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Was I Blaming the Victim?
I have a quandary that I need some help with, but first I want to give you a little background.

My mother is licensed in using the MBTI personality indicator. Basically it's a very complicated personality test which, once you've taken it, will spit out which of 16 personalities you are based on four spectrums (spectra?). Many of us may know the DISC thing, or the Melancholy/Sanguine thing, but this is much more exact.

And lots of fun, as most of these things are! For those of you who know anything about it, I'm an ENTJ.

But that's beside the point. The real point that I am trying to make right now is that one of the questions they ask that you have to answer honestly (and quickly) is which do you like better: justice or mercy? It's not an ethical dilemma, it just uses the answer to score you on one of the spectrums.

Anyway, I've taken the test a few times and I always pick justice, although I'm uncomfortable with that. I think I can be a little too black and white at times, and not enough into grace. But this is a personality test, so I was just being honest.

Last week, in my column, I wrote about how too many women act stupidly when alcohol is involved and get themselves into dangerous and compromising situations. I tried to go out of my way to say that if they are abused in these situations, the men should still be tried to the furthest extent of the law, but the point I was making is that we women need to start acting more wisely. It's ridiculous to think that we can just get drunk, or go into strangers' homes, and be perfectly safe. All the emphasis on teaching men that "no means no" and that they shouldn't abuse women is fine, but is it really going to deter abusers? And if we're not similarly teaching women to be street smart, we're putting them in a really difficult situation.

I never drank on the college scene at all. In fact, I didn't drink until I was 28 and it became socially necessary. We were having all these colleagues of Keith's over for dinner and they always brought wine. It became increasingly embarrassing to turn it down, and I didn't want to give the impression that being a Christian was all about what you couldn't do. So I started drinking wine at dinner occasionally, and that's as far as it goes.

I have never been drunk, or even close to it. And to tell you the truth, I don't see what's fun about it, but obviously a lot of girls must enjoy it.

Nevertheless, I really think that we need to be smarter in how we act around alcohol and the opposite sex, and we need to teach the upcoming generation the same thing.

So that's the background.

Then the hate mail started. I've received some emails from people really complaining about the column. How dare I blame the victim! I'm putting women back in the Dark Ages, etc. etc.

I've always had a hard time with hate mail (I get quite a bit of it because I write in the secular press from a very socially conservative point of view), and I find it difficult to think that people don't like me! But that's a personal weakness I have to overcome.

But this column didn't sit well with me afterwards anyway. I just felt like maybe I was being too harsh. At the same time, it needed to be said.

So now I'm just struggling with it. I wish I could take some of it back, because I think it was too harsh. I probably shouldn't have used the word "stupidly" so much. But it's what I felt, and I still think it's true. But even truth can be presented in too harsh a way, and I'm afraid I did that. So I'm just struggling with that a little bit today.

I guess it's my lot in life as a writer.

Anyway, if you want to see for yourself, the column is here. And now I think I will have a shower and try to wash it all away so I can write another one! Maybe about birth order this time. No one can get mad at me for that, can they?

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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At 8:47 AM , Blogger Melanie said…

There are too many people in this world who want to have their cake and eat it too. Or in this case, have their stupidity and not have to potentially take the lumps that might come with it.

You were spot on. Even people who aren't Christians should be able to look around the world and come to the understanding that "you don't tease the animals". It's just the way things work - if you do things that entice the opposite gender, you shouldn't be surprised when something happens.

I'm like you - I think that anyone who commits a crime should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, even if the other party did something to get their interest aroused. We should *each* be responsible for our own actions. And that includes, on my part, not doing things that might arouse unwanted, unwarranted attention, as much as it's in my power to avoid such.

No, you were not blaming the victim. You were reminding them of personal responsibility. And that's something that's sorely lacking today. Far too many people think that they can do whatever they want and never suffer any consequences. That didn't work when you were 3 and jumping on the bed, it won't work when you're 23 and partying hard.

I'm sorry you've gotten so much rough mail, you don't deserve it! :hugs:


At 11:57 AM , Blogger Barb, sfo said…

I can relate to all that, as a fellow "T." Yes, it's hard to choose justice/mercy but I know, as you do, that the best justice--God's justice--has some of both.


I think that there are a lot of situations that people put themselves in, that are just Asking For Trouble. This could range from drinking too much to texting while Melanie writes, personal responsibility seems to have disappeared.

As Aretha Franklin says in The Blues Brothers, "You gotta think about the consequences of your actions." No one gets off scot-free!

I thank you for having the courage to speak the truth even in the face of the feedback you must get.


At 12:13 PM , Blogger Terry, Ornament of His Grace said…

Sheila, what you said was true, period. I don't even have a problem with the use of the word "stupidly". If I walk into the path of oncoming traffic without looking both ways first and get hit by a car, I acted stupidly. It's sad that I was injured, certainly. But I knew it's a busy highway. Why didn't I look?

The same analogy applies in the instances you cited. Drunkenness facilitates poor judgment and amoral behavior. We should avoid putting ourselves in unneccessary danger. Period.

I am so sorry that you were beat up for your column. But as you rightly noted, being a conservative voice in a liberal media carries with it the risk of ridicule.


At 6:30 PM , Blogger Tracey said…

Don't beat yourself up...JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE SAYS YOU ARE WRONG, DOESN'T MEAN YOU ARE! You were right in what you said. We are all responsible for our actions and women have to be careful that they aren't putting themselves in situations that are dangerous. I have another situation.... If you don't want someone staring at your butt, but putt words on your pants (like juicy) that just bed to be read and if you don't want a man staring at your breast...try covering them up or not wearing your shirt so low...

Sheila you are right! Just toss the hate mail and forget about it!


At 11:39 PM , Blogger Julie said…


You did fine. Just goes to show that "common sense" isn't very common anymore.



At 11:30 AM , Anonymous Silvana said…

My husband have had this same discussion, only regarding the way women dress. I'll agree with you up front that the men should be punished to the full degree. However if a woman dresses seductively, she's only asking for trouble! You were right on, no apologies needed!!

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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