Not a Legitimate Rape

I’ve been listening to the radio this morning about the Republican Party platform and abortion and rape. I’ve never had an abortion; thankfully I’ve never been in a situation where that seemed like a viable option. I am thankful that the Church handbook allows for abortion, but even there the wording is “forcible rape or incest” [fn1]. And apparently Representative and would-be Senator Akin meant to say “forcible rape” rather than the terribly unfortunate “legitimate rape.”

But what does “forcible” mean in terms of rape? That a woman or girl [fn2] is held down and raped against her vain struggles? That she is forced to comply on imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm? That she is threatened overtly or implicitly with harm to herself or her family if she does not comply with the rapist’s demands? Does a woman have to fight back? How firmly must she say “NO” for any subsequent action to be considered a rape?

It’s not everyone’s natural reaction to fight back during a sexual assault. My reaction was to shut down, to be still, and hope he would lose would interest and just stop [fn3]. Playing possum is a survival strategy for those who are small and weak when confronted by a larger predator, and I’m not the first or only girl who has ever tried it. Joanna Brooks writes about feeling detached from her body as a boy felt her up [fn4]. Of course, afterward I felt guilty for not fighting, for being so passive, and especially for my traitorous body for feeling aroused. I went through depression, guilt, withdrawal from everyone, all of which, it turns out, is a completely normal reaction to sexual assault [fn5].

So what happened? When I was a college freshman at BYU I was asked out on a date. The young man had served his mission in my home ward; the other girls and I talked to him and his companion in the hallways on Sundays while I was in Young Women’s. He seemed like a nice guy.

Kant wrote “There is something splendid about innocence; but what is bad about it, in turn, is that it cannot protect itself very well and is easily seduced” [fn6].

The returned missionary picked me up at my dorm. Drove past the temple, talked about how beautiful it is, how nice it is inside. Went to a house, the basement, to watch The Muppets. But we got started late; I was tired and asked to go back to my dorm. Later he said. Just relax here for a little while. Should I be damned because I did? Because his hands started running over me, drawing me out of my sleepy haze. I couldn’t say anything; I hoped that if he thought I was asleep, he’d leave me alone. He didn’t. But he didn’t rape me either. Holding me against him, sliding his hand down my abdomen, he stopped. “Can’t go any farther than this,” he whispered into my hair. “If we do, I can’t go to the temple anymore, and we don’t want that, now do we?”

He took me home not long after that. I was polite when I got out of his car. And I never talked to him again. I didn’t protect myself from going with him that one time, but there wasn’t a chance he would ever get close to me again. Maybe he considered it a NCMO (non-committal make out) session. I didn’t care what he thought of me, as long as I never saw him or talked to him, and he never got close enough to touch me again.

So I’m lucky, right, that this guy’s deep respect for the temple stopped him from having sex with me when I was just barely 18. I wasn’t stopping him, so by the Church and Akin’s definition, it wouldn’t have been “forcible” rape.

I am thankful he didn’t full-out rape me. I am thankful I didn’t have to worry about being pregnant; after all, in that situation, Akin’s reproduction system shutdown wouldn’t have occurred. Even though it wasn’t a legitimate rape, I felt violated enough to be ashamed, guilt-ridden, depressed, and inclined toward self-mutilation. It took a long time to begin to heal; I can’t imagine how much harder that would have been with a pregnancy.


[fn2] Although a serious crime, we’ll not talk about the rape of boys and men here because those don’t enter into the abortion issue.

[fn4] Joanna Brooks, The Book of Mormon Girl, p. 116.

[fn6]Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals.

59 comments for “Not a Legitimate Rape

  1. That is good to know Adam. It’s strange that a word that means “something done by force” is used as a shorthand to talk about the ages of the parties involved. That is certainly not what I understood through the current usage of the phrase “forcible rape” in current media conversations. It feels like it is being used to deny the victimhood of rape survivors.

  2. Rachel, sorry, I just realized this blog post was private so I deleted my comment so you wouldn’t feel intruded upon. But since you’ve already responded, I’ll restore it:

    “Forcible rape” is a quasi-legal term distinguishing rape from statutory rape.

    For instance, the FBI has statistically categorized rape crimes as “forcible rape” to exclude statutory rape:

  3. Statutory rape is called ‘rape’ because legally the victims are too young to validly consent to sexual intercourse. In reality they do consent, so it makes sense to treat ‘forcible rape’ and ‘statutory rape’ differently for some legal and statistical purposes.

  4. Thanks, Adam. To be clear then, in a legal context, any rape that is not statutory is forcible, despite the popular connotations of the word forcible. That makes me feel better about the about the use of the word forcible in the Handbook, but it makes the Church’s position on statutory rape less clear.

  5. RW,

    yes. I’m not a rape scholar, but that would be my understanding and certainly how I would interpret the Handbook.

    As regards statutory rape, the Handbook seems fairly clear to me that normally abortion in cases of statutory rape is forbidden. I admit, though, that in extreme cases (say an early-pubescent 10- or 11-year old who gets pregnant through consensual sex with an adult neighbor), I would be inclined in those circumstances to view the legal fiction that the young can’t validly consent to rape as not just a fiction but a reality. In many jurisdictions, the law does make a distinction between statutory rape and these extreme cases, which are classified as child abuse or even just as rape.

    My concern with the Handbook would be that it doesn’t define ‘forcible rape’ and I can imagine that many people reading it would define it as you have. Perhaps Bishops can get clarification on some Church hotline or something if the issue actually arises in their ward? I would also have reversed the word order from “forcible rape and incest” to “incest and forcible rape” to make clear that there is no category of forcible incest that is being distinguished from regular ol’ incest with fathers or uncles or grandpas preying on their young relatives.

  6. Interestingly, “forcible” was only added in the most recent version of the handbook. Also, neither the LDS Newsroom nor use the term in setting out the LDS position on exceptions to the prohibition on abortion.

  7. In Spanish the Handbook only says rape (violacion) without qualification. Presumably whatever crime there is for under-age sex in the Spanish-speaking world isn’t called ‘rape.’

  8. While “forcible rape” is a legal term to distinguish it from Statuatory rape IMO there are other non-forcible rapes as well. As say, pertains to consent given while drunk or under the influence of drugs. You weren’t “forced”, you gave consent, but legally you aren’t legally able to give consent so…

    If the above definition of forcible rape is accurate per Adam Greenwood, I think in a case like abortion we should think of forcible with my caveat as well. If you give consent because you are high or drunk I would hope the church leaders would oppose abortion even if legally the church institution must allow for it in handbooks.

  9. This is a valuable reminder that actions happen in a context. And the idea that women will always physically reject unwanted advances is not realistic. There are all sorts of social scripts of coercion and unconsented advances and people are vulnerable. Especially young women in Mormon culture, who are conditioned to obey those presiding men.

    And telling women in that situation that they weren’t “really” assaulted denies the reality of their experience.

  10. I have far less of a problem with Akin’s term “legitimate rape” than I do with his logic- the completely ignorant and oh-so-easily disproven idea that a woman’s body can prevent pregnancy in cases of traumatic rape. What nonsense. is a really interesting (and slightly disturbing) article on how many rapists feel about what happen. It’s amazing how often they don’t realize or think clearly to even know what they are doing is wrong. I have zero sympathy and it doesn’t excuse them at all, but it is interesting to see the selfish and blind mindset that leads otherwise seemingly decent men to do something so abhorrent.
    It’d be interesting to hear the perspective of the naughty handsy RM in the post- he may feel ashamed for what he did (what mormon doesn’t feel shame for a rule-bending make-out session?) but may be completely shocked to find out it left the impression on you that it did- enough of one to include the story in a post about rape.

  11. This is what the Church Handbook says before the “forcible rape” exception: “The Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience.” I think that abortion for statutory rape qualifies as not personal or social convenience. Still, that would really have to be a personal decision, just like abortion for women whose child would not survive after birth. A tough decision.

    I think the worst thing about this comment was that it takes away the victimhood of so many women who have been raped. I get this guy was making a comment on abortion, but what he ended up doing was saying something really stupid and insensitive to rape victims.

  12. Jenn, I think you’re right. I know it was a huge thing for me, so much so that I wouldn’t even think about it for years, but it likely was nothing, not even a blip on the radar for him. Fortunately, that is my only experience of that kind. I’m very lucky that that was it, and that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. But I do think about that confused, trusting, and vulnerable girl I was anytime conversations like this come up. I want to protect and comfort others. It is a common pain, and sharing it is one way we can lift each others’ burdens.

  13. Rachel, I understand entirely- I totally didn’t want to belittle your experience. I understand that we all pull from personal experience to relate to the world and I think it is admirable that you see it as a way to sympathize with others.
    Heck, all I have are consensual NCMO sessions and even then I ended up feeling used and ashamed. While I can’t imagine the impact of something as traumatic and invasive as rape, I certainly understand it much better now than I did a decade ago.

  14. I should clarify: all I have in my HISTORY are consensual NCMO sessions. These days, any make out I get is as committal as it comes, judging by the rings on my finger and the little ones sleeping upstairs;)

  15. I think to a large measure, what Akin was thinking about when he said “legitimate rape” is a rape that really happened and was really a rape, as opposed to a case where the victim lied about being raped because she wanted to justify an abortion.

    The really revolting thing about that mindset is that it gives Akin and his ilk a useful “lie” detector. If she gets pregnant, you know she’s lying about the rape, or she wouldn’t be pregnant. No abortion for you. Since pregnancies from rape don’t exist, there’s no need for any rape exception in his abortion prohibition, and any examples to the contrary can be dismissed as liars.

  16. There is no “Senator Akin” yet.

    Rush Limbaugh’s take is that Akin chose his words very poorly when he meant to say that the fetus is always completely innocent during these tragedies and therefore shouldn’t be punished/aborted.

    Here’s an article that describes how the notion of limited pregnancies from rape can about.

  17. Molly,
    I’m afraid you skipped some important sentences after the one that you quote:

    Members must not submit to, perform, arrange for, pay for, consent to, or encourage an abortion. The only possible exceptions are when . . .”

    The list that follows does not include statutory rape.

  18. I’m pretty sure that there is no connection whatsoever between Akin’s views and those that may have existed in the middle ages. Instead I would attribute Akin’s offensive notions to the peculiarly democratic and peculiarly American notion that there are no hard choices. Akin and his defenders believe with good reason that a fetal person is a human person and not deserving of death. But a rape victim is also innocent of any responsibility for the pregnancy and not deserving of having her womb and her maternity hijacked. This creates an almost unbearable dilemma . . . unless you hit on the happy notion that God or biology has prevented raped women from getting pregnant. One now has an abortion policy without tears. The only flaw is that it isn’t true.

    The liberal counterpart of the Akin view is the denial that the child of rape is any sort of a person, unless born. Would that this equally offensive view were as widely scorned as Akin’s properly is.

  19. The idea that statutory rape canot be “forced” is total claptrap. Many times older males use all types of phychological coercion to get a younger female to “consent.” These guys are almost like eagles seeking out their prey, focusing their eyes younger females they think they will be able to manipulate.

    Frankly I cringe when I hear Mormons talk about rape. Too many assume that by dressing less than chastely causes women to get raped. In the rape prevention classes we used to offer at the high school I taught at, we taught the young girls that rape generally was an attempt to humiliate and degrade a woman. Any woman is a possible victim. Dressing chastely will not deter those people.

    There are other good solid reasons for dressing conservatively. I really believe that the Church and young women would be much better off if a real rape prevention course was offered.

    I am really worried about how things like rape and incest are handled by the Curch. I am only aware of one case where I was involved as a school administrator and knowledgeable because of my position in the Church. There was a case of coerced incest. Since both were adults the civil authorities would not prosecute (he said, she said). Church wise the male was offered counseling, which he did not finish, but that was allright, because “he repented.” The young lady was also offered counseling, but was made to feel guilty and responsible, so we had to get her counseling through the school (a really great counselor had a rolodex the size of Ohio, and she could do things for kids in need you could not believe).

    I hope that one case is a very rare abberation

    You also have people that believe Spencer W. Kimball’s dictim in The Miracle of Forgiveness that a young Mormon girl should fight to the death before being raped. Thus, by extension, any raped woman church member who did not live up to her religious obligations and die is thus tainted.

    It is believed that Mormon women report rape less than other women because of the possible consequences: marriage age men rejecting them because of impurity and the suspicions of “she asked for it.”
    This is made worse by only Alaska and Michigan having a higher rape rate per 100,000 than Utah (Utah does still hold he led in the amount of pornography used).

  20. Let’s look past this Bozo’s remark. The Church, as you have noted, has given us four exceptions to being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy. The Republican Party platform makes no such exceptions. That means if they gained control and had a willing chief executive, we would not be able to follow our consciences as the church allows. I know Br. Romney has said he believes abortion should be permissible in cases of rape and incest and the health of the mother, but he also takes the position that Roe v. Wade should be overturned which contradicts what he says. We just may be in the weird position as a church that the only political party really defending our rights as members is the Democratic Party.

  21. DIdn’t mean to post that… what I meant to say is THANK YOU. My daughter was raped. I didn’t understand why she didn’t yell/scream/fight and I’m afraid I have somehow marginalized her. Your post hit me square between the eyes….

  22. First, let me say that I am amazed at the courage shown in posting about such a painful, personal topic for you, Rachel. I am in awe. Thank you so much.

    Second, directed to LBK’s comment: “Frankly I cringe when I hear Mormons talk about rape. Too many assume that by dressing less than chastely causes women to get raped.”

    Let’s be clear. This attitude is not “Mormon” and comes more specifically from the very old lie that the truly righteous do not suffer such things and only someone who is somehow guilty of a sin would be submitted to such a heinous act. That particular lie is at least as old as Job and is one of the more offensive and pernicious lies that exist. So let’s cringe at falsehood, or even better, actively refute it, but let’s not label it as Mormon, please.

  23. Thanks, Bryan, I made the correction. Just a mom-this is exactly why I chose to do this post, despite the fact that this is a very public forum for such a personal matter.
    And thanks to everyone for the informative and civil discussion on such a emotionally charged topic.

  24. Thank you for your post.

    SWK’s line in context (not that it makes it all that defensible, but the last line is the kicker that was mentioned above): “Also far-reaching is the effect of the loss of chastity.Once given or taken or stolen it can never be regained. Even in a forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation where there is no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending’s one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.”

    I took a Rape Aggression Defense (a national, free of charge, university self defense class offered to women staff and students) class at BYU that was excellent and at the end of the semester, we felt empowered. For me, that was not an easy thing. Then one of the two instructors in the class basically said, “Now you are ready. You are strong, you can take care of yourselves. You can hurt really someone! (we all cheered) But a word: I am a bishop and I want you to understand that if you are ever in a position that you feel scared or you feel like you are in real danger, the important thing is to survive. Survive. Whatever that means for you. You need to survive. WE need you to survive. And you will make it. Whatever happens. The Atonement works. The Savior will get you through whatever happens in your life.” The spirit was so strong. So simple. So true. But now that I think about it, almost twenty years later in the context of the Kimball quote, was that guy’s point any different than SWK’s? As a 19 year old convert with baggage who had barely every heard of Kimball and never heard his politics on rape, I felt it was forgiving me for an old hurt. But now, I can’t tell…

  25. This is made worse by only Alaska and Michigan having a higher rape rate per 100,000 than Utah

    I can’t find statistics more recent than 2010. In 2010, the only states that had higher rape rate per 100,000 were
    New Mexico
    North Dakota
    South Dakota
    In addition, the following states had comparable reported rapes to Utah:
    District of Columbia
    New Hampshire
    South Carolina

  26. I’m not sure how I feel about the Church not including statutory rape in the list of exceptions. I’m torn. Something I need to think about.

    Just a quick note on President Kimball, I think it’s perfectly fine to tell/teach victims to fight. I don’t think it’s done because they’re to blame if they don’t. I think it’s done out of compassionately wanting to save them from even more trauma than what they’re already facing. Certainly successfully fighting off an attacker is traumatic, but I’m inclined to believe rape is even more traumatic. In my attempts at being a compassionate human being, I try to save people as much trauma as possible; and I think telling/teaching victims to fight is one way of doing that.

    But you’re right that we must be incredibly careful in how we do it. We must make it clear that the victim is not at fault if they: 1) don’t fight back, or 2) are unsuccessful in their attempts to fight back. It’s a difficult line to walk.

  27. Wonderful post. A very difficult issue, and one that too often has no easy answers. I’m very sorry for what you went through Rachel.

    Perhaps many of us males should be reviewing our dating actions to see if there is anything we need to repent of.

  28. Coreen – “But now that I think about it, almost twenty years later in the context of the Kimball quote, was that guy’s point any different than SWK’s?” Actually, I think he was referring to the atonement working for people who had NOT committed sin. The atonement can heal our hurts. That bishop was saying that you should survive and that surviving IS better than death, and that afterwards you might be in great pain having been raped, but the atonement can help heal that. That atonement has helped me when I have felt grief and pain and I access it for this purpose.

  29. I don’t know why a rape prevention course hasn’t become a high school (or jr high) requirement, with the statistics as high as they are. We get upset over teen pregnancy rates and insist on better sex-ed when we hear of some random outbreak of oral sex parties, but having education on the much higher statistic of sexual assault gets a shrug.

    I hope the guy got caught at some point and made to see the error of his thinking. From his words, the last thing he was thinking about was the Temple – his concern was what other people would think. I know it can often fall into the he said/she said dynamic, but even if there is no more than ones word, some sort of correction should be made. To do otherwise just lets the user feel they can get “just that much closer” to the edge.

    I know, I’ve been there. On both sides. Making victims, no matter how “lightly”, makes for a hard repentance process. Being the victim is far harder and much more lasting in its effects.

    I can kind of understand Miracle of Forgiveness emphasizing fighting over submitting, as at the time being touched inappropriately was still considered by most women as being their fault (I recently saw a Star Trek episode where “evil Kirk” sexually assaulted a woman, and her response was “I wasn’t even going to report it til I heard there was an evil imposter running around”), and the only way to “prove” something happened was with some physical injury to the perpetrator.

    We need to teach our children, and have it reinforced outside the home, that any unwanted touching is not ok. If there is a young man uncomfortable with someone touching him on the shoulder, that should be resolved appropriately. If a young woman feels the hugs from the RS or EQ president are getting a little too “wierd”, it needs to be talked about and resolved. And, above all, if someone comes to you saying they have a problem with how they were touched, assaulted, or raped in any situation, or if they have fighting feelings of wanting to do that to others, then appropriate help (spiritual, psycological, and physical) needs to be given.

    I’m glad we’re 43 years past the times of Miracle of Forgiveness, but we still have a long way to go. I hope that soon a GA feels inspirired to write a more current version.

  30. The Miracle of Forgiveness is a great book, of which we need not be ashamed. Even the passage people are slagging here is much less a problem than rumor has it.

    I dare say that nothing in Miracle of Forgiveness is responsible for this creep’s behavior, R. Whipple’s response, or her feelings of guilt and shame afterwards.

    I’m not going to keep arguing the point, because its a sidetrack, but there you are.

  31. “I know Br. Romney has said he believes abortion should be permissible in cases of rape and incest and the health of the mother, but he also takes the position that Roe v. Wade should be overturned which contradicts what he says.”

    I don’t see a contradiction. Roe vs. Wade prohibited any meaningful legal limitations on abortion. That’s hardly the same thing as mandating legal limits on abortion. If Roe vs. Wade was overturned, the decision on what legal limits should be put on abortion would be back in the hands of the people of the various states.

    Who could then decide to not prohibit abortion at all, or prohibit it in nearly every circumstance, or anything in between. Given the basic centrist views of most voters, it would most likely be something in between. I doubt any state would put a blanket prohibition on abortion in cases of forcible rape.

    I think Adam pretty much got to the heart of the matter when he said that abortion is one of those areas where there is no tear-free policy, and a lot of the heated debate over it is over whose version of a fictional tear-free abortion policy is going to be adopted as our national legal fiction.

  32. At Kent’s suggestion (post 30) I did start to think back on some of my dating experiences and wondered if I had ever traumatized someone. I don’t believe I have. I know I’ve been nowhere near “raping” anyone. It possible I did things that made them feel uncomfortable…but noone ever told me that.

    Which makes me beg the question (though please don’t excuriate me to thoroughly): Why are people tearing into Rachel’s date? Unless she left part of the story out she never made any indications to him that she wasn’t enjoying/willfully participating in his activities. Can we justly comdemn someone for doing something that noone told him not to do? Granted what he was doing wasn’t chaste behavior like he seems to have covenanted to keep, but unless there was at least SOME form of don’t/stop/no/quit it how is he to know that she is uncomfortable and feeling assaulted?

    Sexual harassment can be as little as gently rubbing someone’s hand, but unless you tell them you don’t like it then you can’t hold them responsible for doing something unwanted. THEY HAVE TO KNOW IT IS UNWANTED and that seems to be missing from the OP story. I don’t deny that what happened to Rachel is not traumatic, just that you can’t justly condemn someone for doing something that you didn’t tell them not to do to you. Rachel asked how firmly must someone say No? I can’t tell, but they do have to at least say it.

  33. Jax, that his actions were against a woman who was asleep (or at least feigning sleep) mean that he was over the line. A sleping person can’t give even implicit concent.

  34. I felt violated enough to be ashamed, guilt-ridden, depressed, and inclined toward self-mutilation.

    Wow, Rachel. What an awful experience! I think you make a great point that women judged for not fighting back enough or doing whatever when they’re raped or otherwise coerced into sex are not being judged fairly.

  35. Frank… she was feigning sleep, that doesn’t mean he thought she was, or even that he knew she wasn’t. If he did think she was asleep then he is definitely a creep. But if he thinks she is awake then he doesn’t have any reason to think she doesn’t like his touches.

    I don’t want to sound callous, but I used to be on couches with dates and rub their arms/legs with my hands (not gropingly), or gently run my hands through their hair, etc, while we watched a movie. What I did wasn’t sexual to me, and if she doesn’t tell me anything about stopping how am I to know if she is feeling uncomfortable and molested?

    I think Mr. Akin’s comments were inappropriate and medically incorrect. But Rachel asked certain questions in her 2nd paragraph that don’t appear to be relevant to the story she told. She was definitely traumatized, and I don’t want to belittle that pain at all. It is real for her. But it in no way relates to Mr. Akins remarks. She gave no indication she had been threatened with death or bodily harm to herself or her family. And while a non-forceful ‘NO’ should be enough, I think you have to at least say it once before you drag someone through the mud for the crime of failing to reading their dates mind. If it were reprehensible to not know what a woman was thinking/feeling then I think most men could be defined and categorized like her date has been so far in this blog. I think we can address the faults of Mr. Akin’s comment as well as the rightness of abortion/rape without maligning someone who, as far as I can tell, didn’t do anything maliciously.

  36. Such a brave and necessary post. Thank you. Date rape is terribly common and, like other cases of rape, can take years to recover from. The fact that trust has been betrayed makes the victim hesitant to trust anyone again. I did not have quite your experience, but close enough, and I found that I was nervous around all men–including church leaders–for about a year.

  37. Thank you for this post. I’d heard of people playing “possum” during rape. I wonder if in the rapists mind they equate silence and stillness with consent. I would think some experience shock and wouldn’t know how to react. I think 37. is right. Unless you’ve been through it, we won’t fully understand what it’s like.

    You’ve given me a lot to think about. Thank you.

  38. Rachel, this kind of phony spirituality demonstrated by temple boy is nauseating in the extreme. If temple boy does attend he must not be paying much attention to what is going on in there, thinking he a can treat a daughter of God like a mail order plastic toy. He should be flogged and turned over to Porter Rockwell.

    The question for men is not if the woman did or didn’t resist, physically or socially. The question is did she give consent? This is not a passive lack of resistance but an action on her part. Now, of course , if you have to ask with words the answer is probably going to be “no.” So this involves non-verbal communication. But it needs to be obvious.

    Guys should know that you can go to jail for running your mouth in a vulgar way without even touching a woman. A fellow worker was propositioned and verbally insulted by a drunk in front of our building. There were witnesses. I encouraged her to not just let it pass. She had to repeat what he said to her in court under oath before a judge. Not fun. But gutter mouth got 3 months in the county jail for his trouble.

    If a guy takes the next step, to touch or fondle or grope a woman without her consent, I think depending on the details, this would be a felony punishable by over a year in the big house. Much longer, in some cases. What Rachel describes if I am understanding it correctly, would have resulted in charges being filed against temple boy if she had reported it, at least in this county. Even if the prosecutors don’t think they can make it stick because of the he said/she said dilemma, they might still go after him. You lose all of the cases you never try.

    Let me tell all the women out there why it is important to report this kind of illegal activity. If I found out my sister was treated the way Rachel has described being treated by temple boy when I was young and wild? Well, I can tell you about docking sheep and a few other things that might get me kicked off this blog. And my little brother was worse. The only way to control the violence in a community is for the State to do its job and that won’t happen unless they know about it. Reporting criminal actions prevents further criminal activity, both by the perpetrator and by volatile relatives and friends bent on revenge. This is especially true with crimes against women and children.

    Rachel, I hope this makes you chuckle. I wish temple boy had gone on a date with this inactive woman my roommate was asked to home teach. She was hot and he had a “revelation” that he was going to marry her. She took him into her apartment after their first date, being all affectionate and he started kissing on her. He had no intention of doing anything to lose his temple recommend. But she was real smooth and she seduced him like he was putty in her hands and took him to bed. He couldn’t believe he had so easily lost all control and gone all the way and was guilt ridden after the incident. But he thought maybe they could get married and repent together.

    Then he noticed his wallet was missing. She had withdrawn $500 from his account before he got it back. He threatened to call the police and she told him if he did, he would be going to jail right along with her, since she worked for an escort service and knew the ropes having been there before. She admitted the price was a bit steep. But that was his fault for not negotiating it down first. She offered him her “Mormon boy special” for only $200 on their next date, which he deferred indefinitely. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.


    I also offer a little different take on the problem of statutory rape not being included in the list of legitimate reasons for an abortion in the handbook. Don’t ask me how I know (I promised I wouldn’t tell) but if you look at the age of the girls who undergo abortions in the mostly LDS suburbs of the Wasatch front by LDS doctors, they are skewed a little to the younger age. In general, LDS girls who get pregnant at age 11, 12, or 13 often are advised by their LDS physicians to have abortions. Girls with the same problem at around age 14 are sort of in a transition stage depending on their physical maturity. By age 15 or 16 and beyond, most of them do not have abortions. The reason is that the maternal risk of carrying a baby to term is substantial at those younger ages, probably not over 10 or 20%, but still enough that the abortion is justified under the danger-to-maternal-health clause. Of course, this is done on a case-by-case basis with numerous exceptions. I think the reason for the oversight in the handbook is that it is thought by the powers that be that statutory rape generally will jeopardize the mother’s health and would be included. Just my view.

  39. I didn’t blame the guy. I figured it was my fault for getting into a bad situation and for not being able to get myself out. I am really grateful he stopped, even though that line about the temple was seared into my head as the slimiest thing I’ve ever heard.
    And the point of this post was not to point the finger of blame at him. It was to say why I understand that some women don’t fight off their attackers, how even a case without an explicit “no” can leave a woman feeling confused and hurt and violated. In the grand scheme of things, my experience wasn’t that bad, as traumatic as it felt to my guilt-prone self at the time. But it has given me insight and compassion that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and I am very thankful for that. Not everyone can be like Joseph who “got him out” away from Potiphar’s wife. Some of us will be like the woman taken in adultery on whom the Savior had compassion. And in that story, like mine, we don’t know what happened to the man. I cannot condemn him for one perceived offense. I hope the best for him and bear him no ill will.

  40. You should blame the guy. I blame him. Even if he was innocent of knowing sexual assault, we should expect the young men of the church to have a higher standard then just not raping the women they date

  41. Reading about your experience Rachael brought back a memory from 28 years ago that started out somewhat similarly. I was 20 at the time, going to school, and had my own apartment (I was not planning to go on a mission at the time, although that changed and I went at 21). I had been dating an LDS girl for months by this time. We were on my bed (clothed) talking/kissing for hours. She became very still and relaxed when I was rubbing her neck and back, sometime around 2 or 3 in the morning. She may have been mostly asleep but I was not sure. I remember thinking how easy it would be for my hands to rove to places they never had been. I really thought about it and debated it in my mind. Maybe she wants me to rove but just not say so, I thought.

    After a good ten minutes of this mental tug-of-war, I decided to do– nothing. In the end it just did not feel right. It came down to the fact that I could not do something like that unilaterally.

    I wish I could say I was just that strong, so strong that I would have resisted it even if she had asked me to go farther. But looking back, I realize I was weak-willed and libido strong. I think I would have easily given in. However, I am so glad that I had the presence of mind to not do what I contemplated for a time that night.

  42. @Adam #20

    The liberal counterpart of the Akin view is the denial that the child of rape is any sort of a person, unless born. Would that this equally offensive view were as widely scorned as Akin’s properly is.

    i agree. the all-or-nothing view of personhood (whether at birth or at fertilization) is a type of denial that prevents people coming to a rational concensus and an admittedly difficult issue.

  43. [i]the all-or-nothing view of personhood (whether at birth or at fertilization) is a type of denial that prevents people coming to a rational concensus and an admittedly difficult issue.[/i]

    Sorry, I don’t see it. I don’t want to hijack the thread but thinking that personhood begins when the human organism begins (at fertilization) doesn’t get you out of tragic choices–it creates them. Saying that a person isn’t a person until birth, on the other hand, is tidy and solves a bunch of problems. Its a lie, but its neat.

  44. Innocent people will be trampled on, their private space violated and they will not even have half a mind to protest openly, immediately. If you turn the other cheek, do it so the other person knows they are committing an act of violence. That has always been my policy. Other soft and innocent ones will never be able to stand up for themselves. I only wish many could stand up for themselves and not only those who are spirited and self assured.

  45. jks: That bishop/RAD instructor absolutely was talking about those of us who had not committed the sin. He even said if surviving means just lay there, do that. Forcible rape, non-forcible rape did not get distinguished. He was referencing the atonement healing us in the way referenced in Alma 7:11-12, Christ, full of mercy, suffering the pains and afflictions of every kind.

  46. Thanks for writing this post, Rachel. This is such a simple principle but such a complex issue.

    Bottom line for me:

    Every person needs to feel empowered to express concern and to say No / Stop whenever they feel the need to say so. We need to teach that principle – but we need to couple it with the need for every person to feel responsible to ask before they do anything that might not be alright with the other person – and to accept whatever answer is given.

    There still will be plenty of situations of manipulation even with those guidelines, but starting with those very clear principles is important, imo.

    One of the biggest problems is our ridiculous, Puritanical aversion to discussing sex in any way – even among groups of only adults, much less with youth of all ages. If we’d grow up and accept that, physically, we are animals, it would help a lot.

  47. I was maritally raped. As in, said no and it happened anyway. I have not spoken much about it, because if you think talking about rape is hard, try it when you are married to your rapist.

    I only bring it up to give context to what I say.

    I don’t think my ex is evil, but I think it is most certainly power at the root of all sexual assault. There is a tacit power dynamic between men and women, an understanding that we are physically safe only insofar as the men around us permit us to be safe. Part of that dynamic is an understanding that women need to please their men, especially sexually when they are married. It is seen as a duty.

    So women hesitate to speak up. This creates a power imbalance that is often misunderstood by men, because they don’t really have an equivalent.

    This means that unless a woman is actively participating, a good man will back off and make a point out of seeing how she is doing. Of the four men I have ever kissed in my life, only one, MOSTLY, got it. Interestingly, doing this is generally a turn-on for women.

    But instead, men see what they want, they see a way to get it, and they go for it. This denies women their personhood and turns them into a commodity to be obtained. This entitlement is at the root of sexual assault.

    So if, as a man, you don’t want to be that guy, start thinking of sex, EVERY TIME, as a freely given gift from a woman, something that she is completely free to give when SHE is ready and not before, not as something that must be obtained to meet your needs and keep you satisfied. I think most men who do that will find themselves amply satisfied.

    But they will certainly never find themselves the perpetrator of sexual assault.

  48. Teaching no means no is a good start, but young women can be confusing to young men. This study found almost 40% of undergraduate women admit engaging in token resistance to sex–saying no but meaning yes. Young women should also be taught to say what they mean, but his can be difficult to accomplish when what they want opposes the standards they were raised with.

  49. This kind of experience is for me (and it happened to me as well) the reason that we hear so frequently the leadership talk about sexuality in terms that almost seem prudish. I take to heart the words of Jacob, words that make my eyes sting to hear them even now, that God is mindful of the hearts of tender folk. Sexuality is an incredibly strong power, for men and for women, and unbridled it tramples tender feelings, men’s as well as women’s. People are easily hurt when they are vulnerable, and I think that’s what is behind the counsel to stay far away from tempting situations. Are people adequately prepared for sex in marriage? Not at all, as SilverRain points out. We can do better at teaching *why* we abstain from sex before marriage. It’s certainly about covenants, but it’s also about learning to bridle a power that has the ability to destroy as well as create. If we taught that there would be fewer games, and fewer tragedies.

  50. The idea that statutory rape canot be “forced” is total claptrap. Many times older males use all types of phychological coercion to get a younger female to “consent.” These guys are almost like eagles seeking out their prey, focusing their eyes younger females they think they will be able to manipulate.

    An 18-year-old boy has sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend. That is considered statutory rape. If he has sex with his girlfriend on his birthday and her birthday is the next day, it is still statutory rape. Even if it was her idea to have sex, he is still the one who could be convicted of the crime. So yes, there is a difference between statutory rape, sex with a minor who is legally incapable of consent, and forcible rape, which is sex with another adult without explicit consent.

  51. Thank you for this post Rachel. I am grateful for the discussions about rape prevention because I can see their usefulness, especially if women leave the classes feeling empowered.

    However I find it deeply disturbing that prevention is geared towards women, rather than the men who perpetrate rape. That we see women as the ones who need to act to protect themselves is woven deep into the way we think and talk about rape. And until that changes, I’m not sure rape rates will change.

  52. Thank you for sharing this Rachel. I am crying it after reading it, especially since we grew up in the same ward. I really appreciate reading your posts.

  53. However I find it deeply disturbing that prevention is geared towards women, rather than the men who perpetrate rape.

    I think we should go back to public hangings for “forcible rape”, but some of you might find that extreme.

  54. Thank you everyone for your comments on this thread. I love that the discussion has ranged from the definition of “forcible rape” to the church policy on abortion to our experiences, judgment, and compassion. I’m closing comments down now, but I look forward to our next conversation.

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