The shooting that rocked California last week raised questions about treating the mentally ill and why there are so many semi-automatic weapons on our streets. But what caught the nation's eye this time around was that the shooter made clear his motives: Twenty-two-year-old Elliot Rodger hated women. He wrote a manifesto announcing his intention to reap vengeance on women for denying him the sexual attention he believed was his entitlement.
Beverly Donofrio had just been “looking for a monastery to join, for Christ’s sake.” She had closed her laptop, having bookmarked religious communities she might write to, then had fallen into a deep sleep. During the night she was raped at knife point in her home in Mexico.
Matt Yglesias is right that public policy must deal with the broad abstractions of the common good, not just with issues that affect lawmakers personally. And Anne Thériault is certainly right that a woman's value, dignity and rights are not contingent on who cares about her personally.
Still, both posts seem too dismissive of the role personal relationships play in our formation, our view of the world, our very personhood.
If you haven’t realized the urgent need for an expanded Violence Against Women Act, read today’sNew York Times, where novelist Louise Erdrich restates the theme that runs through her powerful novel The Round House(reviewed in a previous post): Native American women are being battered and raped by non-native men, and they have no legal support for pursuing justice—because non-natives are immune from prosecution by tribal courts.
It's hard to imagine a more efficient way to rack up diverse denunciations than Rep. Todd Akin's approach in an interview on Sunday, when in one breath he both promoted a foul bit of junk science alleging that rape victims don't generally get pregnant (and thus don't need abortion services) and coined the term "legitimate rape." Pretty much everyone everywhere has condemned his comments, and rightly so.
A number of rape victims have written responses, including Shauna Prewitt, whose post at xoJane went viral and taught a lot of us something appalling that we didn't know.
Six years ago, in a powerful article in these pages, Ruth Schmidt wrote about how her entire way of perceiving the world changed when she was raped. It was as if everything she had been during her previous 16 years had been thrown away. Since that event, "I see differently. I hear differently. I surely believe differently. I listen to music as a woman who was raped.
Six months before she was scheduled to be released on drug charges, Marilyn Shirley was raped in 2000 by a guard at the Texas prison where she was serving time. "I am still haunted by the words he whispered in my ear," Shirley recently recounted. "Do you think you're the only one?" her attacker asked her.
The Vatican’s top bioethics official said the two Brazilian doctors who performed an abortion on a nine-year-old rape victim do not merit excommunication, since they acted to save her life. The statement by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, appeared as the lead article in the March 15 issue of the official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.
Support the Christian Century
The Century's work relies primarily on subscriptions and donations. Thank you for supporting nonprofit journalism.