Blaming the victim: Bishop Donald Sanborn claims that the immodest dress of modern women causes sexual assault.
In a recent blog post for In Veritate, Bishop Sanborn offers a critique of the “MeToo” movement by suggesting that women cause their own sexual assault by tempting men with their “immodest dress.”
In his blog post Sanborn makes it clear that victims are at least partially responsible for their own sexual assault, writing:
It is true that the conduct of some men is deplorable in this regard, but it is also true that the conduct of some women is deplorable as well.
In his post Sanborn spends a great deal of effort explaining how women’s fashions have changed over the years, noting:
The trend began over one hundred years ago, and gained momentum in World War I. Before the war, for example, women covered their entire bodies with clothing. After the war, the hemlines came up and the necklines came down.
Sanborn goes on to offer a summary of how women’s fashions changed in the 20th century while making his case that immodest dress causes sexual assault. Sullivan suggests that the real problem started in the 1960s:
The 1960s produced a sexual revolution unheard of in the history of the world, which in turn caused a revolution in family life from which we are still reeling…
Sanborn later notes:
Up to about 1965, most women were married, not divorced, had five or six children, at times more, and were devoted to their homes. With the appearance of the birth control pill in the 1960s, the role and attitudes of women would change radically, and with these changes, family life would suffer immeasurably.
In other words, for Sanborn, “immodest dress” coupled with the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s, causes sexual assault, because now men and women sometimes work together:
Thus, according to Sanborn’s reasoning, if only the women would simply stay home and make babies rape would not be a problem.
The effect of all of this revolution in sexual mores, as well as the role of women, is that men and women have been thrown together into situations which are very dangerous. Women are daily interacting with men in the workplace. In many cases they are dressed in such a way as to be immodestly attractive to men. The inevitable result is that, unless the men in the office are very vigilant about the virtue of chastity and fidelity to their wives, some very bad things take place.
The stupid, it burns.
Sanborn goes on to blame “show business” for sexual assault while suggesting that women who are sexually assaulted “probably did much to cause the assault”:
Most of these assaults upon women are seen in show business, an environment which is notably loose and never known for its observance of chastity and fidelity. Most of the “victim” ladies in these cases look like lascivious women, and probably did much to cause the assault.
That’s right, Sanborn is claiming that a woman who is sexually assaulted “probably did much to cause the assault” because she looks like a “lascivious” woman.
In short, Sanborn acts as if rape and sexual assault are a new thing brought about by changing women’s fashions in the 20th century. However, Sanborn is wrong. Sexual assault was a problem long before the 20th century, and a woman’s attire has no bearing on whether or not she is raped or sexually assaulted.
Bishop Sanborn is an ultra-conservative Catholic bishop, not in communion with the modern Roman Catholic Church. He serves as Rector of Most Holy Trinity Seminary in Brooksville, Florida.
Bottom line: Bishop Donald Sanborn argues women cause their own sexual assault by dressing immodestly and working outside the home.
(H/T Sarahbeth Caplin)