Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bravo, Mr. President. Bravo!

As I was reading the news of the day, I came across this article:

President Obama and Vice President Biden are helping our country to take a step forward in the fight against violent crimes! The Associated Press reports:

"The Obama administration says it is expanding the FBI's more than eight-decade-old definition of rape to reflect a better understanding of the crime and to broaden protections."

I have seen the devastating impact that rape can have on an individual. I've worked with women who have been raped, been friends with women who were sexually abused as children. The way that a girl or woman starts to define themselves by that horrific event in their life. And the bitterness and self-loathing that can occur when the responsibility for the crime is pushed back on them or when the crime is not taken seriously.

Throughout history, the punishment for rape has varied greatly.  Some rapists have been viewed simply as playboys, whose charms women just can't refuse. The thought-process here is that the woman wanted it.

Other times, rape is viewed as a proposal. Remember that terrible book I read...Tess of the D'Ubervilles?? Tess was supposed to marry her rapist. What a frightening prospect!!

In many Greek stories, the woman raped was faulted. Think of the story of Zeus and Europa. Their relationship started with a rape. But it's okay because he is a god?? And she went on to have his children??  Because being raped by a god and getting pregnant makes rape a perfectly fine activity??
In another Greek story, a god, Poseidon, comes upon a beautiful mortal woman worshiping in the temple of Athena. The woman is so beautiful that he cannot help himself and immediately ravishes her...In the Temple! Athena, the Virgin Goddess, is furious that her temple has been desecrated with sex. But does she go after her uncle? Does she blame him? Nope. She blames the girl, punishing her by turning her beautiful long hair into writhing snakes. Yep. Poor Medusa was raped and instead of being comforted, her hair was turned into snakes and any guy who looked at her was turned to stone. Serves her right for being so beautiful...GAG!

Dinah's story in the Old Testament follows Tess's pattern of proposal. Dinah's, daughter of Leah and Jacob, sister to the Twelve Tribes of Israel, rapist thought to marry her. Her story is found in Genesis chapters 33 and 34. While her father seemed willing to go along with the marriage idea, her brothers had different plans. You can read the story yourself. The main point here is that the rapist is actually punished in this story...And quite extremely at that! 

(By the way, I thoroughly enjoyed this scripture study's insight into that story. Much food for thought.)

Early America viewed rape similar to Levi and Simeon. It was a crime that ought to be punished. I could honestly go on and on as the examples and variety of consequences are plentiful throughout history. But the topic is quite painful for many people, and I don't want to draw out this terrible thing.

What I want is to state emphatically that rape is not something the victim wanted. It is not, and never should be seen as, a proposal to marriage. And it is not the fault of the victim.

The article gives details of how the definition is being revised and expanded:

"The revised definition covers any gender of victim or attacker and includes instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of the influence of drugs or alcohol or because of age. Physical resistance is not required."

This revision by the FBI is HUGE!!!

Many states have taken great strides in the past decades to broaden their definitions of rape. They have expanded their protection of the girls, women, boys, and men who fall victim to this heinous crime. They have made the punishments more severe for the perpetrators. Their efforts have led to a decrease the incidence of rape.

I am so pleased that President Obama and his administration are updating their definition. It has been a long time coming and is a positive step forward in the fight against this atrocious crime. Bravo, Mr. President! Bravo!!

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