It seems that people are confused as to what it actually is.
When I was sexually assaulted, I was almost 17. I went with a friend to a military base because she wanted to visit her boyfriend who lived 2 hours away. When she informed me that we would spend the night, I packed a little overnight bag and included my long grandma like pajamas and a change of clothes for the next day. I was living with her and her single parent mom because I ended up in an alternative high school and had run away from home over 10 times in the previous 2 years.
You see, my own mother was also a single parent, but we were poor. Dirt poor. Food stamp, government cheese, section 8, welfare kind of poor. Single parent minority mothers living in poverty deal with a marginalization that the rest of the population just does not understand. My mother's way to cope with her situation was to keep her anger and frustration bottled up so much, it didn't take much for the bottle to burst and she would explode in fits of rage and anger, most often directed at me. My other 2 sisters somehow were able to avoid feeling the extension cords and belts breaking skin or hair being pulled out in chunks.
That kind of abuse went on for years and when I turned 14 or 15, I had enough. I ran away so much that my mother kept threatening juvenile hall. At that point, I didn't care where I ended up. I eventually found an alternative high school 45 minutes away from our small rural chile field town and convinced my mother to let me go to school there. I secured my own transportation and began attending the school. Within a couple of weeks I met a new friend and moved in with her, her 6-month-old daughter and her single parent mother. Even though I had never known any white people up to that point, and even though it was a major culture shock to live with this new small family unit, I forced myself to deal with the strangeness of white culture. It was nice to have a reprieve from the physical abuse from the hands of my mother. My mother didn't stop me from leaving for good. Maybe she knew I was tired of getting beat and maybe began to wonder if I would ever fight back. I never did. I just received blow after blow of her anger and with each hit, with each bruise and break of skin, my self-worth plummeted. That was my normal.
I don't know whose apartment it was that my friend brought us to but my friend and her boyfriend seemed happy to see each other. Another guy was present. He was a tall massive looming figure. He was a friend or co-worker of my friend's boyfriend and as soon as we arrived, he broke out the cheap wine coolers. Since I was just there to give my friend company on the 2-hour drive, I thought nothing of this older guy refreshing our wine coolers whenever the bottles became empty. My friend and her boyfriend eventually retreated to one of the bedrooms and I was left to hang out with this complete stranger.
Small talk was made throughout the night and when it got late, I excused myself and retreated to an empty room and made myself a little pallet on the floor. I changed into my little house on the prairie pajamas and attempted to lull myself to sleep in the quiet dark room with the door closed. Some time in the middle of the night, the wine cooler man, who must have been a good 10 years older than me, came into the room, closed the door behind him and raped me.
There were not a lot of words exchanged during that ordeal. No "dirty" small talk. No vulgar or sexually charged words prior to the rape were exchanged.
Just the assault.
Strong offensive hands holding down feeble attempts to defend.
For this impoverished soon to be 17 year old with no self worth or sense of value, I was extremely confused. Did I lead him on? Did I give him the impression that I wanted to have sex with him. From my immature point of view, I didn't think I did. I was a child. He was an "old" man in his late 20's.
You see, real sexual assault does not happen over a play on words. Most of the time, no words or very little words are ever used. Most often, during real sexual assault, the only words you will hear are from the girl or woman, crying over and over again "no" as she makes a pretty strong effort to move his hands away from pulling off her undergarments. Then, like a sudden slap in the face, comes the stark cold realization that the longer and harder she tries to stop him, the stronger the grip of his hands become.....and then the grip becomes painful.
It's the kind that tells her to stop fighting or else something worse will happen. She realizes that he is unstoppable and blinded by his own lust and that her cries of "no's" are landing on deaf ears. She realizes that the force of his hands and body will not end until he gets what he wants.
So she stops fighting. And silently begins to cry.
She cries because she is scared.
She cries because she can't stop what is happening to her and the act of violent sex is unimaginably painful.
She is literally powerless under the weight and strength of the man on top of her.
So, when I hear the news media and the masses rebuke one of the candidates over his words and then deem his words as determinants of sexual assault, it makes me angry.
When I hear the First Lady get on her soapbox and declare disgust over "locker room banter" and call it sexual assault, it makes me angry.
I recently read a blog written by a Christian man who wrote that he would never leave his wife or children in the same room with said candidate and hinted at the idea that sexual assault was going to take place if he did....that really made me angry.
All these people actually believe they are advocating for sexual assault victims or women in general.
CNN writes of the First Lady's reaction:
Her voice quaking with fury, the first lady said Thursday that Trump's comments about using his celebrity to grab and grope had affected her powerfully, occupying her thoughts since the tape emerged late last week. "I can't believe I'm saying a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women," Obama said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire. "I've listened to this, and I feel it so personally," she said. "And I'm sure that many of you do, too -- particularly the women. The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman. That is cruel. It's frightening. And the truth is, it hurts.
It makes me angry that all these "advocates" are using the term sexual assault to discredit a candidate, but to what end.....to endorse or give more ammunition for the other just-as-sick-and-twisted candidate?
And as much as I dislike the grotesqueness of the candidate who said these words, when I heard them, they sounded much like the words of the many men I've known throughout my life before I became a follower of Jesus. Men who are now CEO's of companies, head coaches of major universities, school teachers, correction officers, military commanders and personnel, professional athletes, body shop workers, auto shop workers, real estate agents, personal trainers, etc. The list goes on and on.
I honestly don't think any man is innocent of this kind of talk. They may not be quick to say these kinds of words in the presence of the women they love, but get a bunch of guys together.....
Shockingly, my husband has even told me stories of Christian men he has had to rebuke for using demeaning and perverted talk when discussing women who are not their wives.
As a woman who lived years of death and sin prior to becoming a Christian, I heard so much "locker room banter", its not even funny. For unbelieving men, it's as common as sports team banter.
The sad reality is that there are scores of men establishing a woman's worth based on the size of her breasts, derriere and hips. These men then go on to make comments with other men in private that either validate or reject pursing the woman in question. This kind of chaffing is pathetic and degrading, but it's not sexual assault.
However, we cannot blame all men for this kind of crude behavior.
When you have women going under the knife or getting implants to make themselves more attractive or desirable in the eyes of men, you know we are dealing with a culture of women that should not be offended at locker room guy talk, especially when they put these silicone parts on display in public.
When you have women who spend hours in the gym doing 1000 squats a day, (ok, I'm exaggerating) to "plump up" and tone her bottom so that she can take pictures of herself and her half naked body parts to share with the world on social media for "likes", and then these same women complain when men make sexually provocative comments, you know we are dealing with a culture of ridiculous hypocrisy.
Don't believe there are women who do this? Check out Instagram.
So what am I trying to say with this blog by putting myself and my sexual assault on display?
1) As a sexual assault survivor I have a bit credibility which allows me to see what is and what is not true unwanted sexual assault.
2) It's easy to cast all the blame on men over this idea of rape culture while excusing women from any and all culpability.
Syncretism is a pattern of living where we add to our Christian faith the ideals, preferences, beliefs and practices of a non Christian world. Eventually, our Christian faith becomes almost impossible to distinguish from the world around us. Syncretism affects not only how we think but most importantly how we live, which includes our patterns of behaving in real life.
Do you remember King Solomon? He was a man that started out strong for the LORD, but after marrying wife after wife, 700 wives and 300 concubines to be exact, these wives bringing with them their own practices and worship to other gods, Solomon's own heart became pulled in many directions. His faith was no longer honoring and in obedience to God because he was embracing the practices and beliefs from a polytheistic culture by way of his lust and the presence of beauty of the women around him that he married.
Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant (1 Kings 11:11)
There are consequences to living syncretistic lives.
However, on the opposite end of syncretism, there is monasticism. This is when people make an attempt to escape from the world's influence by withdrawing from it. Think Amish. Or those sects of Christians or other religions that promote uniformity in how women should wear their hair or dress. Or the priesthood of monks. We would be disobeying Christ and his command to go into the world to make disciples if we remain in isolated communities and create for ourselves Christian or religious bubbles of conformity.
There is tension here, no doubt. It's not easy to be part of the world and not be shaped by it. However, if we are not drenching our minds in scripture, we won't know what to embrace in our culture and what to reject. We won't be able to discern what elements of this world can be used as springboards for connecting with unbelievers for our Gospel driven assignment from Jesus to "go". We won't be able to distinguish what the main stream media is telling us about certain issues of our day from the truth that only God gives. Meshing the two perspectives is not real truth. It's syncretistic in nature.
So when the world is telling us that words uttered from a man who is not a follower of Jesus are words that promote sexual assault, I find it preposterous. As a victim of sexual assault, I can't, for the life of me, reconcile this. Are his words excusable or acceptable? Of course not. But I don't expect them to be.
As a woman, I find certain things in our culture more offensive than Trump's words. Not only as a woman but as a mother with daughters.
Here are 3 of those things:
2) I mourn that I have to remind my daughter often, that beauty is more than skin deep because the culture is going to bombard her with another lie that says she has to dress a certain way or make herself up in such a way that all her blemishes are "magically erased". We can go online and find a gazillion tutorials on how to apply foundation with the right amount of contours and highlights, how to glue on fake eyelashes, how to color matte full lips, apply catlike eyeliner, and once all those skills are mastered, only then can one be considered "beautiful". Even confused men are using these tutorials to make themselves look like women and are getting Cover-girl contracts to prove they are a success at attaining beauty. I not only have to prepare my daughter to combat these superficial lies of beauty, I've got to prepare my son as well. I don't want either of them believing all of the above is what makes a woman or man beautiful.
3) I think I am most offended that wealth, title and status is equivalent to power. When people of power attempt to tell everyone else how to think and behave, that makes me more upset than hearing Trump's lewd comments. Trump is the product of wealth and power. So is Hillary. So are the Obama's. None of them really speak for the poor and it offends me greatly when they think they know how to best solve the issue of poverty. They have no idea what it means to live a marginalized life with no relief in sight. They have no idea how poverty affects relationships, parenting, children, self worth, value and identity.
These "advocates" speak from platforms of privilege and power and they honestly believe they speak for the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed and now the sexually assaulted.
We are a nation whose elected leaders reflect the sexual perversion that has always been who we as a people are, sinners pretending to not be. Yet as a nation we have the audacity to be shocked at what we see in the outward behavior of some, while closing our doors and practicing licentiousness of every kind privately.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (Romans 1:28)
I don't place my trust in any of these elected or soon to be elected officials.
Not the perverted machismo who thinks his wealth guarantees unchecked sexual permission slips to lewdness.
Not the Clinton woman whose integrity is in question over lives lost due to something shady going down in a foreign country and then the fiasco of deleted emails and the breaching of national security. She is a life time politician. She knows how to play the public "word" game to win approval ratings. She also has been known to treat the victims of her husbands sexual advances as enemies, not sexual assault victims. Maybe she knows they are not real victims because some of them may have welcomed his behavior. Only her husband and those women know the truth.
Not the Clinton man whose own history of sexual perversion has already defiled the White House and the role of the presidency, like many presidents before him. We just didn't have the technology to capture it.
I also don't and have never believed in the platform of hope and change the Obama's rode in on. Well, they did bring change....but I am not convinced it was good change. Due to the Obama's, we now live in a more sexually confused nation, where women and men are applauded for changing their gender identity based on what they feel on any given day and laws are now in place to protect these whims. The Obama's brought in a law enforced slippery slope of change, labeling it tolerance, that is bound to have long lasting consequences. However, I can't cast all the blame on them. They are simply elected officials whose main goal was to please the already sexually confused masses. They represent a large portion of who and what this country already was.
Under Obama leadership, there is hope for the sexually confused. There is no hope for the Christian who believes in sexuality the way God determines it. But I can't say that out loud without being accused of being a racists or an unloving Christian.
But, in spite of all this.......
I do know of One who has provided real hope, real change and real solutions to dire situations...even ridiculous elections, wide spread sexual debauchery, and spirals of downward moral descent.
He advocates for real sexual assault victims.
He reconciles poor parents to their children and children to their impoverished parents.
He gives parents the right words to teach their children so that they are prepared to not believe the lies the world wants to feed them concerning sexuality, beauty, power, wealth, value, and identity.
He advocates and actually loves the poor, marginalized and oppressed.
He does not need to campaign for votes because he already reigns as King.
I may be in my mid 40's and still cannot sleep in pitch darkness, even knowing I am safe with my husband right next to me. It took years of wrestling with God for me to arrive at seeing and savoring the beauty and trustworthiness of God's sovereign hand and providential care.
It took years of patience and unconditional love from my husband, with God equipping both my husband and I with the Holy Spirit, to help us wrestle with my reality of being a sexual assault victim. I also had to painfully learn how to let Christ heal the emotional and psychological effects of living a life of real poverty, marginalization, oppression due to class-ism, while resting in my identity in Christ, as I struggled to reconcile my past, present and future as a beloved daughter of the Most High.
No candidate can or ever will be able to offer that kind of healing, or hope, or change.
Only Jesus does.
We don't need to withdraw from the world and all that our modern culture brings with it. We must remember that Christ's primary goal was to come INTO the world for the redemption and salvation of his people.
1) the Holy Spirit's power
2) discernment and wisdom that only comes from God
3) God's words on paper, the Bible
we are able to participate with Christ in his work.
We need to be able to know, as men and women who seek to honor God with our sexuality, our words, our beauty, our bodies -
1) what is redeemable
2) what distracts from obedience
3) what syncretism looks like and resist the urge to conform
4) what monastic tendencies have surfaced in our thinking and behavior and realizing that its our fear of conformity that feeds these tendencies
We must also remember that Jesus uses redeemed people to reach unredeemed people so that they also have the privilege of meeting the one Who redeems.