I still remember her words. They were parting words of wisdom from a mother from church at the party my parents threw me before I left for college. Internally, I scoffed. However, it wasn’t long before she would be very right. “Willie, just because you are going to a Christian college, it doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen. Be aware and be careful.” Internally I thought, “that may be true of other Christian schools, but Patrick Henry College is different.” I had read the material. PHC was better than all the other Christian colleges that had gone soft. While people might do bad things at other Christian colleges, of course that wouldn’t really be true at PHC.
My naivete was quickly shaken… When I arrived on campus I quickly heard the story of how students had smuggled alcohol on campus. While I could write that off as “the past” there were definite rumors of off-campus students using drugs my freshman year as well. (For non-PHC readers both activities are in blatant violation of the PHC honor code.) Shortly after the school year ended, I found out that an unmarried couple attending the school that I was good friends with had had sex that spring semester. It was the last straw to destroy my naivete in that area of life, and I began to understand reality.
In senior testimonies since then, I’ve heard students talk about struggles with depression, cutting, suicide, cheating, alcoholism, and even struggles with same-sex attraction – just to name a few. I’ve talked with people desperate to get their family member to PHC to escape an abusive home situation. I’ve prayed and talked with fellow students struggling with all kinds of things, and for me it has been a place of safety to share the very real struggles I have dealt with. The reality is that PHC is a place filled with real people struggling with very real problems. It’s amazing what fellow students will share when you dig below the surface. I came to realize that the real naivete was to think that there issues PHC students didn’t struggle with or weren’t affected by. Over time, I was no longer surprised when yet another story was shared of very real problems a student was wrestling through. When I was no longer shocked by new stories, I was able to help and minister instead.
Numerous situations have shown me the grim reality of abuse and rape. I’ve helped a homeschool student and pastor’s daughter escape from an abusive home. I’ve spent hours talking with a mother whose daughter became pregnant from rape while in the military. She has been unable to even get recognition that she was raped from the military, courts, and government even though she carried the child to term.
When I saw the topic of Dr. Baskerville’s Faith and Reason lecture, I was hopeful. Many young people are rejecting any sexual ethic and embracing license. A balanced response to the growing acceptance of sexual license would be incredibly helpful.
While some Faith and Reason Lectures have gone over my head, I have learned a lot from many of them. Dr. Mark Mitchell’s Fall 09 lecture made me think again about becoming a Theory Major, Dr. David VanDrunen’s lecture on the two kingdoms was a thought provoking piece on the role of the Christian in government, and Dr. Anthony Esolen’s lecture my final semester on love and human interaction helped me more than any lecture I have ever heard.
However, in Dr. Baskerville’s lecture, I found a lecture unlike any other PHC Faith and Reason Lecture I had ever heard.
The lecture is titled “Politicizing Potiphar’s Wife.” One of Baskerville’s central arguments is that feminism and the new era of sexual license has lead to an increased and speedy criminalization of men over made up crimes. While there have been horrible incidents of injustice against men, Baskerville takes his argument to an inflammatory extreme and refuses to recognize the injustices that men and the legal system have perpetrated against women as well.
In pages 16-20 of the lecture Baskerville talks about “new crimes and expanded redefinitions of existing crimes – all involving sexual relations.” What follows are incredible references to rape, spousal abuse, and child abuse which which refuse to recognize that rape and abuse are a problem, and instead vilifies the victim who comes forward.
They play on the fear of sex crimes, but they redefine these politically to include not simply acts but heterodox political beliefs. The reality of the witch hunts thus bears no necessary relation to what is suggested by the inflammatory language and jargon:
“rape” that includes consensual relations and in most instances is no more than that;
domestic “violence” that involves no violence or any physical contact or threat of it;
sexual “harassment” that can mean anything from simple flirtation to unauthorized opinions about morality or politics;
“child abuse” that is routine parental discipline, or homeschooling, or concocted altogether to win advantage in divorce court;
“bullying” that involves criticism of the homosexual agenda or other differences of belief and opinion;
“stalking” that is forcibly divorced fathers trying to see their own children;and much more.
By the end of the second list of the “new crimes” he even manages TO minimize the growing problem of human trafficking.
Recreational sex in the evening turns into accusations of “rape” in the morning,even when it was entirely consensual. (This is especially rampant on college campuses.)
Demands for access to workplaces, universities, the military, and other previously male venues (accompanied with equally strident demands to engage there in female-only activities, such as pregnancy and breastfeeding) invite accusations of sexual “harassment” against the men when relations inevitably develop (and often turn sour), regardless of who initiates them.
Cohabitation and “no-fault” divorce are demanded to liberate women from“patriarchal” marriage but quickly generate accusations of male abandonment(even when the woman ends the marriage), as well as domestic “violence” and“child abuse,” in order to procure custody of children and the financial awards they bring.
The proclaimed right to raise children outside wedlock and without fathers to protect and discipline them soon turns into demands to prosecute adolescents and even children for “bullying” one another and eventually for more serious matters.
Defiant declarations that women do not need men for financial support quickly give way to demands to arrest and incarcerate without trial men who do not provide women with adequate income in the form of alimony or child support.
Assertions that women do not need men for protection soon produce hysterical outcries for intrusive police powers, innovative punishments, and expanded penal institutions to punish ever-proliferating and loosely-defined forms of “violence against women,” even when no physical contact or threat of it is involved.(Homosexuals are now mimicking this strategy.)
The demanded right to engage in homosexual acts and public sexual displays translates almost automatically into the power to arrest or otherwise stop the mouths of preachers, “bullies,” and anyone else who objects or ridicules or offends the “feelings” or “pride” of homosexuals.
Demands to legalize prostitution feed hysteria to find and prosecute unnamed“sex traffickers.”
While he may have a point with some of these crimes, there is no evidence, context, or qualifications. The incredibly dismissive discussions about situations where very real crimes occur damages his case, and makes one wonder if he believes there are any legitimate sexual crimes against women. Some of his points would be worth spending time to explain and discuss in a balanced manner.
He finishes his lists of “new crimes” with this fascinating statement.
Radical ideology has thus transformed our government into a matriarchal leviathan that operates like a massive, bureaucratic version of… Potiphar’s wife. We have not eliminated a “gender stereotype,” as we were promised; we have merely politicized it – in this case that of the temptress, the seductress who lures men into a“honey trap” by offers of pleasure before springing a trap that today can mean decades in prison.
In Baskerville’s construct where the state is a willing participation in the sexual liberation movement’s incarceration of men, a movement which he argues has produced its own gulags, the crimes are minimized, the system is completely rigged against men, and victims are ignored and maligned.
The “new crimes” are referred to as “quasi crimes”, “vague but opprobrious terms”, “open-ended terms like “abuse” and “exploitation””, “…the crime is often defined subjectively”, and “undefined new crimes.” Perhaps the best reference is the statement, “Until recently, no one had ever heard of most of these crimes and even now no one really understands what they mean because no definition exists.” I’m sure the legislators who have spent time defining these crimes, and the courts that interpret those definitions are all equally in the dark about the meaning of these crimes. Every reference to these crimes is one which minimizes their significance.
People the state, rightly or wrongly considers a perpetrator, he universally refers to as victims of the state. He accuses the state of incarcerating “vast numbers of men and some women who have no inkling that they are committing a crime.” “Convictions and high conviction rates are presented as goals to be pursued for their own sake.” “Proceedings are rigged.” “Yet the accused are given no equivalent advocate-witnesses to testify for them.” “…makes fair trials impossible for those actually accused of belonging to these categories. Accusations quickly become available as weapons to be used in personal and political vendettas. Patently false accusations are processed because they rationalize budgets of feminized and sexualized law-enforcement agencies by turning law-abiding citizens into safe, nonviolent criminals for female and homosexual police persons to arrest.” Every reference to the convicted and accused is that they are victims, and every reference to the injustice of the court system is in reference to those who are accused. The idea that there may be injustices in the court system against those who have been the victims of abuse and rape does not even enter the lecture. He has no place for those acts as real crimes, and, saddest of all, in this lecture the victims of abuse and rape are not victims but participants in the injustice.
This leads to the saddest category, his description of the victims of abuse and rape. The marginalization of these crimes, and the unbridled defense of those who commit them do quite a bit to put victims of abuse and rape in a difficult position. Painting victims as being complicit in a government effort to incarcerate men on the basis of “new crimes” makes it harder to come forward.
On top of that, Baskerville continues to describe “the accuser” as one whose sense of feeling offended makes the accused guilty by definition. He then makes the most damaging accusation against the victims of abuse, or “accusers” as he likes to call them. “Accusers can profit financially by their accusations, by looting the accused, even without supplying any proof of a crime.”
When I finished the lecture and Baskerville’s description of the new sex crimes, the first thought that came to mind was,does hearing this lecture make it harder for the victims of abuse and rape to come forward and pursue justice? It didn’t take much thought to realize the answer was an overwhelming, Yes. When one is painted as an active participant in an injustice simply for accusing someone of a sex crime, the likelihood they will stay silent when abused skyrockets.
It was only a couple months ago that I saw these negative stereotypes of victims play out. Four months ago, a friend filed a lawsuit in which she claimed that a very prominent man in her community abused her. Everyone who interacted with her recognized her as someone who is professional and credible. However, when I shared a couple of articles about the case and my support for her during a very tough time, the response from a number of men was incredible. People who didn’t even know my friend vilified her for bringing the case, and I was attacked for supporting my friend. Interestingly, their arguments could have come straight from an advance copy of this lecture, had it existed.
The immediate discrediting, vilification, and ridiculing of my friend is something far too many victims face when they come forward. Perpetuating incredibly one sided views of sex crimes, perpetrators/accused, and victims/accusers does not help the pursuit of justice when crimes are committed.