Religious Leaflet Claims ‘Ungodly’ Dressed Women Provoke Rape

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.

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13 years ago

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.

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