Monday, May 20, 2013

What can only be given

When a woman is raped, does she lose her sexual purity?

Not if her sexual purity is a function of her consent, which I argue it is. Since rape is sex against the woman’s will, her purity remains at the same level as it was before she was raped.

The Bible says when a man and woman lie together they “know” one another. The rapist does not know his victim. She does not let him into her heart. He forces his way in. He uses her body as an instrument of his gratification.

The rapist does not “steal” a girl’s virginity. Technically he is her first; the evidence is left on her wounded body. But he cannot steal what can only be given. He cannot steal her heart.

This is the spiritual side of sex. If you view sex as a fundamentally mechanical act, as Jill Filipovic does, you wouldn’t understand anything I just said. So this ridiculous statement comes as no surprise:

Where does a woman’s value lie? In her brain? Her heart? Her spirit?

According to right-wing culture warriors, “between her legs”. That’s what underlies the emphasis on virginity as “purity”, and the push for abstinence-only education.

Of course, abstinence is only part of what “right-wing culture warriors” (aka responsible parents) teach their children. The other part, the emotional vulnerability and physical commitment of sex, goes hand in hand with abstinence.

Elizabeth Smart was saving herself for her husband but she was kidnapped and raped at 14. It’s understandable, in the emotional trauma of rape, that she would think her sexual value to her future husband had plummeted. There is an overwhelming sense the gift she had is tainted. But she is still pure in the sense that she has not succumbed to sexual desire. Unless the man she marries is a Cro-Magnon brute, her character and fidelity will far outweigh the physical integrity of her hymen.

Filipovic, an unabashed trafficker in bad ideas, would offer this advice to Smart: “Oh, honey, it’s all right, your virginity doesn’t mean anything.”

She claims “[women’s] value isn’t maintained, lost or compromised with sexual penetration,” but she neglects to point out the “penetration” Smart was a victim of is quite different from the casual encounters second-wave feminists like Filipovic champion. It is really her view of sex that commoditizes women’s bodies and sustains the objectification of women. It is a view more in touch with the rapist, who sees girls as the means to his next orgasm, than his victim.

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