A Lesson From Firefly: Abstinence Ethics Do Not Harm Rape Victims

With the escape of the three woman (and rape daughter) in Cleveland, Ohio, Elizabeth Smart has been back in the news and is being used to try to frame “traditional morality” with helping women get raped. Smart was also a woman who was abducted, held captive, and raped continuously. She has testified that abstinence education made her too ashamed to want to escape. She says that the instruction compared promiscuity to sharing chewing gum. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.’” This idea, she thinks, mean that girls who are held captive and raped are more likely to cooperate with their captors and not try to escape because they are too ashamed.

First of all, if you want to see real patriarchy and shame harming many women, I think any study of practices in the Middle East will show societies where women are killed by their own fathers or brothers for being violated. In some cases, the women request this death sentence when they are raped because they truly believe they have been robbed of value. Was that how Elizabeth Smart’s family felt about her when she was rescued? Is that what any of the families of the three rescued girls in Cleveland are treating these rape victims? No! And the girls don’t expect to be rejected in that way even if some idiotic statements were communicated in an abstinence education class.

Secondly, rape does not affect chastity. The issue is not how you are victimized but rather if you designate sex as special or as not special but, rather, recreational and trivial. The best portrayal I have ever seen for how this works was in the ill-fated TV series Firefly, produced by Joss Whedon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, and later the hit movie, The Avengers). Whedon cannot be accused of harboring any love for traditional sexual morality or Christian values, but his show demonstrated the problem with promiscuity and love. The TV show centers on the crew of a spaceship captained by Mal Reynolds. On his Firefly-class spaceship room is rented by a “companion” named Inara Serra—a high class prostitute. She was allowed to become a tenant because her presence helped the ship gain access to ports in the planetary system.

Inevitably, Mal and Inara fall in love with one another, but this leads merely to frustration and sadness for both of them. They hide their feelings. Why? I think it is obvious: How do two people “consummate” their love for one another if one of them does the same thing for money? It is as if the most Inara can offer Mal is a free coupon for her “merchandise.”

Rape is an offense against real sex, but it doesn’t take away the value of consensual sex from the person raped. Promiscuity and being victimized by rape may get confused due to the shock and humiliation of being raped, but that is just an illusion. They have nothing to do with one another. A person who is raped is a victim of assault and torture and bullying. But she hasn’t cheapened the act of making love to someone she loves.

The Left’s attempt to portray traditional values as complicit in rape culture is obviously an act of projection. They are blaming their victims.