Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rape and Pillage

"I came to realize life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen." Richard Mourdock

It seems quite weird to me that the subject of rape has been such a divisive topic in this year's election. If my memory serves me correctly, and forgive me, but it has been a long election process, it all started when Missouri's Todd Akin started talking about "legitimate rape." As opposed to the other kind, because you know how those womenfolk like to lie.

The Romney campaign sputtered and stammered about rape and incest exceptions and are now running ads advising that in a Romney administration, people could abort fetus's in those situations but only in those situations. So ladies you better have some backup if you are seeking an abortion, because you will be facing a tribunal. We want proof. It would be nice if you could shoot a little video while being accosted, that is, if it is not too much trouble.

In Pennsylvania, a law has been proposed that would further criminalize the process. Woman on assistance must prove that they have been raped to qualify for further help.
If a woman gives birth to a child who was conceived from rape, she may seek an exception to this rule so that her welfare benefits aren’t slashed, but only if she can provide proof that she reported her sexual assault and her abuser’s identity to the police. 
    In determining the amount of assistance payments to a recipient family of benefits under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program, the department shall revise the schedule of benefits to be paid to the recipient family by eliminating the increment in benefits under the program for which that family would otherwise be eligible as a result of the birth of a child conceived during the period in which the family is eligible for benefits under the TANF Program. [...]
    Elimination of benefits under subsection (d) shall not apply to any child conceived as a result of rape or incest if the department: (1) receives a non-notarized, signed statement from the pregnant woman stating that she was a victim of rape or incest, as the case may be, and that she reported the crime, including the identity of the offender, if known, to a law enforcement agency having the requisite jurisdiction or, in the case of incest where a pregnant minor is the victim, to the county child protective service agency and stating the name of the law enforcement agency or child protective service agency to which the report was made and the date such report was made.
A similar bill was introduced in New Mexico and then quashed. New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez (R) wanted language that would force women to prove that they were forcibly raped as opposed to that other kind of rape, you know the kind where they say no but their eyes say yes, yes, yes.

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) told reporters that an abortion exception is never necessary to save a woman’s life, explaining, “with modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance” of a woman dying from childbirth. Walsh claimed pro-choice advocates simply used the prospect of maternal death “to make us look unreasonable.”

Walsh went on to assert that women whose health would be jeopardized if they carry their fetus to term are simply using the exception as a “tool” to get an abortion for “any reason.”

The GOP obviously has a women problem. The female is so despicable, they are not above anything in their desire to kill unborn babies, even if it may be the result of them trying to save their own lives. Because we all know that a woman who has been raped has innate ways of terminating the pregnancy without abortion. Through their hormones and all.

Now Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock has brought the whole issue to a head. During a debate on Tuesday Mourdock said he was opposed to abortion even when a woman has been raped, saying "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

My question is, at what point in the rape event does god come down and sanctify the whole thing? I am not disagreeing, just trying to get clear on the timing, admittedly not being of much of a theological bent myself.

The rape of Lucretia - Titian
I started looking at the rape thing yesterday and trying to figure out why God can get behind it, in certain circumstances and of course I first turned to god's holy word, the bible.

The bible is replete with instances where god both sanctions and encourages rape:

Lo, a day shall come for the Lord when the spoils shall be divided in your midst.  And I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for battle: the city shall be taken, houses plundered, women ravished; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be removed from the city.   Zechariah 14:1-2 

They must be dividing the spoils they took: there must be a damsel or two for each man, Spoils of dyed cloth as Sisera's spoil, an ornate shawl or two for me in the spoil.   Judges 5:30 

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are.  If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again.  But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her.  And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter.  If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife.  If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.   Exodus 21:7-11

When you go out to war against your enemies and the LORD, your God, delivers them into your hand, so that you take captives, if you see a comely woman among the captives and become so enamored of her that you wish to have her as wife, you may take her home to your house.  But before she may live there, she must shave her head and pare her nails and lay aside her captive's garb.  After she has mourned her father and mother for a full month, you may have relations with her, and you shall be her husband and she shall be your wife.  However, if later on you lose your liking for her, you shall give her her freedom, if she wishes it; but you shall not sell her or enslave her, since she was married to you under compulsion. Deuteronomy 21:10-14 

As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace.  If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor.  But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town.  When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town.  But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder.  You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given youDeuteronomy 20:10-14

And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? ... Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.  Numbers 31:15-18

Could modern day believers still subconsciously or otherwise, believe that they have been granted a divine right to rape? Have the believers repudiated the holy book, or did the new testament take care of all this rape business when Jesus arrived?

The Rape of the daughters of Leucippus - Rubens
My friend Edgar was in a few months ago and we were talking about colonialism. He is from South America. He told me that one of Columbus's journal pages described the nine year old girls as the best conquests. He said that the lure of the new world was not just booty, it was also booty, if you get my drift. I started looking at some of the facts concerning the Genoan's trip to the new world.

Read Thom Hartmann's 2004 article Columbus Day celebration, think again. Columbus and his merry men landed on Hispaniolo and committed all sorts of vile sexual deeds, causing the local Taino indians to often commit mass suicide, that is until they were utterly exterminated.

Much of the information came from journals of Columbus own crew member, Miguel Cuneo.

Cuneo wrote: "When our caravels where to leave for Spain, we gathered one thousand six hundred male and female persons of those Indians, and these we embarked in our caravels on February 17, 1495. For those who remained, we let it be known (to the Spaniards who manned the island's fort) in the vicinity that anyone who wanted to take some of them could do so, to the amount desired, which was done."

Cuneo further notes that he himself took a beautiful teenage Carib girl as his personal slave, a gift from Columbus himself, but that when he attempted to have sex with her, she "resisted with all her strength." So, in his own words, he "thrashed her mercilessly and raped her."

Columbus once referred to the Taino Indians as cannibals, a story made up by Columbus - which is to this day still taught in some US schools - to help justify his slaughter and enslavement of these people. He wrote to the Spanish monarchs in 1493: "It is possible, with the name of the Holy Trinity, to sell all the slaves which it is possible to sell. Here there are so many of these slaves, and also brazilwood, that although they are living things they are as good as gold."

Columbus and his men also used the Taino as sex slaves: it was a common reward for Columbus' men for him to present them with local women to rape. As he began exporting Taino as slaves to other parts of the world, the sex-slave trade became an important part of the business, as Columbus wrote to a friend in 1500: "A hundred castellanoes (a Spanish coin) are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten (years old) are now in demand."

However, the Taino turned out not to be particularly good workers in the plantations that the Spaniards and later the French established on Hispaniola: they resented their lands and children being taken, and attempted to fight back against the invaders. Since the Taino where obviously standing in the way of Spain's progress, Columbus sought to impose discipline on them. For even a minor offense, an Indian's nose or ear was cut off, so he could go back to his village to impress the people with the brutality the Spanish were capable of. Columbus attacked them with dogs, skewered them with pikes, and shot them.

Eventually, life for the Taino became so unbearable that, as Pedro de Cordoba wrote to King Ferdinand in a 1517 letter, "As a result of the sufferings and hard labor they endured, the Indians choose and have chosen suicide. Occasionally a hundred have committed mass suicide. The women, exhausted by labor, have shunned conception and childbirth. Many, when pregnant, have taken something to abort and have aborted. Others after delivery have killed their children with their own hands, so as not to leave them in such oppressive slavery."

Eventually, Columbus and later his brother Bartholomew Columbus who he left in charge of the island, simply resorted to wiping out the Taino altogether. Prior to Columbus' arrival, some scholars place the population of Haiti/Hispaniola (now at 16 million) at around 1.5 to 3 million people. By 1496, it was down to 1.1 million, according to a census done by Bartholomew Columbus. By 1516, the indigenous population was 12,000, and according to Las Casas (who were there) by 1542 fewer than 200 natives were alive. By 1555, every single one was dead. 

Columbus, a demented rapist and killer or merely an explorer following god's will? The expansion into the new world is a story replete with rape and violence, much of it promulgated in god's name. Perhaps the politician's are right, it was all part of god's great plan. As it says on the bumper stickers, we're not perfect, just forgiven.

The rape of the Sabine women - Poussin

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