Pop Music, Lady Gaga, & Rape

As some of you know from real life & as others may have read on this blog previously, most modern pop music makes my ears bleed.  I literally cannot listen to 99% of current radio stations without wanting to punch the radio . . . So I just don’t listen to the radio anymore since all it does is make me angry because everything I hear is such total CRAP.  The lyrics contain zero substance; the thematic elements, if you can call them that, are vapid & inane; & the talent involved in the music itself is extremely limited, & that’s putting it gently.  Let’s get real: “Call Me Maybe” was nominated for a Grammy . . . If that doesn’t make you want to puke, you probably ought to see a doctor.  Ughhhh.pop music sucks

HOWEVER, ever since my freshman year of college when I first heard “Just Dance” I’ve been a huge fan of Lady Gaga.  Yes, you heard me right.  As much as I love Manson, MIW, Godsmack, & the like (& Eric Church & Kacey Musgraves; can’t forget the two country artists I truly adore), I am also completely enthralled by Gaga’s music . . . It just so happens that many rock stars have recognized the talent of Lady Gaga, Matt Heafy of Trivium & Sully Erna of Godsmack, just to name a few . . . I’ll admit her earlier hits like the aforementioned “Just Dance” as well as “Poker Face” & several others are far from life-changing & basically just typical pop songs, at least as far as lyrical content.  But to me it was immediately obvious, even in those songs, that Lady Gaga is NOT your average pop star.  For one thing, she can actually SING.  Imagine that! 

Lady Gaga Wallpaper @ go4celebrity.com

Lady Gaga Wallpaper @ go4celebrity.com

As her career progressed & she put out songs like Speechless (yes, she can actually play piano), “You & I,” & “Born This Way” I became even more impressed with her talents.  I even chose The Edge of Glory for the recessional song at my wedding.  Yes, believe it or not I got away with playing a Lady Gaga song in a Southern Baptist church of all places!  I still find that hard to believe, even four years later . . .lada gaga dark hair

Anyway, this week Lady Gaga has blown me away again.  If you haven’t heard, she released a video for her powerful song Till It Happens to You.  The video is hard to watch because of the subject matter, rape & sexual abuse, but it is extremely powerful.  I completely understand if you can’t stomach watching the video, but everyone should at least listen to the song.  If it doesn’t make you tear up or at least want to cry, you’re insensitive to say the least. lada gaga dog

I find this song particularly relevant because of a sexual assault that happened at a local hospital this past weekend, a hospital which is part of the healthcare organization for which I work, & the less than stellar way the organization has handled this tragedy.  Yes, believe it or not, a hospital employee was sexually assaulted in a public restroom within a hospital & the perpetrator has not yet been caught.  To make matters worse, the hospital was not placed on lockdown & other hospital employees were not properly notified of the event . . . In the past we have always received emails any time a violent crime has occurred anywhere near the hospital or the associated university campus, even those of us working in outlying facilities.  As I understood it, the hospital was required by law to report such crimes.  But in this case, when a sexual assault occurred within the hospital itself, many of us, including me, only found out about it because of the local news or hearing about it from our coworkers who had heard it through the grapevine.  This morning I got an email from my HOA warning us that a sexual offender had been spotted in a neighboring community.  His picture was included as well as the number for the local police department.  After reading that email, I couldn’t help but feel like my HOA is more concerned about the safety of our community than my employer is about the safety of its employees . . . . How disheartening to say the least!causes-of-rape-graph

Of course I realize there are idiots who throw around blatantly false rape charges, like the infamous Duke Lacrosse case.  These morons only serve to bring into question the legitimacy of those who truly were raped or assaulted, which is incredibly sad.  It’s not like victims aren’t shamed & blamed enough as it is. rape

I also realize I may catch a lot of flack for saying this, especially as a woman, but in my opinion if you CHOOSE to drink with someone, knowing your judgment may be impaired because of it, & you end up having sex with that person, provided you wanted & consented to the sex at the time, then I don’t think you have a right to claim rape.  (If you do not consent or are actually passed out & completely incapacitated, that is a whole different story, of course.)  Sorry, ladies, but regretting sex the next morning does not equal rape.  Maybe I’m a traitor to my own gender for saying that, but I just think that if I want to claim equal intelligence & rights within our society I’ve also got to take responsibility for my own actions.  To be clear, I am in NO WAY saying that girls who dress promiscuously or flirt with guys are “asking for it” & deserve to be raped or any such nonsense . . . I’m just saying you don’t hear guys crying rape when they wake up next to a girl who was a lot hotter when they were drunk & not thinking as clearly.  I also realize that fake claims like this are really quite rare, but I do think it’s worth mentioning.no-means-no2

Now that that’s out of the way, I can focus on the meat of the matter.  The truth is that rape & sexual assault/abuse are still rampant in our society . . . I certainly know people, some very dear to me, who have been raped or otherwise sexually abused.  And I’m willing to bet anyone reading this does too.  Or maybe it’s even happened to you . . . To be clear, I don’t think these issues are any worse now than they’ve ever been; I just think we’re more aware of them thanks to the technology we have today.  And sadly I don’t think these issues will ever go away entirely, but I do think we can do better.  And we can do that by raising our boys (& girls) to respect women & themselves (after all, any truly self-respecting person could not harm another in such a brutal way) & to understand that rape & sexual assault/abuse are NEVER acceptable behavior.  Too often our society places the onus of preventing rape on the victim or potential victims.  But that’s just backwards.  Rape is not a women’s issue; it’s a humanity issue.  Thank you, Lady Gaga, for reminding us of that.  Rock on with your bad self.lady gaga piano 1

Rape, Sexual Abuse, & Fundamentalist Christianity: An Unlikely Trinity . . . Or Is It?

This post may well anger many readers; in fact in many ways it SHOULD anger you.  If it offends anyone I’m close to, I apologize in advance but the subject at  hand is far too important for me to stay silent.

In the past few weeks I’ve come across countless articles about sexual abuse & rape scandals that have occurred in what might initially seem like a rather shocking location: fundamentalist Christian colleges, namely Patrick Henry College in my home state of Virginia (I referenced this incident in my last blog post: https://athicketofmusingsblog.com/2014/02/27/the-burden-of-a-daughter/), Pensacola Christian College in Florida, & Bob Jones University in South Carolina.  Even though I did not attend any of these colleges, I heard of all of them as a teenager through the church I attended with my parents.  In fact as a teenager I attended, along with my church youth group, a Christian summer camp that was affiliated with BJU.  The camp is called The Wilds & the only thing wild about it is how militantly conservative it is.  I referenced this camp in my last blog post as well but in case you missed that one, let me just explain why this camp & the fundamentalists associated with it bother me so much.  For starters, the dress code is insane for girls & the implication of this is obvious: women are a source of temptation for men & you’d better not even think about tempting a man to sin.  The implication of this is subtle but very damaging: if anything bad ever happens to you involving a man, it’s your fault.  He might be guilty too but you tempted him so you’re to blame as well.  This is also a camp that speaks openly against all contemporary music, including contemporary Christian music.  I’ll never forget one of my counselors telling us that even country music was evil because the “beats were derived from African tribal music” which was clearly “immoral.”  Even at the time, when I was still very steeped in fundamentalist Baptist theology, even then I knew that was a red flag & these people were clearly off base . . . Additionally my sister attended a summer camp at PCC one year.


Anyway, what I’m trying to say here is that as saddened as I am by the horrible abuses that are coming to light at these fundamentalist colleges, places that claim to protect their students, to keep them safe, & to guide them on “God’s path,” is that I am honestly not the least bit surprised to hear about these tragic stories.  It’s bad enough that sexual abuse & rape are even occurring at these colleges but what is immeasurably worse is how every single one of these colleges has handled these cases.  At each of the colleges I mentioned, there are cases where students have reported rape or other sexual abuse, often times seeking counseling for something that happened to them as a child or teen at home, only to be silenced, blamed for the attack, &/or expelled from the school for their “immorality.”  Remember, these are schools that have militantly strict honor codes in which sex outside of marriage is grounds for expulsion.  I know that must sound crazy to anyone who didn’t grow up in this kind of culture, but it’s true & I for one have no difficulty believing it.  Naturally the colleges are all categorically denying that they handled these situations in this manner.  Yet none of them are willing to speak to the media about this in any detail.  They’re all hiding behind blanket denial statements that are as empty as most pop music nowadays. 

But the reason none of this really shocks me is that what I’ve realized about these kind of fundamentalist institutions is that they are really all about control.  As I recently read in a fellow blogger’s brilliant post (http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/your-idea-of-love-is-fucked-up/) the idea of “love” taught at these kind of institutions is seriously screwed up.  Furthermore, as I touched on in my last post as well as in my post The Purity Myth from several months ago (https://athicketofmusingsblog.com/2013/10/17/the-purity-myth) the whole Purity Culture in which these fundamentalist schools are engaged is completely despicable in that it assumes the worst of both genders & humanity as a whole.  This Purity Culture teaches women to cover up & be modest which in & of itself doesn’t necessarily sound so bad.  But there’s so much more to it than that.  The idea is that women are something sinful to be hidden because God forbid you show too much flesh & tempt your brother in Christ.  The implication here is that men are animals, animals that once tempted cannot be controlled.  If you believe this, you have far too low an opinion of humanity.

I have no scientific way of testing this theory at present, but as a perpetually curious person I have spoken to many of my friends, both male & female, about this subject.  Regarding my male friends, I have been so bold as to ask them if they have ever been in a situation in which they were about to have sex with a girl & she suddenly said no.  Several of them admitted they had encountered such scenarios & the unanimous reaction was that they stopped.  As disappointed & even annoyed as they might have been at the time, they didn’t proceed with their actions.  I’ve also asked them if seeing a woman in a scantily clad outfit makes them so incredibly lustful that they feel like they can’t control themselves.  The unanimous answer was no.  Now I realize my friends are not necessarily representative of society as a whole, but I like to think there are more men out there very much like them.  If my friends have been in these situations & have proven that they are not uncontrollable animals who once “tempted” cannot be stopped, I think the same can be said for males as a whole.  I have even read articles from men speaking out against this so-called Purity Culture because they have seen through to what this movement really says about men & women & they too are horrified at the implications.  (I read a particularly good one written by a pastor a few months ago but sadly I can’t find it anymore.)

I could further expound on how this whole Purity Culture assumes that sex is inherently bad &/or dangerous for women & how women’s value is all tied up in our virginity, but that’s another post for another day.  My point here is that the Purity Culture has read humanity all wrong.  If covering up & wearing modest clothing really prevented men from lusting after women, then the unfortunate women stuck wearing burkas would be the “safest” of all.  How is it then that these exact countries where women are forced into such ridiculous outfits are often filled with countless horrible stories of rape & abuse?


Could it be that despite having a different religion, the fundamentalism that drives that culture is again all about CONTROL? 

I think the answer is yes.

It doesn’t matter if it’s fundamentalist Christianity, Islam, or any other religion.  Regardless of religion or denomination, fundamentalism is all about control, just as rape & abuse are all about control.  And that always starts with control of women because, as I discussed with my therapist yesterday, women have a lot of power.  A lot of our power is tied up in our ability to influence others, whether as mothers, sisters, wives, friends, teachers, or anything else.  If women stop believing the things that fundamentalists try to shove down our throats, the whole structure may very well fall apart.  I was not raised in a truly fundamentalist church/society, but it was way too close for comfort.  (At least for my comfort for sure.)  I for one am a woman who refuses to believe in all this fundamentalist nonsense.  And I’m going to use my power to influence others to question these fundamentalist ideas & beliefs so that maybe just one less person will be taken in by their dangerous doctrines.  I know I will never have the power to make these institutions go away or cease to exist entirely, but if my words can somehow encourage even one person to question the indoctrination these institutions enforce, then I know I will have succeeded in life.

In case you are having trouble believing that such “holy” institutions as BJU, PCC, & the entire fundamentalist culture they embody are capable of hiding such horrible things as rape & sexual abuse, check out the following articles. These are just a small sample of what is going on behind the scenes.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2014/03/11/guest-post-god-is-done-with-you-pensacola-christian-college-and-sexual-violence/ (This article mentions both female & male rape victims who were expelled from PCC for their “immorality.”)



http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116623/sexual-assault-patrick-henry-college-gods-harvard (Patrick Henry College)

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/12/education/christian-school-faulted-for-halting-abuse-study.html?_r=1 (BJU)

http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/08/us/bju-student-suspension-irpt/ (BJU again)