Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Sexist attitudes that brought upon the interstate abortion ban need to be addressed
As the interstate abortion bill has been documented here, I would just like to chime in in what is an emotional topic and to explore where these attitudes come from. There was a study done on clergy and attributing blame to rape victims and I think that even though it was written four years ago, it is still highly relevant today. The main point of the study done by Jane P. Shelton? The more conservative, the more fundamentalist, the more sexist the clergyman is, the more likely he is to attribute blame to the victim.
The fact is it is not enough to go on the attack but it is also important to educate and to dispel these rape myths. These rape myths are permeating through our society and these need to be addressed as these lead to such asinine quotes such as Bill Napoli's infamous exception to an abortion. If you want the quote, here is the classic...
A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.
So basically, he's saying that you know the child shouldn't be punished unless the mother was a virtuous Christian virgin who was psychologically devastated, as if only woman and girls who fit this profile were damaged from rape, as if only Christian virgins decried the fact they were being raped. The others must be enjoying their rape so why should they have an easy way out? The others must have secretly been turned on and we all know that women can't control their sexual urges so why should they be rewarded for them?
As a psych major currently, I did a paper analyzing a study documenting Asian attitudes compared to Caucasian attitudes and many of these myths were the same as the ones being spread by these fundamentalists and their Republican enablers. It is only sluttish and non-respectable women who get raped. A rapist would never dare target a respectable woman. Do you know that in places like Taiwan, rapists often give marriage proposals to their victims in order to escape the legal ramifications and that the legal system over there is often impatient at a woman who does not accept this proposal? So basically their attitudes are the same and they both subscribe to these heinous rape myths which encourage a culture where rape victims are laughed at and scorned instead of helped. These lead to attitudes where the innocent are condemned even to the point where the victim's own mothers sympathize with the rapist over their daughters!
You know, maybe we should go further on the attack by comparing their attitudes of blame to those who practice honor killings. You know how they love to condemn honor killing, right? Well if you read about their attitudes, it is just the same. The rape victim has brought upon dishonor to the family because she allowed herself to get raped. No honorable woman would be targeted, no rapist would dare go after her. Therefore, she must be a slut and is a stain upon the family honor. Sound like a stretch?
Feminist theorists (e.g., Brownmiller, 1975; Griffin, 1979; MacKinnon, 1987) have asserted that a patriarchal society contributes to rape and to negative attitudes toward rape victims by endorsing rigid, traditional gender roles and by maintaining the status quo through male power,dominance, and sexual violence. In keeping with feminist theory, research has demonstrated that individuals with more traditional attitudes concerning women's roles do assign more blame to rape victims (Acock & Ireland,1983; Brems & Wagner, 1994; Proite, Dannells, & Benton, 1993; Willis, 1992) and have more negative attitudes toward rape victims (Acock & Ireland,1983; Brems & Wagner,1994; Burt, 1980; Ward, 1988) than individuals with less traditional gender-role attitudes. Religious fundamentalism is also likely associated with negative attitudes toward rape victims in that it has been found to relate to discriminatory attitudes toward women (i.e., sexism) and to the lack of importance assigned to issues of equality and broad mindedness (Altemeyer & Hunsberger,1992; Feather,1979;
Kirkpatrick, 1993). In the current study, we investigated clergy's religious fundamentalism and level of sexism, expecting to find, in accordance with previous research, that these variables relate to negative attitudes toward rape victims and increased levels of victim blame.
Perhaps we should ask these clergymen who do hold these beliefs who is the exception. Since obviously they think that only virtuous Christian virgins feel psychological devastation and PTSD from rape, would they allow an exception to Napoli's Christian virgin? Would they support having the law confirm that the minor in question is a Christian, preferably fundamentalist and has never had sexual relations before then? What if the preacher's wife fell victim to rape or even worse, their own wives? Would they heap the judgment they heap on all rape victims upon their own loved ones?
It is clear from the support this will get that people, not just in red states, just do not realize that no matter who you are, how "respectable" you are, how wealthy or well-connected you are, you can potentially fall victim to rape. What is even scarier is that 75% of the respondents in Shelton's study reported having some experience counseling rape victims. Imagine all the damage the more fundamentalist and conservative clergy can do when their message is "suck it up, it's your fault for getting raped" as if the rapist was an instrument of God's "just" punishment. That's the message my friend received from her pastor, that it was her fault for "putting herself in that situation." So she had to do penance and is an outcast in her own church all for the "crime" of being date-raped.
Opponents said the Senate measure could threaten the safety of girls, saying parents might beat their daughters if they find out about plans for an abortion. The proponents' approach "is not to deal with the reality of young people" in troubled families, said Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.). He cited the case of an Idaho man who impregnated his 13-year-old daughter and then killed her when he learned she had scheduled an abortion.
In this sick world, the worst thing was not that the father impregnated his own daughter or that he later killed her, no of course not. It was that the daughter was seeking an abortion. I wonder if they would come out and condemn the father for this brutal act of murder just as they would condemn this girl whom they probably believe "had it coming to her" and now is "burning in hell for even considering having an abortion." In this sick world, it is not important to preserve the well-being of a rape or incest victim but to punish her for her crime, her crime of obviously bringing on the rape by leading the rapist on. It is to punish her for something completely out of her control because she must not have subscribed to their harsh standards of morality. It is the same mentality that leads them to condemn the cervical cancer vaccine which they see as one of Satan's wiles to further the sexification of America by giving girls and women who are obviously immoral naïve children who need to be discipline, the innocent belief that sex can have no consequences. It is the same mentality which leads them to advocate abstinence education which has been proven by studies that it does not work in reducing the rate of teen pregnancy.
With all the condemnation these clergymen heap upon rape victims, have they condemned any Republicans who have been documented abusing and raping minors themselves? Have they condemned the members of God's Own Party who sexually harass women and molest children? The silence is deafening and speaks volumes just as it does when they speak out against helping rape victims but rather condemning them.
Some of these Fundamentalist clergy believe that
rapists should be protected or at least should not receive as much condemnation as his victim.
Some of these Fundamentalist Clergy believe that rapists are instruments of God's just wrath, the belief in a just world theory.
Some of these Fundamentalist Clergy believe that a rape victim is no better than a whore who had it coming to her.
Some of these Fundamentalist Clergy believe that rape and incest victims were enjoying their own rapes and could never be psychologically damaged.
Some of these Fundamentalist Clergy believe that if your mother or your daughter was raped, she should not be comforted but rather condemned, scorned, and made into an outcast in the community.
Some of these Fundamentalist Clergy believe that if you're raped, you should heap self-blame upon yourself and do penance.
Some of these Fundamentalist Clergy believe that they have the right if they work at a pharmacy or hospital to judge if you're a Christian virgin and deserve an abortion.
Some of these Fundamentalist Clergy believe that they alone are the arbiters of morality in America and are the only ones with expertise in deciding who gets the morning-after pill or the cervical cancer vaccine.
Yes, maybe I am overgeneralizing based on what my friend experienced and what the commenter has called me out on I admit, and I apologize for the harsh rhetoric born out of intense frustration and emotion, but some of these people hold these views. It's no accident that my friend's church shunned her after they heard...
Perhaps we do need sex education to prevent our kids from having unprotected sex. Yes, I realize that condoms and birth control may be a lesser of two evils but we have to at least try to reduce the rate of unplanned pregnancies.
Again, coming from a personal standpoint, I was writing with my emotions not in check and I let them get the better of me. Yes, I was wrong to categorize fundamentalists into one category when I should have focused on the small group of preachers who do hold the victim responsible.
It is a whole seperate issue whether sex education prevents underage pregnancies etc. Britain, where I live, has a massive teenage pregnancy rate - the highest in Europe. We also have a lot of sex education. It is debatable whether more of the same would help at all.
I do support having our girls and women vaccinated against the HPV virus that can cause cervical cancer. I don't necessarily buy the fact that having this vaccine available would make our women more promiscuous but that line of thought has been placed out there.
I think I would support the HPV vaccine if only to protect the rape victims - I mean imagine if you got raped and then got cancer because of it. However, we have to be careful about the message it sends to out teen and pre-teen girls that we would be giving it to. But why couldn't we just provide free tests for it at regular intervals? And encourage people to go?