‘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.

"We already know he craves attention, good, bad, or anything in between, as long as ..."

Smart people saying smart things (1.19)
"So you're dumb enough to reply to a spambot. Not surprising."

Smart people saying smart things (1.19)
"DACA had to be preserved or strengthened or replaced with some permanent solution that kept ..."

Smart people saying smart things (1.19)

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Kubricks_Rube

    From French: One political party is completely dedicated to legal protection of abortion on demand.  The other political party is completely dedicated to repealing Roe v. Wade.  If you talk too much about abortion, others will define you, and if you’re defined how can you be independent?

    This is the kind of false choice that makes this line of reasoning so frustrating (aside from the lie that any prominent democrat supports aboprtion “on demand”). What about the one political party that is completely (well, relatively) dedicated to policies known to significantly decrease unwanted/unplanned pregnancies and therefore abortions and the other political party that is completely dedicated to opposing any such public policies? Can’t one exert their “independence” by seeing that liberal economic and social policies will limit the demand for abortion even if they don’t tackle the supply, while conservative economic and social policies exacerbate the factors and reasons why one might choose an abortion, whether or not that option is available?

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    The other political party is completely dedicated to repealing Roe v. Wade.  

    And yet when they controlled Congress and the presidency they did nothing. What they’re really completely dedicated to is dragging out Roe v. Wade as a campaign issue to get votes, and the last thing they want is for it to be repealed because then what will they use to rile up the people?

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    … 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.

    You left out the rainbows and cookies!

  • aunursa

    New York Republicans propose unconstitutional ban on anonymous online comments.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Dear New York Republicans: Define ‘anonymous’, define ‘online’, define ‘ban’, define ‘how the fuck this would help’, define ‘how the fuck this would help someone I can’t mention by username for reasons of this individual’s personal safety’. And that’s all before the courts ask you to define ‘how the fuck this comports with the First Amendment’.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    They must love Google+.

  • Tonio

    In that part of the world, many families see early marriage for daughters as protection not only from Eve teasing but also from a lifetime of prostitution. I’m not sure what Fred means by the “patriarchal religion.” I see this as a more generic example of near-absolute male entitlement, where all the life choices available to women involve being controlled or dominated by men.

  • aunursa

    Using “rape” as a metaphor is quite common in political and idealogical discussions, and I’m not clear as to why rape metaphors should be verboten any more than the frequently-used “hijack”, “kill”, and “murder” metaphors.  That said, a representative of a hierarchy that has committed, facilitated, and defended actual rape should not be using “rape” as a metaphor.

  • The_L1985

    Considering that we live in a world where rape victims are seldom believed, where people falsely believe that they were “asking for it” or that “men can’t be raped because they want sex ALL THE TIME,” no, it is never appropriate to use rape metaphors.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ed-Mix/100000574306150 Ed Mix

    Father Morris should stop raping the 9th Commandment.

  • Nathaniel

    My god, that post by Mr. French pisses me off.

    “Children do better in two parent homes.” Well no shit Sherlock. You do realize that that argument supports gay marriage you stupid prick.

    Oh yeah. There are millions of gay people parenting. Like, right now. Have been for years. Where’s you’re “pro-family” support for banning gay adoption or in vitro by those godless lesbians? 

    Well, I guess its part of your “loving” religion that you don’t openly advocate for banning and tearing those families apart. You just want to make sure they have no legal protection or recognition, that the state could take away these couples kids at any time, that hospitals could deny visitation rights, and that if one or both parents became disabled the kids would be denied benefits, because their family wouldn’t be recognized by the government.

    Because of “loving” people like you. James “beat your kids and your pets with a belt” Dobson.

    And oh, by the way? Those researchers who found that divorce and single parent homes have generally worse outcomes for kids?

    Same sort of people who concluded recently that lesbian couples do better by their kids on average. I’m sure you’ll update your support for lesbian couples accordingly. After all, for you its all about the children. And family.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    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. 

    (Yeah, I know the huge statistical problems with that study, but that kills the funny.) 

  • 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!!

  • Guest

    For one thing, aunursa, people don’t survive being killed or murdered. Those who survive attempts to do so constitute a much smaller proportion of people than the proportion of people who have been raped.

  • aunursa

    That’s true, but presumably their loved ones survive. And aside from 9/11/01, most people survive a hijacking, and most people survive a mugging (another word used as a metaphor.)  But perhaps I’m missing your point.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

     You’re missing the point.  You’re also engaging in “but what about this” diversionary tactics to justify behavior you’ve just been told is inappropriate and hurtful to others.

  • aunursa

    It’s not a diversion.  The word “rape” is painful to rape victims.  But the words “mug” and “hijack” can also elicit painful memories to victims of those violent crimes.  And certainly “kill” and “murder” can be painful to the loved ones of murder victims.  I’m trying to understand if it’s okay to use as metaphors these other words that refer to violent, traumatic, crimes and that can cause such pain for victims and loved ones … but not “rape”.  And if so, why.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Victims of muggings: usually believed when they say a crime has occurred, especially if they say the perpetrator is someone with less privilege than the victim. Survivors of rape: not usually believed when they say a crime has occurred, especially if they say the perpetrator is someone with more privilege than the victim. Do you seriously not see the difference?

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

     I’d encourage you to reconsider playing his game.  It’s not up to you to define how using “kill” metaphorically is different form using “rape” metaphorically.  All that needs to be done is to explain why using “rape” metaphorically is wrong.  If he thinks words like “kill” should be treated the same, then he can make that argument.

    But I’ll give 7:1 odds that his goal is not to show consideration for victims (or families of victims) of murders, muggings, or other violent crimes, but to argue against the idea that the word “rape” shouldn’t be used metaphorically.

  • EllieMurasaki

     Fair enough.

  • aunursa

    Yes, a rape victim is less likely to be believed, especially when the perpetrator is someone she knows.  That causes additional pain on top of the assault.  What I don’t understand is why the fact that some rape victims are not believed should make “rape” an inappropriate metaphor.

  • connorboone

    Rape shouldn’t be used as a metaphor, because the only thing that is like rape is rape.  Your ‘argument’ is on par with the ‘Why can’t I use the N-word like those black folks do?’ and reeks of entitlement and obliviousness.

  • Tonio

    To expand on your point, context matters. A big reason that non-black usage of the N-word is unacceptable is that it’s impossible for anyone but a black person to use it ironically. For all practical purposes, rape is about a man violating and dominating a woman. Because our culture wrongly condones rape to a large degree, it’s more threatening when a man uses a rape metaphor than when a woman uses it. In fact, I’ve never heard any woman use the metaphor in a non-ironic way. It doesn’t matter if that particular man would never rape a woman – his intentions have nothing to do with it.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

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

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    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.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    Okay, so while you are trying to find out if using the words “mug,” “kill,” and “hijack,” should also be avoided in metaphors, you’re going to avoid the word “rape” and discourage others from using it in metaphors, right?

    If not, then my accusation of using diversionary tactics to justify the use of “rape” as a metaphor stands.

  • aunursa

    It’s not diversionary to point out a double-standard.

    There are three options:

    A: It’s okay to use “rape”, “kill”, etc. as metaphors
    B: It’s not okay to use “rape”, “kill’, etc as metaphors
    C: It’s not okay to use “rape” as a metaphor, but okay to use “kill”, etc

    “A” and “B” both employ one standard.  “C” employs two standards.  It’s up to those people who claim “C” to explain why rape is a special category that doesn’t apply to kill, etc.  I’m asking for an explanation for the two standards. Unless the proponents of “C” can explain the two standards, I would be unable to explain to others why they should not use “rape” as a metaphor.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    So because someone can’t tell you whether B or C is correct, you’re going to go with A?

    I call bullshit.  And I’m done.

  • aunursa

    So because someone can’t tell you whether B or C is correct, you’re going to go with A?

    No.  All of the responses have assumed that C is correct.   No one has suggested that B might be a valid option.

    Lots of people tell me I shouldn’t do this.  But they don’t explain why I shouldn’t do it.  Oftentimes they haven’t even thought it through and don’t even have a coherent explanation as to why I shouldn’t do it. 

    I have great sympathy for victims of rape.  I don’t think that a rape victim should be believed less than victims of other violent crimes, and I support harsh punishments for rapists.  I have a wife, a mother, a daughter, sisters-in-law, and cousins.  One of my close friends suffered an assault many years ago. Recently I told her (in reference to a recentassault) that a rape victim should not be ashamed because she did nothing wrong — the criminals who raped her are the ones who should be ashamed.  

    What I’m failing to understand is if there is a coherent explanation as to why “rape”should not be used as a metaphor.  Apparently if I question an explanation, then I’m not sympathetic to rape victims.  Whatever.  I’m done, too.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

     Apparently if I question an explanation, then I’m not sympathetic to rape victims.  Whatever.  I’m done, too.

    What exactly is incoherent about “because nothing spoken of metaphorically compares to the actual violation experienced by rape victims and the comparison actually trivializes their experiences”?

  • Michael Pullmann

    Nobody is saying “C”, trollboy.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Using “rape” as a metaphor trivializes the very real experience of very real victims.  It dilutes the meaning of the word from something that deals immense psychological, emotional, physical, social and sexual damage down to “something I don’t like”. 

    “Kill” can mean to end a life (of a person, animal, or even plant), but it can also mean to terminate or end an inanimate object, program, or activity. It has a broad meaning that can apply to sentient and non-sentient beings, animate or inanimate objects.

    Similarly, phrases like “hijack” or “mug”, while possessing violent implications, are fairly broad in their actual definition. I can “hijack” a conversation by attempting to change the subject. If a contractor goes over bid, and the bill is higher than I was expecting, I could say he was “mugging” me, even though no violence is present because I am experiencing a financial loss that I cannot avoid and did not want. 

    “Rape” means “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will,”. It means the non-consensual sexual violation of a human being. It has a very specific meaning with a very specific implication of sexualized violence.

    Rape metaphors are bad in the same way that you would discourage someone from saying “we really murdered the other team at pub trivia!” or “I totally shanked the other salespeople with my pitch” or “Man, that math test really perforated my anus without my consent and left me sobbing in the shower for an hour”. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    “Rape” means “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will,”.

    Didn’t the FBI change that to something more clueful?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    What everyone else has said is true, but not really necessary, as it’s simpler than that. People have said that using rape analogies hurts them. So if you are defending the use of rape analogies, one of two things must be true:

    1. You don’t care if you hurt them — you are a bully.
    2. You don’t believe them when they say it hurts them — you believe they are liars.

    So either admit to being a bully or have the guts to call them liars.

    Or shut the fuck up and stop defending rape analogies.

  • 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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    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.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    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.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    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.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Nothing else is like rape. 

    Nothing else is like rape.

    Nothing else is like rape.

    Get this through your thick skull, you mansplaining privilege-soaked rape culture-supporting arrogant creep.

  • MaryKaye

    I’ve run into the dilemma the atheist conventions are discussing in several far-flung parts of my own life lately, and I have to say:

    It’s laudable to want to be fair.  But treating accuser and accused equally when one has much more social and political power than the other is not actually fair, and we’re kidding ourselves when we do it and hope for a fair outcome.

    If one person has most of the power in the relationship, treating the two people as equals just hands control of the situation over to the more powerful one.  This is why most of us are reluctant to go up against a corporation in a civil court case:  it is “fair” that both sides to present all the evidence they can find, but the resources and power of a corporation overwhelm those of an individual.

    The large, powerful organization I work for had a whistleblower expose malfeasance some years ago.  Treating the organization and the whistleblower as equals would surely have cost the whistleblower his job and professional reputation.  (I hope we would not have gone so far as threatening his safety, but I’m not positive of it.)  The law protected him, and that’s as it should be.

    Organizations need to develop policies that recognize the difficulty of making complaints or accusations up the power structure.  We are not going to get rid of power structures, but we can make them less harmful by imposing strict limits on the use of power.  The people who stand to be harmed by these limits will fight them–you see that in the comments to the post on atheism, where some posters are up in arms about a purported epidemic of false accusations.  But cold reason suggests that accusations up the power chain are very risky for the person making them, and that abuse going in the other direction, which is far less risky, is therefore far more likely.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    I’m trying to understand if it’s okay to use as metaphors these other words that refer to violent, traumatic, crimes and that can cause such pain for victims and loved ones … but not “rape”.  And if so, why.

    I’d say that one difference comes from how the words are used in their literal senses. People are generally united in both how they define “hijack”, “kill”, and “murder” and in how they feel about those acts. “Rape,” in our culture, has no such universal definition and prompts no such universal reaction. See, for example, any comment thread on any post about rape on any blog/news site on the internet.

  • Evan Hunt

    Do as you’re told. Or else. That’s what being “pro-life” is all about in American evangelicalism.
    It’s not what being pro-life is about in American evangelicalism… it’s what everything is about in American evangelicalism.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Reading French’s post is increasingly uncomfortable for how self-deceiving he is, and how quickly and vigorously he embraces straw-man positions of his opposition, and himself.  

    For someone who claims to be about more than culture wars, even a brief perusal of his on-line presence shows… a fixation on culture wars. Having penned numerous op-eds about how gay marriage is wrong, how abortion is terrible, and how the no-fault divorce is destroying our society, when asked the question of why people think Christians are obsessed with the culture wars, he… blames the media… which published all of the culture-war articles he wrote.

    I’d comment on the post, but I’m not his intended audience. And I hope his intended audience would be savvy enough to see through his deceptions. 

  • Ian needs a nickname

    If hurting victims isn’t reason enough to avoid rape metaphors, here’s another reason.  Unlike killing, rape always has a sentient victim.  In computing, a kill command ends a process (a killing metaphor) but the image it calls to mind for me is swatting a fly.

  • Cradicus

    I think the addition of sex makes using rape as a metaphor more distasteful than using a metaphor based “just” on violence (killing/maiming something or other). However, I think Fred’s second and third points-that rape metaphors should be avoided when you’re at least tangentially talking about REAL ACTUAL RAPES for women seeking health care, or if you’re the Catholic Church and RAR is the constant elephant in the room whenever you say anything-is a pretty strong one. 

  • Morilore

    Aunursa, we don’t need to guess about this, we can just listen to what people say.  If multiple people independently and sincerely told me they found “kill” metaphors hurtful, I would refrain from using them anywhere.

  • Danielle Custer

    Do as you’re told or God will rescind his favor and salvation, and you will be just another filthy thing that God hates.


  • Lizzy L

    Jonathan Morris is interpreting the “free exercise” clause of the First Amendment to say that Catholic universities, hospitals, and charitable organizations have the right not to be held to standards of employee health care that have been generally accepted for decades, and that if they are held to such standards, this somehow affects Catholics ability to freely practice their religion.

    I’m Catholic, and I’m here to say, my ability to practice my religion is unaffected by those activities of my co-workers that contradict Catholic doctrine. That includes health care choices, like contraception, which, by the way, I don’t get to know about, because they’re private, see?

    What happened to MYOB, and how can we bring it back?

  • redsixwing

    FWIW, I actually do avoid using ‘kill’ or ‘mugging’ metaphors.

    I’m a hunter, ffs. I kill animals and eat them.  It does not bother me to hear someone talking about killing a process, or how bad they got killed in that chess tournament.

    But I don’t like how a lot of language implies and glorifies violence, so I avoid using that kind of language where I can. So I might say I’ve ended that process or how badly I got schooled at chess.

    Mugging, well – I have acquaintances who’ve been mugged, and who show a distinct fear and aversion to such metaphors, so I’ve got personal reasons there.

    I don’t really care if someone else kills a process or talks about getting their pockets picked in a deal. My standards apply to me, not you, and I am putting them here only to debunk the idea that “B” would be ridiculous.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    From French’s post:

    Second, if you believe that a more perfect imitation of Christ (more
    perfect than the elders you scorn) will lead to more love and regard for
    the Church, consider this: No one was more like Christ than Christ, and
    he wound up on a cross with only the tiniest handful of followers by
    his side.

    Does anyone besides me find it interesting that French neglects to mention that it was the religious leaders of the time that not only arranged for the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus, but worked the crowd to turn against him?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    TW: Discussion of rape culture and specific manifestations thereof.

    V cbvag bhg gung va cnegvphyne jvgu erfcrpg gb gur jbeq “encr”, vg vf qvfgerffvatyl pbzzba gb frr grrantref naq lbhat zra hfr gur grez va zhygvcynlre bayvar tnzvat: “V tbg gbgnyyl encrq ol gung pnzcre!”

    Be, sbe gung znggre, rknzcyrf fhpu nf “Htu, gung shpxva’ urnqcubar frg encrq zl jnyyrg”, be “V tbg encrq ba gung rknz”, rg prgren.

    Guvf vf jul crbcyr fgerahbhfyl qvfpbhentr gur hfr bs “encr” nf n qrfpevcgvba bs nalguvat ohg gur npghny npg bs sbepvoyr frkhny vagrepbhefr.

    ROT13 translator.

  • WingedBeast

    In my customer service work, on at least three occasions, I’ve had customers tell me that a high charge for an international call made them feel like they’d been raped.

    What they had in common was A.  They all admitted that they made the calls, B. none of them claimed they had any kind of plan to reduce the rates, and C. they were all men who were less-than-accepting of my pushback on the use of rape as an analogy.  “Rape is a real thing that happens and knowing something of the aftermath, I don’t appreciate invoking that” were my exact words one time.  They all pulled back, but I could hear the sigh that normally accompanies rolling one’s eyes.

    I can garuntee you that those cardinals aren’t going to wake up in a sweat having dreamt of the time that somebody forced them to allow women to have their own personal medical decisions covered.  I can garuntee you that they’re not going be spending years in therapy learning to trust again.  I can garuntee you that they’re not going to break down in tears after everybody told them that it was their fault.

    “rape” is used in these metaphores the same way that “Nazi” is used often in politics these days, not with any comprehension of what the word really means, only that it’s really really bad.

  • 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.

  • LouisDoench

    On the Ericka Johnson article, I think Fred is underestimating the difficulty our community is facing with the issue of bad behavior by prominent speakers on the con circuit. Prominent skeptic and Atheist women like Rebbecca Watson, Jen McReight and others already deal with enormous amounts of misogyny for a lot less than the shitstorm that would erupt if they “name and shame” without crossing all the I’s and dotting all the T’s. What’s going on now is an attempt to defuse this situation without making it worse. It is hoped that taking steps to develop strict anti-harassment policies that are well understood,  as well as putting pressure on the victimizers themselves to clean their act up will enable the movement to deal with this problem proactively without exacerbating already existing problems.

    The parallel to the Catholic abuse scandal is apt (an opinion that puts me at odds with a lot of the FA commenters it seems). The difference between the two scandals is merely one of degree, not kind.  That being said, that difference in degree I believe leads to different prescriptions for the disease. The Catholic Church is a massive and powerful institution with multiple serious problems, in the case of the child abuse scandal serious legal issues.  As far as I’m concerned they deserve no quarter, and the greater Catholic community would most likely benefit in the long run from a teardown of their power structure (full confession, I’m an ex-catholic but I bear no particular personal grudge.

    The athiest/skeptic/freethought/whatever movement is a fairly new phenomenon with next to zero temporal power. In many cases atheist organizations, especially at the university and high school level, are shoestring operations that depend on a lot of volunteer work. I don’t want to make their jobs any harder than I have to, especially considering that I have neither the skill nor time to be one of them.   Whilst this problem is worrying and it certainly seems to have gone on long enough for our organizers  to start putting their foot down, I believe we would benefit from as diplomatic a solution as possible  for the general health of the movement.  I believe the work that Ms. Johnson and others are doing to bring this to light is the beginning of that solution.

  • histrogeek

    On Yoder and other “Eve-teasers.” As a U of Chicago grad, it’s often weird for me to hear about Paul Tillich in positive terms. To people at the university, the Divinity School specifically, he was an appalling lech, so it’s hard to forget that he was an important theologian in his day. I remember Martin Marty in class talking about how Tillich was an amazing scholar, but Marty wouldn’t leave a female family member alone with him.

  • TheFaithfulStone

    Trigger warning:  sort of agreeing with aunsura.

    I don’t want to sound like I’m defending aunsura here – because I think he’s being an intentionally thick with the fake not understanding of why it’s a problem – but he’s got something of a point in that there are lots of horrible things that happen to people that aren’t totally verboten as metaphors.  HOWEVER – you could no more walk into a group of families of murder victims and make a crack about “murdering a cheesecake” than you could make rape jokes at slacktivist.  I heard what could probably be termed a “rape culture” joke the other day that I thought was funny / insightful, but I won’t retell it here, because it’s not that kind of place.  Frankly I don’t even think “rape” metaphors are totally verboten (even here) – I know I’ve seen the phrase “f*cked up” used in that sense here.
    The thing is that I know better than to make jokes about the dickwolves at Slacktivist (well, besides that one maybe) and aunsura knows that there’s an acceptable time and place for off color offensive jokes.  Trying to pretend that you WEREN’T an asshole is what makes you an asshole.  I mean, if people make jokes about ADD can I get mad?  Sure – but I don’t expect people to stop making jokes about ADD or hillbillies altogether because they offend ME.

    The thing about  offense, is that offense is given – not taken.  If someone tells you that you’re being offensive – that’s the end of the discussion as far you’re concerned.  You apologize and stop being offensive.   Your intent ain’t magic – because we just kind of ASSUME you were being thoughtless and not intentionally harmful.  So just say “Sorry, won’t happen again” and then don’t let it happen again.

    Of course, in this particular instance, that’s an especially egregious bit of offense, because it isn’t just casual, but it’s delegitimizing the victim by making a rape metaphor in a situation where the opposing viewpoint can make use of NON metaphorical version – which is why it’s SO TOTALLY out of bounds.  There’s a whole mess of wrong to unpack there – and “oh it’s a rape metaphor” is probably the most minor one.

  • http://twitter.com/fitchersbird Fitcher’s Bird

    Rape metaphors are bad because they help reinforce a societal tendency to minimise rape.  If failing a test is like being raped, then it’s incrementally easier each time that association is made to fall into a pattern of thinking that says being raped is like failing a test.  Thus rape is seen as less and less harmful, victims are erased (after all, they haven’t suffered that much) and we see more and more of this guy (TW: Terrifying cluelessness about consent).

  • Mary Kaye

    I’d also be for being much more sparing with violence metaphors of all kinds.  I would be very happy never again to hear about a War On (drugs, cancer, terror, obesity, etc) or a Crusade Against/For X, no matter how good X may be.

    It’s just a name, but names matter, and (for a hypothetical example) “Building Stronger Communities” sends a very different message than “War on Crime”.

  • 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.” 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *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.

  • 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.

  • 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.