Picture this: a man is angry, or had a bit too much to drink, or he feels very festive and celebratory for whatever reason. So he finds an unconscious woman and forcibly sticks his finger or an instrument deep in her eye.
Hideous, huh? What a monster. He deserves to be locked up. We can’t have that kind of a menace in our society.
Okay, now imagine the man does the same thing to her ear, hurting her and drawing blood.
Still hideous, right? What kind of a whack job would do that to someone? He needs to be kept off the streets and away from society.
What if he crammed something into her mouth, so hard it hurt? Horrible, sick.
Alrighty then, what if he crammed a body part or an instrument into another bodily opening? An extremely sensitive opening he couldn’t even get to unless her underpants were pulled off, the one associated with any number of cultural and religious taboos? The one which, culturally speaking, when entered, is often claimed to change a woman’s whole identity, from a virgin to something else, from a Miss to a Missus?
I’ll tell you what would happen. An enormous number of people would ask why the woman was unconscious, why she was even attending the establishment where the man was, what she was wearing, if she was a virgin, if she’d ever had casual sex before or looked like the kind of person who would want it. Somebody would chime in and ask if she was black or white. Somebody else would make officious comments about how every woman needs to take self-defense classes and carry a whistle because rape never happens to women who are prepared. The modesty fetishists would be there with bells on the ends of their floor-length skirts, trying to convince everyone that modesty in thought, word and deed will keep your daughter out of danger. Deeply creepy bachelor men will use the word “courtship.” Someone will bring up abortion for some reason. There will be tongue-clucking and hand-wringing about the poor man who raped her, his potential, his youthful carelessness, what a wonderful life he could have had if only he weren’t punished for hurting a child of God in a severe, traumatic and life-changing way.
I know this because it’s happened to me. I’ve been raped. That’s not an extraordinary thing to admit. One in four women has. One in ten men has as well. It’s a very common crime, but we’re not supposed to talk about it. It makes people uncomfortable. It makes them so uncomfortable that they start to rationalize, and to make up ways in which it wasn’t really rape or in which it was the victim’s fault. They claim rape has to involve sexual arousal, so this or that didn’t count. They claim you’d have to be physically hurt much worse, or it doesn’t count. They inform me that I have “unresolved issues” when I mention having been raped, because nice girls don’t talk about such things. They try to think of ways that they could lower their chance of ever being raped, and then they claim that anyone who doesn’t do just what they think they’d have done must have been asking for it, or that they deserved it because they were “careless.”
I live in the Ohio Valley, internationally famous for a rape with slap-on-the-wrist consequences for the rapists. People tried to rationalize that rape the exact same way they’re trying to rationalize the rape and the slap-on-the-wrist consequences that are all over the news right now. I have seen so many asinine remarks this week, from fellow Catholics as well as anybody else. So, I’m talking about Brock Turner, and about the Steubenville Big Red Rapists, but I’m also talking about everybody. Everyone who rapes, everyone who’s been raped and everybody who makes asinine remarks. Particularly, I’m talking to my fellow Catholics.