By Carolina S. Ruiz Austria

The word "Heresy"

was used by Irenaeus in Contra Haereses to discredit his opponents in the early Christian Church. It has no purely objective meaning without an authoritative system of dogma.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lessons Not Yet Learned

Just when you thought Nicole got some measure of justice when at least one of her rapists was given a GUILTY verdict, leave it to a Catholic Archbishop to cast the blame back on the rape victim.

"Women, most especially, should be taught that womanhood is precious and noble so it is not right for them to be flaunting it around," Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan said Tuesday. They should not make themselves appear cheap and practically inviting to be violated by men," he said the day after a Makati judge sentenced Lance Corporal Daniel Smith to up to 40 years in prison after finding him guilty "beyond reasonable doubt" of raping an intoxicated Filipino woman identified in the media only as "Nicole."Read more here

For having been friends with a US Marine, for having been out drinking and partying, Nicole (as other women like her) have been constantly blamed for "asking for it." That is, getting raped.

How is it that when men drink and party, getting raped is not at all an "expected" danger or consequence, but for women, it always is? To be sure, women, the way our society apparently sanctions irresponsible and malevolent male behavior (raping women whom they perceive as available), should always be on guard. On the other hand, what are we saying about men (and boys)?

Nicole's case is the best example of how rape is most often considered "normal," and "to be expected" as standard male behavior. Continuing to blame her now despite the court's vindication (even if only partial) of her claims, demonstrates how in law, as in this sexist society, the legitimacy of women's claims still rests upon archaic notions of womanhood founded on the mythical hymen.

I do not even understand what Archbishop Cruz meant when he said "the incident should also teach men to understand that the moment they violate women, whether consensual or not, the consequence of the act is big." Consensual or not? When is violation ever consensual? (The Revised Penal Code which is based on the Kodigo Penal and the Siete Partidas no doubt, makes similar distinctions, i.e. "consented abduction")

The point apparently being made is that all SEX (outside the sanctioned Church dictates) is dirty. (Which would explain why consent is not material?)

Yet in talking about rape, "lack of consent" is material. It is what makes rape, rape! Come to think about it, that refusal to acknowledge and recognize a woman's witholding of her consent, is what does every single rapist in.

Nicole's convicted rapist was no different. He claimed she gave her consent - that it was consensual (that is, barely conscious and in her drunken stupor, she supposedly did).

When consent is not an option, all sex is dirty, and men are "normal" to act out their "desire to rape," a woman who gives even a hint of her sexuality (or is perceived to be such by any man), is going to be raped and literally asked for it.

Just like a rapist, a high and mighty moralist of conservative Catholicism apparently does not recognize that a woman can actually make her own decision about sex.

In fact the glaring lesson to be learned in Nicole’s case is that it is precisely because a woman is able/capable to decide about sexual matters that she would know when it is something SHE DOES NOT WANT and precisely WITHOUT HER CONSENT.


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