CONTENT WARNING for rape myths.
Deuteronomy 22:23-24 has too often been used as a biblical precedent for one of the worst rape myths.
When read a certain way, it suggests that when a man rapes a woman, she shares his culpability because if he succeeds, she didn’t scream sufficiently. Even less extreme interpretations hold that women should scream if they’re raped, and if they don’t, they bear guilt.
Both ideas are monumentally false — as anyone who knows anything about consent and freeze responses will tell you.
But if that’s the case, what does a Bible-honouring Christian make of these verses? Is it possible to interpret them as anything other than a toxic product of ancient patriarchal misogyny? Well, I believe it is.
I’m going to be very good and limit myself to 200 words in each of the seven sections of this post (the intro, five things, plus interlude) so forgive me if I don’t deep dive the detail. I’m leveraging the scholarship of Carolyn Pressler, Cynthia Edenberg, Alexander Rofé and, by no means least, Sara Milstein. Details at the bottom of the post.