Misogyny isn’t new; consent shouldn’t be confusing

Misogyny isn’t new; consent shouldn’t be confusing July 8, 2012

Helen Lewis at the New Statesmen shows us “What online harassment looks like.” It’s an awful, potentially triggering, collection of “Obscene images, hate sites, and a game where people are invited to beat you up.”

This is disturbing and disturbed. It’s hateful, hate-filled stuff posted by boys who simply hate women. These boys hate women viscerally and violently.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, of course.

Amanda MacInnis of Cheese-Wearing Theology is taking us on a tour of similar harassment during the Protestant Reformation. Here’s the second post in her series: “Invectives: Examples of Reactions to Women in Leadership in the Reformation.”

I’d never heard of John Knox’s treatise, “The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women,” but geez, that man had issues.

I can begin to understand the sort of cautiously conservative church person who sees some of those “keep silent” clobber verses and takes them as supporting limits on women’s participation in the church. I think those folks are utterly wrong, but I can appreciate that they’re at least basing their wrongness on something other than straight-up misogyny and a seething hatred of women.

But the kind of invective MacInnis collects here can’t be explained as a mere attempt to elevate the clobber verses into an eternal rule. You only write like that when you despise women.

For this collection of invective, as with Lewis’ more recent collection of online examples, it doesn’t seem we’re really seeing a “reaction” to women or to anything any given woman has ever said or done. For these men, hatred of women seems to be the starting point, not the conclusion, response or reaction they want to pretend it is.

* * * * * * * * *

American Family Association culture-warrior Bryan Fischer doesn’t understand consent.

Or, perhaps, Bryan Fischer doesn’t think that consent does, or should, have anything to do with sex:

Once you allow sex between two people of the same sex, there is no place to stop. You can’t stop just with homosexuality. You can’t stop with polygamy. You can’t even stop with pedophilia. You wind up going all the way to sex with animals.

In other words, if you ask Bryan Fischer why raping a small child is wrong, he would say it is wrong because it is an instance of sex outside of the context of marriage between one man and one woman. Not because it is coercive. Not because it is rape. But because, for Fischer, straight-married sex is always Good, and any other kind of sex, not being straight-married sex, is always Bad.

This is not “traditional religious ethics.” It isn’t ethics at all. It’s a single check-box formula for determining whether or not any sexual act is Fischer-Approved.

Yes, this makes Fischer a foolish moral imbecile. But it also makes him dangerous. He is arguing, vehemently, that consent is of no moral consequence. Bryan Fischer may not understand what rape is, but he’s working hard to defend it anyway.

Related: “How Censorship of the World ‘Vagina’ by the Michigan House of Representatives Is Related to Child Sexual Abuse


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