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New blog series on Patheos!

In case you missed yesterday’s announcement, this blog has moved to the Patheos blogging network! I’ll be posting updates here for awhile to redirect people over there, but you may want to head over to http://www.patheos.com/blogs/sarahoverthemoon/ and sign up for email updates if you want to keep in touch in the long run! 

I hope to see you over there, because I’m starting a new series called “You Are Not Your Own” in which I’ll be sharing the results of some research that I’ve done on rape and sexual assault in Christian dating books. I’ll be talking about Mark and Grace Driscoll’s Real Marriage (and yes, there will be bunnies), Joshua Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and others. 

Read more about it here! 


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So, what about the men?

1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted by age 18.*

1 in 33 men will be experience completed or attempt rape in his lifetime.*

52% of gay men will experience coercion from a partner*

22% of male prison inmates will be raped during their incarceration**

Out of all the victims of murder by an intimate partner, about 1/4 are male.***

Even as victims, men who leave abusive female partners have a high risk of losing custody of their children.****

And, even though it is estimated that men make up 10% of all rape victims, they are the least likely to report sexual assault**

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These numbers don’t get mentioned very often, and this can leave male survivors feeling isolated and marginalized. Men suffer from rape and domestic abuse, just as women do.

But I rarely hear people talk about it.

This certainly isn’t to say that we should be putting less energy into ending violence toward women. But we need to remember that male survivors of abuse are also silenced by gender roles…

Roles which suggest men cannot be raped by women because men should always want sex.

Roles which suggest women cannot rape men because women don’t have their own sexuality.

Roles which expect men to be strong enough to “avoid being victimized.”

Roles which view women as weak and frail, and therefore incapable of committing domestic violence.

Roles which assume that even an abusive woman is, in nearly every circumstance, a better nurturer for children than a man

Roles which stubbornly view all men as potential abusers, and all women as potential victims.

Roles which completely ignore same-sex relationships.

When we cling tightly to these gender roles, men suffer. Legitimate problems are ignored. Roads toward improvement remain unpaved. Survivors either keep quiet in fear or they are silenced by outside ignorance.

Women, as we fight for equality, let’s not forget that our brothers are also being hurt by the strict gender roles that society has set up. And let’s do what we can to help!

–Let’s start including the above statistics in our discussions.

–Let’s be careful about making universal statements that enforce negative stereotypes (you know, “All men are jerks!” and the like).

–Let’s be careful about placing pressure on men to always be strong, to always be leaders, to always be protectors…never humans.

–In fact, let’s break the stereotype that says only men can be protectors. Let’s let the men in our lives know that we’ve got their backs!

–Let’s show the men in our lives how much we love them and value them.

And men, we hope you can find freedom. But until you do, just know that we’re here for you. We love you.

You’re not alone.

*http://www.rvap.org/_docs/pdf_documents/sexual%20assault%20statistics.pdf

**http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbName=DocumentViewer&DocumentID=32361

***http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence#Gender_aspects_of_abuse

****http://www.hawc.org/site/c.9hJJL0MDK8KWE/b.7883821/k.9798/Male_Survivors.htm


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Here’s to the men!

Picture from BGSU's Organization for Women's Issues facebook page (click for link)

Last week, I participated in my university’s “Take Back the Night” event.

We held a rally and a march in which we spoke out against rape and violence against women. Then, we held a speak out in which women shared their stories and their reasons for participating in “Take Back the Night.”

It was a poignant, sobering, empowering, comforting, enlightening, beautiful night.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed marching through fraternity row carrying signs and shouting, “Stop the silence, end the violence,” I think my favorite part of the night took place during the rally. After a few women gave a speech explaining the history and purpose of “Take Back the Night,” a group of men took the stage.

Picture from BGSU's Organization for Women's Issues facebook page (click for link)

They gave a pledge–a pledge acknowledging that they were completely against trends in society that tried to tell them that to be “masculine” is to be dominating.  To stand up for us and fight for women’s rights along side us. To treat women as human, even if the rest of the world treats them as objects.

I’ll admit it–I teared up a bit.

So, here’s to the men!

Here’s to all you men who refuse to rape or hurt or belittle, even in the face of society’s glorification of rape culture.

Here’s to all you men out there who treat us women like humans, even though some people may think less of you for that.

We women appreciate you.

This fight is NOT about men vs. women.

This fight is about humans vs. inhumanity.

So, thank you for being willing to stand along side us as equals and as fellow humans. We love you guys!


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Is it wrong to steal a car?

Is it wrong to steal a car?

What if the owner of that car was basically asking for it to be stolen?

What if the owner washed it every day so it was as shiny as possible? What if he left it in his drive-way for all the world to see?

He didn’t make any attempts to cover it up. He didn’t hide how great of a car it was.

What if he even let people from the neighborhood touch his car, or sit in the passenger seat if they asked? What if he gave people free rides all the time?

So how could someone know that it isn’t okay to just take that car?

Don’t advertising what you’re not selling, right?

He has it coming.

So, is it wrong to steal a car?

Duh. Yes. Of course.

I don’t think any judge would pardon a car thief, even if said car thief used all of these excuses.

But sometimes, a man can rape a woman, use these same excuses, and get away with it.

Some people believe that if a woman makes herself look too nice…

If she shows off the body that she owns…

If she gives out too many “free rides” to other men (if she’s a “slut”)…

She’s asking for it.

Is a woman not worth more than a car?

Rape culture is disgusting and dehumanizing. Good thing it doesn’t exist in Christian circles, right?

Well…

Let me tell you a story.

I was a senior in high-school. A Christian high-school. And I was in government class. We were having a discussion about abortion laws. Obviously, in my tiny, Independent Fundamental Baptist-based Christian school, everyone had the same opinion about abortion.

So my teacher played the devil’s advocate and asked us, “What if a woman was raped? Should she have the right to abort any pregnancy that results from that rape?”

One student raised her hand and said, “Well, no. It’s still wrong. Besides, most rape victims were raped because they were dressing like sluts and drinking. It’s their own fault. They were asking for it.”

The rest of the class (teacher included) laughed and agreed.

A victim of sexual abuse myself, I excused myself to go to the bathroom and cry and wonder what I had done wrong…how I had asked for it.

A couple of years later, I read a Christian dating book that contained a chapter about modesty. I’ll paraphrase one of the quotes (I’d type the exact quote but I can’t remember it and I can’t look it up because I’ve since ripped the book in half and thrown it away in a freeing act of therapeutic anger):

“Don’t advertise your body if it’s not on the menu. If you dress like a slab of meat, you’re going to get thrown on the barbecue.”

Then, a few weeks ago, I read an article by an extremely influential Christian author. He tried to tell women how to date. In addition to throwing the word “slut” around, he told women to “stop playing the victim” and own up to their mistakes when it came to sex. He even gave out this lovely piece of advice:

“…stop using alcohol as an excuse. Nobody gets drunk and accidentally sleeps with a hamster. You know what you’re doing, drunk or not, so cut it out.”

I wish these three examples were the only contact that I’ve had with rape culture in the church.

They’re not.

Rape culture is here in our churches. It’s subtle and it’s sneaky, but it’s here.

Every time an influential Christian author calls a woman a “slut,” it’s here.

Every time a man points a finger at a group of women and says, “Your immodesty is the reason we men struggle with pornography,” it’s here.

Every time a sexual abuse victim is forced to apologize in front of her church for her “behavior,” it’s here.

Tamara Lunardo, of Tamara Out Loud, published a fantastic article today in which she asks, “What’s a girl worth?” 

What’s our answer to that question, Church?

Is she worth more than that car that we’d never steal? Is she worth more than the pound of steak that’s on sale at the butchers’ shop? Is she worth more than products that can be advertised?

Does the length of her skirt determine the value of her soul?

Do our churches’ answers to these questions look any different than rape culture’s answers?