Thursday, 26 July 2012

Auntie Seraphic & the Catholic Website Dater

Dear Auntie Seraphic,

I am fuming. I don't know if you remember or not, but I wrote to you a while back about a guy I was going to visit I had met on [Catholic dating site] and everyone was giving me a hard time about staying at his house. Thank you, by the way, for your advice. I think at the time I was going too crazy to remember to write back to say that. Well, things were fine with him at first, and then he started pressuring me to sleep with him, and it took me a while but inevitably things ended. (Obviously.)

But the thing is...on my second visit, he tried to get me drunk. I didn't really take it that seriously at first because I had no intention of getting drunk and thought he was mostly an idiot for trying, and then an even bigger idiot for ADMITTING to trying to get me drunk and take advantage of me. Because that's what he was doing, and he was stupid enough to admit it. He actually said, the next day, that "he didn't think it would work, but he was hoping it would." This was after I had told him no more than once, and after he had promised to stop pressuring me.

And then I noticed that he was back on [Catholic dating site], so I told them what happened, because I'm worried that he's going to try this on some other girl who may be too young and naive to understand or resist. He is a potential date rapist, basically. I assumed they would at least pretend like there was a chance that they would pull his account, at the very least because he was pressuring girls to sleep with him on a Catholic website, but the addition of alcohol adds a whole other element to the situation! But they responded by saying that since there was no police report (!!) and nothing in the messages about it, there was nothing they could do unless some other girl complained. So in other words, they're going to wait until he ACTUALLY SUCCEEDS in date raping some girl, and then they're going to shut down his profile.

By the way, he tried ALL the tricks. He told me he thought I was the one, that he cared about me, was ever so nice and thoughtful, went way out of his way to do nice things for me...and it's only because I'm pretty jaded about guys in general that I knew what was up as soon as sex entered the picture. (In the first week...after a few days, actually.) There are a lot of sheltered and very vulnerable girls on that website who really want to find someone who is going to say ALL of those things to them, and who knows...maybe he's gotten to a few of them already. He was never the tiniest bit threatening or aggressive. Oh, and, although I haven't admitted this to anyone because I'm embarrassed I didn't break things off immediately, I found a copy of "The Rules of the Game" in his room. I don't know why this stuff happens to me...I'm a nice person and I'm really careful about the guys I date. Oh well.

Please tell me there's something I can do about this.

Regular Reader

***

Poppets, since I got this email I've been in regular correspondence with Regular Reader, so I'm going to address my comments to you.

First of all, I honour Regular Reader's wish to do something to protect other women who subscribe to Catholic dating websites, and I hope that she has succeeded by permitting me to post her email on my blog.

Second, I want to remind you that Catholic dating websites are businesses. And just because they have "Catholic" in their name does not mean they have oversight from any of the ecclesiastical structures designed to protect us. Some might. But some probably do not. They are not "ministries." They are in the business of staying in business. And some of them will play upon your deepest sorrows, and use holy days, to get you to send them money: "Why be alone this Christmas?"

Third, the men you met on dating websites usually are strangers. In judging whether or not to chat with them or meet them, you have only their word to go on. The Catholic dating website does not sit down with them and do a personal interview before they are allowed access to the profiles of thousands of young Catholic ladies.

Fourth, the very nature of the internet is impersonal. If Regular Reader had stormed into an office and demanded an interview with a real, live, matchmaker who had carelessly set her up with this jerk, then it is very possible the matchmaker would have given her a cup of tea, listened to her, given her a tissue, and possible cried herself.

But Regular Reader's interactions with the Catholic dating website were entirely over the internet, and instead of giving her tea and a tissue, they threw the responsibility for the men they shelter back onto her. No police report, no cancelling Mr Horny Toad, no loss of Mr Horny Toad's $15 a month, or whatever it is.

Fifth, the very nature of dating websites is consumerist. You pick men by photo, and they pick you by photo. Dating websites are department stores of people. They can provide comfort and amusement for people who are too afraid, or can't be bothered, to meet people in "real life." For this reason, I recommend that people who are serious about meeting people actually MEET the people they "meet" on websites, but certainly in public places and with all due caution.

An alternative to Catholic dating websites is to ask your friends about their more interesting Facebook friends. That's how I first heard about B.A.

Sixth, Regular Reader brought up the word "rape", and I had a long, somewhat fraught conversation with my husband about this, because he used to teach ethics and philosophy of law. I am not a lawyer, and neither is he. But he convinced me it is important to distinguish between two kinds of rat-bastard behaviour, seduction and rape.

Occasionally I get emails from rape survivors. They break my heart, but that's okay. We should weep with those who weep. These survivors were violently attacked. So far I have not heard from a survivor who was raped after she lost consciousness--I think. (My sincerest apologies if I have; I do recollect reading accounts of such things, but not where.) If I understand properly, if a woman says "No" and the man still has sex with her, it's rape. And if the woman is not free to give consent (e.g. because she is unconscious), but he goes ahead, that's rape.

It is also rape if a man extracts "consent" from a woman after threats and coersion and maybe false promises or claims.

But merely offering a woman drinks, hoping thereby to change her mind, is not yet attempted rape. It is a form of seduction, and although it is a very stupid one, I can see why a rat-bastard would attempt it.

College campuses feature girls who think they should have sex, but their natural modesty gets in the way, so they drink themselves silly. It's very pathetic and sad, but it is their choice to drink the drinks and then throw themselves at whoever. Of course, then the legality of having sex with these girls is murky because their freedom to give consent has been compromised.

But this is not something Catholic men should even worry about because Catholic men should know perfectly well that it is a serious offence against God and neighbour to have sex outside of marriage. Even pagans know that "No means No" and only "Yes" means "Yes." Christians are supposed to be even better than that.

I don't know if Regular Reader's Catholic dating website date would have laid a hand on her if she had accepted all his stupid drinks. So I wouldn't call him a potential date rapist any more than any other man or woman. This does not, mean, however, that he is not a rat-bastard.

He is a rat-bastard and a bad Catholic and I think at very least [Catholic dating website] should contact him and tell him there has been a complaint about his behaviour and then tell Regular Reader they have done so. If a friend had set them up, the friend would have apologized. Regular Reader deserves an apology.

Seventh, I am very angry with Catholic men who pressure women to sleep with them.

I am not angry with Catholic men who merely suggest it in the context of loving relationships. If you make out enough, such suggestions are likely because making out is Nature's way of preparing human beings to have sex. I cannot think of a better way to break down even the most devout Catholic's resistance to the desires of his body than prolonged making out with him. But Catholic men who pressure women to sleep with them or ply them with alcohol in the hopes of changing their minds are Judas.

"But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, then it is better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." --Matthew 18.6

Eighth, there are lots of good men. Many, many, many. I think most men are good men, and it is sad that bad men just make more of an impact, like the tiny percentage of priests who abused teenagers and kids.

Generations of good priests--hundreds or thousands of years of good work--have been eclipsed by a handful of monsters. It's so unfair, but there it is. One bad guy can hurt hundreds of people and so the damage he does is disproportionate to who he is.

Don't let the bad guys make you think there are no good guys. There are. Where? There.

9 comments:

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

Seems to me like this fellow is a clear example of a cad - a word that is underused today, mostly because we're prepared to accept a lot of dishonorable behavior.

I agree that trying to seduce a woman is not rape, but if he had succeeded in getting her really drunk, many jurisdictions today could decide that she couldn't consent (her ability to consent was impaired). It's the sort of judgment we might like when it's a cad like this, but seems a bit less fair when two college kids get drunk of their own individual volition and sleep together.

The combox exploded yesterday - I liked the post and everyone had such interesting things to say, so I left it. But I would like to state that it there ARE good men and it's a pity that the bad ones overshadow them sometimes, but that's how life tends to work - exceptions stand out. I have good brothers, a good father, and good male friends; this summer I've been in a crowd of fellow Christian grad students and I've been walked home more than before, etc. It's a good reminder - even though there are bad men, there are also many good ones. I don't forget you, NCBs! I'd like to find one of you, whose socks I wouldn't mind washing and whom I'd like to sleep with. :-)

~Nzie

Anonymous said...

Auntie Seraphic, I hope you will permit this anonymous comment given the personal nature of it. I just wanted to agree with your point about rape and add that women must be careful about using that word too widely. It is a heinous crime, but when womeon use the word rape to describe what you correctly term seduction, it makes it more difficult for people to believe girls who say they have been raped. When I went to university, before I was Catholic, I was one of those insecure girls you describe. I desperatedly wanted someone to love me, and I believed that no man would want me if I didn't 'put out.' As you described, however, it took quite a bit of alcohol to overcome my natural resistence to that form of casual sex, and to confuse my thinking such that I was able to convince myself that sleeping with these men would help kickstart a relationship. However, in my final year, after having had a bit to drink, I let a man kiss me. Then my sense kicked in (as well as my recollection that he had a girlfriend) and I told him to stop. He turned up at my room a few minutes later and proceeded to have sex with me while I repeatedly told him 'no, stop, you have a girlfriend, please stop, stop, stop.' He never did. He at least had the grace to look guilty when he had done and left. I never reported it. I knew from experience, having taken a friend of mine who had been raped and violently beaten to the police, that I would never be believed, in part because of the many false or exaggerated claims of rape that get reported. Without severe bruises and trauma, your chance of successfully bringing a case against a man for rape is 3%. So I really cannot emphasize enough how very important it is to be sparing and correct in our use of the word rape because when we exaggerate using this term, it makes it that much harder for the victims to get their justice

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

I'm so sorry, Anonymous - I'm so sorry. It's cold comfort, but the law is changing to protect rape victims better - no one should get away with what that horrible man did to you.

Seraphic said...

Thank you, my dear, for sharing your painful story. I hope my readers will take it to heart and be careful, not just about their words, but about their own safety.

I am so sorry that happened to you.

Anonymous said...

But he convinced me it is important to distinguish between two kinds of rat-bastard behaviour, seduction and rape.

Seduction used to be a tort and, in some jurisdictions (IIRC) a crime. Once that was done away with as both a legal and moral construct, modern "feminists" were left shoehorning every bad behaviour under "rape", the only remaining legal and moral category for men's bad sexual actions.

~theobromophile

american in deutschland said...

Even if he wasn't scheming for violent rape (ugh), I think deliberately trying to get a woman drunk AFTER being repeatedly told "no" is clearly close to the line and shows a basic willingness to commit rape. His basic idea is, if you won't give me what I deserve, I will take it. Women will also seduce men, but I'm not sure they often would think that way, with such entitlement and total willingness to overlook the other's wishes.

There is a blog project that has caught speed recently, but which might be very difficult or triggering for women who have experienced assault. But I've heard personally that for some it can also be really helpful and encouraging. It's called Project Unbreakable. http://projectunbreakable.tumblr.com/

Urszula said...

I think that's an awful story, and frankly although I've never used a Catholic dating site, this would make me very wary. But I guess the same principle goes for people you meet on dating sites as in real life - be careful. And don't trust others to look out for you.

Unfortunately, I sometimes find in Catholic circles that naivete is extolled as a virtue. The world is what it is - there are kind, Godly men out there, but there are also psychopaths - and being Catholic doesn't predestine you for being one or stop you from being the other.

My absolute worst date ever was with a guy I had met at a Catholic youth group and was one of many sons of one of the national pro-life leaders (not in the US or UK). Our date ended in his family's apartment (his large family turned out to be on vacation... I only found out after he had lured me there) after he begged me on his knees to stay the night. Or at least take a bath in the bathtub - "I could lock myself inside, he would never disturb me". And all of this after his extolling the virtues of NFP. It was so bizarre and honestly frightening - I thank my guardian angel for giving me the strength to be firm enough to scare him off with my words. I got out of there safe, but I will never again assume that someone's potentially superficial church-going is in any way related to his sexual mores.

This boy later contacted me begging me not to tell his sister (who was an exchange student in my home city) of his failed seduction.

I thought about contacting his father and suggesting there was something wrong with his son, but finally let that drop. I told the story to all of my younger Catholic friends though - not to frighten them, just to encourage them to keep their eyes open and their wits straight when dealing with any guy, Catholic or not.

okiegrl said...

Urzula,
I have a similar story to you. I went on a date with who I thought was a NCB I met at a Catholic party. I verified with some of the women there that he was indeed a NCB. We went to a Halloween costume party and had a good time. As he was driving me home, he asked if I wanted to meet his family. My family stays up late, and I've been known to call my parents at 1am. That said, I wasn't suspicious at the late hour. We arrived, and the house was dark,and everyone was either asleep or gone. He then asked me to meet his cat, so we went downstairs. (I love cats,and this was a NCB! What could be wrong? DUMB!) The cat was disinterested, but he tried going further than a kiss. Thankfully I responded with rage "WHAT do you think you're doing! Take me home!" Take me home he did! I seriously thought about calling my (now) BF to pick me up, but he lived nearly an hour away, and I didn't have cab fare. I shudder to think what would have happened if the guy wasn't scared of my outrage.

All this to say that being naive is dangerous! We are supposed to be wise, but innocent. Also- always carry cab fare, or have some method to get yourself home without depending on the guy. And the guy you'd count on to be a swashbuckling protector in a situation like this is the one worth dating!

PS- I'm so sorry for the brave lady who shared her story. I'm very lucky, as my situation could have turned out a whole lot worse.

Clare said...

Absolutely right that we need to be sparing and correct in our use of the term. I will just point out though, that the best literature seems to show that false rape allegations comprise about 6% of all allegations--roughly the standard across all serious crimes. Meanwhile, as far as we can tell, the vast majority of rapes never get reported.

I'm fairly sure the difficulty of being believed has a lot more to do with the faulty ways our society thinks about rape than a proliferation of false rape allegations.