Yesterday, The Christian Post published my article “John Crist sinned, but did he also commit sexual assault?” I don’t know if those who commented on the article were conservative Christians, but they certainly fit the patriarchal stereotype of conservative Christianity. A fellow named Charles Baker wrote:
“I think Crist is probably guilty as sin but the author accepts the woman’s version without question. There are a whole lot of red flags in her accounts so please don’t be so quick to accept one side of the story.”
First, I didn’t accept “the woman’s version without question.” Rather, I pointed out that it provides sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation, which it most surely does. (Among the relevant points are Mr. Crist’s past history of similar behavior, the real-time corroboration of her boyfriend, her demonstrable trauma, and her lack of motive to lie/fabricate her experience.)
But what really irks me is that Mr. Baker uses objectifying, distancing language by referring to Kate as “the woman”. Further, he says, without evidence, that her testimony includes “a whole lot of red flags” without explaining what those “flags” are. In other words, raise just enough concern that you can safely ignore what she says.
Arguably even worse is the comment of “Vicky Daum” who writes:
“What he did wasn’t right, but where is her responsibility? She gave him her phone number. She didn’t bring her boyfriend, or anyone else, and went alone. She didn’t know what she was drinking? She couldn’t tell if the drink was stronger than water or soda? And then she went swimming with him, and although we don’t know what she swam in, this is usually a recreational activity where less clothes are worn, not more. Too many women don’t want to send the wrong message…while sending the wrong message.”
Imagine a victim of sexual assault hearing this kind of victim-blaming. “Why’d you give him your phone number?” “Why didn’t you bring your boyfriend?” “What were you drinking?” “Why’d you swim?” “What message did you send?” “Did you lead him on?”
It is exactly that line of questioning that has long empowered predators and shamed women into silence. Notably, no commenter expressed sympathy or support for Kate. In my experience, the #MeToo movement has not even begun to make inroads into conservative Christianity and its patriarchal culture of shame and victim-blaming.