Simcha Fisher has two rather long articles talking about three rapes/sexual assaults which allegedly happened to students of Christendom College, a small Catholic college in Virginia.
It’s best if you take the time to read it as I’m not going to go through them bit by bit but rather focus on some points that they raised in my mind.
The tone and focus of the articles puts a definite spin of blame on the college’s draconian anti-PDA rules and sex-segregated dorms. The rules caused the women to be raped because she had to go off campus to be raped– I mean hold hands with her boyfriend. Obviously the policy should change. This college can then become like other colleges and the women can be raped in their dorm rooms instead of in cars. Because women never get raped on campuses where they’re allowed to hold hands and sit next to each other. The implication that keeping kids from kissing in the cafeteria causes this is beyond stupid.
The articles also faults the college for not have done anything about a rape which occurred off campus and which the victim didn’t bother to report to anyone until long after they could do anything about it. The rape occurred in a national park and was under federal law enforcement jurisdiction. The park LE told the victim there was pretty much nothing they could do. So if the feds can’t do anything, what do you expect the college to do? Take the girl’s word with no evidence and throw the guy out?
A great deal is made out of Christendom not having a policy in their student handbook on how sexual assault is dealt with. This is decidedly naive of the college’s part. Did they foolishly assume that since they were Catholic that it could be understood that students weren’t supposed to be going around committing mortal sins on other students? What does rather put the college’s actions in a bad light is a comment on Christendom’s “apology” posted later which claims the school expels students for having sex period. If, as the article implies (and this coming from Simcha Fisher is a big IF), members of the college staff did believe that the one girl was pulling a “regret” instead of it being rape, then both she and the alleged rapist should have been expelled anyway. But again we’re stuck on the problem of how on earth they could prove what did or didn’t happen.
“Victim blaming” in the current zeitgeist is one of the worst sins possible to commit, but the accounts the women give are not so perfect that you can’t find fault with them.
Being assaulted or raped is a terrible, psychologically damaging thing to happen to a person. The women talk about being unable to attend class because their rapist will be in the room. So why would they come back to the campus the next year when they could have escaped? When they could have stayed home and not spent thousands of dollars in tuition for the pleasure of being trapped on what looks like a rather small campus with a rapist?
I have come across other accounts where women claim to have been “raped” where they allege the man forced them to preform oral sex on him. There is a serious problem with this. The victim in these cases has to… perform an action. She has to do something as opposed to being pinned down and having something forced on her. Now, she is being threatened but, if I remember from my theology classes right, this kind of action is still voluntary in the weak sense. Just because you’re in fear of bodily harm doesn’t absolve you of all guilt in performing an immoral act. If someone put a gun to my head and said they’d kill me if I didn’t murder someone else, I don’t get a free pass to murder them just because I was in fear of my life. This is all unpleasantly ironic given the references in the article to St Maria Goretti who was stabbed to death fighting off a guy trying to rape her.
The implication I take from the article is one that I’m sure the authors would be horrified by and which I do not like at all:
Women have no agency.
Zip, zero, nada. They can’t do anything and it’s not their fault anyway. This college was supposed to have somehow, magically made the world completely safe for them. They couldn’t fight back against their rapists. They didn’t even understand what the word “rape” meant. You even see this in a couple of the comments: these women behaved the way they did because they were taught to behave like that. They have pushed every responsibility onto someone else. The college, the policies, the culture, anything.
If you were raped or sexually assaulted, I’m very sorry this happened to you. But sometimes you can’t blame anyone else except the rapist. It isn’t possible to create a completely safe world. We can try with all our might and it will not happen. Catholics of all people should understand this. We live in a fallen world. Could this college have responded better? With the obviously slanted take the Fishers give the articles, it’s hard to say for certain. Maybe. Can the college change to prevent future rapes? Most likely: NO. I’m tempted to say: yes, if they become a single sex institution, but if this were an all girls school, the girls would still go off campus and get raped. Because people are bad and there will always be bad people. Women need to remember this and recognize that they too have a part in keeping themselves safe.