Monday, February 24, 2014

Christian fundamentalism, women's sexuality and rape

Amanda Marcotte has a good essay on how Christian fundamentalist views of women is based on a model of female submissiveness and the problems that can cause women in that environment when it comes to sexual assault (How the Christian Right's Bizarre Sex Obsessions Let Rapists Off the Hook AlterNet 02/20/2014):

Fundamentalist Christianity is positively obsessed with the idea that female sexuality is the source most of the nation’s woes, and that the world is going to hell because women dress immodestly and have sex for their own reasons instead of just for baby-making and husband-placating. When you see sex as the problem, it becomes hard to see rape as anything but another sexual sin. If you see women as the controllers of sex and the people who have the responsibility of enforcing chastity, then the natural conclusion is that rape is caused by women, and that it’s as much, if not more, a woman’s fault for tempting a man to rape her as it is the man’s for violently assaulting a woman.

... From Ross Douthat in the New York Times arguing that women have the power to convert men from cads to good guys merely through the power of not having sex with them, to all the endless sermons about modesty and not causing men to "stumble," the message in the Christian right is clear: Men’s choices, especially men’s sexual choices, are the responsibility of women. So if a man chooses to rape you, it’s understood not as him asserting dominance over you, but as the man taking the liberties you must have extended to him. ...

Built into the very core of the religious right is the idea that female autonomy is a threat to be stomped out, and not just in its attacks on women who choose abortion or premarital sex or, gasp, to live as lesbians. The entire model of proper female behavior for the Christian right is built on submission. It’s evident in the adherence to the belief that husbands are the head of their wives. Recently, Christian right icons Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar explained their belief that wives are obliged to have sex with their husbands whenever they want and on their terms. Fundamentalist Christians deeply distrust and are hostile to the idea that the proper owner of a woman's body is the woman. If rape is a violation of female autonomy, but you believe female autonomy is sinful, then it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to take rape seriously as a crime. [my emphasis]
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