‘Stop it, punish it, corral people, shame people’

Last week we looked at an incident involving an evangelical college that fired a woman for having sex outside of marriage — offering her former job to the man she slept with. Examining San Diego Christian College’s double-standard, and the affirmation of that double standard in Christianity Today’s reporting on the incident, I wrote this:

Given the chance to choose between “saving babies” and controlling women, both the magazine and the college instinctively opt for controlling women.

Women who have sex must be punished. …

And over the weekend we looked (again) at the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act — a necessary piece of legislation that “pro-life” social conservatives ought to be enthusiastically supporting, but are not. That lack of support is so inconsistent with and contradictory to this movement’s purported aim of protecting the unborn that, I wrote, it seems to disprove the integrity of this claim, revealing the movement to be “really motivated by an anti-feminist impulse to control and punish women.”

Some responses to both of those posts have suggested I’m being uncharitable — that it is unfair for me to accuse the leaders of the pro-life movement of being driven by their desire to punish women who have sex.

That does seem like a rather harsh accusation. But in my defense, there’s one good reason I keep accusing the leaders of the pro-life movement of really wanting to punish women who have sex: The leaders of the pro-life movement keep saying that they really want to punish women who have sex.

Here is Family Research Council senior fellow Pat Fagan, speaking yesterday on a Christian radio program:

It’s not the contraception, everybody thinks it’s about contraception, but what this court case said was young people have the right to engage in sex outside of marriage. Society never gave young people that right, functioning societies don’t do that, they stop it, they punish it, they corral people, they shame people, they do whatever. The institution for the expression of sexuality is marriage and all societies always shepherded young people there, what the Supreme Court said was forget that shepherding, you can’t block that, that’s not to be done.

Fagan’s agenda is clear: Stop, punish, corral, shame. His words, not mine.

So yes, I am in fact accusing the leaders of this movement of cruel and unseemly motives, but that is only because they themselves say that is what motivates them. Is it uncharitable of me to take them at their word?


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  • DoctorChimRichalds

    I got two Jacksons and a Hamilton that say this guy regularly cheats on his wife with a mid-range escort. Any takers?

  • Jim Roberts

    I wish you were wrong, Fred. I really wish you were. And so I understand why others would think that you must be wrong.

    I don’t have anything else to say. I don’t know that there is anything. Punishing people for sex. What is there to say, other than, ‘No.’

  • Figs

     Don’t you mean “mid-range male escort”?

  • The_L1985

     Are you nuts?  I don’t want to lose a Grant.

  • SergeantHeretic

    Fred to use their own flowery language, they are condemned out of their own mouths.

    The reason folks like you and me believe that the anti-abortion movement is really about controlling and dominating and restricting women is because the most prominant leaders of this movement practice slut shaming, they blame women for rape, they blame women for sexual harrasment, the whole of the purity culture is all about the controlling and dominating of WOMEN!

    These alleged people are utterly convinced that my body does not belong to me, that it belongs by definition to “Society, translation, that my body is THEIR property!

    And they wonder why I am not their biggest fan.

  • SergeantHeretic

    That’s a sucker bet and you know it, Doctor.

  • SergeantHeretic

    Every vehement anti-abortion activist I have ever met without exception has said and I quote, “With legal abortions, these slutty girls just go out and have all that sex and if they get pregnant they just go have abortions.”

    There it is right there. It is the very first thing out of their mouths when you ask them why they don’t like legal abortions.

    The idea of protecting and safeguarding children is at best an afterthought and at worst shameless guile to lull the moderate Christians. Every pro kid measure they zealously and voiciferously block shows us exactly where their heads are at.

    “Shame the sluts control the women dominate the women. The kids, oh uh yeah, we guess they’re important too, or something.”

  • Carstonio

    While Fred is right to condemn Fagan’s repulsive ideology, I’m not sure how he’s reading the man’s rant as explicitly about punishing women who have sex. That goal seems to me to be very strongly implied instead, an extended dog whistle cloaked in gender-neutral language. The context is about contraception, which impacts women far more than men and involves a woman’s control over her body. And Fagan mentioned the allegedly uncertain status of children, which is a euphemism for slut-shaming.

  • Jim Roberts

    I think a big part of the problem is that being anti-abortion is moving out to the fringe, which means that the people who identify with that position will tend to the lunatic.

    I mean, if I had my way, no woman would ever have an abortion, but that would happen because no woman would be in a position where they needed one. I know that’s not possible and grit my teeth and help those organizations best equipped to help keep the numbers in check, but if you polled me, I’d still test as pro-life.

  • Funny how they’re against sex outside of marriage for everyone yet all the measures they take to oppose it only punish women 

  • Figs

     I think that history as prologue has given enough evidence to assume that enforcement of Fagan’s preferred policies would come down almost exclusively on women.

  • Right, but “vocal fringe”, “not actually the mainstream of the movement”, etc. etc.

    Never mind that Rick Santorum, who voiced the indentical sentiment -repeatedly- in the context of the “dangers” of contraception, and how Griswold v. Connecticut was improperly decided, was a frequent frontrunner for in the 2012 GOP primary.

  • Jim Roberts

    Sorry, it appears I wasn’t clear – there was a time when the “mainstream of the movement” was at least a little reasonable, but that time is, in most places, gone. The people who say that they’re “anti-abortion” are all about hating the sluts and very little else.

  • DCFem

    We’ve seen the anti-choice rhetoric  ratcheted up to 11 this year because it just might be starting to sink in with the woman hating zealots that the culture wars are over and they lost. But they are going to stay on the battlefield, kicking and screaming and totally giving away their game until there is finally no one left who is insincere or willfully ignorant enough to argue with people like Fred over what really motivates anti-choice zealots. The FRC guy said in his own words, “stop, punish, corral, shame”. That’s less ambiguous than, “shut that whole thing down”. Fagan stated in plain English that the goal is to shame people, to punish them for having sex.

    Fred (if he so choose) could also provide his detractors with plenty of evidence of these same people who claim to care about children not doing one thing to stop the tide of entitlement program cuts that directly harm kids. Let’s start with the draconian cuts to food stamps that leave 48 million Americans (many of them children) going to bed hungry every night. Where is there outrage about that?

  • Carstonio

     Very true, but that’s still an assumption. Fagan explicitly advocated punishing people who have sex. Based on the history you mentioned and his euphemistic language, inferring that he meant women is eminently justifiable.

    Reading his rant, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have a low tolerance for vague or euphemistic language, regardless of the agenda involved. And with demagogues who use dog whistles, I long for Perry Mason to cross-examine them, just to watch them struggle to deny the meaning behind the euphemisms.

  • Jim Roberts

    “Where is there outrage about that?”

    Right here. I don’t get to spend as much time on it as I’d like, but I work with the local WIC program to help kids get better access to  good nutrition, particularly food in the schools as that’s a major problem in my hometown. My boys go to a private Christian school and so aren’t affected by the flaws in the program but, well, you help feed all the hungry, not just the hungry you know, right?

  • DCFem

    Amen, Jim. And they don’t even feed the hungry that they know. My husband’s hometown in Ohio had an article in the paper that was basically an ad begging people to support the local food bank. They profiled one woman who received a miserly $16 per month in food stamps who frequented the food bank because otherwise she would have starved to death. Do you know what one of the letters to the editor about this article said? It said, “She should have saved more when she had a job.”

  • SergeantHeretic

    These aleged people are pro-life and when I saythat I mean Pro the life they imagine was in the 1950’s.

    They hate women, they could give less than a shit about children and families and they are all about the power, privelidge and hegemony of old rich white men to do whatever the hell they please and everyone else can eat a dick.

    They have become at this point absurdly obvious in their goals and aims especially in the shameless and shamefull nature of the cuts they want to make to the federal budget, to whit, if it kills people or hurts people or locks people in cages, they’re all for it, spend to the limit. If it feeds people or educates people or heals the sick or cares for the needy, the it’s socialism and a threat to America.

    And on top of all his, these worshiper of war, power wealth and privelidge, claim to be devout disciples of Jesus who was called the Christ.

    Holy Fucking SHIT!

  • These folks sure seem to talk a lot about young people having sex.

    I don’t want to use the “not getting any” as a measure of a human’s worth, and I’m not going to joke about penis sizes or anything like that.

    What I will say is that it seems like a kind of displacement.

    Whatever these people appear to lack in their lives they appear to imagine that others who have that/those thing/s are less worthy, or maybe less.. I don’t quite know how to put it.

    Basically it’s crabs in a bucket all over again with the people in power wanting to take away something so nobody can have it.

  • No, that was clear enough.  I wasn’t actually responding to you, just a victim of poor timing.

    What I was referencing was those of Fred’s detractors who have in the past suggested that people like Fagan and groups like FRC are merely a vocal fringe of the movement, and not thought leaders, and to suggest otherwise is to be complicit in anti-Christian slander.

  • Carstonio

    “Corral people”? Obviously Fagan meant the Great Oklahoma Slut Drive of 1879. What an experience. I still remember the Bible-toting preachers sitting proudly in their saddles. The hundreds of women in short shirts, low-cut blouses and garish makeup being herded along the dusty trail. (Slow going since they were wearing what we politely called love-me heels.) And then at the end, the women would be auctioned off to God-fearing husbands who would rule over them with a strong but gentle hand.

  • Evan Hunt

    Here’s another similar quote, from Phyllis Schlafly: “It’s very healthy for a young girl to be deterred from promiscuity by fear of contracting a painful, incurable disease, or cervical cancer, or sterility, or the likelihood of giving birth to a dead, blind, or brain-damage [sic] baby even ten years later when she may be happily married.”


  • Magic_Cracker

    Gee, I thought God was going to punish all the sluts in the next world, so why does Fagan insist on punishing them in this world? I find his lack of faith disturbing.

  • SergeantHeretic

    Evan yeah, even back then they were never shy of advocating terrible things happening to total strangers in service of the Purity/Rape culture.

  • Magic_Cracker

    “Corral people”? Obviously Fagan meant the Great Oklahoma Slut Drive of 1879.

    Keep movin’ movin’ movin’, Tho’ liberals be disapprovin’Keep those harlots movin’ — Slut-drive!Don’t try to understand ’em, Just rope and throw and grab ’em, Soon they’ll be pregnant, thick and wide. 

  • Kirala

     Jim, I kind of think that it’s less that anti-abortion is moving out to the fringe and more that the line between the camps is fuzzing as people realize that pro-choice does NOT mean pro-abortion. My mother has always been vehemently against abortion for almost all cases, but she is even more vehemently against the idea that the government has the right to make these decisions for a woman. Despite the fact that she has always been pro-choice in practice, she would identify herself as pro-life because that’s the side that’s “not pro-abortion”. At least, she used to identify as pro-life. These days, she avoids labels entirely because It’s Complicated.

    Although my point may be splitting hairs, because I agree that the terminology is shifting to describe only the extremes and not the moderates, I just don’t think the actual positions of the moderates have shifted significantly.

  • Carstonio

     Great pull from Rawhide. I also imagine a mashup of Ghost Riders in the Sky and I’ve Never Been to Me. (Symptomatic that a song written by two men would lambast single women as selfish.)

  • other lori

    To some extent. However, I’d argue that the ways in which we now punish statutory rape (with a felony, 25 years to life on a sex offender registry, and in some cases prison time) even when the guy involved is only in his twenties is part of the same system, and the part that disproportionately punishes men.

    We take the men who would, at least historically, be the most likely sexual partners of post-pubescent teen girls who are looking for partners–guys in their late teens and early-to-mid 20s–and penalize them in ridiculously disproportionate ways. We punish the 22yo guy who gets a naked text message from his 16yo girlfriend more harshly than we’d punish a man who molests children. 

    I have no doubt that the draconian turn our laws around statutory sexual offenses have take in the last 20 years or so is entirely related to wanting to control the sexual behavior of young women, and particularly our fear of teen pregnancy. 

  • Nah: it would be bottom of the range (and he’d expect a discount) – you know how cheap his kind are.

  • Magic_Cracker

    A single-girl went jogging on a bright and sunny day,
    Her shorts were all short-shorty and her hips were all a-sway,
    When all at once a mighty heard of slut-shamers she saw,
    “Why don’t you buy yourself a treadmill,  girl? Save us from temptation’s draw…”

  • Hexep

    Yeah, these people are turds. Got no meaningful contribution, just wanted to, y’know, kinda +1 that.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    That sounds very similar to a scene in one of John Norman’s Gor books…..

  • I wouldn’t be surprised. This incessant drive to control something in an uncertain world is leading to politicians seeking expedient ways to please the populace in ways that don’t threaten the tendency to succour the powerful.

  • Jim Roberts

    “These days, she avoids labels entirely because It’s Complicated.”
    I know more and more people who are doing this.

    I’ve been toying with the notion of popularizing the term, “pro-motherhood.” Not just pro-life, because that’s just the fetus, but being a positive advocate for women being mothers, and so advocating for ALL of it. Education, food assistance, housing assistance, early childcare, the whole thing.

  • Lunch Meat

    How about “pro-parenthood”? These issues affect fathers and nongendered parents as well, after all.

    (Pro-family has already been co-opted, unfortunately.)

  • Cathy W

    …is this guy seriously under the impression that nobody had premarital sex before the Pill? Or is it just that we’ve depopularized the institution of the shotgun wedding?

  • Jim Roberts

    An excellent amendement, Lunch Meat – “pro-parenthood” it is.

  • Aside: Has anyone noticed it’s usually the worst crabs in the bucket who accuse “socialists” and “communists” of enviously wanting to take things away from others?

    Talk about projection and a half.

  • Kirala

     It’s a pity that “pro-life” has been co-opted, because as much as I like “pro-motherhood,” it doesn’t lend itself to describing women who have been through some of pregnancy but aren’t mothers. Or, if we’re including all the stuff after birth, the role of fathers.

  • Well, you never know when he might need his luggage lifted.

  • Jim Roberts

    Yeah, the biggest group I tend to find myself advocating for are those who need an abortion for medical reasons, and both “pro-motherhood” and “pro-parenthood” exclude those groups.

    I think we’re back to why your mother is a smart woman for avoiding labels. It really is complicated.

  • AnonaMiss

    As a woman who does her best to have no problem with other people being parents*, but has a squicky reaction to the idea of being one herself, I cringe a little at the idea of people labeling themselves “pro-motherhood” or “pro-parenthood”. Though I know y’all don’t mean it that way, the phrase has overtones of all the years of “You’ll change your mind when you’re older” and the paralyzing fear I experienced when I half believed the people who told me that.

    I mean, yeah, great, help parents out and stuff, but “pro-parenthood” comes out a little too close to “anti-not being parents”, neh?

    * My personal phobia of childbirth is strong enough that as much as I tell myself that yes, other people are actually OK with this and it’s OK and they can make their own decisions, I have to basically shut down my sense of empathy in order to interact with pregnant women. “OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD” my phobia screams. “ARE YOU OKAY GET IT OUT OF YOU GET IT OUT OF YOU GET IT OUT OF YOU”.

    And yes, I’m aware that parenthood doesn’t inherently require being a gene donor yourself, but that’s the default in our culture, and the connotation comes along with it.

  • Still, “pro-parenthood” implies that the child(ren) in question will be wanted and not children regarded as a burden.

  • I get the point. On the other hand, it’s also healthy for a young girl to be deterred from driving  while drunk or texting by the fear of getting paralyzed, disfigured or killed, or the likelihood of doing this to her friends.
    Reminding people to use common sense is not necessarily control over them.

  • Launcifer

    I just want you to know that, after the cattle drive comment, I’ve spent about an hour trying to work this horrible statement into an analogy concerning brands, mavericks, open ranges and rustling, but all I achieved was to make an appalling statement sound even worse. So thanks for that ;).  

  • Launcifer

    Just to clarify, since I can’t edit my damn post, I meant Fagan’s statement, not your comment. That made chuckle. 

  • Magic_Cracker

    I thought the cattle drive statement was brilliant because of the horror. (I think it was Derrick Jensen who observed that the horror in most horror movies comes from people treating other people the same way we treat animals and nature in general, when axes and chainsaws and flesh eating and whatnot) Fagan’s statements clearly point toward a belief that people in general (and women in particular) are little more than livestock to be corralled and controlled for their own spiritual safety.

  • Anonymous

    So…according to Fagan, premarital sex is a bad thing that was invented in the 1960s, presumably by hippies?  I did not know that. 

    I suppose we have gluttony because of Julia Child on PBS, overweening pride because of, oh, let’s pin that one on Bill Clinton, avarice because of Roosevelt (the bad one who redistrbuted wealth, not the good one who punched bears for fun), sloth because…well, frankly I don’t have the energy to figure out who he’d blame that one on.

  • Lunch Meat

    “I am pro-family, meaning that I think strong, committed, interdependent relationship and friendship networks are good for society; I support the freedom of every individual to choose without coercion what hir family will look like, who will be included; how and with what level of intimacy those relationships are defined (whether living together, sleeping together, just being supportive friends or anything in between), and if and when and how to add children to the family; and I believe society should put programs in place to support families and children and ensure they have the resources and abilities to support each other.”

    Doesn’t exactly fit on a bumper sticker, does it? And I probably missed something.

  • Launcifer

    Sloth’s obviously the fault of Richard Nixon, ’cause if only he could be bothered to burn those damn tapes….