Saturday, June 11, 2016

Teaching Prudence to Girls

I'm catching up on news today and read three letters written in regard to the Stanford rape case--the victim's, the defendant's mother's, and the defendant's. In some ways, each letter appalled me. The victim's letter was outstanding. She knows how to show and not tell--something even successful authors sometimes fail to master--so that we the readers could feel as though we were right there with her, experiencing it as well. It was very powerful and I hope it's widely read, especially by men. Her suffering can't be fully comprehended by most of us, but we can come as close as possible through reading her words. She worked unselfishly in this case, enduring more pain through the trial to pursue justice, partially to give other women a voice and some validation. I salute her courage.

However, in trying to empower women and tell them they have worth, she failed in a most obvious way. What about..."You have worth. Take care of yourself in every way, including not consuming alcohol at coed parties. You are too valuable to feel you are entitled to drinking, just because it's a party and everyone is doing it, and you want to have fun."

The man who violated this woman is a criminal with no excuse. He should spend the six years in prison the prosecution tried to get. Not everyone is capable of such evil just because they are drunk. His actions were beyond horrible; he's morally bankrupt.

But in regard to all the women involved in these rapes I ask this: When are we as a society going to start advising women to avoid drinking at coed college or high school parties? Or with a man you can't absolutely trust? Isn't it obvious that this puts you at risk? Isn't it obvious that we live in a society where athletes are put on a pedestal, which appears to morally bankrupt them as they develop a sense of entitlement? Acknowledging this and warning girls is just smart, not sexist or victim-blaming. I don't blame the victim for the evil criminal mind of the predator. But how many girls' lives are going to be destroyed before we say publicly to girls--stay away from coed drinking parties? Why is this not okay to say, publicly? It's not politically correct and that is just tragic.

This, the victim's words: ...Again, you were not wrong for drinking. Sipping fireball is not your crime....Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.

She is right that there was a difference, but she doesn't go far enough to empower other girls to avoid her fate. "Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal." Does this fully communicate to college girls and women about how dangerous alcohol use is in coed environments? Sadly, it doesn't, as inspiring as it may read.

If we want to empower girls, why not tell them they are worth too much to take such risks? For example, I don't put my girls in short shorts or short skirts because pedophiles exist and they are turned on by skin, and as an adult, I am supposed to accept that reality and protect my girls accordingly, at church, at the store and in my own yard and home. I am their protector and I take it very seriously, as I do the importance of teaching them to protect themselves. I know the world and I have to make decisions on their behalf, so they can remain children.

We shouldn't live in fear of criminals, but we should teach our children that they exist in all parts of society. Love yourself enough to exercise great care. Learn to survive in the society you do live in, not the one you wish you lived in. Evil boys and men exist and you'll find them in every college and at every party, and beyond.

Do my girls have a right to wear whatever they want? Yes. Should they assert that right? No. Wisdom says no. Do girls have a right to go to coed parties and drink? Yes. Should they assert that right? No. Wisdom says no. Whatever happened to raising girls with wisdom?

Don't misunderstand me. However much a girl drinks, or however much skin or curve she shows, she is still not responsible for someone else's criminal actions. And even a conservatively-dressed girl or women can be victimized, surely. Dressing appropriately is like sunscreen. It's a precaution not a guarantee. Never going out alone at night is a precaution, not a guarantee. But I will still preach the wisdom of both, over and over again.

This young woman will undoubtedly be stronger for what she has had to endure, but this pain is not what God intended for her life. It was avoidable and could have been avoided if in our politically correct society, we were honest with girls. Some men are predators, period. Living wisely is a virtue. Can we call prudence a virtue? Can we go back to teaching prudence as a regular part of parenting both girls and boys?

A whole other post needs to be written about teaching boys to respect women, but many other writers have already written it, including the victim in this case, who described the respect we are after pretty well, though with a secular flare. Whether or not a woman respects herself as thoroughly as she should, a boy should always be taught to respect all women.  While it's true that not all women are worthy of becoming our son's wife, they are all worthy of respect, earned or unearned. Every human being is created in the image of God, worthy of respect as His child.

The victim's mother's letter was disturbing because she spent most of it bragging about her son's achievements, as though they excused his actions, or as though they in and of themselves deserved to be given a chance. She appears to be a mother after the things of this world, mostly. She mentioned toward the end that she was proud of how her son treated the disabled, but that was all negated by how he treated the woman in question, who was disabled by alcohol.

It was a hollow, shallow letter, and seemingly one on which the judge put too much emphasis in making his decision. It made me want to weep for this mother, reading about how hollow her life is. She said they would never be happy again, as though it's only through achievement that we can gain happiness. This is a family without hope because they were without depth to begin with, not to mention without the One who is Hope. I hope her son doesn't commit suicide, but it's a possibility if they brought him up to value achievement and nothing more. Suicide is sometimes the result of mental illness, but it can also result from an upbringing that emphasized the things of this world, as opposed to the things of the soul.

Pray for the country and its young people, for they've been sold a bag of soiled goods from a country seeped in sin. We're failing them.


Anonymous said...

I think you are right about prudence. I have made clear to my children the difference between blame and responsibility for someone else's actions and being careful to not put oneself in a potentially dangerous situation. We always wear seatbelts in the car. If someone smashes into my car while I'm driving, it's not my fault, nor is it the fault of anyone in my car, but wearing that seatbelt might just save my life. As Paul says, everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23). I think we within the Church have to educate our young men to respect girls and women, and not just focus on keeping girls safe. It's hearts and minds that need to change, more than anything, but that doesn't mean we should not be careful. Prudent is a good word!

I think what disgusted me was that the family of the young man, and the young man himself, recognised that his life had been severely adversely affected, and that he was depressed, etc., but there was no acceptance of culpability. Overcoming denial is the first step to change. Making excuses, especially when someone *else* is the victim whose life has been irrevocably changed, is reprehensible. I pray for the family of the perpetrator and the victim.

Christine said...

I agree that the boy never admitted culpability. Saying that the drinking culture and trying to fit in with the swim team, etc. led to his actions is blaming the college, not his own warped soul. The victim said it didn't need to go to trial...they could have settled out of court, but the boy's family hired a high-powered lawyer to try to get him off, despite incredible evidence. It was never going to work, no matter how good of a lawyer they had. Such arrogance on the whole family's part, and the father was beyond disgusting, although I didn't read his whole statement.

Respect for women needs to be taught, especially in circumstances wherein the girls are not necessarily showing respect for themselves, their health, etc. You respect the life God gave each human, and learn to see each life as valuable and precious. I think the reason so many boys aren't showing respect is because we are such a godless society now, with warped values.

That I can recall, most of these cases involve athletes. I don't know about the UK, but here athletes are given special status if they are good and the town or country depends on them for glory. This gives them a power early in life that they usually aren't mature enough to handle, and their parents don't equip them because they are too much invested in their child's athletic ability as well. The president even gets involved in sports and it is such a national obsession. Something needs to change in that regard as well. Something turned this boy into a criminal, and I'm sure it was something more than just sport, though.

Thank you for participating here, Sandy.

Anonymous said...

There was a similar case in the UK a few years ago. The same obsession with celebrities exists here, especially with footballers. Footballers are often very young men who suddenly have a lot of money and think they can do whatever they want. And there's been scandal after scandal with television and radio 'personalities' and underage girls. Thankfully people are beginning to wake up to these things and not just pretend they're not there, which is what used to happen. I remember my grandmother telling me that when she was young if a girl or young woman was raped society said 'she brought it on herself' and just turned a blind eye. So cruel. But we live in the digital age where not just pornography is readily available but violent pornography at that. It's sometimes beyond comprehension. I do not know how anyone survives without Jesus.

Christine said...

Yes, the "she brought it on herself" mentality is so cruel and just makes the victim's recovery that much harder. The questions the victims are asked by the defense attorneys are so degrading, on top of what they've already been through. It takes courage to seek justice.

Pornography corrupts like nothing else. I remember a serial killer, maybe Ted Bundy?, saying that he started with pornography very early in life and he believed it corrupted him to the core, allowing the atrocities he was capable of.

Yes, without Jesus I don't know how we'd put one foot in front of the other and keep going. It is His strength that propels us forward.

whitney zeiger said...

Thank you for your blog post! It is an excellent piece and needed to be written. I have one girl in college and one going in this fall, both as high level athletes. And what you said is so true. Unless your children are very morally strong it is a jungle on campus and difficult and lonely for them to not fall into the crowd because so many athletes are partying including underage drinking. It makes me sad that as adults we permit the massive drinking that goes on on the college campuses where our children attend. We have lost our way in this society with this age group.

Christine said...

Whitney, Thank you so much for contributing here and sharing your experience with sending kids to college. I so agree that parents needs to do more to end the drinking culture on campuses. The adults collectively have failed these young people for sure. Most students have some financial help and so maybe it's time to talk with our money. And we definitely need to start coaching kids years before they enter college about all these things, emphasizing that we fit in with God first. May God bless your girls and your family!