The following interview with Brendan Rhatican, author of A Letter to Women, is published verbatim.
What caused you to write the article?
It's been on my mind for a couple of years now... I'm trying to think of what sparked it. A couple of girl friends of mine would come up to me and complain how there were no quality guys around. And I would ask them, "What did you do this weekend?" And they would tell me "not so good things," and that's what really sparked me to write it.
I had also got comments from other guy friends, and I realized that I was not the only guy who felt that he would really appreciate it if the women dressed modestly.
What kind of comments from your guy friends?
It seems that every year, the amount of clothes that girls wear keeps getting less and less. And when I realized that I was not the only one, that's when I really wanted to say something.
What was your emotional state at the time of writing that article? Was there a particular trigger or incident?
It's mostly just concern. I know a lot of people say that I come off really angry. But, angry is not what I was going for. I actually wanted more of a pleading tone almost, but concern was definitely the underlying emotion.
Please summarize your article in as few sentences as possible. A thesis maybe.
I want to treat women with as much respect as possible. And modesty, particularly in dress, is essential to that goal.
Do you stand behind your article's thesis after the reception you got? Would you take anything back?
I stand behind the thesis.
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There are a couple of things I would love to make clear for people. I reference, for example, taming man's animal instincts. I used the word "animal" and that went completely... and all of a sudden, it's like a rape victim blaming case. That is not, in any way, what I wanted to get into.
This had nothing to do with rape. There is no excuse for a man to treat a woman badly, or disrespectfully.
I stand a 100 percent by my thesis, but I would have cleared some words and sentences up to make it more cohesive. I think people sometimes forget that It's a 200-word opinion article, and they kinda forget that it's not a dissertation. I am not pondering over every word here. It took me a half hour to write this thing. It was definitely heartfelt, and I definitely thought a lot about what to say, but wordplay was not the priority
Now that you have had time to reflect, do you feel comfortable with your decision to publish your article?
Absolutely. I have to admit that there has been a very significant backlash. It's the kind of thing once you develop thick skin and... it's all out of concern and respect for women and I would not know anybody who would want to recant what they said with regards to that.
I mean somethings... I'm sometimes uncomfortable with... this ridiculous ad-hominim, red herring and all this like fallacy crap on the comments response page, but if you look past that, it's not really a concern.
I was uncomfortable with my case taken as a rape victim blaming case. That made me uncomfortable. Obviously, that would make me look like an idiot and a nasty guy, which is not what I am going for.
I kinda like being called a caveman. I thought it was kinda funny.
Someone called you a caveman?
At least it's original.
Were you expecting backlash?
I should have been, but I wasn't. I was not expecting at all for this to be a women's rights case at all. I thought it was more just gonna be a concerned gentleman to a concerned woman concerning their respect. I had no idea this was gonna be a woman's rights issue, a rape victim blaming case.
I was expecting the whole "That is traditional, that is archaic, you are not up in the times." I was completely expecting that from college students, but as far as women's rights, I thought I would have the support of the women's rights community.
How do you feel about the more vitriolic comments?
Most of them have nothing to do with my argument. And, I understand that if i dish it out, I better be able to take it. I have hear a lot of "slut shaming," but that is not at all what I was going for. I can see why with certain words I used, and if people weren't looking at the context of the entire statement, they could get confused.
But the more hateful ones, some of them were funny; some of them I ignored just cos they didn't make any sense. Like I said, I would like to give a shout out to whoever called me a caveman. That still makes me laugh
Have you found any support?
A lot of support. I have had no backlash from any of my close friends; little backlash from most of my acquaintances. From people who know me, I have had close to zero negative reaction. Some people asked me to clear up a couple words.
Has anyone spoken to you in person, either to support or condemn?
I have had people who don't recognize me as the author... I have overheard certain things. I have heard some very nasty things. I had no idea that this was gonna get the kind of attention that it did. For example, I would be sitting in the hallway and I would hear a teacher and four students come out talking and just ripping me to shreds.
There's a little bit of condemnation there. Typically, so far, the WILL, the women in leadership, pretty much the feminist movement on campus have been quick to condemn me, which I thought would be the opposite.
So you've met WILL and people from the feminist movement in person?
I have not met with them, and that is not their official position. But as far as WGSS and those people and those classes... for example, I have a friend who is in one of the classes said that the entire class was spend on that article, and there was not one happy opinion about it
What about your boss?
I have not gotten any kind of comment from any kind of employed. I have had a lot of support from friends, close friends, random people I don't know. I received a very, very supportive comment from a nurse with who m I never came in contact with. It was very encouraging. People that I have never talked to have sent me messages of strong support
My freshman chemistry teacher, just out of nowhere, came out with probably the best thing anyone has said to me yet.
My high school teacher from back home... just completely in support. I have no idea how she got a hold of it. For the most, all of my friends have been very encouraging.
Oh, and for the record, I do have friends and I do have girlfriends... for any of the scathing cynics from the comments board.
Has anyone asked you to reconsider being in a leadership position that is being an RA?
Yes. Yup. I forget, I read one comment. No one in person, nothing in person... there has been almost no serious, significant, any kind of rebuttal in person. It has all been from behind a laptop.
Frankly, I have no idea what the grounds would be for taking me out from a position like that. I have not received any kind of comment from my employers; nothing from my fellow employees and colleagues. I have no idea how this would, in any way, take away from my RA duties.
Are the deans who supervise student life comfortable with the condemnation that has come your way?
No, they have not talked to me. I am open to talking to the deans. I don't know if this article is that high reaching. I know they have other things to do.
What do you understand about being a "rape apologist?"
I have absolutely no idea where that red herring came from! I think the reference is to my saying something along the lines of "Women treat yourself right, so you can be treated right by other men." That can be taken and communicated to mean... and I think people took that and ran with it, saying "See, he is blaming women for what men to women." That is completely unrelated, and does not follow in any way.
I'll get into this. This is a very firm underlying issue. Both parties are at fault here. If you agree that there is a problem with the way men treat women, then I will say that both parties are at fault.
Could you be more specific about "Women treat yourself right, so you can be treated right by other men?"
It's really kinda incomprehensible to me how the rape victim blaming came about. I really can't stress that enough. If someone would like to explain that me, I will try to defend myself. I can't believe that I need to make this statement that a rape victim is not to be blamed in a rape case.
Here is what I think. I think that both you and the commentators understand that no one would advocate for rape and rapists. But what they are probably saying, and I could be wrong in my interpretation, is that the position you adopt enables rape apology. And do you see that? Or do you not?
I don't see that. This case has nothing to do with rape it has to do with modesty of rape. And if we go back to the original spark about why I wrote this article: it was "good girls" complaining about how they never find any good men. And I ask them what they do in the weekends, and they tell me that they hook up with "bad guys." And I ask them how they cannot see the connection. This is what sparked it.
You had the word "chaste" in your article. Why is chastity a virtue?
It is really kind of a recent phenomenon where I have to explain why chastity is a virtue. Temperance has been going on forever; it's almost like, go ahead and indulge whatever you seem fit as long as you are safe about it seems to be the new stance for young people.
Why is chastity a virtue? It's like asking why purity is a virtue. I mean, that's an answer in and of itself. Chastity is a virtue of itself. This goes back to the objective and subject views on morality; if you believe that there is an underlying object moral fabric, chastity being a virtue will answer itself. It's not gonna be, "Well, why is it so?" It's just because it is.
Do you have something more than that? I understand that you are saying chastity is a tenet you don't question, but obviously we are questioning it.
I really do not know how to go about... it's like defending the primary colors. I just don't.
So, you see as if it's there?
Yeah. Why is red a primary color? I don't know.
As far as the numbers go, most of us will be husbands and wives one day, and once you are on the other side of the wedding ring, it will be easier to see why chastity is a virtue. I don't think anyone desires their future spouse to be well-experienced.
With chastity comes modesty. Explaining modesty as a virtue is the same as explaining chastity as a virtue, which is the same as explaining humility as a virtue. Modesty scratches the surface of humility.
Do you feel that way because of religious tenets?
Absolutely, but I don't want this to turn into a...
I think it's quite clear to see, most of the time, that I am a Christian. You can't tackle... you don't want to open too many cans of worms at once. Now, all of a sudden this is gonna be about whether Christ was raised from the dead or not.
I tend to prefer to talk to people in person about Christianity, as opposed to through an article where I don't have any way... I don't wanna speak for Christianity as a 20-year-old through a student news paper at a liberal campus. I would much rather engage in one-on-one discussions. I would be more than happy to oblige.
I would tell you that all of my virtue derives from being a Christian. I mean it's impossible to see anything else from any other light. I am not saying that you have to be a Christian in order to view morality, but in how essential it is, I mean, it is ingrained in the very fabric of Christianity.
A straw man attack on Christianity here would be completely erroneous. The issue at hand is modesty in dress and its implications for the ultimate ends of this topic: the respect and cherishing of women. I am more than willing to discuss the relationship between Christianity and modesty personally but not via mediums.
I would prefer to comment personally.
How exactly do women "make men into animals," and what would entail "taming their appetite?"
I don't want to recant. I would like to adjust the wording of that.
"Making men into animals" means men not acting like gentlemen, and instead of men having the motive seeking after a woman to pursue a relationship born of love with he, he would rather pursue her with a sexual drive. There is no body who will... you cannot deny me that if you have seen a lodge party.
What exactly does being a gentleman entail?
Being a gentleman with regards to women implies treating a woman with the respect and love she deserves, which all women deserve.
Being a gentleman means treating all people equally.
What about a promiscuous woman? Would that require a gentleman to modify his behavior?
Never. There is never anytime that a gentleman should modify his behavior. A promiscuous woman should be just as demanding of respect and love as any other woman.
I would say, you know, "May god forgive them," I am their judge least least of all. I want the woman to treat herself with respect, in order to help me treat her with respect. There is no excuse for me to not treat herself with respect, but she can certainly help.
Your concluding sentence reads, "Can you sacrifice fashion in order for me to treat you like a real woman?" A lot of commentators do not accept that premise, meaning they reject the notion that a woman is responsible for the actions, adverse or otherwise, of men. How do you respond?
I mean... If a man comes into a room screaming, what do we all do? We all look. If a very attractive woman comes in half-clothed, what do we all do? We all look.
Whose problem is that? That is my problem; I have fallen in this situation. However, the woman has not helped in anyway. I don't wanna say she has caused me to look, but she has been completely unhelpful.
The commentators on the Internet have said, "Don't blame women for not being able to control yourself." They are right. I should be completely at fault. But, as far as the woman goes, she has been completely unhelpful.
I mean, if in one sentence, I could give it, this entire thing means, "Help a brother out. I want to treat you with as much as respect as possible; I have no idea why you are not helping me."
Some commentators have defended you, and have said that your views on gender and sex are "deviant" and should be protected the same way that alternative lifestyles, including the BDSM culture, are condoned. How do you respond to them?
Either I am right and modesty will not help respect women, or I am wrong and modesty will not help respect women. I don't wanna hear, "Well, I appreciate your view, and I respect your view, but it's wrong." That's garbage. If I am wrong, throw it out the window.
But, if i am right... this should be... I don't want this wish-washy...
Do you think women play a role in their objectification? What of men?
Yes. They play a role; they are not at fault. They play a significant role. People will typically say, "What about in the Victorian age, when women wore the Michelin man suit? She was still objectified." Yes, but not nearly as severely. And I mean... now women like it, women almost enjoy being desired as some kind of... perhaps they won't say that they want to be desired as a sexual object, but they certainly want to be desired sexually before they are desired humanly almost.
And you are against that?
I am against that. I wish for a woman to be desired for being a woman, and not for being sexual.
You wrote to a commentator, "you can tell me that women wearing more modest clothing will not help the problem; you cannot tell me that there is no problem." What, exactly, is the problem?
The problem would be women treated disrespectfully and women pursued with purely sexual ends. The end of pursuing a woman is not a lifelong partnership, or even a partnership, or even a friendship. As far as I can tell, a very significant amount is the woman being pursued sexually. The ends of the relationship are sexual.
If women wore more clothes, do you think men would be less sexual?
It would not hurt. I will be active in this: yes, it would help. if nothing else, it would attract good men.
Do you have anything else to add?
This entire article is born out of the cherishing of women, and a truly, sincere desire of all women to be respected the way they ought to be. Like I said before, modesty in dress is just scratching the surface of what we are really after here, which is humility born of love. But, it will help.
Contact staff writer Tanveer Ahmed at email@example.com
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