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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon
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March 2014
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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon [userpic]
For discussion: Victim Blaming vs. Owing Responsibility

This discussion brings up some interesting questions for me.

Short version: A girl wrote in to an advice columnist regarding a relationship problem that she is having. She's involved with a married man and has fallen pregnant. Due to her religious beliefs, she can't have an abortion although apparently helping him break the adultery clause is a-okay and she needs some advice as to what to do.

On the surface of that, one would think "Get a lawyer, get paternity verified, get child support, and get on with your life," or "Go find an adoption agency and tell them you want to give your child up for adoption."

There are a couple of incidentals, however.

A) This man is quite literally three times as old as she is, with children and grandchildren.

B) She's 16.

C) He's her pastor.

D) Did I mention that she's 16? And as they've apparently been involved for several months, it's very likely the "courtship" phase, not to mention the actual sex, has every chance of having occurred before her birthday?

In the comments on cf_abby_tribute we have someone who refuses to absolve the girl of her portion of the responsibility (after all, she *is* sixteen, and frankly I think that the girl does bear responsibility for her decisions... she's old enough to know that, if nothing else, f*cking a married man is a bad idea). This has devolved into accusations of victim-blaming and arguments that what has occurred isn't rape (which, by WA statues, is not the case -- he's more than five years older than her and in a position of power, which does indeed make it statutory rape although I'm not sure it's defined as "Rape of a Child" per se.)

I'm willing to give that she's at an age and in a position that she would be easily malleable for a predator in her pastor's position. This does absolve her of some of the culpability for the situation. The thing is, how far does one go in saying "It's not your fault."?

I personally don't "blame" her for having feelings for a charismatic adult male. I had minor crushes on a variety of male teachers when I was sixteen (although if any of them had come on to me, assuming I'd noticed -- which given me is damn iffy -- I'd've run screaming). Teenagers can be very vulnerable to manipulation by adults, particularly those in power. But -- and here's the rub for me -- this girl also made a decision, one to have sex with someone (be he adult or another teen) and has run afoul of the predictable consequences of that particular decision.

Do we negate the responsibility for her making that decision completely because he's an adult with "spiritual" and undoubtedly mental authority over her? If he weren't an adult I'm unashamed to admit I'm the first on the "You decided to behave like a grownup, welcome to the grownup world. Here's the same assistance any woman in your position would get, don't bother pleading the case of 'but I'm a baby.' You made your bed, it's a damn pity you decided to spike it with nails at such a young age."

She's pregnant and unless she's willing to take certain options, there is no do-over for her.

Don't mistake me: Her pastor is a predator. He need to be stopped because I very much doubt that she's the first girl he's seduced, nor do I believe she's likely to be the last unless something is done. From appearances he's guilty of using his position and authority to dupe very young people into doing things they really shouldn't... but does that absolve the people so-duped from engaging in what is an inherently stupid and risky behavior?

Is wanting to hold the victim (and I do believe this girl is a victim) responsible for her own part and decisions in this (or any other, actually) mess victim-blaming? It's not like I think she's to blame per se but she did make some appalling decisions that I think she is responsible for, even if she's young and her brain ain't quite complete yet.

And yes, the above question does, in fact, also apply to rape vicitms who engage in predictably risky behaviors -- I don't see that they're responsible for being raped (that being an act taken against them by another individual), but shouldn't they be held responsible engaging in dangerous activities (a girl who is slipped roofies, for example, isn't responsible for having been slipped roofies and assaulted; on the other hand, if you're not watching what you drink and where, you are responsible for putting yourself at risk... I think there's a difference between saying the latter and saying you're responsible for the act another has taken, i.e. rape/assault)

Thoughts? Feelings? Am I an evil, heartless bitch, even though I'm the first to hold up "You said no, that's enough." Does the fact I'd tack on "But you're still an idiot for doing X" where X is a risky/stupid/or in the case of the girl, blatantly unethical behavior make me horrible, or just realistic?

Current Mood: curiouscurious

Yes your evil, no your not heartless. As an asside, your evil has nothing to do with this entry.. it's the company you keep...

That being said, She sure as hell is the victim here, and is due all of the sympathy a victim of a fuck all nasty man deserves. But you are correct, she needs to have some manner of responsiblity, if only because absovleing her of it, is absovleing her of the need to think, to plan, to worry, and to avoid another fuck all nasty man in the future.

I'm not going to go into the consistance of useing a religious arguement pertaining to this baby in specfic.... because... holy crap... Anyway, she gets all the help she needs, but she needs to know she got into this, and she needs to see the mistakes that she made, so she can learn and avoid them again.

that being said, what ever can be done to fuck all nasty man is a right and proper thing to do, if that involves draining his nasty man wallet to care for the child... ok... if it involes criminal sactions, that good too. if you can some how get both... rock on..

Anyway, What happens next is up to the people involved, a number that I immagine is climbing every day, but in the end she needs to learn from this, and hopefully others will learn a little something as well to deal with all the fuck all nasty men in there lives..

As an asside I think this is most times I've sworn on someones comment page ever..


Yes your evil, no your not heartless. As an asside, your evil has nothing to do with this entry.. it's the company you keep...

I'll let Ken-kun know you think he is much of the evil-making ;)

Back on topic (swear away, it's a very swear-able situation):
Oh, I want nasty-man to go away for a very long time, but the girl has to go to the police and frankly, I'd lay odds that if she goes to her parents the whole thing will be hushed up in some kind of way. Given the background in the letter (if you haven't clicked the link and read it, you should, even though it's heartbraking) I personally think the odds of her parents blaming her and either a) forcing her to have a quiet abortion, b) forcing her to be pregnant, but not name the father or openly call her a liar if she accuses the pastor, or c) send her away somewhere until she has the baby and gives it up for adoption, again without involving the pastor, are high.

But I'm cynical like that. Seriously, I saw the advice columnists answer and thought "No, she needs to go to the police/school guidance counselor first, and then to her parents."

In fairness, it's not like all churches are the kind that would result in the behavior I fear from her parents, but honestly, I'd far rather ensure that the proper authorities are notified before giving anyone the chance to hush up his behavior.

Edited at 2008-02-07 08:48 pm (UTC)

I agree with you on all counts, especially the risk of it being "hushed up". And don't forget the part where she's the wicked, evil seductress who PREYED on this virtuous! family! pastor!

I was the one who said "What, not even condoms?" when I read that letter.

Oh, yes. To quote a RL friend of mine, men are wired such that "Naked Flesh! Must Rape!" is an uncontrollable fact of their genome -- only not. (Actually, it's hilarious when he says it, as it's done in a Zombie-like "Braaaains. Hungry. Need Braaaaaaaains." kind of way.)

But, yes, she's the one who is going to get the blame for it all -- and as much as I think she needs to own up to the responsibility for getting involved with a married man and the fact she decided to have sex at all -- that she'll be the one depicted as the horrible temptress just hurts my soul. She's been manipulated and used. Yes, she's been kind of dumb, but what he's done is horrible and needs to be stopped.

Reading over the letter... this stinks even more than it did before... Fuck all nasty man is, I would immagine, already running quite the buisnes of exploiting faith.. Yes I said buisness, this has all the finger prints of reverend fuck all nasty man running one of those mega churches you find in the strip mall.

I might piss a few folks off, but I have trouble with those specfic kinds of church. I mean, lord knows me and religion in general have had a rough time of it, but.... The kinds of churches that are a brand name more than a faith make my teeth hurt.

They also seem to breed unpleasntness.. Wether it's exploitive sons of bitches taht run them or freakish intolerance preached by them.. A sort of super far right screed that would make jesus turn pale and turn some water into wine on the spot...

I hope to hell your wrong about that girl getting the blame in her comunity for this insanity... and that whole "not bringing shame to both their familys" pure exploitive bull shit...

I'm upset enough I can't keep a thought going strait.. yea.. she's in a rough spot, everything I said before goes, and the part about takeing down fuck all nasty man goes double.

Yeah. The whole "not bringing shame" thing is beautiful, in the way that terrible, well-crafted things can be. Were I interested in exploiting someone in that way, it's just about the most perfect thing in the world.

Because I have a somewhat sick and twisted imagination, I can see him whispering that against her skin, reminding her of the sin that she's pulled him into every time they're together. How can she do anything but associate an act that should be about pleasure and/or love and/or togetherness with anything other than guilt and shame and self-blame? She's clinging to "being in true love" but you bet your ass she knows (but doesn't want to acknowledge) that what's happening is wrong and she can't say anything because she's protecting him and her family from the shame of "her" actions rather than "their" or "his" behavior.

She needs to go to the police and she needs to face this guy down. I'd like to say that she'll get it from her family, but any family/community that he can use "shame" as a valid motivator with is not one that I'm confident will support her in the face of what has happened to her. I could be wrong. I want to be wrong.

But realistically, I don't think that she'll come forward and she (and her child) will bear the burden of her "shame" pretty much forever.

Worse -- her pastor, who is undoubtedly a sex predator, will either decide that he doesn't want her when she's revealed as pregnant, or as she grows a bit older, she'll be too old to be attractive and he'll seduce the next 15-year-old.

And there does seem to be a certain kind of church with a certain kind of very charismatic male leader that tends to breed this kind of unpleasantness. In fairness, you get some pretty weird shit from the liberal/pagan end too, but somehow as weird as that shit is, it rarely seems to evoke the same dumb horror.