08 September 2013


R@pio, R@pere, R@pui, R@ptum

Don't you hate it when you're just going about your day, minding your own business, maybe conjugating Latin verbs cum amicis, and then someone you barely even know tells you that you are promoting something called "r@pe culture"? . . . Yeah, me, too.

Now, "r@pe culture" is a misleading term, if not an outright misnomer, which means it will be a struggle not to put quotation marks around it from this point on. I'm compromising by writing it in code, so that it doesn't show up on search engines and draw strangers who are just spoiling for a fight. If the people who already read this blog want to fight, however, that's all right. =) 

Without ever once having asked for a definition (which means that you are welcome to correct me at any time), I figured out that r@pe culture is anything that seems to play down the gravity of r@pe, be it in the media or in a conversation. It can range from asking, "But why was she wearing something like that?" after hearing the particulars of an assault, to telling a joke in which r@pe is milked for humour rather than presented as the horrible crime--even sin--that it is. Note that one can "perpetuate r@pe culture" without ever directly causing a r@pe.

Apparently, it's not enough to be against r@pe and to support bringing r@pists to justice, as I do and as I'm sure everyone reading this does. We must also police our language so that anything that is not 100% explicitly anti-r@pe is censored and condemned. How this works may be illustrated in the reaction to a certain Penny Arc@de Web comic strip . . .


This comic was first drawn and published three years ago. That's about how long it takes me to notice controversial stuff. =P

I think you'd have to be a philosophical contortionist to say that the story is pro-r@pe. It is about slaves who are abused, one of whom is begging to be freed. But the hero doesn't help him because the quest (based on a video game, I gather) requires him to rescue only five, and he has already reached his quota. The strip satirises the kind of "heroism" which would leave people still in need of help behind, and I think it does it well.

But it's not 100% explicitly anti-r@pe, and that is why the creators of Penny Arc@de had to draw an unscheduled comic in which they stated what should have been painfully obvious and asked the self-appointed House Un-American Activities Committee to get off their backs.


Anyone notice that they didn't have to address "slave culture"?

I don't want to go into what happened next, because I want this post to be about no more than the comic itself and on other unwitting examples of r@pe culture in the media. (Is my rule to avoid quotation marks killing anyone else?)

Now, it's really difficult for me to see the strip as insidious. Issues of taste aside, I honestly don't think that someone making a joke which involves r@pe would cause someone else to commit r@pe any more than I think Horror movies create killers. That they might make killers more creative is a separate issue. Do we really want culture, even if it's merely pop culture, to be determined by the dregs of society? Or do we recognise that if 99% of reasonable adults can handle something without going nuts, that the 1% who can't are exceptional and should not be the standard by which everyone else is judged?

In short, the idea that a tiny minority characterised by lack of reason and virtue should be the deciding factor in all social and cultural decisions doesn't sit well with me. (I'll let you all hold this against me the next time I blog in support of monarchy. =P)

But what if the tiny minority that the cultural crusaders care about are not the psychos, but the victims? Indeed, the most passionate pieces against r@pe culture emphasise that any form of "blaming the victim" or making her (or him?) continue to feel unsafe is unacceptable. That's something I can get behind. If people have been through traumas at the hands of unconscionable folk, then we, their community, should do what we can to make them feel safe again. This is only reasonable. But it's also reasonable to point out that this second extraordinary minority shouldn't get to call the shots just because they were once victimised. Unless you want to argue that r@pe is an educational rite of passage--which I'm sure you don't. 

Yet they're apparently already calling some shots in the legal system, if a certain case of campus sexu@l ass@ult, analysed on Darwin Catholic a few months ago, is any indicator . . .

The thing is, you can't have a system which is easy on both the accuser and the accused. Being the victim of a crime is distressing. Being accused of committing a crime is distressing. Any system has to come up with some sort of balance between the rights of the accuser and the accused and there are reasons that [self-described feminist Judith] Grossman should be familiar with for the particular balance that society has struck. That's not to say that it's the best possible balance, but let's be clear: Any change that would have made things easier on her son would also have made things harder on at least some actual rape victims. There is not a system that magically sorts out the guilty from the innocent without making things difficult for anyone.

The fairness of such a system isn't my concern at the moment. I am more fascinated by the discussion inspired by the post, which got really ugly. Wade through the combox at your own risk. The only part I want to highlight is someone's belief that the discussion was contributing to "an unsafe environment for women." Which is not to say that she thought the male commenters would go out and r@pe women as a result of it, but that she believed everyone (else) was speaking about r@pe in a way that would make an actual victim feel that no one would support her if she pressed charges or make an actual perpetrator rationalise that what he had done wasn't so bad. In other words, she was arguing that that Darwin Catholic discussion was an example of r@pe culture.

Doesn't it blow your mind??? =P

But if it doesn't . . . that is, if it makes perfect sense to you . . . then I wonder what you make of this post. As I've explained, I don't think that a small minority defined by something outside of the ordinary experience (be it an inability to act virtuously or the scars of an event which should never have happened) deserves the deciding say in how the community does things. Especially the "Internet community," which is actually an oxymoron.

Let me put it this way . . . If a friend told me that some things I've been saying have been making a mutual pal feel unsafe and ashamed, then I would stop saying them around her (or him). Similarly, if a blog reader I've interacted with wrote me and said that some of my posts have been having the same effect on her (or him), then I would tone them down. But if a complete stranger were to make the same demand, in the name of women (or men) I may never meet, then I would respond with the same consideration I gave to the last complete stranger who asked me to change something. That is, I would seriously think about it . . . ask other people for their take on it . . . consult an authority figure on the right course of action . . . and probably conclude that a stranger simply doesn't merit the sort of consideration that a community member does.

Think about it. If a problem stops impacting your life when you close a browser window, then it's not a real problem, is it? This isn't about culture, but about control.

It dawns on me now that the original D!ckwolf may have been the Lycancath/Werepunk. ;-)


Belfry Bat said...

Dear oh dear oh dearie dear dear-o ...

The problem with evil (not the theological puzzle "the problem of evil") is that, being a defect of being, it tends to consume. Contemplation of evil, when one is not fed by truth and beauty, will consume reason; and I think this is deep among the roots of that you lament here. We live in a profoundly confected world these days, so that though the True and the Good and the Beautiful haven't actually gone away, there are so durnd many distractions that it's much too easy to ignore them; such that, when the first bit of Real one encounters is the solid road on the far side of a truck-sized sinkhole, he or she no longer trusts it enough to walk on. (Something like this happened to someone at my Downtown Hometown about a month ago!). Um... are the metaphors getting too murky?

The most most most insidious thing about the ‘r@pe cu17ure’ meme is that each half of it has truth to it: r@pe is profoundly evil though it seems becoming more rare; on the other hand, the culture around us tends to strangle chastity (along with all the other virtues). And this causes problems for everyone.

Of course, NO reason to stop conjugating Latin, and it is furthermore helpful to know that the particular verb translates as "to steal", the act of theft.

geeklady said...

People don't always have the reading comprehension to cope with satire. That's what happened with the (original) Penny Arcade strip. And on Calah Alexander's "Thomas the Tank Engine is a Commie". And to Richard Dawkins cited a story on the recent changes to Vatican law from the parody website Newslo (which amusingly enough has a feature that highlights the factual portions of an article.) Et cetera, ad infinitum.

Nuts, the original masterpiece of satire had the same problem.

Now, the original strip was a brilliant skewering of the questing systems of massively multiplayer games. The second strip and subsequent aftermath were just typical PA bullshit. Once they know something makes someone angry, they take an indecent amount of pleasure from using that to make people angry over and over again. They're very good at trolling.

But I think you're missing part of the breadth of the reaction of the anti-r@pe culture crusaders. Any depiction of or reference to r@pe in media is wrong... unless it is from the perspective of the woman violated and part of a story detailing her recovery. The use of it as a horrible crime in any other artistic context is considered to perpetuate the culture by trivializing the crime. This is chiefly what the PA guys ran up against.

It's a subset of a larger objection among some female comic nerds that anything bad happening to a superhero's vulnerable girlfriend is hack writing that uses women as a McGuffins. (They're much more strident than this, but I can't bring myself to write it.) Bad things happening to the unpowered love interest are always evidence of r@pe culture instead of a potential danger of being a super hero's love interest in the first place.

I don't have a lot of sympathy to this view, given that my husband is from the Rio Grande Valley. Say you become a Border Patrol agent down there. You will probably be approached by the agents of a cartel with a briefcase full of money. And if you turn it down, you can expect bad things to happen to your family. No one becomes a BP agent in their home town. It's less common, but not unheard of, for other law enforcement officers.

Melanie Bettinelli said...

Your conjugation made me smile. I can't wait to start teaching Latin to my crew. I miss it so.

When I first saw the term "rape culture" bandied about I was incredulous. Huh I still am. The whole thing kind of makes my head hurt.

Enbrethiliel said...


Bat -- Sometimes you phrase things so prettily that I'm not sure I know what you mean. So consider this directly reply a shot in the dark . . . I don't see how the Penny Arc@de comic strangles chastity. (Let me guess? I missed your point? LOL!)

Geeklady -- While I deplore the Penny Arc@de guys' subsequent handling of the "D!ckwolves" meme, I don't think that the second comic was out of line. Its last frame, in which Tycho addresses the possibility that someone became a r@pist as a direct result of reading the first comic is precisely what I'm getting at here, except that I'm less funny. (And yes, less trollish. =P) They and I seem to agree that if something like that actually happened, then the problem wasn't the comic.

On the other hand, what you've added to the r@pe culture definition is certainly the missing piece of the puzzle for me. It also throws more light on the Darwin Catholic discussion. The woman who said it was an example of r@pe culture was upset that Darwin believed, even if it was only for the sake of hypothesis, that the young man accused of r@pe was innocent. Her own policy, articulated elsewhere, is to believe any woman who says she was the victim of any sort of sexu@l crime. Anything less, she argued, would be making the world less safe for women instead of safer.

Now, I don't know about that, either. It's like the polar opposite of "zero tolerance" and it's just as unfair. I mean, if a close male relative or friend of mine were accused of r@pe, of course I'd believe that he didn't do it. Not because I don't understand the gravity of r@pe, but because I trust the men in my life. But since their version of events wouldn't be from the perspective of the accuser, apparently that's still r@pe culture. =S

Melanie -- I miss Latin, too! My brothers never got into it and my mother told me to stop teaching it after a few lessons. It was heartbreaking . . .

But I'm sure you'll have better luck with your little ones! Your home has a great culture of learning and your children always seem eager to try new experiences and to learn new things. =)

Belfry Bat said...

Penny Arcade? No, they weren't strangling chastity there (unless they were somehow glorifying the life of phalovulpes); that's done by bilboards and grocery-checkout magazines and public service announcements in support of the latex extrusion industry and carcinogenic self-poisoning and pop music... if there's something I don't want to listen to at the dentist, it's cheerful bubbly pop music that doesn't even try to be euphemistic about the singer's ehem-"life" and broad license and... but that's another story. Do you realize that the only way to avoid grocery checkout magazines is to avoid grocery stores? I'd love to shop only at specialty shops, but I simply can't afford it!

In fact, you might put it that modern culture is one drawn-out psychological r@pe, and not at all a subliminal one. so, e.g., I wouldn't be surprised if the only reason Darwin is able to find violent crime decreasing is that even the violently criminal are simply running out of entrepreneurial gumption under the popular regimen of demoraleizing amorality.

If I were to accuse Penny Arcade of anything defective, it would be of wasting too much time (their own and, now, mine) pointing out the stupidity of a thing that really should just be left alone to go away. That is, satire can only go so far towards feeding us truth, and what I've seen of PA doesn't have much in the way of beauty, either. I don't follow PA at all, so I may be way-off, in this paragraph.

Enbrethiliel said...


The Penny Arc@de guys are making a living from what they do. It's hardly a waste of their time. At least their families don't think so. Consider them the Web comic industry's answer to the professional convert apologist.

If you felt your time would be wasted, you could have opted not to leave the comment.

Belfry Bat said...

I never said you were wasting my time! ;-) Since making sense of this eminently worth-the-while post in part hangs from those two strips, I don't mind reading them that otherwise I'd never have missed. So, perhaps I'll recant the "now mine" clause.

Btw, I'm perfectly capable of wasting time on my own, too!

Enbrethiliel said...


To be fair to you, Bat, sometimes I wonder whether this blog is a waste of my time, too. ;-P And no, I'm not fishing!

geeklady said...

Oh it wasn't that the second comic said anything bad. It's that I knew they had designed this apology to rub people's noses in the stupidity of the idea and that things would escalate into them being deliberately and increasingly offensive. It's like if hurricanes could aim at people that refused to evacuate.

If you want some samples of the larger phenomenon, check out some of the posts on comics at GeekMom. Although I'll grant they have a lot more hack writers to deal with. It seems to be a general extension of the demand for all stories to possess a strong female character so women can enjoy the story.

Enbrethiliel said...


What most annoys me about the "strong female character" is that she's a slave to branding. As long as she has the right purse or the right shoes, she has it made: it's just that in her case, the purse and shoes are the trappings of "traditionally masculine" areas. So if she knows martial arts, swears like a sailor, and is more interested in tech stuff than in fashion, she's a "strong female character."

But while these female characters are catching up to what male characters were doing last decade, the male characters may be doing something new. Which means that the race never ends. You may have finally amassed your collection of sexy Manolo Blahnik shoes, but what does it matter when the stylistas have moved on to Christian Louboutin footwear?

While I don't mind the idea that a certain demographic needs a certain type of character in order to enjoy a story, I do find it sinister that one demographic is being told exactly what type of character to identify with, to look for, and even to demand. This is an acquired taste engineered by psychologists in a lab. Metaphorically speaking, of course. =)

geeklady said...

Oh, I do mind the idea that a demographic needs a certain type of character available to enjoy a story. It's insulting. They're very close to advocating to the insertion of Mary Sue characters.

And frankly, fiction whose main character is like one of those carnival plywood characters you stick your face through to have your picture taken *coughTwilightcough* just isn't interesting. A character ought to have life of its own.

Enbrethiliel said...


I guess the reason I don't mind is that I haven't been pressured to create that type of character on the creative end, and have so far found it easy to ignore them on the other end. For all my complaining about "Special Snowflake Freaks", I know that all I have to do is walk away from the book or turn off the screen. Then I only remember their existence when I run into someone whose media experience has clearly been saturated with them and who has no desire to diversify his intake.

Enbrethiliel said...


Now please forgive me while I take Comment #13. =)

Sheila said...

Hm. R@pe culture is definitely a thing ... and I think I'd agree with Bat that it's something of an outgrowth of unchastity culture. An idea that everything should be allowed, that every joke is funny, that nothing is out of bounds or in poor taste.

But I tend to think of it not based primarily on its effects on r@pists OR victims. Its main effects are on all of us, on culture as a whole. If the dominant narrative of our culture when we hear about r@pe is, "What was she doing out so late at night?" then odds are when someone tells us "I was r@ped," we are likely to blame or disbelieve them.

I think of this every time I tell someone about my friend. She had a baby outside of wedlock, and I feel like I have to mention that she was r@ped so they don't judge my friend. But then people nod sagely and say, "Well, of course she'd SAY that."

In what other instance do you assume a total stranger is a liar on no evidence at all?!

But yes, I would say that r@pe jokes hurt the victim too, just as I wouldn't make a Holocaust joke in front of someone who lost a family member in it. Just like we don't make 9/11 jokes. Because in almost any audience of any size, there are r@pe victims listening. I forget what the odds are, 1 in 10 women I think?

I think the trouble is that people who are worried about r@pe culture try to take out all the nuance of what is *actually* offensive and make them into black-and-white rules: "R@pe jokes are never funny. Siding with the defendant in a r@pe case is always contributing to r@pe culture." When the fact is, some jokes (like the one in the comic there) aren't offensive, because they don't excuse r@pe in ANY WAY. And sometimes we defend the defendant in a r@pe case because we truly believe *he didn't do it.*

Here's a post that I found did a good job explaining the difference: http://jezebel.com/5925186/how-to-make-a-r@pe-joke (You'll have to replace the @, I just don't want to mess up your system!)

But, like I said, r@pe culture is a thing, just like chauvinism is a thing, and just because not everything that is said to fit into that category really does, doesn't mean the category doesn't exist.

love the girls said...

Fortunately it's not all r@pe culture.

In one of the Rich Riordon books, Percy Jackson ends up in the Cavern of the Amazons who have young men slave, we can assume sex slaves.

An adolescent boy's fantasy paradise if there ever was one. And if the slave boy was accused of deserving his fate, it would be an envious compliment by the other boys.

Belfry Bat said...

Having let it soak a little (which is probably too much) I think the intrinsic off-note in the first comic is that the one lamenting r@pe is the little scrawny pimply paleface. If anything saves this circumstance (other than that causality is working in the opposite direction) it's that the comic really is mocking the big brawny self-styled hero; but, if, perchance, some reader were unable to detect that mock, or find the punchline, they could get the wrong impression.

But Sheila has a better argument, with her (alarming!) statistics. (really, i'm alarmed! One is one too many, but that's much too high!)

Enbrethiliel said...


Sheila -- I'd be more militant against r@pe culture if it were presented as the violation of a taboo . . . which happens to be exactly what you're describing! Last year's readalong of Stephen King's Pet Sematary convinced me that we put fences around some dark things for a reason: that is, we become corrupted if we don't. And it may well be that allowing "r@pe jokes" has torn down a very necessary fence, our evidence being that we automatically assume the worst of people we know nothing about.

But this is why I push back when the only argument against r@pe as a topic of any kind of conversation is that people's feelings will be hurt. It's very subjective and seems to be a call to remake the world in Nerf. On the other hand, I'm deeply sympathetic (not that anyone should care!) to the idea that we should not talk about r@pe in a certain way because it corrupts the soul. But apparently feelings easier to believe in than the soul these days!

LTG -- I haven't read the far in the Percy Jackson series, so I can't comment.

Bat -- As usual, I'm not sure what you mean. Are you saying the comic would have been received better if the victim had been a woman? Or a more attractive male? I think that one good thing about the first comic is that it doesn't let the kind of r@pe that it depicts be easy to fantasise about. Why do you think the victim is the off-note?

Sheila said...

LTG -- I find that statement horrifying. Sure, teenage boys might *think* they would like that. In reality, it's still child abuse and pretty darn harmful. In fact your statement is one of the things that people complain about when they talk about r@pe culture -- because when a REAL teenage boy is REALLY taken advantage of by an older woman, like a teacher or other authority figure where he doesn't feel he can say no, it often isn't met with the same anger as if he were a girl instead. And yet it should, because violating a child's chastity is serious stuff, even if he or she THINKS they want it.

Yes, Bat, the difference between an acceptable r@pe joke and a horrifying one is who the butt of the joke is. You can make fun of *bad* people till the cows come home (though, of course, it's still not clean humor and not the kind I'd choose to partake in, because I have good, true, and beautiful things to think of instead) ... what you can't do is ridicule the victim, especially in jokes where it is taken as a given that women will be r@ped, that any red-blooded man would do it if given the chance, or that women always cry r@pe but they're always lying.

The effects on the whole audience from such a joke are negative. Any victims in the audience think, "I'd better not tell anyone, they will mock and disbelieve me." Women think, "I'm bound to have it happen to me sooner or later." Men think, "I guess this is just part of male culture, and I shouldn't make a big fuss if I hear of something like that happening."

E, those stats are for America. Some reports are higher. It's hard to say because a lot of r@pes aren't reported. Those that are, often don't get prosecuted because no one can find the perpetrator, or the victim can't prove anything.

I hope and pray that your country, being more Catholic, has better odds. I know India has some of the worst rates in the world. R@pe is used there to punish women who are "out of place," such as riding the bus alone or walking to work alone. There was a truly horrifying story of a woman who was gang r@ped on a moving bus .... and the bus driver just kept driving! That is r@pe culture at its finest -- not that every man would do it, but that no one would remark at it or try to prevent it.

Countries under sharia have terrible stats too, though it would be hard to say because women don't report it. And they don't report it because they're likely to face the death penalty for it.

Oh, dear, it is hard for me to even discuss this .... just because it is so widespread, so unremarked on, so damaging. And it's definitely an effect of the breakdown of taboos surrounding chastity. I would like to get back to a taboo on r@pe jokes, but I don't know how to make it happen. Not when a comic can quip, "Wouldn't it be hilarious if [an audience member] got r@ped right now? Like if a bunch of us just gang-r@ped her?" and everyone who gets offended is told, "You just have no sense of humor." What's the solution?

Belfry Bat said...

What I'm saying is that, if one misses the actual joke (and that's easy enough), one might think that the fact of the victim's complaining is meant to be part of the victim's obvious weakness; that, in contrapositive, "strong" characters don't complain. In that there really would have been an actual participation in "r@pe culture" or, less buzzily, the normalization of r@pe.

But it's obvious, having got the joke, that exactly the opposite is intended: that the obviously-weak character here is actually the better of the two.

love the girls said...


A boy being propositioned by an older girl may be many things, but abuse is not one of them.

Trust me, when I was boy I would have not have been abused if one of my friend's bikini clad blond bombshell babe sisters had escorted me into her bedroom.

The movie "Summer of 42" is an adolescent boy’s fantasy, but if that fantasy occurred today it would be twisted into a story of sexual abuse.


Sheila said...

So seducing someone whose conscience is not yet fully formed into mortal sin is a-okay?

I had a crush on a much older guy when I was 12 ... because 12-year-olds have a lot more desires than brains. I would have loved it if this guy had wanted to sleep with me .... and it would have ABSOLUTELY been abuse.

love the girls said...


It's an uncommon boy who would need to be seduced by an older girl because most boy would be very will participants. Girls need to be seduced, not boys.

As for formation, sin and so forth, those are a different matter. Related but different.

Sheila said...

You've never been a girl. I think I just told my own experience above, do you just not believe me?

You can't put sin in a different category from everything else. Non-Catholics may have their own reasons for opposing statutory r@pe, but as Catholics it's easy enough to say, "Adults should be protecting children from sin, not leading them into it." Shouldn't your faith form your thought on this matter?

Giving a child sweet-tasting poison because they want it is wrong. Having sex with a child which we know is deadly for their souls is wrong, no matter how much they want to.

love the girls said...


I should add, I specifically choose boys and Amazons because it's a completely different matter with young girls.

Fornication effects girls to their very soul in a way that it simply does not effect boys. Girls give, boys take. It's also why the notion of a guy being r@ped by girls is for the most part just silly.

Enbrethiliel said...


Sheila -- I'd really have to read the Rick Riordan novel before I say anything about it, but speaking more generally, I think that a society which considers teenagers to be children both legally and psychologically is right to forbid romantic relationships between adults and minors. (Whether this is "natural" or not isn't my concern.)

Now, it's possible that the adult's romantic interest in the teenager is sincere and that both parties intend to get married as soon as they can . . . but none of us live in a society where that is the norm. And the norms justify us looking with suspicion on any such relationships which form in our communities.

And this actually does circle back to r@pe culture! (Gosh, I hate that term . . .) Actual child abuse should not be trivialised just because the form it takes happens to be a common fantasy of that general group of children. That's clearly not happening here, as LTG is talking about fiction and hypothetical situations, but we do seem to be skirting some dangerous borders.

Anyway, I'm starting to see the disgusted commenter's point from the Darwin Catholic discussion. I still think that only a really twisted person would read something like LTG's comment and say, "See? It's okay for me, a grown woman, to go after the teenage boys in my care!" But apparently, there are more really twisted people around than I originally thought! =P

Bat -- That interpretation never even occurred to me!

LTG -- Again, I haven't read the book which inspired this digression, so I don't know anything about Riordan's envisioning of the Amazons and their male slaves, but I'm sure that the fantasy element is dependent on the Amazons being young and beautiful. If they were much older and unattractive, you'd be wanting to get those poor boys out of there, too.

Now it's my turn to bring up a book others probably haven't read. There's a Sidney Sheldon Thriller in which one character, who has to hire a certain assassin, is told that the assassin only does business through his mistress. Expecting that someone as wealthy as the assassin would have a really gorgeous, young mistress, the character fantasises about mixing business with pleasure in a fling. When he finally meets her, he is gobsmacked that she is the ugliest woman he has ever seen. And then she tells him that she wants him to do sexual favours for her. He goes straight from fantasy land to nightmare world.

Sheila said...

Fornication has the same spiritual effect on everyone. It sends them to hell. Psychological effects may vary, but I would hesitate to make any assumptions about the harm that is or isn't done to young men's psyches. I do know one side effect of s3xual @buse on young boys is that they usually act out that abuse on still younger children. So one might argue that this is more harmful than the effects on girls.

Boys can't be r@ped by girls ... so what was it, in the Bible, when Lot's daughters got him drunk to get pregnant by him? Were they giving, or taking?

I used to teach teenage boys, and it's kind of a weird scenario. The boys were fit, attractive, and speaking to me quite respectfully, as I was an authority figure. But the idea of EVER crossing that line with these boys makes me ill -- even though I was only 5-9 years older! They might have looked like adults, even felt like adults. But (especially in our society where maturity is delayed) they were children. Their judgment, risk analysis, and planning ability were far from mature. So absolutely, if I had agreed -- even upon request -- to sleep with any of them, I would have been taking advantage.

Sheila said...

Can I just add, E -- thank goodness you're here.

love the girls said...

Miss E.,

The Amazons are young demigods, it goes without saying that they're highly desirable to adolescent boys.

The point of bringing up the Amazons is that the modern world has turned what no one would have thought of as abuse into abuse, or r@ape. And that some vestiges of the past sensibilities remain such as Riordan's boy slaves of the Amazons.

Btw, have you read the latest I am number 4 series book?

love the girls said...


The effects of fornication on the material souls of boys and girls is radically different. Laws are not ordered to sin, but to the adverse material effects of sin.

Sheila said...

So, where is your evidence that girls are damaged for life while boys walk away unscathed? Please provide statistics, case studies, etc.

Enbrethiliel said...


Sheila -- Now you know how I felt when you made your late entrance to Meeting 58! ;-)

LTG -- After I learned how the I Am Number Four books were being written, I decided to stay away from Pittacus Lore. On the other hand, the 39 Clues series is more up my alley.

So what is the effect of fornication on the material souls of boys?

Sheila said...

For that I think you would have to find someone who'd experienced it! Though I'd suggest a blurring of boundaries and increased odds of being promiscuous -- as well as what I mentioned before, enacting the same @buse with girls younger than themselves.

I honestly can't think of "natural" vs. "spiritual" effects, really. Playing on a boy's strongest temptations when he is young and vulnerable in order to destroy his chastity is enough, both in a "sin" sense and in a "growing up okay" sense. I have sons. Training them in chastity is one of my biggest worries. And the thought that I could spend all that effort, try to explain, teach them to respect girls their age, and have an older woman in a position of authority initiate them into a sinful lifestyle while they are still working out their values .... well, I find it horrifying that anyone, much less a Catholic, could consider this not harmful, even materially.

love the girls said...

Let me be clear, this only regards heterosexual relationships. A boy can be, and probably virtually always is permanently harmed by a homosexual. With a harm probably greater than the harm to a girl by fornication.

How do we know that boys are materially effected differently than girls? Which in turn means the laws regarding r@ape should reflect that difference.

Because a girl puts herself into the relationship whereas a boy does not. Which is a difference that has been reflected down through the ages where boys were looked at virtually indifferently to their sowing their wild oats while the girls were protected for those same boys.

As for R@pe culture concerning young girls, I only wish the modern standards applied to fornication in a manner that actually protected young girls versus feeding them to the wolves.

love the girls said...


You have little to fear from your sons being seduced by an older woman, its a fantasy because it simply almost never happens. Homosexuals are the actual danger and the laws are being changed to make your son available to them.

Sheila said...

"it simply almost never happens"

Turns out about 5% of boys lose their virginity in a statutory r@pe situation. One in twenty.

Your evidence is that there's always been a double standard for boys vs. girls? Presumably that was because girls could get pregnant, and this caused difficulties for the entire family. That doesn't mean no psychological harm is done.

This article may be helpful when it comes to having actual facts to discuss: http://www.blogher.com/gender-bias-statutory-rape

Enbrethiliel said...


I need to log off now, but I trust that my blog isn't going to explode in my absence? ;-)

Sheila and LTG, it's clear that one of you is arguing from an understanding of human nature that has remained constant over different cultures and different ages, while another is arguing from a wealth of new information only our age has been able to accumulate--and I am bright eyed and bushy tailed enough to believe that both are bound to agree in the end. (In the meantime, it's going to be a bumpy ride . . .)

Since LTG keeps bringing up literature (which I'm totally on board with, by the way) I might as well mention an association which came to me while reading the latest comments . . .

In the latest movie adaptation of Voyage of the 'Dawn Treader' . . . THIS IS YOUR LAST SPOILER WARNING . . . Edmund's Dark Island nightmare is the White Witch come back to life. Seeing her again paralyses him at a moment when lives hang on his ability to act. Watching that scene, I had the uneasy sense that the power she had over him was sexu@l in nature . . . even Oedipal . . . and that the perfect way to taunt--and to stunt--this boy who was just starting to prove himself a man was to remind him of what he had with her.

In related impressions, one reason I think single motherhood is a bad idea is that I believe such a set up is very damaging to boys. (Never mind the girls for a moment.) Based on real-life observations, stories from people I trust, and yes, even statistics, I think that unmarried or divorced women often take out their grievances against men on their sons, whether or not they know it. And because those grievances are frequently sexu@l in nature, that quality infects the mother-son relationship even more. There may not be actual inc3st involved, but the psychological fallout can be extreme and I do call it abuse.

This may not be the traditional dynamic in those oh-so-rare cases in which an older woman seduces a teenage boy, but given the breakdown of those other traditional dynamics of the family these days, I wouldn't be surprised if the formerly consequence-free pastime of "sowing one's wild oats" can now only be done on a minefield.

A minefield thickly carpeted with radioactive dust.

Belfry Bat said...

Enbrethiliel, re. Dawn Treader... that is fascinating. Icky, too, I think, but...

So, as you may recall, the Kings and Queens Pevensy spent, roughly, a quarter lifetime in Narnia; Queen Susan had even considered (and declined) a suit of marriage to the Calormene prince whose name eludes me... So, we know they grew up (and returned young, how strange!) and while they may have known many things going in, some of that will have reified itself... and thank Goodness Doctor Lewis elides almost all of the nonsense around such matters. BUT. That, in the movie, it speaks to something true, that we cannot forsee all the fruits of our sins, that they weigh upon what we don't know is still forming... Oh, poor Edmund!


So, by my count, there are two boys participating in this conversation; one of them is married and has (I'm sure) charming daughters to take care of. The other is me. And I've no experience of the effects of f0rnic4tion (thank God) nor of suffering literal r@pe (thank the angels) on a soul either, but I'm sceptical of LTG's categoricals, though explaining it will need a silly digression.

I do get attached. Easily smitten, if you understand. The very few times any attraction seemed mutual have been very brief, and the breaking-up was never my idea and was the sort of thing one just survived through, though I'm sure, after some remove of years, it was really all for the best. So, don't believe it when anyone says boys don't form attachments the way girls do. At least some of us do, and I've a suspicion that many of the rest have it beaten out of them. However, what seems to be supported by evidence (Aunty Seraphic knows where to find it better than I) is that pre-marital conjunctio impedes these early attachments, apparently by breaking whatever respect the boy might have had for the girl. Now, obviously context matters, because the same physical act (I presume it's the same) works to the opposite effect in marriage; but a woman who merely gratifies what has here been called a "boy's fantasy", against his better inclination, is really acting in the unmarried case and destroying his ability to respect her. I would be most surprised if this erosion of respect stayed specific to the particular woman, rather than hindering all his relationships with other women.

In sum: a woman r@ping a boy (or even seducing his will into it against right) is working against his ability to relate to women properly. He might not feel hurt by it any more than a drunk feels disoriented, but he is certainly harmed by it.

Enbrethiliel said...


What I was surprised to like about the new Narnia movies was their exploration of the psychological dynamics. In the source novels, the visits to Narnia have that mix of the grave and the elusive that characterises children's imaginative play. A child can spring from acting out a funeral to acting out a circus, with no psychological whiplash at all. But the filmmakers made the Pevensies a little older and more capable of seeing the serious side of things--and for the most part, it works!

On the other hand, everyone seems to hate my defense of the Prince Caspian movie . . . =P

Bat, thank you for your "silly digression." It can't have been easy to write, but it provides a perspective that is not often heard these days.

Sheila said...

I've been holding back from commenting for fear of blowing up your blog while you were away, but I think I want to take LTG up on first premises.

There's an assumption being made here: that traditions necessarily are based on a correct view of human nature. Even pre-Christian traditions, it seems, are considered to have some special wisdom.

But the fact is, we are sinful creatures who aren't capable of building a perfect society without reference to God. Ancient societies were functional, or they would have died out, but they were not always perfect examples of human flourishing. Laws no one questioned, like rule of the stronger, eye for an eye, or women being chattel *worked,* but they weren't good. They were fatally flawed. That's (one reason) why God *had* to come in person and clear things up. He showed us a better way, one that focused on the dignity of the human person as individually loved by God. Love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, and "in Christ there is no male or female" were radical statements.

And people didn't start living them out simply because Jesus had taught them. For the most part, the strong went on oppressing the weak, wars kept being started over insults, and women kept being treated as rather special livestock. Change was slow. There were religiously-motivated countercurrents, saints who spoke against pagan custom, but societies still kept up with the whole human-nature thing with each person taking his advantage where he could get it. And possessing all the muscles and all the education is a big advantage -- and getting pregnant is often a major disadvantage. So sure, men's fornicating was winked at while women's was harshly condemned. But there is nothing good about this.

Now, finally, after twenty centuries, culture has caught up to religion and we are realizing that, at least in this instance, f0rnication does harm to both boys and girls. It's one of the FEW positive things our culture has managed to come up with. It's much more Christian than the old double standard. So I say, encourage the heck out of it.

I did ask a Catholic psychologist about this discussion and she was horrified that anyone thought f0rnication, especially at a young age, wasn't harmful. She didn't give any specifics, though, except by saying that our spiritual, mental, and emotional selves are not separate, and that things that hurt our souls will hurt our entire person.

Sheila said...

Meanwhile, a bit of internet searching (unpleasant stuff!) has turned up the statement that male v1ctims tend to be "ruined" for girls their age after that. They expect more out of a girlfriend than anyone their age would be able to give. Since the st@tutory relationship usually involves a lot of special favors in order to groom the teenager, with not a lot expected of him in return, he expects that sort of relationship ever after -- and once the attraction of his adolescence is gone, he'll never have that sort of relationship again.

Now, is this the dynamic in *every single* relationship with that age difference? Probably not. However, the potential of harm is great enough to make a law that draws some kind of line. And once there IS a line, we can say, "No one who means well will be in a relationship like this, because the line is there."

So, to weigh the pros and cons of the law:

*Pro: those teenage boys who WILL get very attached, who WILL be harmed, will be protected.

*Con: some teenage boys who wanted to sleep with their teacher won't get to.

Sorry, this is a no-brainer for me.

E, I didn't catch your Prince Caspian post, but now I'll go look for it. I really enjoyed that movie, even though it took so many liberties with the book. I felt like despite many plot changes, it kept the themes intact.

love the girls said...


I really don't like to discuss some aspects of my past, but lets just say I spent my younger years in upper class decadence. And its that experience I primarily look back on in this discussion.

Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks for your consideration, Sheila, but I was really more worried about you and LTG! It's always interesting for me to log back in and see new comments, but as a host, I want all my guests to feel comfortable while they're here.

A blogger I know who was sexu@lly abused recently used the term "grooming" to describe the training of young pop stars and the conditioning of their fans, but the full sinister impact of the idea didn't hit me until you used the word just now. LTG won't be surprised to hear that this friend was a preteen boy when he was taken advantage of by an older male.

I've also been wondering whether we have more reason than our ancestors to be uneasy where boys are concerned. After all, we're in the age of the "coug@r" and the "M!LF", which means that women may be fantasising about going after younger males as well. On the other hand, The Last Psychiatrist blog has argued that the new popularity of the classic "femme fatale" archetype has less to do with older women becoming increasingly predatory than to older men becoming increasingly unable to feel attraction to their wives. That would indicate that something is wrong in their marriages, which they don't want to accept, so they cope by thinking that at least other men find their wives sexy. Which is not necessarily reflected in reality!

My Twelve Things about The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader" is a post on this blog, but you'll have to go all the way to my old zombie blog for Prince Caspian and the Shadow of the Sixteenth Century.

love the girls said...

Sheila writes:

"There's an assumption being made here: that traditions necessarily are based on a correct view of human nature."

Not unlike novels. Those traditions have passed the test of time.

love the girls said...

You all realize the 24 hour rule is in effect. If no one opposes my last post within the time allotted, I win.

Enbrethiliel said...


We take turns winning here. You can have this one if no one else minds. ;-)

Sheila said...

I ignored your comment because the answer to it is contained in my last post. In fact the entire post was an answer to the idea that simply because a tradition has survived, it is better.

Of course this debate is going to have to end someday and I'm sure we all have better things to do. At least I do. If you want to do a victory dance, be my guest. It doesn't make statutory r@pe okay.

love the girls said...

I'll let Sheila have the last word.

I do appreciate her comments, and will use them for adding to my blog post I listed up above such as I find the concept that having sex with 20 and 30 year old women wrecks him for having sex when he's older with 20 and 30 year old women.

Apparently the underlying assumption is that women who have sex with boy are more adventurous in other areas of the bedroom than just wanting it with some boy.

But yet when ever I'm waiting in the supermarket line the dominant subjects on all the women's magazines are sex and how to have more and better sex and how to get guys to have more and better sex with you, and fashion and how to perm your hair.

And can I assume those magazines are being purchase by the average women? And not just by women interesting in a younger partner?

Nevertheless, Sheila wins. Unless she responds to this post, in which case it will become part of the discussion and then of course I'll have to defend my position because . . .