Doug Wilson thinks that Lourdes Torres-Manteufel is not a victim; that she was a willing participant in an affair with Doug Phillips, and here’s his logic:
- Doug Phillips sexually assaulted her
- She cried and asked him to stop
- He did not stop
- She didn’t immediately leave his house. Therefore, it must have been consensual. Therefore, it’s adultery, not abuse.
In so doing, Wilson is keen on providing apologetics for even the “wrong” kind of patriarchy, claiming that he has to assign blame to the women who are used inappropriately by the “wrong” kind of patriarchy, because to do otherwise would mean they have no agency.
Perhaps Wilson would like to explain what Lourdes was supposed to have done in that circumstance. Her words of refusal were ignored. Should she have tried to kill her host with the bedside lamp? Should she have waited tensely for a few hours, gotten up in the middle of the night covered in his dried semen and run out into the street, screaming like a banshee until the neighbors turned the lights on? Should she have called the police on the house phone? Should she then, no doubt, have had endured Phillips’ immediate assurances to all and sundry that no, she seduced him, no, he didn’t actually do it? “I didn’t violate her,” he would have said “if I had violated her, she wouldn’t be acting so crazy. She’d be in shock. Look at this, look at this little hussy! I invite her into my home, I pay for her and her family to travel all over America, and she tries to slander me. I suppose I ought to sue them and take their mobile home to pay for the court fees.” Or, alternately, “if I had violated her, she wouldn’t be so quiet. She’d be angry at me.”
Undoubtedly, Wilson and I do agree on one topic: all other things being equal, it would have been better for Lourdes to have left Phillips’ home immediately. I imagine this has been a reoccurring theme in Lourdes’ head, too. Why didn’t I leave? Why couldn’t I find my voice, that first night? The second night? Why, God? Why was I silent? Why did I let him do that to me for so long?
This may come as a surprise to Wilson, but not acting in the face of abuse is not limited to Lourdes Torres, and this in no way means that the victims are consenting to the abuse. It is true that such abuse is not limited to women, or to children, or to sheltered women and children; it is true that if you’re “ever likely to encounter more than three men,” you “will encounter this kind of man.” Abuse is not limited to those who have been told to “keep silent” their whole lives, or to women who have been told to “submit” to male authority figures “as to the Lord.” Not that any of that helps; those phrases act as enablers for abusive men, both directly and indirectly. I know for a fact that one of the women in Wilson’s own congregation was shocked at her own response when someone tried to sexually assault her, and this is a woman who nobody would have described as mousy or quiet. She was a vocal proponent of saying no to the wrong kind of man. She was and is physically and emotionally strong, and even so, her first reaction was to stifle her own screams and be polite.
She writes, “All of a sudden I thought, ‘Dear God, I’m about to be raped.’ But get this…and this still amazes me…I didn’t want to scream for fear I’d wake up the other two people sleeping 15 feet away. Pretty dumb, huh? ‘I’m sure I can get him off quietly and then that way no one will have to know. Besides, what would she do if she found out that her boyfriend tried to rape me? He’s probably just doing it because he’s drunk.’ All that eclipsed through my mind in about two seconds. Risking my chastity for the sake of saving others from embarrassment. Pretty stupid. We definitely fought. Really a struggle. I think if he hadn’t been quite as drunk, he may have even won. But my persistence finally made him give up.”
In brief, she never screamed. She didn’t report him to the police. She didn’t make a scene. She was lucky: he was drunk, and she works out. She was lucky: it was a virtual stranger, not someone she’d been taught to respect and revere and submit to. Otherwise it might be her, getting accused of “adultery” on the grounds that she resorted to all the subconscious training that had ever been drilled into her about submitting, not disturbing other people, not “screeching,” not imposing, saving face, obeying without contradicting, all the rest of it.
Societal training is subtle and insidious. It requires deep cognitive dissonance to teach women that all of their wishes and desires come second to the visions of the men over authority over them, that they are to obey these men “as to the Lord,” and then whine that it goes without saying that these women should really only be submitting if the men in authority over them are submitting to God in turn. In fact, this is actively taught against in many ways. Here is a brief sampling of the quotes I’ve heard from Wilson and Wilson’s apologists: “If he says ‘jump,’ you ask him how high on the way up.” “If your husband is running your family’s finances into the ground, let him do it.” “Win your sinful husband over without a word, with a meek and quiet spirit.” “If he’s sinning against you, you have an independent duty to submit to his authority.” You can’t logically teach those things and simultaneously teach that specific women should actually not have submitted to specific sinful authority because, from your position of detached neutrality, you find it odious now that you’ve examined it after the fact. It might be your only possible cop-out, but it doesn’t add up.
Is Lourdes Torres-Manteufel an adult woman of uncommon spirit and determination? Yes, I believe so. Does this mean she was impervious to the social conditioning she was subjected to? Hardly. She came from a background of relative poverty and low social status. She was in her wealthy pastor and mentor’s home, as his guest and his servant. Her options for alternate employment and education had been limited by the self-same pastor. Her options to appeal to any other “authority” had been limited, also. There was no higher authority to appeal to: Doug Phillips ran the church both as law and clergy, the church was the sum total of her world, and the government was evil.
Why did she not immediately run from him? Because it wasn’t an option then. The laws of gratitude, hospitality, authority, fear, shame and practicality prevented her. Doug Phillips knew this; he had orchestrated it that way. He had a hundred reasons why she could not deny him and why he would be safe from her protests. She showed spirit: she said no anyway. And he ignored her, and continued to ignore her.
Doug Wilson’s denial of the realities that made such a situation possible only ensures that such things will continue to happen, perhaps even in his own community. They already have, of course. I’m thinking specifically of the case where a young teenage girl was molested, and Wilson saw fit to accept the abuser’s “repentance,” and refused the girl communion because, naturally, she wasn’t a victim either; she was a fornicator, and her refusal to admit to such a charge meant she was unrepentant. Unshockingly to probably everyone but Doug Wilson and those who think like him, the same abuser, who for a long time was a member in good standing at Wilson’s church, has now been charged with various domestic violence suits in Latah County, and his own children are being sheltered from him by the courts.
These suits will not stop because Wilson cries “adultery” without addressing how such broad teachings as “if your husband sins against you, you have an independent duty to submit to him, and to teach your children to submit to him” can play into this. Until abusers are held accountable — and I mean really accountable — women will marry “repentant” jackasses with the blessing of pastors like Doug Wilson, and they will submit until they are literally strangled.