Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Remember When . . . Women Were Possessions?

The title doesn't exactly narrow down what time period I'm talking about today, does it? Not this century, but otherwise . . . =)

Since I've spent the last few weeks whipping A Stray Drop of Blood into shape and getting it off to my endorsers, then working on my Companion Guide (aka Encyclopedia Roseann-ica), I've got ancient history on the brain. And one of the topics in said guide, because of its relevance, to the story, is the Mosaic law on what happens when a man forces himself on a woman.

According to Deuteronomy 22, here's how it works. If a woman is betrothed, and a man rapes her, he is to be killed. If she's not betrothed, then he has to marry her, with no possibility for divorce. Great, huh?

Now, for the most part I'm totally on board with the Law of Moses. I think they make sense, that they create a stable and healthy society. But there are definitely times when I'm glad the social conscience has evolved, and this is one of those times.

As I read it, what these particular instructions come down to is that women are possessions. Rape is not an offense against them, but against the man who possesses them. If a man rapes a woman whose body belongs to another man, it is a crime against that man. Hence the punishment of death. And if the woman doesn't cry out, she'll be killed too.

This really grabbed my imagination, as I considered the different situations and ramifications that could result from this. I always ask, "What if?" What if a girl knows that if she cries out against a man, someone will come and try to save her? But what if that someone is a slave, and if he raises his hand against his master, he'll be killed? What then? Would she keep silent to save her friend?

Naturally, I complicate things a lot beyond this simple Law in Stray Drop. It's all mixed up because of my heroine's status, the complicated line between bondservant and slave, her feelings, the outlooks of the various men, and the clash between Roman law and Hebrew law. For more info on all these things, check out that Companion Guide!


  1. As I'm reading Stray Drop, that's one of the most heart pulling issues you deal with. It's actually heart breaking at times.