the husband will have to accept that his wife has no desire. The same goes for women. It’s part of marriage. Give and take, compromise. A husband must not only be considerate of his own feelings, but also those of his wife. Likewise a wife must not only be considerate of her own feelings, but also those of her husband.

  66. zo-ma-rah:
    No. Uh-uh.

    I agree that wives and husbands need to be considerate of one another and that it is good to make sure that your spouse is sexually satisfied. But “no means no” applies in marriage the same as anywhere else. If a husband wishes to attempt to playfully or lovingly seduce his wife, fine. But if she still says “no,” then it is her body and he has NO right to use it against her will. Marital rape is VERY possible and happens more than you’d care to know. No person has the right to use someone else’s body for sex without their consent. Not even a husband.

  67. .

    I’ve had a couple more thoughts since my first comment. The first might annoy people; the second makes me sad.

    = = = = = = = = = = =

    1. Isn’t it sad that sex has become so cheap that, it seems, someone would rather be raped than go through the hassle of explaining what no means or calling the cops?

    = = = = = = = = = = =

    2. Forget rape, we blame the victim all the time. Is Johnny kicking you? Well, sit somewhere else. Your sister’s hitting you? What did you do to annoy her?

    It’s easier to move the victim away from the problem than to solve the problem. We keep avoiding the roots of the problem then how can we surprised when a rape like this occurs? I’ll bet it’s fairly common. Sadly.

  68. Cynthia (64),
    Despite the organizational merit of your comment, I don’t think it responds at all to my question. Particularly, this part:

    If you ask somebody if they want to participate, and they say no, and then the person actually changes their mind so that they do indeed want to participate, then rule (2) applies, no?

    My whole point is that any attempt to change a person’s mind–whether annoying or not–is clearly a violation of the last sentence of the OP. In my example, the “But what if…” _could not exist_ and still be non-sexual assault-ish per the OP.

  69. Oh, and zo-ma-rah (65),

    NO. You do not agree with me. We are NOT on the same page. NO.

  70. Scott, I think a negotiation can happen after an initial “no” as long as the person is truly willing to accept no at the end of it. So as I was saying before, if you ask yourself, “do I care if it is (1) and if it is would that stop me?” and the answer is yes, then sure, engage in some attempt at persuasion. If a person is truly willing to accept a no and respect it, that will dictate the course and tone of the attempt at persuasion. The person will take great care to watch for very subtle signs of distress or discomfort and immediately back off if there are any. They will be very careful not to do anything coercive–using physical size to overwhelm, using intimidation or implicit (or explicit) threats. Most of all, they’ll just know their partner well enough to know when it’s time to back off and when just a nudge might change a mind.

  71. The problem in the OP is that, reading between the lines, it sure sounds like the woman never changed her mind. She may have acquiesced out of fear of violence, she may have just been too drunk to effectively fight him off. But the basis of calling that story rape is believing that she never actually wanted to participate. If she did with full faculties freely decide that she changed her mind, then it’s no longer rape. It just seems unlikely to the point of impossible that that’s what happened. And in any case, if the dude is comfortable unleashing that much coercion and blatantly ignoring her wishes, he has already demonstrated that he is capable of being a rapist, because he clearly doesn’t attune to the other persons’ wishes.

  72. Scott, I think a negotiation can happen after an initial “no” as long as the person is truly willing to accept no at the end of it.

    I think that the last sentence of the OP–the thing I’m trying to understand–completely disagrees with you. If the guy in the video in the OP had, rather than taking his attempt to have sex with the woman to it’s ultimate conclusion, had, at the very last second, stopped and left the room, that would prove categorically that he was, in fact, “truly willing to accept no at the end of it.” If that had been the outcome, would we call what he did sexual assault? No, but we’d sure as day call it sexual harassment! In terms of prison sentences, that is certainly an improvement. In terms of right-and-wrong, it’s not much of one.

  73. Prison sentence? After watching that video, I’m not convinced. Despite the fact that she initially said no, she participated and acquiesced in the act, even pinning him down and asking him if he had a condom. It sounds like she changed her mind. It’s at least very ambiguous as to whether she changed her mind. I don’t think that’s a clear cut assault at all. Reasonable doubt all over the place. Take that case to trial on those facts and 99 times out of a hundred he’s acquitted.

  74. “I also think that the notion of sending mixed signals is 90% male justification. I don’t think women send signals they don’t intend to send. That male receptors are often faulty isn’t the woman’s fault.”

    John, I think this is interesting- and I take no issue with your position and applaud the post. I do want to pose another thought, regarding mixed signals.

    Women are socialized from very young ages to hand their sexuality over to a male- from the Disney princesses and the fairytales of girlhood, the young woman waits for her sexuality to be “awakened” by the rescuing prince. Girls grow up on this, and we see the template continuing with women reading romance novels where the heroine must be ‘taken’ by the big strong man. The heroine is almost always a virgin, the man more sexually experienced, and even if the woman does have some sexual experience it is nearly always always tragic in some way, until she can be rescued. This is the template.

    There is very little latitude for a young woman to have more experience sexually, to claim her own desires and sex and be comfortable with it, outside of waiting to “awakened” like Sleeping Beauty. Because it’s so difficult to own her own sexuality- to say ‘I like sex, I like how this feels, and I want you to do this with me’- she might even lack the vocabulary to describe her feelings- she waits. If she’s LDS, she waits for marriage. And then she still has to overcome the conditioning that good girls don’t say yes, don’t want ‘those things’ or feel ‘that way’.

    This sets up a terrible and incredibly damaging dynamic where a woman is not able to fully claim her own sexuality in an adult, mature manner. And it sets men up as well- it’s horrible for all parties. Yet I believe it is something that is rampant within our culture.

  75. MCQ,
    The prison sentence comment wasn’t intended to relate specifically to the case in the video (Obviously, since the guy hasn’t been charged with a crime, no prison sentences are likely forthcoming, even I he did rape her.).

    What I meant was more general: legally speaking, harassment is better than assault. Morally speaking, I’m not sure God will require less repentance of a man just because he was unsuccessful in achieving his goal.

  76. Ok, there is a lot of stuff to respond to. I’m sorry that I got all busy.

    Scott B.,
    With the aside “even if she leaves the door open,” I was referring to the specifics of the video. I wasn’t being metaphorical at all. Hopefully, that clears things up a bit.

    In any case, I agree with Cynthia. The most important factor is to consider how your partner feels. If you know them well enough to judge their mood, arousal, willingness, then you know whether or not you are browbeating them into sex. The differences between browbeating and persuasion are the same as they’ve ever been.

    That said, I do think that the maturity of the relationship can be a mitigator. Both because the couple better knows one another and because they are more obligated to one another in a formal relationship (or a long-term informal one). If this is a one night stand, assuming that you are reading the signals correctly as you brush past that no is a very bad idea.

    I also think that we are underestimating the role of alcohol in all this. It is so frequently mixed up with sexual assault that you could build your own prohibition pamphlet around it.

    Mike,
    I remember a trial when I was growing up in Florida. A woman was raped at a club and the prosecution decided to show the outfit that she was wearing (a tube top and a short skirt). I can only understand that as an attempt to say that she was asking for it. I appreciate your understanding (and think it is correct), but my experience is that people look at outfits and mannerisms and decide that some folk are on the prowl for sex. And in some more patriarchal countries (like in the Middle East), certain styles of dress are understood to give men the opportunity to grope or more. So, I’m not really pulling that notion out of thin air.

    Theric,
    I think I get what you are saying with that first comment. But that’s nothing new. It is can be easier physically to go through with the rape than to suffer the violence brought about by fighting back. Folks have long known that. And most women understand the legal calculus that MCQ is demonstrating and many decide not to press charges as a result. All rape trials result in the kind of picking apart of motives that can be hurtful in its own right. So it isn’t surprising that women often don’t come forward. The system is kinda stacked against them (that tumblr link above does a good job of demonstrating this (warning: language)).

    MCQ,
    Can she at least get him on trespassing or home invasion? Because wandering into a stranger’s room, looking to pressure her for sex, after she told him to go away, certainly seems like it ought to break some law.

    Tracy,
    That’s a fair point. Again, America is really screwed up when it comes to sex. However, even if a girl is sending hot and cold signals, men should not assume that the cold ones are the false ones and plow on through. James Bond should not be our culture hero on this front.

  77. I really don’t like the whole focus on “no”. IMO if you don’t have a “yes” you don’t have consent. If you don’t know, you don’t have it. Don’t guess it or read their body language. We learn clearly from princess bride that you can’t get married unless you say “I do” or “yes”. I wish sex would be the same. A contract could not proceed or be counted binding just by not being a no.

    That said, no does mean no.

    The whole, in marriage thing…communication is a really good thing. I don’t think a woman should say no unless she really means it. Other than that..say what you mean. If you mean you have too much to do, but the other person could help…say that. If you mean you aren;t currently in the mood, but the other person could help you change that..say that.

    No still means no in marriage. no is a powerful word and power shouldn’t be abused. Just as you want the other person to see your side of things, you should seek to understand their perspective.

    I also think many times in parenting we say no or don’t mean what we say. My father said no to practically everything…at first. We all learned to ask him 2 weeks in advance to work through the no. I didn’t apply it to much else.

  78. on immodesty. I don’t connect it to rape, but I can see a connection to a mild form of porn. Immodesty can be an invitation…but only to look. Some people do show off body parts on purpose to invite people to look, to get attention or just because they think that’s what you wear. Clothes do matter.

    I do not think clothing or any strategic lack thereof should ever be taken as consent in any action other than looking.

  79. I think the underlying problem here is that a lot of men just don’t see women as real human beings. Why did the guy in the OP assume that a woman who gave her number to another man would want to have sex with a total stranger who shows up at her door? He wasn’t viewing her as a person – he was viewing her as an object for his own use.

  80. #52 Scott B.—No, I don’t think maturity of the relationship has anything to do with it empirically. Hopefully, people in a mature relationship would know and respect each other well enough to know boundaries.

    #56 Eric—Great! So if your wife won’t be your sexual object, than you’ll go find something that you can manipulate at will in your own fantasies. Perfect! (And that was sarcasm, just so we’re clear.)

    Let me put forward a couple of concrete examples to discuss.

    1) A husband and wife are going to bed. They have both had a long day and are exhausted. The man thinks he can’t go to sleep without some action. The woman can barely keep her eyes open. He initiates sex, and she says “not right now, but I will in the morning.” Morning comes, and he is angry. He won’t touch her. He doesn’t do anything truly terrible, but he won’t talk to her except for little snipes, and is tense and irritable for a couple of days. Next time he asks when she is exhausted, she aquiesces in order to keep the peace and avoid his anger. He criticizes her for “just lying there” and not participating more fully.

    2) A husband has discovered by talking with his buddies or by internet research a new sexual act to try. He proposes it to his wife. She is a little leery, but is game to try. They try, and she feels uncomfortable and degraded, and says she doesn’t want to do it again, explaining her reasons to her husband. He apologizes, and agrees not to try it again. Two days later, he proposes doing it again. She tells him she would rather not, that it made her feel cheap and uncomfortable. He asks again, telling her that it felt great to him and he really enjoyed it. She agrees to sex, hoping he will be satisfied with other things, but during the course of sex, he does it anyways. She aquiesces in order to make him happy, and because she wants to be a good wife, but feels degraded and used.

    Do the two above examples constitute marital rape? If so, where do they become rape, and what could have been done differently? If they do not constitute marital rape, are they appropriate behaviors? Why or why not?

  81. And just to clarify, I chose deliberately ambiguous examples. Obviously, forcing a spouse to have sex is rape. But the two above examples are very similar to the account in the linked video, the main difference being marital status, and an existing relationship.

  82. Thomas Parkin says:

    I simply don’t understand why anyone would want to have sex with a partner who isn’t reciprocating. I can’t imagine much worse than knowing I’m having sex with someone who isn’t involved and enjoying the proceedings. If my wife isn’t interested, I’m no longer interested. If a woman, or man, is never interested, or if one can’t keep up with the other’s freakish libido, that’s a problem, I’m sure. I just can’t imagine the answer being one ‘making themselves available’ as a kind of … what? tool? It reminds me of Philip Larkin saying that sex is having someone else blow your nose for you. I mean, there is man who hasn’t captured the whole picture; but his disgust is mine at the idea of … the absence at the other end.

  83. SilverRain,
    If both of your examples, the husband is a jerk. In the first, it seems like there are fundamental communication and trust issues. In the second, he is just a jerk.

    As whether they constitute sexual assault, I would say that the second definitely does. The first is a little iffy, but the relationship seems troubled by other factors. There is an element of manipulation there though.

    Again, this is dangerous territory for generalization, because even in your synopses there is a lot of room for interpretation in between the lines. There are elements of body language and personal history that can’t be conveyed in paragraphs. So, my analysis is taking everything at face value and not treating either example as real.

    You are correct that couples need to respect one another’s wishes. That said, genuine persuasion shouldn’t include emotional manipulation and directly ignoring your partner’s expressed desires.

    Perhaps a better question would be to ask if either is worth ending the relationship over? As I said, I think that the status of the relationship matters. If this is a repeated pattern, then possibly. If this is two people still learning one another, then I’m less inclined to be judgmental. Intent matters and I don’t have any way to determine that.

  84. Not reading all the comments now (though I’ll be back to do so) but wanted to throw out that the difference between a woman who is raped and a woman who is not is the presence of a rapist. This could be a repeat of something said above, and if so, my apologies.

  85. “Can she at least get him on trespassing or home invasion? Because wandering into a stranger’s room, looking to pressure her for sex, after she told him to go away, certainly seems like it ought to break some law.”

    Home invasion is a type of burglary, and it looks like he could be guilty of burglary or at least criminal tresspass.

    Ann: That’s a great comment, but I’m not sure what it means regarding the issue of consent. Can we at least agree that sometimes consent is ambiguous?

  86. MCQ, I think the point would be, if you are not sure whether or not your prospective sex partner is “consenting” (i.e., the consent seems “ambiguous” in any way), STOP right then and there, and do not proceed with any sexual act. It doesn’t seem that difficult to me.

    It’s kind of like the men who get charged with rape after having sex with a girl who is drunk to the point of being unresponsive, and are shocked that they should be accused of rape. Surely the girl wouldn’t have come to the party and gotten that drunk if she didn’t want to have sex with every guy in the room, right? Please. If someone is so impaired that they cannot give informed consent, they are not a suitable sex partner.

  87. I’m also not sure, considering her inebriated state, that the consent of the woman in the video is all that pertinent. Especially as there is some clear element of coercion.

  88. Lorian, keep your “please” to yourself. The things you’re talking about are the easy cases. I’m talking about reality, where both parties might be impaired, or consent is not discussed and is thus ambiguous.

    John, you’re probably right, but we both know that in reality, breathalyzers are not often administered prior to sex. In many, many cases alcohol has been consumed by one or both of the people involved in a sexual encounter. Does that mean that in all of those situations, anyone who has consumed alcohol is incapable of consent?

  89. But MCQ, consent *should* be discussed, particularly between people who do not have an established sexual relationship. It should not be left to “interpretation” or guessing games. If the two people cannot talk about it (whether from discomfort or inebriation), they should not be doing it.

    And my “please” was addressed to those men who believe that inebriation and a resulting inability to refuse sexual advances equals consent. There seem to be a fair number of men who, if they see a drunk girl with a line of men waiting for a turn to get on top of her, think that means they have permission to get in line, too. If she’s too drunk to say “yes” or “no,” then it’s rape.

  90. And that’s not to suggest that states of inebriation which fall short of absolutely unconsciousness cannot also equal rape. Fact is, if a woman were to have sex with a man who is in an inebriated state in which it was not clear that he was capable of giving consent, and he later claimed that she raped him, I’d likely support his claim. However, that’s a somewhat less usual scenario, since men too drunk to give consent may also be too drunk to “perform.”

    In any case, if the man initiates the sexual intercourse, and the woman is too drunk to give consent and he continues with intercourse anyway, it’s not likely going to be considered a reasonable defense that he was drunk, too, since being drunk is not typically considered a valid defense in the commission of a crime. It can reduce the crime to a lesser, non-premeditated one, but it’s not going to be a valid defense of innocence. “Sorry, judge, I didn’t know I ran over a pedestrian — I was in a blackout.” Does it matter that the pedestrian was drunk, too? Most likely not, if the pedestrian did not run out in front of the car.

    Does it matter that the woman the drunk man raped was drunk, too? Probably not. Unless he was passed out cold and she performed sex acts on him, he’s likely to be held liable. It’s difficult — not impossible — but difficult for a woman to force a man to have sex with her against his will.

    Moral of the story, don’t get drunk. Next moral of the story, if you get drunk, don’t have sex. Next moral of the story, if you get too drunk to know if you are having sex, make sure you have a buddy with you who can get you home safely.

  91. Lorian, I agree with most of what you say but since people are not going to talk about consent before sex in most cases and they are going to continue to get drunk and have sex afterwards we still are going to need to decide what to do in the difficult cases where consent (or lack thereof) is not easy to determine.

    No, being drunk does not excuse anyone’s behavior, but when someone runs over a pedestrian it’s easy to determine if a crime was committed: someone is dead or hurt.

    In the case of a crime like rape, that’s not so easy. A crime was committed only if there was no consent. If consent is hard to determine, then the benefit of the doubt has to go to the perpetrator.

  92. MCQ, I’m not sure of my point, really. Premeditated rape, opportunity rape…it’s all rape. I don’t think John’s point was about the boundaries of consent so much as that we live in a society where consent is assumed, and you’ve got to be willing to die to prove you didn’t consent.

  93. I think that’s true among young men in a lot of settings, Ann, and that’s what we need to change, and where education can really help. On the legal front, it seems to me that we’ve swung the laws over a lot closer to where they need to be in that a lack of consent can be inferred from behavior. But that still doesn’t make it easy to prove that there was no consent in some cases.

  94. Sharee Hughes says:

    I hav a comment regarding modesty. I have often thought that it is a state of mind or attitude. I have see lovely young teenage girls in prom gowns that might be off-the-shoulder or even strapless that have such a sweet innocence about them that they do not seem immodest. I have also seen women dressed in high-necked, long-sleeved, floor-length dresses who have seemed vey immodest.

    I’m sure many of you have heard the story of one of the church presidents, I believe it was David O McKay, who was viewing a parade with another gentleman who commented on the skimpy, immodest costumes of the cheerleaders. President McKay responded that he hande noticed that–he had just noticed their sweet spirits. So modesty or the lack thereof can also be just in the eye of the beholder.

    In any case, sexual contact without consent is rape, regardless of whether or not the rapist believes the victim “asked for it” by her demeaner or dress.

    Also, I have often heard that rape is not a crime of passion, but a crime of violence. It isn’t so much that the perpetrator wishes to have sex with his victim, but that he wishes to dominate and control her. This is true whether the partners in the sex act are married or not.

  95. Number 8 (Dovie) What article by Elder Oaks are you refering to?

  96. Probably the one linked in the OP, Ray. Here’s the relevant paragraph: “Finally, do not patronize pornography. Do not use your purchasing power to support moral degradation. And young women, please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you.”

  97. #95 is not me. Please, whoever you are, use an initial or something to distingish yourself.

  98. There’s a story in today’s paper (I won’t link because I’m talking about reader comments which are, as usual, vile) about the victim of last year’s rape and attempted murder of a 19-year-old girl in Provo — she has filed a lawsuit against the state for allowing her attacker, a man with a violent criminal past, to be part of a work release program that made it possible for him to have access to her. One of the commenters calls her a gold digger, saying that the state has no duty to protect her from rape, and the attack was in fact her own fault because she wasn’t carrying a gun.

    That someone could have that opinion, and think it’s okay to make it public, AND that a newspaper would allow it to appear unchallenged on their website, has so many layers of perversion that I don’t know where to begin.

  99. Ardis, as you say, it’s a reader comment which are always awful. There are more trolls on those comment boards than anywhere else on the internet. They say those things just to provoke a hysterical response.

  100. I don’t think it matters why they say them. They do say them, and the newspaper does leave them up as if it had a place in a valid discussion. That’s wrong, and contributes to the kind of culture we’re talking about here, if for no other reason than that it is proof that anything goes and that people aren’t held accountable for their behavior.

  101. I agree MCQ, although that one is more vile than most I’ve seen. Honestly most newspapers should get rid of comments or else moderate them heavily. Most of the time the newspapers never even check the comments.

  102. And BTW I agree that violent offenders should not be on release programs. The state really is liable in this case (IMO).

  103. S.P. Bailey says:

    The comments apparently drive traffic (make money) for online newspapers. I can’t imagine any other motivation to host the dreck that follows every article.

  104. Thomas Parkin says:

    “we live in a society where consent is assumed”

    I don’t know about this. I’ve known and been friends with many people who live very promiscuous, sexually open lives – far more open than I ever was or wanted to be. Whatever the moral failings they demonstrate, assuming consent is definitely not among them. *shrug*

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