Germaine Greer has told an audience at the Hay Literary Festival that ‘most rape’ is not violent but ‘lazy, careless and insensitive.’
Her intervention prompts us to look at what the word of God says. We shall find it is at odds with both contemporary views and Miss Greer’s revisionism. But first, what did she actually say?
Believe accusers, lower punishments
According to Mark Brown, arts correspondent of the Guardian, the veteran feminist called for punishments for rape to be lowered, that is, if women were always to be believed in the absence of evidence.
She suggested offenders could have an ‘r’ tattooed on their hand, arm or cheek. They should also, she proposed, do 200 hours’ community service.
Neither will happen, but her intention was both to irritate and trivialise the crime. As an exercise in provocation, some commentators said, it worked. The audience, said one, was ‘stunned’.
The academic argued that rape is rampant in society and ‘the legal system cannot cope with it’. She said it always ‘comes down to the issue of consent’. In her view, the alleged victims become little more than ‘bits of evidence’.
‘Most rapes don’t involve any injury whatsoever,’ Miss Greer said. ‘We are told that it is a sexually violent crime. An expert like Quentin Tarantino will tell us that when you use the word rape you’re talking about violence, a throwing them down. It is one of the most violent crimes in the world.’
Dr Greer said she firmly disagreed with that.
‘Most rape is just lazy, just careless, insensitive. Every time a man rolls over on his exhausted wife and insists on enjoying his conjugal rights he is raping her. It will never end up in a court of law.
‘Instead of thinking of rape as a spectacularly violent crime, and some rapes are, think about it as non-consensual … that is bad sex. Sex where there is no communication, no tenderness, no mention of love.’
Germaine Greer is controversial!
Dr Greer acknowledged her thesis would be controversial. “It is moments like these, I can hear the feminists screaming at me, ‘you’re trivialising rape!’
“Well I’ll tell you what … You might want to believe that the penis is a lethal weapon and that all women live in fear of that lethal weapon, well that’s bull****. It’s not true. We don’t live in terror of the penis … A man can’t kill you with his penis.”
She questioned a statistic which said that 70% of rape victims had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder compared with 20% of conflict veterans.
‘What the hell are you saying? Something that leaves no sign, no injury, no nothing is more damaging to a woman than seeing your best friend blown up by an IED is to a veteran?’
Society wanted women to believe that rape destroyed them, she said. ‘We haven’t been destroyed, we’ve been bl***y annoyed is what we’ve been.’
Such a view is supported by the evidence in some recently collapsed rape trials. The accusers were happy to engage in sexual relations with a man. They even sent texts afterwards saying how much they enjoyed it. Then they changed their minds. And rather than put it down to experience, they went to the police and accused the man of rape. It is such an easy accusation to make. And in such a sex-obsessed society as ours, as Miss Greer points out, some will see rape everywhere.
Dr Greer referenced Tarantino, but his view of rape as inherently violent is not new. Seeing rape as less a sexual act and more ‘an act of violence, with sex as the weapon,’ was coined by Professors Burgess and Holmstrom in 1974. Feminists took it up with gusto. However, plainly, Germaine Greer disagrees with that view. But she flies to the other extreme and trivialises sexual congress. She is right at a human level to call for more intimacy and gentleness. But she is wrong to suggest unwanted sexual intercourse is only seriously wrong if actual physical violence is involved.
The Biblical view
The Bible views rape as an act not of violence but one of sexual violation. And that is simply because the Almighty designated marriage as the only place for sexual relations.
Dinah’s brothers Simeon and Levi were outraged their sister had engaged in what she and her boyfriend Shechem intended as pre-marital sex:
Gen 34:1 And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. 2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.
This was not rape. There is no hint of force, as when Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar in 2Sam 13. Nor was it a drunken pick-up in a town-centre pub. It was not a one-night stand. Dinah and Shechem seriously wanted to get married. But the word ‘defiled’ shows the seriousness of doing what they did the wrong side of the wedding feast.
A grammatical dictum explains the correct usage of the word ‘anticipate’. ‘When we say Shechem and Dinah “anticipated” their marriage we do not mean they were looking forward to it.’ Instead, they had jumped the gun. Shechem was a wealthy prince. He was even willing to be circumcised and accept the God of Israel. But to no avail. Simeon and Levi pulled a trick and massacred all the men of his city. When their father Jacob remonstrated with them, they furiously replied:
Gen 34:31 … Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?
The grace of God in the law
They were hasty, cruel and violent, said their father. Nevertheless, theirs would have been the prevailing view. It is indeed a Biblical view. But all the same, there was another Biblical way, the way Shechem pleaded for. The law, codified on Mount Sinai but in existence in their day, made gracious provision for such an occurrence:
Exodus 22:16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.
The dowry of virgins was higher than that of non-virgins, for a mixture of spiritual and practical reasons. Despite what Dr Greer said and what much of our society believes, the loss of her virginity outside marriage was – and is – a devastating thing to happen to a girl. Moreover, the Lord expected families to safeguard their daughters:
Lev 19:29 Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.
Despite what Germaine Greer says, consent is not remotely the issue. The Bible commends grace, love, tenderness, respect and patience within marriage, but neither is that the issue. The only consideration is, ‘Are they married?’ Only within marriage is consent to sexual intercourse valid. Going further, within marriage, consent to sexual intercourse is assumed.
Death penalty for adultery and rape
Seen in this context, we can understand the death penalty for adultery in Deuteronomy 22:22. It is a violation of the sacred bond of marriage. We can see why a man who really does rape a betrothed woman faces the death penalty a few verses on:
Deut 22:25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die:
We can see why, if the laying together is consensual, the verses that follow lay the death penalty on both. In all these cases, as Deut 24:1-4 and Numb 35:31 make clear, the death penalty could be commuted to a payment of money. But it remains a serious violation of God’s created order, given for our good.
Stability of marriage
God’s design for society is far away from our own, and a world away from the one Germaine Greer proposes. God takes sex seriously because he takes marriage seriously. And he takes marriage seriously because he takes the stability of society seriously.
On the issue of sentencing, Prof Greer is wrong again. There can never be two classes of convictions. There cannot be a serious, proper, proven rape which leads to prison, and a sort of second class, barely-proven, semi-rape which merely requires community service.
The Bible, all the way through, in both Old and New Testaments, demands a case be proven by witnesses:
Deut 19:15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
Matt 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
Our current practice is to grant anonymity to accusers but not to the accused. Such different treatment is what the Bile calls ‘respect of persons.’ It too flies in the face of the Biblical witness:
2Chron 19:7 Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.
Germaine Greer as ‘TERF’
Germaine Greer wrote the book ‘The Female Eunuch’ in 1970. It probably did as much as anything to set the feminist ball rolling. It played a part in the so-called sexual revolution. But maybe its author now sees what she set in motion has become the monster it always would be.
Certainly she is not now afraid to annoy the chattering classes. To take another example, Prof Greer has infuriated what we these days call ‘snowflakes’ with her views on transsexuals. Students at both Cardiff and Bristol have tried to ‘no-platform’ her. Why? She maintains male-female transsexuals are ‘not women’. That makes her a ‘TERF’, a ‘Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist’ and a holder of ‘transphobic’ views.
Thank you, Dr Greer
So we thank her for raising this issue, which has allowed us to seek the Lord. We pray to have done that faithfully. No doubt our many contributors will correct and clarify in the comments.
Click on the social media links below to share this post: