WAS JOAN RAPED?
Judith Fein, Ph.D.
My disclaimer: not being a Catholic, I will not or cannot get into these religious discussions about rape of the body but not the spirit. Nor, am I going into dictionaries for definitions. I am been intrigued with Jeanne for almost 50 years. I have read about her extensively, went to "her places" in France, even learned to speak French and learned fencing (to the point of being a State Champion)--all due to her influence in my life. She taught me to be a strong woman when being a strong woman wasn't a very popular notion.
My background is that I have been teaching self-defense for women (as well as co-ed classes) since 1975. I have a black belt in Tae k'won do which I received from the Koreans when I was a captain in army during the Vietnam War. I have a Ph.D. and have written three books on self-defense for women and are currently working on my fourth "Breaking the Intimidation Game - Self-Defense and Survival"). I have pioneered in the psychology of rape defense.
Now, let me explain about rape. Rape, for most women, is a very important issue. I don't know how most men can be expected to understand this most personal of violations. I'll quote from my 1993 "Exploding the Myth of Self-Defense" book (out of print--but in most libraries): "The fear of rape hangs over women's heads during their entire lifetimes. It is a fear, which is instilled into them in early childhood. It is a fear, which keeps women from achieving their full potential, from being their own persons... It is a fear that is passed on from generation to generations... "Rape is a very personal violation where a woman's power is taken away from her by force. The effect on most women can last a lifetime.
In my professional opinion, was Jeanne raped. NO!! It was very important for her to remain a virgin (she was known as La Pucelle.) La Pucelle, which translates as the virgin, was far more important in concept in the 15th Century than it is today. Being La Pucelle enabled her to me androgynous and also pure and from God (because the Devil could have no influence on a virgin.) Jeanne wore men's clothing (which was different in the 15th Century than now.) Ask our group historians for descriptions--zippers and velcro did not exist. She wore the men's clothing for several reasons, one so that she would not be looked upon as a woman (in the sexual and societal sense) and for other practical reasons. The clothing helped protect her in prison, where she was harried day and night by low class English scum jailers. She was in the habit of fighting her captors off.
Rape is about intimidation. Psychological intimidation. Unless the "victim" is unconscious or held down forcibly by overwhelming odds, the person who submits to rape is coerced into cooperating--into panicking or freezing with fear. We have no accounts of this happening. The word "molesting" in the mediaeval sense does not necessary translate as rape. Jeanne said that she was molested by an English lord. She also said that her body was whole and uncorrupted. The Jeanne that I have grown to know would have fought to the best of her ability not to be raped. It is true, that at the time of this molestation, she was wearing women's clothing. She still would not have stopped her from her old pattern of fighting back and refusing to be intimidated. I firmly believe that whoever wins the battle for intimidation wins.
So--If you want to believe that Jeanne was raped, than you don't believe what Joan herself said.