Remember a couple of years ago when the news stories came out about sexual assault at conservative Christian colleges and how extremely bad their response to sexual assault tends to be? And then shortly after that there were news reports about how the Duggar's had responded to their molestation (non)crisis, and screenshots of pages from counseling textbooks used in conservative churches made the rounds and there was all kinds of shock and pearl clutching and hand wringing for about 10 minutes until the next news cycle hit?
Well, now it's the same song, second verse, but with the Mormons. I understand that if you didn't grow up in a conservative religious environment this stuff may continue to be shocking, but in fact it shouldn't be. And asking institutions like Bob Jones University and BYU to change their approach to sexual assault and sexual assault victims is asking them not to be who they are. It rests on a lack of understanding of the most fundamental views of these groups concerning women's bodies and sexuality. This is not a surface-level, cosmetic fix. It's deep in the roots.
|Your vagina, on sex|
|Used tape. Don't stick it on your dick.|
And so it is with women who have been used. In this culture it's just an odd thing to consider whether they had consented to being used or not. The simple fact that their bodies are no longer "pure" is taken as a sign of some sin, or a violation of the school code, or whatever. And the reality is, sin or no, their gum has been chewed. Their tape has lost it's stickiness. You don't want to stick your dick in that. (I maybe don't completely get how these analogies are supposed to work.)
What's surprising to me about these stories is that people who are from these churches go to these universities and are then shocked by the response when they get assaulted. The church is supposed to be a safe space - it's supposed to be about love and all that, so I get why you might expect a compassionate response. But these core beliefs make it so that, in my experience and in the experience of those individuals featured in these stories, these environments will never be a safe space for women.
So maybe what's more distressing about these stories is not just that the women who were assaulted found that is wasn't a safe space. It's that at the end of the day, it's not a safe space for any of the women there. Living your day-to-day life immersed in an environment that views you as being similar to a piece of chewing gum or used tape just isn't good for you, and kills you with a million tiny cuts that you barely perceive. Maybe you're better off to experience the big dramatic cut right away, so you become aware that you need to get out. Or you get expelled. Either way, at least you have a shot at recovery now.