Old Series: Volume 6, Number 1b (February 1997)



I. Responses to Aryeh Cohen, “Towards an Erotics of Martyrdom”:
Michael Carasik
Denise Kimber Buell
Charlotte Fonrobert
II. Sexual Reasoning
Peter Ochs
Kris Lindbeck
III. Some Reflections on Our Preoccupation With Sexuality, Michael Zank

On Judaism and Jewish Studies, Aryeh Cohen
Response to Aryeh Cohen, Towards an Erotics of Martyrdom
Charlotte Fonrobert, University of Judaism, Los Angeles, CA

I regret not having been present at the discussions during the POMO
conference at Princeton, when Aryeh, first presented his thoughts about the
Talmudic text from the Babylonian Tractate Sanhedrin.
To begin with, I would like to emphasize that I find Aryeh’s
reading extremely thought-provoking and helpful in trying to shed some
light on this complicated sugya. In reading Aryeh’s essay I find myself
repeatedly agreeing with his readings of the Talmudic text. Thus, in what
follows I will not engage in a refutation of Aryeh’s readings so much as
offering some remarks that may strengthen his readings as well as add some
other dimensions to his considerations.
First, I would suggest that a reading of the sugya which forms the
basis for Aryeh Cohen’s essay might add the dimension of the biblical model
for the rabbis to its considerations more clearly than it does already.
This comes into play in particular with respect to the problem of kiddush
ha-shem and idolatry. In as far as “idolatry is constructed in this sugya
as adultery, sexual infidelity” – as Aryeh writes, it follows the language
of the prophets that forms a Vorlage for rabbinic thinking about the
relationship between God and human beings. As M. Halbertal and A. Margalit
observe in their conceptual analysis of the various models of _Idolatry_
(1992): “The principal image in common use by the prophets for the
elucidation of idolatry is the relationship between husband and wife, in
which Israel is compared to the wife and God to the husband. … the image
captures the uniqueness of the biblical religion: God unlike the pagan gods
is a jealous God who forbids the worship of other gods. According to this
metaphor idolatry is a sexual sin; even in the early strata of the Bible
idolatry is identified as such” (_Idolatry_, 1992:11; see also
Eilberg-Schwartz, _God’s Phallus_, 1994:99). Hence, already in biblical
language the relationship between God and the people of Israel is
represented as one that moves back and forth between marital fidelity
(faithfulness to God) and infidelity/ adultery (worshipping other gods in
biblical terms and avodah zarah in rabbinic terms). Hence, this biblical
image forms the conceptual framework for the rabbis when they raise the
problem of kiddush hashem with respect to idolatry in the sugya in bSanh
To call our attention to this biblical background might strengthen
Cohen’s reading of the phrase *p’gam gavo’ah* at the beginning of the sugya
for the potential transgression of the idolater as a damage of God in a
sexual sense. Perhaps it is possible to take Cohen’s considerations even
one step further: He cautiously points out that the “sexual connotations of
the p’gam are present in the phrase p’gam gavo’ah.” What might be
interesting to pursue further is to think about the parallelism between the
betrothed young girl and God that the rabbinic text suggests! Admittedly,
the logical argument of a fortiori (qal va-chomer) is not to be confused
with a metaphoric relationship between the two elements of the argument.
However, since at the very least on the level of linguistic connotations
the term p’gam is a sexual term, we could ask: in what sense is God in the
sugya thought of like the betrothed young girl in the biblical case? In
what sense is idolatry here conceived of as not only adultery, but as rape,
with God in the role of the potential victim? How, then, does the logic
inherent to this parallelism accord with the more common (at least
biblically) metaphoric representation of God as husband and Israel as wife?
With these questions I would like to move to the part of the sugya
that forms one of the [textual] center-pieces of Cohen’s essay. That is,
after the sugya suggests [against the mishnah it discusses] that a Jew’s
death should be preferable over his or her committing an act of idolatry,
the Talmud moves to discuss the two other elements – incest and murder – of
the famous trilogy. The Talmud here takes up the biblical comparison
between the case of murder and rape of the betrothed young woman in Dt.
22:26: “the young [engaged] woman [who was raped in the open country] has
not committed an offense punishable by death, because this case is like
that of someone who attacks and murders a neighbor.” This biblical
comparison creates considerable exegetical problems, since the biblical
text – far from being self-explanatory – never explicates how the two cases
are parallel which is what the sugya attempts to clarify. The Talmud
constructs two parallels, one in terms of the perpetrators [the murderer as
well as the rapist should be killed to prevent them from committing their
intended deed] – the other, more problematic one, presumable in terms of
the victims in both cases. Cohen focuses in particular on the latter,
which, as he discusses extensively, is rendered even more difficult by the
fact that we have different textual versions of the text here. According to
our printed edition the comparison reads: “just as [in the case of] a
murderer – he should be slain rather than transgress, so also [in the case
of] a young betrothed woman – she should be killed rather than transgress”
(bSanh 74a). As Cohen points out, at first glance the parallelism makes no
sense and is, in fact, no parallelism, since the murderer and the young
betrothed woman are compared. Cohen, therefore, continues to discuss the
other variant. However, I would like to point out that perhaps we can
make sense of the text (at least if we follow Rashi) as it appears in the
printed edition more than Cohen allows for. The sugya constructs a
parallelism not between the murderer and the rape victim, but between the
one who is coerced to murder (see Rashi) and the one who is coerced to have
sex. The terminus comparationis here is the coercive factor. In this sense,
the Talmud can construct a (potential) murderer as a victim. Obviously, the
biblical text [Dt. 22:26] does not really imply this understanding of the
murder case, but in this manner the sugya can provide an “exegetical” basis
for a preference of kiddush ha-shem over murder.
My last point in response to Cohen’s essay, based on this reading,
is that the sugya then does indeed assume that the rape victim of the
biblical case has some form of “control” or “choice.” With respect to the
talmudic argument that the young woman must allow herself to be slain,
rather than to allow herself to be raped, Cohen writes: “….there is no
basis for it. She is assumed to be a powerless (if not, biblically,
passive) victim. She is not doing anything.” Against Cohen, I do think that
already the biblical case indicates an assumption that the woman – at least
to a certain degree – can prevent her rape, by making the distinction
between where the rape takes place: if in a secluded place where nobody
could have heard her screams for help, she is an innocent victim; if in a
place where she can scream for help and nobody heard her, she is guilty.
Now, one can disagree with such a legal approach (and I do). But the
biblical text, and the sugya expounding on it even more explicitly, imply
that she has some form of control over preventing her rape. According to
the sugya, she should rather let herself get killed than transgress, that is, let herself be coerced into sex.
Admittedly, this last point touches upon only one of the central
parts of Cohen’s paper. Nonetheless, by providing a rationale for the
textual version as we have it in our printed edition, this part of his
essay may perhaps connect better to his insightful discussion of the
interpretation of Esther in this sugya. With this discussion Cohen makes an
important contribution towards our thinking about Jewish conceptions of
martyrdom and the gender-code inscribed on this discourse in Late

Just as [in the case of] a murderer – he must be killed rather than
transgress, so also [in the case of] a young betrothed woman – he must be
killed rather than transgress.”

I am not certain, however, why the talmudic text here phrases the
case: “…she should be killed rather than transgress (i.e. allow herself
being coerced).” This can be explained either as a desire to maintain the
linguistic integrity of the parallelism, or from logic: since the texts
assume that she would have some means to prevent sexual coercion here,
refraining from doing so would constitute a transgression. It goes without
saying that such a logic is extremely painful.

II. Sexual Reasoning

1. Analysis by Peter Ochs

NETWORK readers have, over the past two years, been treated now to two
tastes of Aryeh Cohen’s reasonings about the Talmud. In his first essay,
the subject of the NETWORK’s 94 AAR session, Aryeh offered what he called a
study of the “sugyatics” of a passage in Kiddushin. He argued that the
sugya revealed a rabbinic tendency (among others) to “frame” woman as
dangerous/ temptress. This time he reviews what he calls both the “poetics
of the sugya” and “the textual/cultural logic” that makes the sugya a
“sustained site of conflicting interpretation.” He argues that, in the
context of examining the issues of kiddush hashem and of the relations of
murder to incest to idolatry, the sugya also delivers intriguing and
contested claims about women’s, men’s, and God’s sexuality.

I want first to praise Aryeh’s (A’s) work as a wonderful illustration of
the genus of “textual reasoning” and, thus, of the subject of this NETWORK.
I’ll then muse about the species of textual reasoning that A appears to
champion (and help generate). As part of an intra-TR dialogue, I’ll then
raise a question about what this species leaves out and puts in: suggesting
why the species is both valuable and in need of dialogic engagement with
other species. My guiding principle is that textual reasonings at their
best will always also display their need of other kinds of textual
reasoning, in dialogue with which they are complete, shalem, but not

Praise: Here is praise not as evaluation, but as celebration of the
elements of a performance that affirms the life, form, and hope of a
community of inquirers. Call it a moment of song about one illustrative
inquiry (I know you may smile at this, but do you remember how we sang at
the 96 AAR? shouldn’t this be part of the textual hermeneutic as well? What
does it mean to sing? Where are the Rosenzweigians to answer?) So, a song
of celebration: A’s loving to study Gemara with us, to receive it, ponder,
think about it! More specifically, A’s attending to the play of words and
then the play of possible reasonings within parts of the text, divided
typically by sugyot and their sub-plots and arguments! A’s attending,
toward this end, to what may correspond to the redactional layers of the
text, especially the most comprehensive layer (stammaitic)! A’s being
guided in his reading by historical-critical evidences, but not being ruled
by them: not, in particular, reading the layers of redaction as if they
were, first and foremost, indices of the specific, constructive activities
of specific individuals working in response to specific socio-cultural
pressures to achieve specific ends! A’s first reading those layers,
instead, as they seem to be revealed by breaks in the rhetorical and
logical flow of the sugya itself! and as supported by claims of the
rishonim and later commentators! and by reasonings enriched by contemporary
discourses of analysis! A’s fascination with the breaks in the text,
lacunae read as marks of the text’s deeper speech from somewhere to us!
Lacunae as positive signifiers for us as readers. A’s not seeking to
disembarrass us as readers of our own “thickness”– but leaving us, at the
same time, not overly self-conscious! A’s allowing his own “thickness” to
appear –his creaturely presence as reader — by attending on several
occasions to a few themes of interest/concern to him: in this case, the
“frame” of “women as dangerous,” the “erotics” of the divine/human
encounter, and the logical-poetics of the sugya! A’s making claims from out
of this interest, but not over-stretching them by reading them into every
passage or unambiguously into any passage! A’s having interest in something
that also interests some number of us and on several levels: of the surface
of the text (and of our sensibility) and of something deeper in the text’s
life and in our contemporary life! In particular, A’s having interest in
issues of embodiment, through which authors and redactors and human
subjects are reconceived (“re-,” meaning over against a modern tradition
that may suppress the body) as offering textual-practical interpretations
with respect to somatic urgings, psycho-somatic and social concerns as well
as intellectual/semiotic rules and patterns! A’s therefore being open to
consider the erotic or sexual concerns and themes of a text’s redactor as
well as of its subject matter!

Well, I will leave out additional verses of this “song” (including the more
concrete ones), but I trust you get the idea by now: a way of lifting up
elements of A’s practice of “textual reasoning.” The next step is to ask,
in even more abstract terms, what species of textual reasoning he has
displayed. I would assume that the species trace out a continuum, from one
limit of textual reasoning to the other. I assume that one limit is
a-theoretical reading and the other limit is conceptually reductive
reading; in-between (and all that is in between would belong to the
community of textual reasoning, with prototypes more toward the middle; my
commentary is closer to the reductive side) would lie various sorts of
plain-sense reading, of the other levels of “PRDS,” (the traditional four
tiered understanding of the practice of interpretation) and, toward the
other side, various “sciences” of reading, from historical to rhetorical,
philosophical, and so forth. To categorize their readings, many TR folks
have, through the first five years of the NETWORK, adopted models from
existentialist phenomenology, from hermeneutics, various
post-structuralist, postmodern and postcritical genres, deconstruction,
semiotics, pragmatics, feminist theory , and so on. Now, TR folks begin to
limn their work in categories more specific to Jewish textual reasoning
itself, while in dialogue with these others. In these terms, I am struck by
what may be A’s structuralist leanings, alongside more post-structuralist
patterns of rhetorical and redactional analysis. He may, in other words,
display the sort of postmodern-structuralism that Derrida attributes to

In “Cogito and the History of Madness,” Derrida argues that Foucault
misreads Descartes in a way that displays Foucault’s structuralist
assumptions. In the Meditations, Descartes considers the case where we may
be deceived by the senses and not recognize it: “But it may be that
although the senses sometimes deceive us concerning things which are hardly
pereceptible…, yet there are many others to be met with as to which we
cannot possibly have any doubt…. How could I deny that these hands and
this body are mine, were it not perhaps that I compare myself to certain
persons devoid of sense?” Derrida understands Descartes’ reference to
madness (being devoid of sense) to be merely hyperbolic: the point is that
we do not normally doubt what’s up close to our sight (unless we are asleep
and dreaming, or are in error)… But, says Derrida, Foucault thinks that
Descartes introduces madness (de’raison) in binary opposition to reason
(raison): the rational is the good and the rational excludes what is mad.
Beyond the pale of reason, madness will then be beyond the protection of
rationality (and thus of justice and the rule of society). The social
classes that define what is rational will also define what is mad and who
is mad and thus who is excluded from societal protection. This is, finally,
to define what counts in history: what can be measured, what can therefore
be remembered, be recorded, be taught about. Madness and the mad are
excluded from all this and excluded by the decision (of the rationalist)
that establishes and imposes rationality. In Folie et de’raison, Foucault
therefore writes that

“The necessity of madness, throughout the history of the West, is linked
to the deciding gesture which detaches
it from the background noise, and from its continuous monotony, a
meaningful language that is transmitted and consummated in time;
briefly it is linked to the possibility of history.”

In the words of one interpreter, “Foucault’s reading of Descartes
constructs through the idea of the decision'[to exclude madness] both a
concept of agency [of the cogito] and a mechanism of exclusion through
which that agency manifests itself as a historical instance. It is
precisely the notion of individual agency and subjectivity which is at
issue” (Dalia Judovitz, “Derrida and Descartes: Economizing Thought,” in
ed. H. Silverman, DERRIDA AND DECONSTRUCTION, Routledge, 1989). According
to Derrida, however, Foucault fails to appreciate the fictive character of
the Cartesian project, its hyperbolic, mad attempt to trace out the
consequences of a rational possibility. On this view, Foucault projects
onto Descartes’ text Foucault’s own portrait of autonomous subjectivity and
its imagined capacity to exclude non-reason through the mere act of
decision; it is Foucault who encloses the Cartesian project within “a
determined historical structure” and who therefore “risks doing violence
[to the project]…, and violence of a totalitarian and historicist style”

For Derrida, Foucault exhibits in his own reading of Descartes the very
“structuralist” assumptions and methods that Foucualt attributes to
Descartes. To repeat, these are the assumptions that an author possesses an
autonomous subjectivity, enacts it through decisions that impose the
subject’s own rules of rationality on others, and achieves through this
imposition a social sphere of power and influence and the authority to
write history. One structuralist method is to re-interpret certain texts as
products and symptoms of such subjective decisions, to criticize the texts’
authors on this basis, to draw dichotomous distinctions between their
behavior and its contrary and, finally, to advocate the contrary (usually
represented by the structuralist’s school of inquiry). What I find the most
telling aspect of this method is the finality of its attributions: a text
is viewed as really sympomatic of a specific subjective interest; SOMEBODY
really has this interest and, on its behalf, really imposes something on
somebody else.

Now, unlike Foucault, Aryeh is gentle in his reading: he offers possible
readings, illuminations. He leaves open the possibility that these readings
may offer insights into historical practices then and now, but he does not
impose a strong a priori scheme for associating rhetorical traces with
historically situated socio-political movements. Nonetheless, WITHIN the
domain of our non-foundationalist styles of textual reasonings, he appears,
in the following ways, to exhibit structuralist leanings. Of course, we may
conclude that he does and for good reason, but let’s discuss that later.

1.He refers the texts to authors and portrays both the authors and various
characters in the texts narratives as having or lacking “agency”: Esther
has “agency,” (the mark, I take it, of autonomous subjectivity) but may be
portrayed as either “active” or “passive” (agency defines a binary pair);
God has active agency; the text is “constructed as this or that”
(“construction,” I take it, is a mark of authorial agency); various themes
“frame” the sugya (the themes are also personified, as “agents” of a
constructive activity of delimiting the sugya’s frame; with respect to a
given frame, the sugya is defined with respect to a binary opposition
between some character and its contrary: the sugya “thematizes”
sex/pleasure/death as opposed to not-thematizing this triad); and,
ultimately, the martyr is a “passive” as opposed to an “active” agent of
divine love.
2. Agency is enacted with respect to some binary pair of contrary
attributes (as illustrated in #1); its activity can thus be mapped with
respect to some concept and its negation. This feature also applies to the
redaction of the sugya, as a whole and in its parts. A’s 1994 presentation
identified a competition within its sugya between one set of authors who
employed the frame “women as dangerous” and another set who did not. In
this paper, the locus of competition is Line 25, and it is between those
redactors who would/and would not rather read that the female victim of
rape was slain than that a man would have an erection against his will.
Another example is God’s agency in general: the essay portays God as
embodied-and-sexual, as opposed to non-embodied and therefore non-sexual
(rather than as opposed to embodied-in-other ways).
3. The rule and authority of any agency is refered, ultimately, to some
“textual-cultural” norm and logic that determine, rather than merely
suggest how authorial decisions will be rendered. Thus, A portrays the Line
25 competitors as serving a cultural norm about the sexual agency of men.
4. Aryeh therefore tends to refer actions and decisions to some finite
series of causes, or motives, which terminates in some potentially
identifiable rule or concept: such as a cultural norm about male sexuality.
A’s “sexual reasoning” portrays the amoraic/stammaitic redactor/composer as
interpreting certain biblical and mishnaic passages and issues on behalf of
a specific notion of divine and of human sexuality, in particular of
women’s sexuality. He portrays sexuality itself as a drive or interest
which, as such, is an agent of meaning but not also product of some other
agency: a signe that is not also a signified. God can be sexually damaged
therefore (pgm), but the hint at sexual damage is not then read as token of
some other dimension of meaning (of which sexuality is an illustration or
instance; and, by the way, can God not be portrayed in the sugya as parent
(=family) of one who is damaged, rather than being directly damaged?).
Features #3 and #4, combined, suggest that, for A, there is no infinite or
indefinite authorship: whether this means either infinite semiosis (on the
skeptical or relativist side) or divine authorship (on the realist side).
5. As for the places where a text is broken or equivocal (a significant
“postmodern” feature of A’s essays), A tends to re-read the site of
difficulty as index (deictic sign) of a conflict between discrete agencies
or the kinds of finite signs we just considered. Line 25 is one
illustration; the portrayal of Esther is another (she is active/passive
according to contrasting frames), and so on.
6. As for any evaluative dimension of A’s reading: we may assume that A
isolates the frames that denigrate women in order to censure them in some
fashion, in favor of their contraries. A’s tendency to personify authorship
and to recognize subjectivity enables him to direct moral judgments to some
actual human agency. But what of the sexuality of God, or at least of the
divine-human relation? Would A censure readings that fail to portray God’s
sexuality, or thereby fail to portray God’s embodiment? If not, what drives
A’s thesis: is his reading non-structuralist at this point? Or does he
associate embodied theologies with psycho-socially, politically and
hermeneutically integrated forms of decision-making?

As for what evaluative conclusion I may offer to my own structured reading
of Aryeh. According to the model offered at the outset, I would assume that
a post-modern variety of structuralist reading belongs within the continuum
and community of textual reasonings. I’d only suggest that there may be
merit in identifying this species of reasoning in a project like Aryeh’s,
in disclosing a little more about the conditions that warrant it and the
context of study that underlies it. Structuralist-like readings may, for
example, be the most effective hermeneutical response to issues of justice
or to conditions of systemic oppression. Even in these cases, there may be
merit in exhibiting the readings’ dialogic relation to non-structuralist
textual reasonings about the same sugya. These would be reasonings that
were not stimulated by the text’s breaks and gaps to articulate some finite
resolution of the kinds noted here, but that either retained the
interpretive relativity of some postmodern readings or else refered the
text’s readers, in various ways, to the text’s infinite, that is, divine
authorship as well.

2. Kris Lindbeck, Jewish Theological Seminary, New York

I found Aryeh Cohen’s discussion of this sugya on martyrdom and (sexual)
transgression fascinating. His discussion of Esther was particularly useful
for me, because several years ago I learned this sugya in a class which did
not recognize how problematic both the question about Esther and the
answers given by Abaye and Rava are. I also appreciated the idea that the
story at the end is a comment on one way in which a man can be “sexually
forced” — by becoming overcome with lust for a woman who does not act to
seduce him but is simply “irresistible.”

I am intrigued by Aryeh’s argument that the sugya introduces the “strong
idea that Esther was actually radically passive or . .. merely an object of
pleasure and not an agent.” In this, he contrasts Esther with Yael, whose
seductive powers are praised and exaggerated in the Bavli. His argument is
that there is no discernible reason for reading Esther as so passive, given
that in another parallel case, that of Yael, a woman’s “sexual
manipulations” are celebrated.

In the case of Yael, I wonder whether the midrash considered her an
Israelite (or, speaking anachronistically, a Jew). Although she is compared
to the Matriarchs, both the Bible and the text refer to her as the wife of
“Hever the Kenite,” who may be related to Moses’ father-in-law, but is not
part of the Israelite people. If Yael is thought to be a Gentile, then the
difference between her and Esther has an obvious source. Esther’s virtue is
preserved by a paradoxical insistence that she was sexually completely
passive — even if active in other ways. If Yael is not considered (fully)
Jewish, then her actions are not those of an Israelite woman but a
miraculous harnessing of the dangerous sexuality of Gentile women for the
cause of Israel. I like this reading because it was within the powers of
the midrash’s creators to emphasize Yael’s sexuality and seductiveness by
describing her as acting like Judith, as seducing Sisera to lull his
suspicions but never actually stooping to have intercourse with him — and
I suspect that if Yael was seen as fully Jewish that scenario would have
been preferred — especially because her intercourse with Sisera was
Thus a Gentile woman can appropriately act as a seductive sexual agent in a
good cause (there is no suggestion that Rahav ever ceased being a
prostitute), but for a virtuous Jewish woman forbidden sexual activity is
unthinkable no matter how good the motives and results.

Like several of the other respondents I find myself drawn to the textual
mystery that intrigues Aryeh as well — the two alternate readings of his
line #25 “she [the betrothed virgin] should be killed rather than submit to
transgression,” and the probably earlier alternate reading, “he should be
killed rather than be forced into transgression” (my translation — the
literal words are “he [or she] should be killed and not transgress.”)

Since I approach the Talmud as among other things a historian I wonder
whether the reading “she should [force(?) or allow(?) herself to] be
killed” is a reading which was created later, and under the influence of
European cultural concepts about rape and female virtue. As stated above,
in the case of Esther the Talmud “protects her honor” by insisting on her
complete sexual passivity. This is a strategy used in other sugyot for real
life situations as well, often in a way that seems beneficial to women who
undergo sexual assault. For the Talmud such women are pictured as passive
victims rather than as somehow colluding in the crime against them by
being, for example, too seductive (a view which is still all too present
today). A corollary of this view that the (Jewish) woman who undergoes rape
is altogether passive is that she could not have prevented the crime
against her and thus was not obligated to do so.
In contrast, Greco-Roman and later European traditions have an idea of
“death before dishonor,” a concept that a virtuous woman will do anything
possible, including killing herself or engineering her own death, to avoid
rape. This idea is alien to what I believe is the dominant strand of the
Bavli’s laws about the status of women who have been raped. One sugya on
Ketubot 51b advances — and does not conclusively refute — the idea that
married women who have been kidnapped and raped by bandits are always
considered passive victims (and thus not guilty of adultery and thus able
to return to husbands who are not priests) because they submit to sex out
of fear. Even if they are seen bringing bread — or even arrows — to their
kidnappers, they are acting only out of fear, and are not considered guilty
of adultery or of anything else.

In this case the passivity of the kidnapped women is extreme but appears to
operate in their (legal) favor; there is not even the faintest suggestion
that they should have died rather than be raped or that they might be
punished for adultery — the only question is whether sexual abuse by their
captors may ever be seen as anything except rape, even when it is not
accomplished by physical force.

On the basis of this and other passages, it seems to me that the reading
“she should die rather than transgress” might plausibly have been developed
for two reasons. First, as Aryeh says, it was chosen because some readers
of the Talmud were uncomfortable with the implication that a man may be
sexually coerced. Second, it was developed because these readers were
influenced by European ideas about rape and virtue which suggest that a
“good woman” will not allow herself to be raped — and hence that passive
submission to rape is not the best choice for a “good woman” — i.e. that
ideally “she should die rather than transgress.”

I am perhaps especially sensitive to this issue because of my experience as
a rape crisis counselor. In our training, we were taught to combat rape
survivors’ possible beliefs that they had done something wrong or they
wouldn’t have been raped; and we were also urged to examine ourselves for
any trace of similar prejudices, so that we could overcome them. These
beliefs are the legacy of a dominant European view of rape and female
virtue which people are still seeking to unravel today.