There are a number of good reasons to be outraged by a leaflet that’s being handed out by Christians, but I’ll leave you to make up your own mind about it by reading the article.
The first thing that bothered me is that the leaflet came to light because a young girl in Bristol, Virginia, who was working in the drive-through at a burger joint called Hi-Lo Burger, was handing the leaflet by a customer. She wasn’t standing on a corner or bouncing through the local mall with her goodies half hanging out. One would assume that if she was working in a fast food burger joint, she wasn’t exactly dressed like a skank.
More than anything, though, what bothered me most was the unimaginable contention that a woman who dresses in a manner which the American Taliban believes is “ungodly” is partly at fault if she is raped. Think about that. Isn’t that the old mentality that a lot of women are familiar with from our unrelenting Christian neighbors? If a woman is raped, wasn’t she asking for it in some fashion? Shouldn’t she have taken better precautions? If someone smashes down her front door and rapes her as she tries to flee in the bathroom, shouldn’t she have installed better locks on her house? And if she works in a public place and ever wore anything the least bit suggestive, wasn’t she responsible for that man wanting to come there and rape her in the first place?
All you need to know about this leaflet can be summed up by the following quotes;
“Scripture tells us that when a man looks on a woman to lust for her he has already committed adultery in his heart. If you are dressed in a way that tempts a men to do this secret (or not so secret) sin, you are a participant in the sin.” It also states. “By the way, some rape victims would not have been raped if they had dressed properly. So can we really say they were innocent victims?”
I think all victims of rape who read those words will find a knot twisting up in their stomach. We’ve all put ourselves through that self-recrimination game, wondering what we might have done to deserve such hatred from another human being, that they would do such things to us. Reading such filth as the “Women & Girls” leaflet makes most of us feel like we’ve not only been raped, but we’ve been spit upon by those who we thought might empathize with us.
Several things provoke me about the story:
1. I can’t find any story indicating that a reporter talked to the person/people handing out the leaflets. What was their motive? How many distributors are there? Is it a group or a lone individual with a computer and a copy of Publisher software?
2. It’s not clear how widespread the leaflet distribution is. So far the only named distribution point I have seen is the Hi Lo Burger in Bristol. Is this the only place handing these out?
3. As obnoxious as the leaflet is, if these 1300 hits refer to a few incidents at one burger drive through, isn’t this over-response just as obnoxious as the leaflet? What has been created is the appearance that there’s a Christian movement afoot to push American women into a version of the burka. And it may in fact just be one nutcase with a computer and a printer and a sympathetic person at the Hi Lo Burger. What does this say about news reporting in America? What does this say about proportional response? When is it appropriate to look at a stupid leaflet and say to the person giving it to you, “You’re crazy,” and get on with your life?
4. If we want to put an end to such nonsense, maybe ignoring it rather than giving it national attention is a better strategy.
I debated for a long time about whether or not to approve your post. Clearly you’re a man who doesn’t grasp why this issue is so offensive to women. Your assumption seems to be that this pamphlet being given to this girl in Bristol is the first time in American history anything like this has happened. If that were so, then perhaps the reaction to the story would have been unhinged.
The truth is that this mentality, that victims of rape can be partially to blame for what was done to them, is nothing new. If women all across the country have “over-responded” to this story, it’s because they relate so strongly to it. The pamphlet was not given to a stripper in the parking lot of a men’s club. It was given to a fully clothed young girl in the drive-through of a fast-food restaurant. If I, and other women, are upset on behalf of that young girl, it’s because we’ve been in her shoes, and we’re sick that she’s already had to face down the American Taliban at her age.
If you don’t think there’s a Christian movement afoot to push American women into a version of the burka, you’re not paying attention. While certainly no one has suggested that women cover their heads (Pentecostal Christians excepted), I, and many other women, have stared down the disapproving glares of Christians enough in my life to know that for many Christians the only way I’ll ever get into Heaven is stop wearing blue jeans, wear dresses and skirts that are at least down to the knees, stop wearing certain kinds of make-up and submit to the authority of a good man.
This issue has gotten so much traction specifically because it’s nothing new. Just as, when any Christian runs off spouting Bible passages while taking shots with a rifle at abortion doctors, the Christian community falls over itself to put some distance between themselves and “extremists” (while tacitly approving of their actions), Christians have been back-pedaling furiously to distance themselves from this pamphlet (although many haven’t been able to resist quoting from Peter 3:3 – “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes”).
We know. We get it. What this person did was wrong, but “most Christians aren’t like that”. Sound familiar? If we want to put an end to such nonsense, ignoring it is hardly the way to go about it. Ignoring a problem is a tactic for fools. If writing about this issue makes one up and coming fire-brand Christian think twice about bashing their neighbors over the head with their intolerance, then I’ve served my purpose. I won’t apologize to you or anyone else for responding to an on-going issue that I’ve been facing down my entire life. Nor will I expect others to do the same.