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Monday, June 10, 2019

Rape And America’s Culture Of Victimhood–Political Training To Teach The Morally Obvious

A friend whose son was a member of the National Guard remarked that most of the two-week summer training course was not on how to shoot but how not to rape. Endless hours, the boy had told his father, were wasted on a subject which required very little explanation.   Allegations of rape would be explored according to rigorous standards of military, civil, and criminal law – far more stringent and less forgiving than anything found on college campuses; and more fair and just.  An allegation would be only that and nothing more.  A presumption of innocence would be sacrosanct.   Rape according the laws of the state which governed the boy’s National Guard were among the most explicit and restrictive than any in the country; laws which defined physical rape and sexual aggression (attempted rape) within the context of physical force and intimidation.  Although these laws were attacked by progressive feminists because of what they saw as lawmakers’ white male privilege if not misogyny, their demands to lesson the rigors of the law were defeated.  As such, any soldier in the state National Guard knew without confusion exactly what constituted rape and attempted rape after one hour of indoctrination.

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Moreover, most of the boy’s class of inductees were middle class, temperate, responsible, and reasonably educated young men and women.  They came to the Guard with an already well-established morality, sense of justice, and respectful treatment of women.  It would be unconscionable for any of them to consider rape or violence against women.  Their upbringing had been moral and spiritual in nature, and families encouraged volunteering for the Guard as a gesture of strength, rectitude, and patriotism.  Elaborate sensitivity training was unnecessary, uncalled for, and a diversion from the more important tasks of soldiering.

Of course not all the boy’s class were brought up with the same attention to moral and social development as he; and their social attitudes may have been less morally formed than his.  They might have considered questionable actions whereas the boy never would have.  Yet the procedures for investigation, trial, and conviction or exoneration were so strict and so well-known, that even the less morally centered of the new Guard recruits would toe the line.  Conviction of physical sexual aggression and/or rape would be punishable by the most severe punishments allowable.

The female reservists also knew of the strict laws and regulations governing sexual conduct.  There was no mistaking their clear legal responsibilities.  While all allegations of sexual assault would be taken seriously, the standards by which they would be evaluated would be uncompromisingly strict.  Any and all subjective accusations would be dismissed out of hand.  There would be no consideration of personal judgments of comfort (“He made me feel uncomfortable”), assumptions of universal male predatory sexual behavior, no admissibility of impropriety or ‘inappropriate behavior’.  Normal sexual dynamics - male advances, female rejections and vice-versa - would be the standard against which claims would be evaluated.  Women, in the view of the conservative state jurists who drafted the rules and regulations, were quite able to take care of themselves; but should be afforded every avenue to defend themselves in court.  “The only aggression against a National Guard member that will be tolerated”, said one lawmaker, “will be an enemy bullet”; and that, he went on to say, should be a rare occurrence.

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Rape should never be tolerated because it is a violent, criminal act.  Attempted rape or sexual intimidation are just as serious breaches of the code of moral and civil conduct of a mature society and must be punished.  Yet the issue of sexual violence has been obfuscated and distorted by political hysteria.  The feminist assumptions that all man are potential rapists, that male chromosomes guarantee sexual aggression, and that misogyny is as innate and inbred as eating and drinking have infected both public discourse and judicial process.  Under this flamboyant rhetoric, men are presumed guilty under the flimsiest of charges.  Perhaps as importantly, women activists’ demand for safe spaces and a no-tolerance policy for ‘unwanted’ touching, glances, words, or intentions is absurdly ironic.  If women are supposedly as strong, willful, able, intelligent, and determined as men, then demanding universal protection from men is tantamount to admitting their weakness.  You can’t have it both ways.

Under the rubric of ‘normal sexuality’ women know that man by nature are assertive, that it is usually they who make the first sexual advances.  Women either respond favorably or reject these advances.  They have learned not to frequent venues where irresponsible male sexual behavior is likely; and have learned that a culture of respect acknowledges men’s very unique and particular sexual drive and responsiveness and dress appropriately.  Assertiveness and aggression are not the same things at all.

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One needs only turn to the plays of Ibsen, Strindberg, O’Neill, Chekhov, and Shakespeare to see how strong, defiant women living in the most patriarchally oppressive societies best their men all the time.  Intelligence, cunning, sexual allure and promise have always been in women’s armory and used frightfully well.  How is it that today’s American culture has so devalued women’s strength and potential? 

The issue is not violent, physical rape which has always existed; and if in history not a punishable crime, a heinous moral one.  The issue is more with the questionable allegation of ‘sexual aggression’, expanded beyond the definition of attempted rape and psychological and physical intimidation to ‘unwanted attention’.  It is this desire to protect women when they least need it which leads to a divisive sense of sexual hysteria.  Sexual relationships are not taught as normal, even spiritual; but acts to be wary of; acts of male sexual predation.  Catholic Catechisms and pastoral teaching, as strict as they have been on sexual matters, stressed the sacramental holiness of sexual union in marriage.  Whether or not most Catholic boys  and girls followed the Church’s teachings on abstinence and sexual purity, the principle of the sanctity of the act was stressed.  God was in the picture.  Sexual morality was a necessary feature if not product of this teaching.  Even if no one remained celibate, the principle of sanctity and respect remained.

Once again, the issue is not how many Catholics emerged from this early teaching to become moral adults – probably fewer than the Church had hoped – but that there was always a sense of morality within sexuality. Paul in his Epistles was particularly clear about the principle of responsible sexuality, how it was intimately related to both earthly and divine family.  While there is no doubt that such conservative prescriptions were no different from any other religious teacher of other faiths – religion at its simplest is an organized, socially conservative institution – they were universal and ineradicable.

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Why is rape so prevalent in socially dysfunctional neighborhoods? Not because rapists are not aware of the legal consequences of their actions; but because they lack the moral underpinnings common among the city’s majority population.  Attempts to explain away dysfunctional behavior by claims of persistent racism, poverty, public neglect, and lack of financing are now dismissed out of hand.  Decades of investment based on these assumptions have failed to result in any significant improvement in these marginal communities; and political moderates are joining conservatives in concluding that the problem is one of moral failure not public support.

All of which is to say that the National Guard reservists should be spending far more time on learning how to shoot than to learn how to negotiate sexual waters.  The legal consequences of fairly prosecuted rape are serious as those are of physical sexual aggression; and the rest of responsible male and female behavior should have been long ago taught at home.  Morality, especially when it has such direct, serious implications, cannot be taught in a classroom.  Respect for women and women’s respect for themselves are matters of parental and religious guidance, taught over years by example. 

Honesty, courage, compassion, and all the other universal principles of a successful society also cannot be taught incidentally.  It must be a matter of norms, universal values, and societal principles. Morality learned this way becomes innate, accepted, never doubted.

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