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May 12, 2008

Phylis Schlafly: rape denier

KathyG excoriates Washington University for offering an honorary doctorate to anti-feminist crusader Phylis Schlafly:

[V]ery rarely—in fact, almost never—do you see a great university honor someone who, throughout her public life has shown nothing but contempt for the values of the academia, values such as intellectual honesty and integrity, rational discourse, and the dispassionate pursuit of knowledge. Who has been, not a champion of human rights and human progress, but rather, at every turn, sought to thwart the aspirations of millions of female and nonwhite Americans and deny them equal justice under the law. Who has attempted to leave the world a far worse place than it was when she came into it, and in many ways has succeeded at this.

Schlafly is a very talented political operative, but she's not a deep thinker. Feministing excerpts an recent interview with Schlafly in which she argues that marital rape is a contradiction in terms because a woman issues blanket consent to sex by getting married:

Could you clarify some of the statements that you made in Maine last year about marital rape?

I think that when you get married you have consented to sex. That's what marriage is all about, I don't know if maybe these girls missed sex ed. That doesn't mean the husband can beat you up, we have plenty of laws against assault and battery. If there is any violence or mistreatment that can be dealt with by criminal prosecution, by divorce or in various ways. When it gets down to calling it rape though, it isn't rape, it's a he said-she said where it's just too easy to lie about it.

Was the way in which your statement was portrayed correct?

Yes. Feminists, if they get tired of a husband or if they want to fight over child custody, they can make an accusation of marital rape and they want that to be there, available to them.

So you see this as more of a tool used by people to get out of marriages than as legitimate-

Yes, I certainly do. [Student Life]

Schlafly believes that a husband is entitled to extract sex from his wife against her will, as long as he doesn't physically hurt her in the process.

Schlafly also implies that we can't have laws to protect wives from their husbands' sexual demands because someone could make a false allegation. If you take Schlafly's logic to its ultimate and logical conclusion, all rape laws should be struck down because of the mere possibility of spurious allegations. She's advocating the sex crime analog of tort reform: Alleged victims don't deserve the right to arbitration in the courts because someone might eventually bring a frivolous case.

I'm very disappointed that WashU has chosen to reward such a morally reprehensible alum.

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I wish the interviewer would have asked Schlafly the logical follow-up questions prompted by her position--Does this mean that husbands are legally required to eat pussy?

I guess that puts Washington University on a par with NCCU.
Then there’s the Durham academic world. In Sunday’s N&O, Anne Blythe reported on NCCU’s graduation, where “Crystal Gail Mangum, the woman at the root of the Duke lacrosse case and the phony gang-rape allegations dismissed by the state attorney general, was among the graduates Saturday. Mangum, in a cap and gown, flashed a smile to a friend after posing for an official graduation photo with her degree.”
I am guessing Crystal got a degree in Ethnic or Gender studies.
If you take Schlafly's logic to its ultimate and logical conclusion, all rape laws should be struck down because of the mere possibility of spurious allegations
Two can play this game. Taking feminists Logic to its ultimate and logical conclusion, all rape allegations are true regardless of any contravening evidence. A trial is completely unnecessary except for sentencing.

Two can play this game.

Oooh, I wanna play too!

AMANDA MARCOTTE! AMANDA MARCOTTE!

This is fun!

I guess that puts Washington University on a par with NCCU.

No, it doesn't. I don't think you're really so dense that you can't distinguish between (1) a university bestowing a degree on a graduate who has completed the requirements for that degree, and (2) a university bestowing an honorary degree on someone. You're not that stupid, but somehow it's in your interest to pretend that you are. The Internet can be very strange that way.

Any number of administrators might want to reward someone for saying, as Schlafly notoriously did, that “Sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for virtuous women." I had always construed this to mean that it didn't happen to the sort of woman Schlafly would deem virtuous; but in light of her views on marital rape, perhaps she meant that when it does happen, the virtuous woman doesn't mind, having consented to it by taking a job?

Unfortunate typo: martial instead of marital. (Contrary to stale comic strips that have been repeating the same unfunny joke day after day for decades, the two concepts really don't have much to do with each other.)

Good catch, Matt.

Although, martial rape is also a big problem in the US Armed Forces these days.

I wonder what Schlafly thinks about that. Probably that it's not a problem for the virtuous lady troops.

Lindsay, while I certainly agree that Schlafly is not a deep thinker, I would posit that she is not a "thinker" by trade but an operative. She does not have a concern or a query, but an agenda. She's not stupid, rather a clever and rather patient operative.

The operative question at hands is, regarding her comments, cui bono? Who gets the payoff? Well, she does in terms of keeping her street cred with counter-feminist reactionaries and the MRA element among theocratic wingnuts. The "men as spiritual head of his house" crowd among evangelical Christians get their payoff with wife as essentially owned meat, but under a benevolent, "Christ-like" standard of ownership. She sold it; he owns it; she told him to do it when she said "I do," later protests notwithstanding. Of course virtuous women, i.e. women who are either living by patriarchal, subservient tropes or effectively pretending to do so, need not worry about rape; they are incapable of being "raped" in Phyllis world because they asked to be sexually penetrated at (male) will by signing the marriage license.

This "spiritual head of the house" business often gets softened down to cheerful patriarchy in practice without rape, but the people who have accepted this trope from Peter and Paul are incapable of walking away from it. It's a low-church, modern, Protestant thing; while Catholic and Orthodox bibles contain the same passage and those traditions are of course literally patriarchal, they don't make a shibboleth out of the "spiritual head of the house" business because those liturgical traditions' marketing strategies don't aim at pride-wounded post-feminist self-described "victim" men and at weary, exhausted women ready to make compromises to get some shred of community and support. You want to understand who Schlafly is talking to? Follow the traffic jam to the mega church.

Studies have shown that Rape Related Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is more severe with Spousal Rape and requires a longer recovery time. Spousal rape is harder to run from, and many women end up sharing custody with the man who raped them.

Symptoms of PTSD increase due to frequency and duration of trauma. Spousal Rape is a repeat offense, thus increasing the rate of PTSD.

Sexual assault perpetrated by an intimate partner messes with the emotions more severely.

Remember the debate with the paleo-con on here, in which I had to defend getting involved in the voter-id debate in the USA on the grounds that such issues tend to bleed between western democracies?

Ding.

Well, Bruce, as the Canadian sage Hank Yarbo articulated the inscrutable mystery of the north, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But teach a man to feed a fish -- and around and round we go."

The connection to WU honoring Schlafly with a doctorate is, I hope, too obvious to need explaining.

This passage of Kathy's is worth repeating:

"It’s a distressing fact that many liberals, anxious not to be seen as 'biased' or as condescending to conservatives, in fact bend over backwards to be 'fair and balanced' towards them. Such behavior then allows them to congratulate themselves on their 'tolerance' and 'open-mindedness.' Though, to be 'fair', so to speak—such behavior does come out of a genuinely decent liberal instinct to be evenhanded.

"But this way madness lies. Because, as much as conservatives may whine and scream to the contrary, liberalism and conservatism are not moral equivalents. Because, on the one side you have the thinkers and activists who have advanced freedom, social justice, and human rights, and on the other, you have those who have attempted to thwart all those things. King George III is not the moral equivalent of George Washington. Jefferson Davis is not the moral equivalent of Abraham Lincoln. Joe McCarthy is not the moral equivalent of Walter Reuther. George Wallace is not the moral equivalent of Martin Luther King. And Phyllis Schlafly is not the moral equivalent of Betty Friedan.

"So if you’re going to be handing out honorary degrees to political activists, conservatives are always going to come up short. And that is how it should be."

On the other hand, my P.E. teacher in elementary once gave me some sort of honorary ribbon in a race in which I tripped over my own feet and ended up in the dirt, crying. I was very proud of it too. Surely we can work out something similar so as not to damage too severely the fragile self-esteem of the reactionaries among us.

lady troops

I think the preferred term is "troopettes," Lindsay.

Is that the same Phylis Schlafly who was the darling of the John Birch Society in about 1964? I remember when the Republicans gave out thousands of copies of her book, A Choice not an Echo, as part of the Barry Goldwater campaign. If so, she is getting long in the tooth. Perhaps Washington University is hoping for a bequest? I pity those poor WU graduands who will have to listen to her speak at their ceremony.

What comes through in everything Schafly says is her hatred of women. I get the impression she's internalized patriarchy, maybe as some kind of defense mechanism. Or maybe she's just a major asshole.

All of the above.

While I detest Ms. Schlafly as much as anyone else and I agree that marital rape is not a contradiction in terms, from a purely legal point of view, in most jurisdictions, refusal to have sex is considered constructive abandonment, which, in those states that are not no-fault, is a grounds for obtaining a divorce. However, if marriage means anything it is a promise and a contract between husband and wife. The issue of consent is a separate issue that transcends any marriage contract. Making a marriage promise certainly implies that one is consenting to all of the incidents that marriage, which "normally" includes intimate relations of the physical nature, but no promise is can be deemed an irrevocable grant of such consent.

I think that focusing only on this issue regarding Ms. Schlafly is short-sighted and merely ratchets the volume up and give her allies more grist for the mill.

It is the totality of her actions and beliefs that make her unsuitable for an honorary degree: she is staunchly anti-intellectual and against most of the aspirations of any university.

Eddie, there's a difference between entering into a conjugal relationship and consenting to any given sex act. Just because two people have a sexual relationship doesn't give either party the right to coerce the other into sex.

The only reason to consider marital rape differently from any other kind of rape is if you think marriage is some kind of ownership arrangement, instead of a partnership between equals.

Making a marriage promise certainly implies that one is consenting to all of the incidents that marriage, which "normally" includes intimate relations of the physical nature, but no promise is can be deemed an irrevocable grant of such consent.

I don't think this is correct; the marriage establishes a legal relationship in which intimacy normally occurs, but that doesn't speak to consenting to any specific sex act, and coercing the latter is still rape.

While I detest Ms. Schlafly as much as anyone else and I agree that marital rape is not a contradiction in terms, from a purely legal point of view, in most jurisdictions, refusal to have sex is considered constructive abandonment, which, in those states that are not no-fault, is a grounds for obtaining a divorce.

True, but again, while this is grounds for constructive abandonment, or evidence that the other person checked out of the marriage first, it's not grounds for taking it, or assuming that the person consented to all sex acts. (Crudely, one never asks the MRA types whether being married meant the husband consented to being penetrated anally with a dildo -- it's sex, right? -- but maybe we should.)

In another context I heard what's different about two people just starting dating or two people in a sexual relationship described as a practical rule, it's easier to initiate sex once a sexual relationship has been established. There's implicit consent to a come-on; but no still means no.

There is a difference between never having sex with one's spouse (a form of abandonment) and not wanting sex at a specific moment. I don't see that saying, "I do" means one must give it up whenever the spouse is in the mood (and one wonders how Ms. Schafely feels about men who are pressured to put out... I suspect the wife who insists isn't a very good wife in her eyes).

how is it possible to have sex with someone against their will without breaking one of those other laws she spoke of? holding someone down against their will is against the law reguardless of the purpose. the remedy for not having a consenting partner is to go find someone to have sex with who will consent and/or get divorced.

Well, maybe Schlafly would like to speak with the two confirmed victims (there may be a third) of former Blue Lake police chief Dave Gundersen who currently sits in the Humboldt County jail on a $1.25-million dollar bail, because if being married means sex is an automatic part of the deal, Gundersen has been incorrectly arrested.

My guess is .... NO!

Gundersen faces 26 counts of spousal rape, with the special condition that he drugged the women before he raped them. Toss in a few intimidation charges, weapons violations and some lying and I think we have Schlafly's perfect case study.

This is just the latest from the local daily ....

http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_9241938

Schlafly is a very talented political operative, but she's not a deep thinker.

That's for sure. Schlafly is an expert on the shallow and obvious. And she's never more confident than when she's completely and utterly wrong. A particularly egregious example dates back to 1964 when she was an apologist for Barry Goldwater's extremist campaign for president. In her book A Choice, Not an Echo, she displayed her complete lack of understanding with respect to probability and polling. It was self-evident to Schlafly that no one could possibly draw any conclusions from a poll of 256 people. How could a sample of size 256 tell you anything about a population of 3 million? She hadn't the faintest idea and simply declared it ridiculous. She should have taken a statistics course instead.

I wrote up some of the basic information that Schlafly lacked in A primer on polling, in case anyone wants to know more.

Schlafly is one of those people that you have to wonder if they actually believe the diarrhea spewing from their mouths or if they are conscious of stupidity and doing it for purely monetary reasons. Regardless I don't have any respect for the dusty old witch or her "poster-boy for the legalization of baby-shaking" son Andrew, founder of the incredibly willfully ignorant joke "Conservapedia".

Rape isn't a joke, and I'm not joking - I would love to see someone rape her wrinkled old ass, see if she still thinks it's ok. It'll never happen, because it would be like raping the "Crypt Keeper" from "Tales From the Crypt", and that's just nasty.

"I think that when you get married you have consented to sex. That's what marriage is all about...."

I was skeptical about this claim at first, but Lo!, it's actually right there in wedding vows: "I take you to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part. Plus, you can have sex with me whenever you want."

How could I have missed that?

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