‘Eve-teasers’ inside and outside the church

In Bangladesh, apparently, the sexual harassment of women is called “Eve teasing.”

This social problem exists everywhere be it in rural or in urban areas. One of the main reasons of girls being married off at an early age or them dropping out of school is “eve teasing.” Many times these incidents lead to violence and even deaths.

Just look at that term — “Eve teasing” — and ponder its biblical roots.

The etymology of this term is an accusing finger pointing directly at the patriarchal religion that men use to justify this debasing, predatory behavior. That term is a powerful indictment of this patriarchal religion — a reminder that it is directly linked to daily, relentless abuse, harassment, “violence and even deaths.”

* * * * * * * * *

At Jesus Radicals, Andy Alexis-Baker wrestles with what it means for the legacy of John Howard Yoder that the great Mennonite theologian was also a horrific Eve-teaser.

For Jesus Radicals like Alexis-Baker, Yoder is a big name — a man whose books shaped the thinking of a generation. I’m part of that generation, and I understand Alexis-Baker’s anguished disappointment here.

Yoder was the equivalent, for Christian progressives and peacemakers, of those un-named “big names” whom Ericka M. Johnson discusses at Friendly Atheist in a post titled “It’s Almost Time to Start Naming Names.”

“Private conversations with these people have to come first,” Johnson writes. “These are our allies and we have to give them a chance to make amends. But if none of those efforts work, then we have to start naming names. Not to shame them but to protect women in our community.”

I appreciate the painful difficulty here, but whether the Eve-teaser in question is a revered theologian or a revered non-theist, I think Johnson has steps 1 and 2 backwards. Protect the vulnerable first and foremost. Then — and only then — can you start to worry about protecting the reputation of any person, institution or affiliated movement.

* * * * * * * * *

Roman Catholic priest Jonathan Morris says the Department of Health and Human Service’s regulations requiring equal health insurance coverage for women entails “the obvious raping of our First Amendment rights.”

This is appalling for at least three reasons:

1) No one should be using rape metaphors.

2) No one should be using rape metaphors to argue against equal health coverage for women.

3) No one should be using rape metaphors to argue against equal health coverage for women when he belongs to a hierarchy that has been committing, facilitating and defending actual rape for decades and is now, at this moment, fighting to prevent changes to statutes of limitations that would ensure rapists can be brought to justice.

* * * * * * * * *

This post by David French exemplifies how the politics of abortion is used to define the boundaries of the evangelical tribe.

This is one of the main functions of the politics of abortion in American evangelicalism. It’s not about being “pro-life.” It’s about ensuring that you can’t be accused of not being sufficiently “pro-life.” It’s about keeping people in line, keeping them obedient and voting as they are told. It’s about control of women, yes, but it’s also about control of everyone who wishes to be allowed to remain in the community.

French sees Millennials and younger evangelicals losing their taste for the culture wars of their elders and he’s terrified that this will mean that the Republican Party will lose their votes. So he plays the only card he’s got left: the baby-killer card.

Do as you’re told, young people. Repeat the required phrases or you’re not really Christians. Do as you’re told or you’re no longer welcome in the tribe. Do as you’re told or we will question the firmness of your “pro-life” stance and thereby cast you into the outer darkness with the Satanic baby-killers and the evolutionists and the homosexuals, where there is weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, and fabulous gay weddings.

Do as you’re told. Or else. That’s what being “pro-life” is all about in American evangelicalism.

* * * * * * * * *

Now go read this: “I Am (Not) That Mom: Raising a Kid with Cardiomyopathy,” by Laura Fitch.

And if you’re one who prays, say a prayer for every name in that story.

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  • I heard the last half of your first sentence as an awful parody of the Beggin’ Strips commercial. I am a terrible person. 

  • I am breaking my silence to tell you that if you are wondering why I appear to be holding an OMGSENSELESSGRUDGE?

    It’s because you’re so fucking obtuse about shit like this.

    You seem to have an unfathomable incapability of seeing anything from the point of view of anything but a middle-age, straight, white male. (Incidentally, the very demographic that holds the most political and economic sway in your country)

    You have got no goddamn idea at all of how hurtful some of your statements are. You can’t be arsed to believe QUILTBAG people possibly know better than you about veiled threats to their livelihoods. You can’t even be arsed to believe that women know better than you about rape trivialization in Western culture.

    You’re swimming so deep in the waters of your own privilege you can’t
    for one fucking second possibly comprehend what it’s like for anyone who
    can’t inhabit those waters.

    The only way you could be any more asinine is if you were being purposely thick as two planks* just to be extremely rude and unthoughtful**.


    * That, by the way, would be an insult to the planks, which at least can serve a useful function.
    ** Were I to use any stronger language the air might well turn blue.

  • Makabit

    I want to see parenting advocates start referring to two lesbian parents as the “gold standard” of parenting. Because apparently, mixed-gender couples just don’t measure up.

    My husband turned out pretty well: gold standard it is!!

  • SisterCoyote


    And the fact that there’s no ‘murder culture’ going around acting like murder victims were asking for it. There is no crime, none, wherein the violent perpetrators are afforded as much sympathy, no crime that so few people are actually afraid to commit.

    Rape culture is alive and well, and everywhere, it’s treated as a joke, not a big deal, something that should just be dealt with. Making rape metaphors furthers this culture. Murder, obviously, has never been brushed off as something you just deal with, and so you really can’t compare the two.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Murder, obviously, has never been brushed off as something you just deal with

    To be entirely fair to aunursa: lynching.

  • SisterCoyote

    Oh damn, you’re right.

    …Well, lynch metaphors are also usually considered in bad taste?

  • EllieMurasaki


  • Dan Audy

    That is pure bullshit.

    I constantly see things like ‘he should have expected it when he joined a gang’ or ‘he shouldn’t have gotten drunk and antagonized that guy’ in both conversation and the news media talking about murder and violent crime that fails to be murder solely because of amazing medical treatments.  Survivors of attempted murder are constantly told that they should be grateful they survived and ‘move on’.  Violent crime is massively ignored when it is perpetrated against poor non-Caucasians (particularly men) because it is typically done by other poor men of similar ethnicity and ‘you can’t expect anything better out of “those” people’.

    Rape culture is real and you are absolutely correct that rapist get more sympathy than other criminals.  However, it is a massive dose of privilege to pretend that murder isn’t ignored and glorified simply because you are lucky enough to not be a likely victim.

  • Tonio

    Your right in principle that murder often involves victim-blaming and glorification. The difference with rape is that the assumption that women bring it on themselves affects all women, even ones who are never raped. Their clothing and behavior are scrutinized by people who have no business doing so.

  • Guest

    Can we please stop saying that rape is only the forcible attack on women from men? Men get raped, too, and women rape. The FBI definition of rape is “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body
    part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person,
    without the consent of the victim.” 

  • *ticks off “What about the menz?”*

    Look, nobody denies that. and nobody denies that prison rape is used as
    an informal social control tool. But it’s a truism that power imbalances
    in our society mean that statistically women get raped more than men.

  • Tonio


    I can garuntee you that they’re not going to break down in tears after everybody told them that it was their fault.

    And they’re certainly not going to be told that they have to dress a certain way to avoid arousing potential attackers.

  • Guest

     That wasn’t a “what about the men” whine. I know that women are raped more than men (and FTR, I’m female). But it surprised me that people were defining rape so narrowly — and incorrectly — on a site that is usually more sensitive than that. That’s how you end up with people like that Penn State coach ignoring reports that Sandusky raped several kids. He claimed he didn’t believe males could be raped.

  • Tonio

    That a valid point for the specific act. My own point is about rape as the ultimate outcome of male entitlement and the impact of that on women. In principle, all women are vulnerable to being raped, while most men aren’t. That’s far different from simply feeling vulnerable after being victimized some other way.

  • Tonio

     I hope my last sentence didn’t sound dismissive of people traumatized by non-rape crime.

  • SisterCoyote

    However, it is a massive dose of privilege to pretend that murder isn’t
    ignored and glorified simply because you are lucky enough to not be a
    likely victim.

    You’re right there. I’m privileged enough to not be a likely murder victim, and I should have thought that comparison through more clearly.

    But I disagree with you that murder is actually glorified, by anyone except a wingnut minority. The media, and culture, is dismissive of violent crimes against poor non-whites. Yes. But people don’t go around wearing shirts that say “It’s not murder if they’re poor,” or or “It’s not murder if they’re black.” Murder has never been seen as “just something red-blooded males have to get out of their system,” it’s not seen as “the way it used to be,” and even when a white person has shot a black kid, and it’s been brushed under the rug by the local authorities, it’s not going to be ever seen as something the shooter had a right to do. Scum of the earth, like Ron Paul, might say this shit and deny it later, but there really is not a murder culture the way there is a rape culture.

  • Are you sure? Again, I really don’t see “if you wear a short skirt, you’ll get raped” as being all that much better or worse “if you wear a hoody, you’ll get shot”.

    When I read things like “Watch and Pray For Our Children”, an article by an African-American mother listing all of the little “rules” that minority parents have to impose on their children to try and keep them safe from being victimized by other people’s prejudices and suspicions, I really don’t see how that’s much different from Ana Mardoll’s article on “rape prevention tips”.

    The assumption that minorities bring on police brutality and street violence upon themselves is pretty pervasive. When you hear it from journalists, politicians, counselors, and other prominent figures, and you have minority parents just accepting the notion that, yes, their children have to avoid dating outside of their race or wearing certain clothes if they don’t want to get shot, well… if that’s not “murder culture” then it’s pretty damn close in my book. Between that and “Stand Your Ground” laws that are blatantly applied unequally (a black woman who fired a warning shot at her ex-husband in a “stand your ground” case in her home will be imprisoned for 20 years — though no one was killed or injured in this case, while George Zimmerman who shot a black boy in the street under that same law could receive as little as 16), I’m not sure what else you would need to add to make it worse.

  • AnonymousSam

    .. Actually, there is a murder culture, I’m sorry to say. We saw it in action with the Trayvon Martin case.

    “He was wearing a hoodie. Anyone wearing a hoodie late at night ought to expect to be taken as a potentially dangerous threat. Really, what was he thinking?”

    And then an arms company started manufacturing shooting targets designed to look explicitly like a man in a hoodie carrying skittles and a can of tea, and they sold out almost immediately…

  • Tonio

     You’re right that they’re not much different. I suppose the only relevant difference is that the vulnerability of women may extends to relationships, such as the very common crime of date rape. But both involve entitlement and privilege, one involving men and the other involving whites. The fact that women lack privilege is a huge reason that rape metaphors are offensive. I’m not arguing that murder metaphors are less offensive, just that they don’t automatically connect to the lack of privilege. They would in some contexts, such as a white person participating in a discussion about Trayvon Martin. In fact, I suspect that use of both metaphors is much more common among people who benefit from privilege.

  • Dan Audy

    I think the real difference is the prevalence of the crimes, particularly amoung the internet going communities.  Rape is a (horrifyingly) common crime while murderous violence is less common, even in the communities were it occurs frequently.  Add to that the fact that being middle or upper class doesn’t protect women from being likely to be raped in the same way that being middle or upper class protects men from being murdered and the demographics of the internet exclude people most impacted by murders.  That means in a given discussion it is very reasonable to assume that someone involved has been raped or has someone they are close to raped while the odds of someone who has been impacted by murder is much lower (particularly since the victims are by their nature no longer able to be involved).  This means that rape metaphors have a critical mass of people who find them triggering, hurtful, and insensitive that can speak out and generate a wave of opposition while people hurt or triggered by murder metaphors are sparse enough to be dismissed as overly sensitive individuals because so much gets by without comment.

  • And then an arms company started manufacturing shooting targets designed
    to look explicitly like a man in a hoodie carrying skittles and a can
    of tea, and they sold out almost immediately…

    Sometimes I wonder if I should take seriously the notion that the Roman Empire holds a cautionary tale for contemporary Western society, because one thing that does strike me as valid as a watchword is the need to avoid coarsening human behavior to the point where it’s socially acceptable in some circles to wear clothing which treats the murder of a young man as a complete joke.

    For all that Republican politicians love to talk a good game about moral fiber, they seem conspicuously prone to substituting moral ex-lax. Has anyone condemned this sort of thing at all, in any communications medium?

  • Tonio

    That cautionary tale is usually pushed by fundamentalists and others who believe that Christianity should be the norm. My understanding is that the coarsening you describe was during a specific period far earlier than Rome’s fall, and to some degree was exaggerated by later Christian writers.

    I hadn’t heard about those targets until they were mentioned here, but then I don’t watch TV news. In any case, I think there’s a far more likely cause for them – not overall coarsening of behavior but fear of losing ethnicity-based privilege. With a non-white in the White House and non-whites making up a majority of the babies being born, a lot of whites seem terrified of some type of Jim Crow in reverse.

  • Sorry, I was mistaken – it wasn’t a clothes item, it was a gun target:


    Still, for someone to make these things implies that there is a market for them, and that, to me, is a sign that some people these days are consuming the moral ex-lax.

  • AnonymousSam

    With a non-white in the White House and non-whites making up a majority
    of the babies being born, a lot of whites seem terrified of some type of
    Jim Crow in reverse.

    To the point where I actually received a letter urging me and every other Catholic (… but I’m not!) to have as many children as possible, or Jesus could return to find nothing but NEGRO HEATHENS dominating the planet!

    I wish I’d kept that. My only consolation is that, in theory, it was recycled into post-consumer products and some part of it is fulfilling a useful purpose now.

  • Just because a stopped clock is mostly wrong doesn’t make the two times it’s right any less valid.

    There’s moral fiber in doing things like refusing to take advantage of an unfair system weighted in one’s favor and calling attention to that advantage (Think Warren Buffett, etc).

    There’s moral fiber in admitting one’s mistakes and indeed, the mistakes made by an entire system of government. (FDR, Khrushchev, Gorbachev, etc)

    The moral ex-lax comes when you have flimflam artists like Romney who will say and do anything to justify how they can perpetuate self-serving ideologies that do nothing to benefit the vast majority of people.