Find me at www.experimentalcriticism.com.
I’ve been fascinated with Elizabeth Smart since I first heard about her kidnapping. I’m roughly the same age as her, we share a common faith, and I have a really soft spot in my heart for women who have been kidnapped, raped, and despite all odds turn out alright.
Smart recently spoke at a John Hopkins forum on Human trafficking about her experience and why she didn’t run away when she had a chance. She said,
I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.’ And that’s how easy it is to feel like you know longer have worth, you know longer have value,” Smart said. “Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued?
I’ve heard all sorts of objects lessons about purity and virtue. I’ve heard the chewed gum analogy relating men and women to pieces of gum and if they have sex before they’re married then they turn into a piece of chewed gum, who wants to have a piece of chewed gum?
Or the board analogy, if you “lose your virtue” you are like a board with nails in it. When you repent those nails are taken out again, but the scars still remain.
Or, perhaps the grossest one, the cupcake. Again, a person has premarital sex is related to a cupcake that has all of the frosting licked off. Nobody wants a cupcake that has been licked by someone else.
I struggle to even know where to begin with these analogies. First of all, I’ve only been taught one of these directly. It also only happened once. I don’t remember getting the purity lesson often in my young men’s classes. I’m sure we got it, but when it was taught there were no such analogies. I heard about all of these from women, most of them had heard every single one of these analogies more than once. They have purity and virtue beaten into them on a frequent basis.
The main problem with these analogies is that sexual purity is not something that is taken away. It is not forcibly taken. Someone does not pound a nail or lick a cupcake or chew the gum. It is something shared. It is something voluntarily given.
Elizabeth Smart was still sexually pure. She was raped and did nothing wrong. This rhetoric has become lost in the church. We are afraid to talk about rape because it is scary or because maybe there are those that believe that if one is raped they lose their virtue. I’m not entirely sure.
The fact of the matter is that men and women who are raped, men and women who are molested, men and women who in any way are forced into any type of “sin” are still pure. They are still clean.
To say otherwise will ruin anyone who has been raped. It denies the agency that God has given us. It frustrates the fundamental core of the Atonement.
As a church we need to talk openly about sexual purity to both men and women. We need to emphasize that rape is horrible and that those who have been raped are not at fault.
This will encourage them to speak up and talk about their attack and seek help. Then, and only then, will real healing occur.
- Traditional Mormon Sexual Purity Lesson Contributed to Captivity, Elizabeth Smart Tells University Audience (religiondispatches.org)
- Elizabeth Smart speaks on human trafficking (csmonitor.com)
- Ways NOT to teach about chastity (the-exponant.com)
- Dear Church Leaders, FIX THIS NOW (bycommonconsent.com)
I love Facebook. I absolutely love Facebook. It’s wonderful in every way. I don’t mind that they upgrade the service every week or that people can get annoying on there.
This week, however, I came across a policy of Facebook that I do not like at all.
Facebook has always had a way of reporting inappropriate images, posts, or videos. It has been a little difficult to find, but they also didn’t want it to happen on accident. This week a page was brought to my attention that I thought was very inappropriate so I went to report it.
Let’s just say it epitomized rape culture. I believe the caption was something like, “My penis is like a Chinese Finger Trap, the more you the harder it gets.”
Trashy, horrible, inappropriate. So I report it.
It was easy enough. I reported the image, it even gave me an option to ask the page owner directly to take it down. As people started taking this route, however, the owner of the page started posting more images directly attacking people and promoting rape even stronger. I reported more images and the entire page.
A few hours later I get an email from Facebook saying that they reviewed my case.
It was denied. The picture/page was not removed because it did not violate their community guidelines.
So, I looked up the community guidelines to see exactly what would be taken down.
Facebook does not permit hate speech, but distinguishes between serious and humorous speech. While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, we do not permit individuals or groups to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.
The reason this image wasn’t removed, as far as I could tell, was that it was intended to be humorous. The page, however, was taken down earlier this morning, but those that I know who reported it were given no explanation We do not know if it was Facebook or the owner of the page.
It’s not funny. Rape is not a joke. Rape is never a joke.
I got even more upset when I looked into some cases of Facebook’s reporting policies.
Here are a short list of things they have removed, at least temporarily, because they thought the content was inappropriate.
- Let Women Pray’s Facebook Page (labeled harassment/hate speech)
- Pictures of Women Breastfeeding
- A picture of a woman because there was exposed elbows
- Syrian Free Speech Activists’ Pages
- An educational diagram of the female reproductive system
Yesterday Facebook announced that it would consider removing videos of public beheadings. They allow video of public beheadings and pages that promote rape, but they won’t allow an educational diagram of the female reproductive system?
Really Facebook? What part of that seems right?
I understand what they’re going for, but they’ve got a long way from getting it exactly right. Perhaps this is a problem because they use computers for most of their reporting software and let’s face it, computers are only as good as their programming.
I understand that change takes time. That computeres make mistakes and for the most part Facebook has apologized for their mistakes, however, they keep happening. Saying sorry is not enough. Something has to change.
- Facebook may stop allowing beheading videos (nbcnews.com)
- Facebook’s big misogyny problem | Soraya Chemaly (guardian.co.uk)
- Facebook Finally Removes Controversial Graphic Murder Videos (tacdnews.com)