I got a little upset the other day after I wrote a blog post about the Steubenville rape trial. I wrote a pretty long post. I felt that I set out my opinion clearly, and I put responsibility where it lay: The boys should not have raped, the girl should not have been drinking and flirting with guys at a party, and parents should not have been letting their kids running around without supervision. Go read it; it’s the blog post immediately preceding this one. Don’t worry – I’ll wait. I’ll sit here and sip my coffee while some Cooking TV program murmurs in the background.
Okay, back? So, you read the article. Hopefully that gives you an idea of where I’m coming from. As is my usual habit, I posted this article to my Facebook wall and then the comments started coming in. For the most part, all the ladies were in general on the same page as I was: People need to raise their kids with good morals, the boys are totally at fault for what they did, and despite her bad judgment at drinking and partying, no women deserves to get raped.
This requires emphasis: NO WOMAN DESERVES TO GET RAPED. Full stop. Bold Face. Italics.
There’s no “but” in that sentence. No wishy-washy “Well, sure, no woman deserves to get raped, but…”. In that “but” lie all the excuses and outs that society gives to men who rape. Poor guy with the raging testosterone. He couldn’t help himself. She was flirting. She was dressed like a slut. She was drunk. She was asking for it. She should have known better.
No woman deserves to get raped. I would think that at least all us women would agree, but there were a few Muslim women who were quick to throw this sixteen year old girl on the rubbish heap:
“all im saying is we live in a society that even at the age of sixteen casual sex is considered “the norm” so seriously what one more … *shrugs* but i am surprised at the compassion you “ukhtis” have for this kaffirah but remain silent when its known that the us soldier go overseas and rsape virgin women or women whose only lept with one man (their husband!!!) lol smh”
So, according to this Muslimah, simply by dint of the fact that you are not Muslim, you are not worthy of sympathy. If you are a “kaffirah” (a loaded word used by Muslims to refer to a non-Muslim in a disparaging manner), since you live in a sex-soaked society and it’s your habit to fornicate like bunnies while Obama is off killing Muslims overseas, well to hell with you.
I am here to tell you rape is wrong. It’s wrong when it is done as an act of war in Congo or Iraq, it’s wrong when done at a party in Steubenville Ohio. And yes, I will have compassion for this non-Muslim girl because I am a human being and she is a fellow human being. I don’t remember reading anything in the Qur’an that tells me I have to have contempt for non-Muslims. I believe that in many places in our scripture we are told to be of high moral character, to serve as role models, and to teach other people about the beauty of belief in One God and the freedom and peace of obeying Him. And having compassion for her does not lessen my compassion for my Muslim sisters around the world who suffer the same affront. I quail under the burden of the agony of my Muslim sisters and all my fellow human beings. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of misery to go around.I know that in the case of this girl in Ohio, the saying in my title above, “There but for the Grace of God go I”, could not be more apt. I could EASILY have been her. At age sixteen I was running around with my friends, going camping on weekends all over the states of Texas and Oklahoma with scores of grownups, drinking, though usually only in “social” amounts, and otherwise living my life unfettered by adult supervision. My parents divorced when I was fourteen and they were busy losing themselves in various ways and didn’t seem to have much interest in completing the job of raising their kids. My older sister was able to make her way a bit more than I since she was seventeen and near adult status; I did not have that luxury. I stayed with one, then the other, pretty much doing my own thing, and then eventually I moved in with friends. Grownup friends. Yeah, and me fifteen years old. Totally dysfunctional, but when you’re in the midst of it, you’re not thinking how weird it is that your parents don’t really want you. You’re busy thinking how cool it is that you are hanging out with all the adults!
So, yeah, a whole lot could have gone wrong for me. Allah saved me from myself, though, and surrounded me with some of the kindest, most nurturing people I’ve ever come across in my life. I was free to do what I want, but never ever pressured to take a step I wasn’t ready for, and since it was not in my nature to use drugs or be promiscuous, I just did my thing, spent time with my friends, went camping, and beat on people with swords. And threw spears, and learned how to make medieval armor, and got into archery, and heraldry. Sounds weird? Well, maybe to an outsider, but to me, this group, this club called the Society for Creative Anachronism, SCA for short, was my family. They saved me from so much wrong so that when I was older and not so stupid, I could recognize the beauty of Islam and claim it for my own.
So, what if I had gotten involved with a faster crowd? What if, on one night when camping in a remote encampment in the backwoods of Texas, some guy had plied me with mulled wine and had raped me? Would it have been “my fault”? Should I have known better than to go camping with mixed groups of lusty lads and lasses? Should I have known better than to drink while underage? Would I have just got what was coming to me? Of course not. I was not a useless “kaafir” unworthy of compassion back then. I was a non-Muslim. I was a kid floundering along trying to make my way in the world several years before I was supposed to have to. I was making mistakes based on lack of knowledge and lack of support, lack of nurturing at home and fear of being on my own. I can’t even write about it without the fear of having been abandoned by my parents constricting my throat. Perhaps Allah had mercy on me, saving me from a bad scenario, because He was already testing me with the breakup of my family. But if I had become a victim of rape, I tell you that I would not have deserved it. No women deserves it. If you believe that women deserve to be raped, then there’s the door. Don’t let it hit you in the ass on the way out.