Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Here we go again...

Still wishing I could shake what bugs me about livejournal. But whatever; this is x-posted from there (day late).

The good(ish) news. From the British blog "The F-word", a story about proposals for legal reform that *actually* sound somewhat practical in terms of dealing with many of the problems currently inherent in prosecuting rape cases within the legal systems of, oh, everywhere, apparently. The middle one on the list deals with simply making life easier for an individual who has been traumatized, and honestly, I just can't ever value procedural bladeebla over that. The other two--allowing expert testimony on the range of reactions from rape victims and allowing the introduction of evidence that a woman who didn't go to the police immediately may have spoken to someone else--seem to me to be all about leveling the playing field in terms of what sort of doubt is "reasonable" and what sort is myth-driven in rape cases. In a week in which I've also seen, among other things, news reports that a judge sentenced a man convicted of raping a ten-year-old girl to no more than two years because she dressed provocatively and presented herself as though she were sixteen (in other words, the ten-year-old was asking for it), and a great deal of discussion surrounding the decision of an American judge to force a victim to testify without ever using the words "rape" or "sexual assault" in describing her recollection of the events (while, of course, allowing "had sex with" and other such terms), it's honestly comforting just to realize that somebody somewhere is thinking about practical solutions to the problems with the treatment of rape, legally speaking. The "ish" part comes, if you read the link, from the depressingly predictable opposition that the reforms are facing, as well as from what had to be taken out of the bill because it was "too controversial".

The bad news. Well, this just depresses me, see, for a lot of the same reasons as are indicated in the original post, but, as should be obvious to most of you, for several others as well. Now, I didn't think it was physically possible for me to hate Chicken-Soup-for-the-Soul, heartwarming, God-affirming/confirming, etc etc and so forth, chain e-mail than I already did, but apparently the universe likes to tease me when I start thinking categorically like that. Now, I really like the original poster's identification of the first problem: "It turns God into nothing more than an omnipresent form of mace", especially balanced against the obvious counter-implication, which is that if someone does get raped, it's because that person hasn't been faithful enough (see also: everything I've ever said about "The Secret"). The concept over-heralds Christianity and Christians at the same time as it makes them seem shallow and self-centred, and it manages to doubly insult God in one fell swoop--one, by suggesting that He (and by extension, His followers) creates suffering amongst non-believers, either as punishment or so that He can get more people to sign on to His list because they're easier to convert when they're hurting, and two, by way oversimplifying the intervention of God in the world. Victim-blaming, slut-shaming and self-congratulatory smugness wrapped up in a supposedly feel-good bow with a liberal sprinkling of fear-mongering on top. The closing line of the email? "Repost this as A GIRL RAPED IN (your city) if you truly believe in God… "

That line literally makes me feel sick to my stomach*. The whole idea of rejoicing in someone else's victimization--not just being grateful that it wasn't you, not even a request for prayer for the woman who was victimized after that headline, but actually feeling joy and a confirmation of your moral and spiritual certitude--just horrifies me.

I was going to spend some time talking about what I dislike about the original post's "rewriting" of the chain mail, but apparently my brain isn't functioning quite well enough to allow me to do that. So I'll just end off with the message that, in case you were wondering, please don't send me any of this sort of email, at all, ever, under any circumstances. It makes my eye-roll and delete-button muscles hurt. If you're netiquette aware enough to actually read blogs, I suspect (or rather, am sure) you're not really my target audience on that, but it kind of feels better to say it anyway.

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