Jason Chaffetz Doesn't Believe in Non-forcible Rape

Introduced on Jan. 20, 2011, "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" (or H.R.3) is a bill intended to cut the amount of tax-payer money going to provide women with abortions. What, of course, is strange is that there is already legislation in place to limit the amount of women receiving tax-subsidized abortions: the Hyde Amendment and the Stupak-Pitts Amendment both place limits on who can receive Medicaid money for abortions and when. What's stranger is that the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" attempts to radically redefine the definition of rape to include ONLY "forcible rape". Forcible rape is that which can be proved by a vast amount of extant physical evidence (namely in the form of blunt force trauma). The rest of rape - coercion by a friend or colleague, rape by drugging, or incest between a child and a full-grown adult - is written off as invalid.

There are two names at the top of the list of the 173 co-signers to the bill: Jason Chaffetz and Rob Bishop. Utah's finest. I don't live in Bishop's district but I do (somehow, even though he lives in Alpine?) live in Chaffetz's district. So I wrote him a letter. It follows below:

Mr. Chaffetz,

Let me make it clear to you. I did not vote for you. I do not like your style of politicking. I'm in the midst of writing an article for the BYU Political Review about how much I dislike your choices and where you choose to place your considerably hefty power.

That being said; I don't think you're all that awful of a person. And I honestly don't think you're in Washington intentionally trying to harm others. Your support for "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion", however, will do exactly that. Did you know that between 80 and 93% of the reported rapes in Utah are committed by someone that the victim knows(http://health.utah.gov/vipp/rapeSexualAssault/overview.html)? By your signing of HR3, you're cutting out a significant (i.e. 80 to 93% of the 63.7% out of 100,000 women who are raped annually in UT) portion of those who have already been stripped of their right to choose not to get raped, from deciding what to do following their rape. By narrowing the definition of rape to what is defined as "forcible rape", you are saying that the only legitimately accepted definition of rape by the United States Congress is the kind of rape that takes an overwhelming amount of extant physical evidence of blunt force trauma to prove. This totally discounts rape via coercion and drugging.

Utah has some of the highest sexual assault statics in the nation. By sanctioning the narrowing of the definition of rape, you are aiding and abetting continual widespread sexual violence against women. This bill is about more than cutting down on tax-sponsored abortion. There's already the Hyde Amendment and the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to limit the amount of women benefiting from State-sponsored abortions. This bill is not about abortion. It is about the common misconception that, somehow, women are responsible for rape. It is about clamping down the right for a woman to choose what her course of action will be after the traumatic and unthinkably life-altering experience of having someone rape her. This is not about being pro-life. It is about much, much more.

So I would like to cut you a deal, Mr. Chaffetz. If you cut your endorsement with this bill, I will vote for you in the next election.

As an alumni of BYU and a fellow member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I ask you to please reconsider your stance on this issue. I am a member of your constituency and you are indebted to hear me out. I pay for your stint in Washington. Never forget who you're there to serve. The women of Utah Valley, and the men who stand behind them, need you on their side in this issue.

Alexander Ross Christman

I encourage anyone who cares about the prevention of rape and rape apology to write their Congressmen and the Congressional leaders. You can email them (find their email here), or tweet at them (make sure you use the hashtag #DearJohn), or you can mail them a letter. Whatever. Anything. If you care about breaking down the rigid barriers that protect rapists and further victimize women, please take some time and get involved.

Reading material:
Text of H.R.3
Mother Jones
Sady Doyle's #DearJohn crusade
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Ripped from the pages of a blog: Thoughts on Mormon Perception of Sex

I put this up here originally, but there is no comment feature there in case people want to issue a rebuttal. So here this thought is again.

Rerum vulgarium fragmenta: Thoughts on Mormon Perceptions of Sex

The other day I was in the office of the free cinema on campus (it’s a university program which shows three international films per week, completely free, with visiting lecturers. It’s probably the greatest thing I’ve ever had in my life), talking with a friend. Due to strictures from the university, the films shown for free on campus have to be censored in order to avoid offending anyone, as well as to escape culpability in the event that anything shown in the film might lead to a moral transgression and, thus, a transgression of the illustrious BYU Honor Code. All of the cursing must be removed, any nudity or adult things must be removed, any promotion of drug use or loose morals must be trimmed and hedged. All of this editing is done with clearance from the filmmakers, so there aren’t any copyright laws being broken (don’t worry internetland). The friend I was talking with is the head of the program and ultimately responsible for the smooth operation of the whole thing.

He was telling me how the movies get edited. He and a panel pick the films, which are then viewed. Review cards are made to specify which parts of the film might be offensive and therefore need to be removed. Here’s the interesting thing: no males are allowed to do the actual editing of the film. There is usually one woman who does the editing and if she is not available then it must be another woman. I said that this was interesting (considering the fact that over the centuries, women have been far more associated with the concepts of transgression and lust). He then said said that it makes sense to him due to the Church’s conception of females as being less sexually stimulated by images of pornography. He even quoted a General Conference remark pertinent to the subject.

To me, this is striking. The LDS Church prides itself on its historicist view of Christianity - that it is the inevitable, late incarnation of the original church of Christ - and thus it has a huge mix of thematics that range from Classical antiquity to early modern moralists. The LDS Church’s stance on lust is a great example of the church’s historical borrowing, and its overall views of sexuality. Every year in our university sanctioned wards (congregations organized upon geographic location and marital status), we have the so-called “sex talk”. In it, the bishop (the pastor, or priest to normalize the term) speaks to the congregation both at large and in closed, gender-specific meetings. He speaks to the general congregation about sexuality and the pitfalls of pre-marital relations (with others and with yourself). Then, in your gender-specific meetings (Elders quorum for men, Relief Society for women), he goes into further detail regarding what is correct sexual conduct for the gender roles in the context of the Church. Normally, men get the “don’t coerce girls into sex” and “it’s your job as the male to set the boundaries” line. I don’t know what the women get, but from what I’ve heard, it’s more of a “your body is a temple” idea; A.K.A. don't let anybody into it without a temple recommend. The stress, then, is one of passive resistance, predicated on the idea of women as less interested in sex and lest tempted by immorality and carnal desire.

The Church, as I’ve mentioned, draws from a huge array of classical and romantic influences in its outward expressions of gender, gender roles, and cultural perceptions of sexuality. I find it most closely limning the Renaissance’s idealization of the feminine form in art (an outward manifestation of a nearly timeless societal strata). It is no secret that women in the LDS Church are held to a standard that, at almost all times, higher than the male standard. The male standards are explicit, stated in all texts, often with an eye to “prevention” of moral transgression. Though the Church doctrinally does not believe in the concept of original sin, it does profess belief in a deep strain of constant and overwhelming temptation. What’s more interesting is that it almost without question that this temptation (sexual, substantive, credible) is male-centered (I must stress that this isn’t a doctrinal concept, but a cultural reaction to the doctrine). The temptation is for men, as are most of the rules. As an example: when we discuss homosexuality in the Church, we are discussing male homosexuality.

Thus, the Church’s primary disciplinary job, it seems, is to regulate the behavior of men. They are, after all, the ones responsible for the eternal sanctity and salvation of their families. The rules for women, however, are far more open-ended. Women are not constantly told to not look at pornography or to cheat on their spouses because, it seems in the eyes of the members of the Church, women are not as susceptible. The disparity in guidelines and rules between the sexes, as well as the general idealization of women in the Church, leads to a Pygmalion-like existence for women within the Church. Men make women, who then make men, who then are responsible for the sanctity of the marriage, which is between man and a woman, and all of which is forever and ever. Sounds like a pretty standard summation of the perceived history of the world.

N.B.: Sorry for no sources, links, or evidence. This is more of a thought exercise than a total dissertation and is open to total logical destruction. In fact, total disproving is encouraged. Make your comments politely in the comment section please.
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