The ‘Real’ Victim of Rape

Caroline Blyth

in The Narrative of Rape in Genesis 34

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199589456
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191594571 | DOI:
The ‘Real’ Victim of Rape

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This chapter examines the cultural myth that rape victims are ‘damaged’ or ‘defiled’ by their assault. The author suggests that the origin of this myth lies in age‐old ideologies that regard women as men's ‘sexual property’, whose social ‘value’ is measured in terms of their chastity. These ideologies likewise grant an insidious rationale to the use of rape as a weapon of war. Turning to Genesis 34, the author considers the responses of Dinah's family to her violation and ‘defilement’ and suggests that both her father and brothers conceptualize the rape as an offence against their ‘property rights’ and an assault, not against Dinah, but against the political integrity of the entire family. Finally, the author appeals to the testimonies of contemporary rape survivors in order to contemplate how Dinah may have felt in the wake of her rape and, in particular, about her family's response to her ‘defilement’.

Keywords: rape; defilement; Dinah; Genesis 34; wartime rape; sexual property; rape myths

Chapter.  22756 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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