DISMANTLING THE NOTION OF FACELESS EVIL & VICTIM SHAMING
*TRIGGER WARNING*: TRIGGER WARNING FOR LANGUAGE PERTAINING TO SEXUAL ASSAULT, SEXUAL VIOLENCE, AND GUN VIOLENCE
Today is International Women’s Day. How appropriate that on today of all days, the nexus between rape culture and gun culture are at the center of discussion. Over the past several months, I have had several posts on rape culture in the U.S.: India, Ohio, John Piper, Religion, and the Triumph of Rape Culture as well as The Quest For the Historical Mary: Akin, Rape Culture, and Christianity
A few conservative blogs that I follow had several salacious headlines: ““DEMOCRATIC STRATEGISTS SHOCKING CLAIM: WOMEN DON’T NEED GUN FOR SELF-DEFENSE; JUST TELL MEN NOT TO RAPE WOMEN” from THE BLAZE or how about from the Washington Times: Dem Strategists: No Guns, Just Tell Men Not To Rape Women See what happened there? The title’s invite the reader with the suggestion that Zerlina Maxwell wants defenseless women to be raped by men without women being able to defend themselves. This is right-wing partisan propaganda per usual.
What no progressive outlet has done is call out talking head Sean Hannity for his narrow, ideological views on violence (Hannity, being a stand in for the political right’s vision of the world). We can say how Zerlina Maxwell is being treated is terrible, and offer our support (which I fully do) all we want, but the best way to fight this ideological war is to debunk Hannity’s (and therefore conservative’s views) about rape, violence, and evil.
If you watch the video, listen to the pseudo-pious responses that Hannity gives to Maxwell: “Criminals aren’t going to agree with you. Criminals are not going to listen to Sean Hannity” “Evil exists in the world.”
The notion that rape culture occurs in a world of abstraction, a world without faces is a purely ideological move on Hannity’s (and usually U.S. American conservatives who agree with Hannity’s perspective). By ideological, I mean the way John Howard Yoder uses the word, that Hannity and the Right Wing Nut Jobs care more about their idols (guns) over and against human life, i.e., the well being of women’s bodies. The world has evil in it, but human beings have the capacity to choose to reject that evil. This ability is called free will. Evil does not come without a face, without a name. In Christianity, evil has been named sin, violence, Satan, demons, wickedness, faithlessness, and injustice. These realities are embodied in the actions of people. The prophet Elijah calls out King Ahab & Queen Jezebel because they stole Naboth’s vineyard by murdering Naboth (1st Kings 21); Elijah names their deed as evil. Likewise, women today are constantly being questioned when they call out rape culture, simply because they name rape as evil. Victims of rape are always the ones who have to bear responsibility because in rape culture, the victim is to blame. “She shouldn’t have worn that dress.” “She was asking for it.” “Sometimes no doesn’t mean no.”
Hannity (and pro-gun RWNJs) point their fingers at “criminals,” that “scary stranger danger” but ignore the realities of significant others, friends, and family members who prey on the vulnerable. The “criminal” like women who are victims of sexual violence, are the scapegoats so that men in rape culture do not have to take any responsibility for what happens. From a religious standpoint,this rugged individualism is disastrous, and tantamount to apostasy. In Christianity, humanity, male and female is reconciled as One Humanity in Christ. Men and women are to share their burdens, existing in relationships of mutuality. The true religion of Christ Jesus which is faithful to the Gospels, and the message of Jesus and his apostles is an enigma to the worldliness of the cult of the Second Amendment. Yes, we have progressed well in the area of gender equality, but we still have a long ways to go. Demonic Rape Culture must be exorcised here at home and around the globe. The voices of victims must start to be listened to rather than ignored. In the realm of religion, Othered voices deserve a hearing. Yes, MEN, like myself must be taught that rape, patriarch, and gender exclusion is wrong, and that nonviolence and mutuality are the superior ways, the Way of my Master, Jesus.