[Content Note: Rape, Victim Blaming, Unjust Arrest]
This Monday, popular feminist writer Amanda Marcotte wrote a decent piece for Salon, describing victim blaming in conservative Christianity. In it, she pointed out that in many conservative Christian circles…
“…[m]en’s choices, especially men’s sexual choices, are the responsibility of women. So if a man chooses to rape you, it’s understood not as him asserting dominance over you, but as the man taking the liberties you must have extended to him.”
She’s right, of course. As I’ve discussed at length in my “You Are Not Your Own” series, women in conservative Christianity are often seen as at least partly, if not mostly or wholly responsible for the choices that men make. So, when a woman is raped, conservative Christians will often ask about what she was wearing, what she was drinking, who she was hanging out with that she shouldn’t have been, how “far” she went before she asked the rapist to stop, etc.
If you press conservative Christians about this issue, calling it sexist, many of them will claim, “We are not the real sexists! You feminists are! We just hold higher standards for women. Our position empowers women to stop rape.”
Most of us recognize quickly that this is ridiculous. We would not call this conservative Christian mindset “feminist.” We could call it what it is: patriarchal, victim-blaming, violence.
So when Amanda Marcotte does the same thing these conservative Christians do, what should we call it?
Only one day after her piece about victim-blaming in conservative Christianity was published at Salon, Amanda Marcotte published another piece at Slate entitled “Prosecutors Arrest Alleged Rape Victim to Make Her Cooperate in Their Case. They Made the Right Call.”No, you didn’t read that wrong. And no, it’s not one of those deceiving headlines that draws you in with some off-the-wall controversy only to flip things around in the post (see: “I’m Dating Someone Even Thought I’m Married”). Marcotte actually argues in this piece that arresting a rape victim who won’t do what the prosecutors want her to do is the right call.
Hypocritically, Marcotte supports this decision for the same reason she criticized conservative Christianity only hours before. She makes victims in this case responsible for the actions of rapists:
The sad, unavoidable truth is that we have to decide what’s more important to us: putting abusive men in jail or letting their victims opt out of cooperating with the prosecution as they see fit. Always erring on the side of victim sensitivity means putting some very bad men back out on the streets, where they will likely attack someone else.
Instead of addressing the circumstances inherent in a rape culture that make victims/survivors hesitant to cooperate in the prosecution of their abusers, Marcotte decries the fact that “victims have minds of their own” (how dare they?). According to Marcotte, it’s these pesky victims that think for themselves and make their own decisions that are to blame for the “very bad men” out there in the world.
What is this, if not (in this case where the rapist was a man and the victim was a woman) making “[m]en’s choices…the responsibility of women”?
How is this different from conservative Christianity?
In Marcotte’s feminism, the victim, (who in this case is a woman) is the problem because she does not listen to the prosecutors, the state. In conservative Christianity, women are the problem because when they do not listen to their parents, their husbands, their pastors, or God.
I’ll tell you how it’s different.
In all my years growing up in conservative Christianity, no one ever threatened me with arrest.
They victim-blamed me. They told me not to think for myself. They called me selfish when made decisions that valued my own health and safety. They told me that “bad” women are the reason some men commit rape and violence. I don’t have many positive things to say about the conservative Christian circles I grew up in, but they never threatened to arrest me.
I’ll take conservative Christianity over Marcotte’s feminism any day.