Fundamentalism and the Bodily Autonomy of Women

My friend Sarah Morehead’s 13-year old daughter was recently groped by a much older man at a store and had the courage and belief in her own bodily autonomy to turn around and slap him. That action caused Sarah to think about her own experiences in this regard and to write a powerful essay about how her own upbringing made it impossible for her to have done the same thing at that age. I’m not even going to quote a little bit of it, I’m just going to tell you to go read the whole thing.

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  • tvoyumat

    What a powerful story this is, and “Brava!” to the daughter. :)

    I remember, as a child in 4th Grade, I had a female teacher that would hug me, and a few other kids, and kiss our heads, without asking permission. I told my parents that this made me uncomfortable, and my Dad especially made sure to let me know that my “poor teacher, she can’t ever have kids of her own, she just loves you.”

    The teacher was partially disabled, physically. I never understood why I had to let her hug me, though. I still dislike being touched, especially from behind. I can have a panic attack if someone I didn’t see or hear touches me.

    I like hugging with loved ones, but I ask permission first.

  • tvoyumat

    oops, I left out a part – Dad was a Deacon in the Southern Baptist church. So this story places a piece of the puzzle for me.

  • http://www.russellturpin.com/ rturpin

    I hope the police were called.

  • Trebuchet

    Powerful stuff there. Recommended reading. I need to take time later today to go back and follow the links.

  • Georgia Sam

    Although I didn’t experience the sexual harassment that Ms. Morehead describes, the punitive, authoritarian nature of her fundamentalist upbringing resonates with my experience. I was well into adulthood before I learned to stand up for myself, and I still find it difficult sometimes. Most of my fundamentalist relatives still haven’t learned to be self-assertive, especially with employers and other authority figures. Sometimes I just want to shout at them, “Stand up on your hind legs and FIGHT BACK, dammit!”

  • dingojack

    (speaking of men having non-consensual contact with women, remember this Ed? Perhaps we should apply the same standard to the clearly ‘stuck-up, snooty and condescending’ twelve-year old in a supermarket who objects to being (allegedly) ‘goosed’*?)

    Dingo

    ———

    * or, even better, apply it to neither.

  • tvoyumat

    I’d have to agree with Dingo.

    Being a Princess shouldn’t mean that Kate has to be touched by strangers. Nor should anyone be censured for not wishing to be touched.

  • Jeffrey Chamberlain

    Is this a legally justified use of force?

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    From the article:

    Personal growth beyond the walls of my mother’s rigid faith would have been seen as Satanic rebellion…

    I strongly suspect that that is indeed the cause of real Satanism: a rebellion against all of the demeaning infringements and forced humility that so many Christians expect of each other and of everyone else they can get their hooks into. IME, most people who “worship Satan” are actually acknowledging and upholding their own human selves, nature and needs; and their doctrine is not one of actual evil, but one of self-respect, self-empowerment, self-understanding, and self-protection against “psychic vampires” and other people and attitudes that try to trample our needs and force us to be slavishly obedient to damn near everyone and everything BUT ourselves.

    Yes, Satanism is a rather crude and (IMHO) stupid form of rebellion; but a lot of people never get exposed to better forms of expression or ideas; and when they’re told the above quote all their lives, what other response can one expect?

  • U Frood

    IME, most people who “worship Satan” are actually acknowledging and upholding their own human selves, nature and needs;

    Actually, this seems to agree with what many Christians I’ve talked to believe. That thinking of yourself first, rather than obedience to God is doing the will of Satan.

  • mithrandir

    dingojack@6: In the article you linked, Ed Brayton remarked:

    Let me be clear about one thing: I totally support the right of an individual person to set their own boundaries. If someone isn’t comfortable being touched, especially by strangers, I’m perfectly fine with that.

    It’s pretty clear from context that Ed thinks “because it makes me personally uncomfortable” is a good reason not to touch someone, and “because I’m royalty and better than you” is not.

  • Onamission5

    Princess Kate was apparently uncomfortable because one of the lowly underclass treated her like a fellow commoner and she is so much better than them.

    The 13 year old was pissed because a stranger helped himself to her body in a sexualized manner. He did so, if experience has taught me anything, to make her feel unsafe and show her that she is below him. Because he felt entitled to treat her as an object for his use.

    These things are not the same thing by any stretch of the imagination. “How dare you think you can treat me like a peer, don’t you know how much more special I am than you are” is not the same thing as “how dare you use your privileged status to try and get away with abusing me.” Was Lebron James trying to dominate the princess in order to humiliate her and make her feel objectified, powerless? No. He was posing for a photograph, same as he does hundreds (if not thousands) of times a year. His mistake was one of etiquette. The groper’s behavior was deliberate harassment.

    This is not to say that Princess Kate has to allow people to touch her if she doesn’t want to. But please to not equate one very privileged adult’s delicate sensibilities with a child not wanting to be sexually molested at the grocery store. Come the hell on.

  • carbonfox

    Onamission5:

    But please to not equate one very privileged adult’s delicate sensibilities with a child not wanting to be sexually molested at the grocery store.

    Word.

  • mildlymagnificent

    That thinking of yourself first, rather than obedience to God is doing the will of Satan.

    Hah. Reminds me of a song from “Girls Club” 50+ years ago. All I can remember is the last 3 lines, though it’s obviously preceded by something about JOY.

    Jesus first.

    Yourself last.

    Others in between.

  • Nick Gotts

    Princess Kate was apparently uncomfortable because one of the lowly underclass treated her like a fellow commoner and she is so much better than them. – Onamission5

    Wow! A telepath! Why not apply for James Randi’s $1m challenge?

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Princess Kate was apparently uncomfortable because one of the lowly underclass treated her like a fellow commoner and she is so much better than them.

    First, she was nowhere near as uncomfortable as some tabloids, and reflexive royal-bashers, made her out to be. And second, are you trying to imply that her royal status makes her LESS entitled to object to being touched unbidden? She may be a posh upper-class twit (or she may not, I really don’t know), but that’s no excuse to belittle or minimize her concerns here.