Rape culture

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Part of the series on

Human sexuality

Icon sex.svg
A baker's dozen on sex
Gender signs.png

Rape culture is a social theory that states that in many cultures, there are unconscious, subconscious, or worse..conscious ways in which a society and its culture trivializes, rationalizes, and even condones sexual acts of violence despite being nominally against rape in the abstract. To put it another way, The theory of rape culture is a concept that "links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society, and in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape."[1]


[edit] What rape culture involves

  • How forms of rape that don't conform to a (deeply offensive and sexist) specific set of standards aren't as important as those that do. That is, if the rape doesn't involve male stranger(s) on younger female victim penile-vaginal penetration with a large degree of force, then it's not "real rape" and can be downplayed or apologized for as necessary.[2]
  • How cases where the victim is male or where the perpetrator is female aren't generally taken seriously. [3] [4]
  • Related to the above, very naked and hateful victim blaming if the victim was shown to be "out of line" at any point. Once the well is poisoned, rape can be pushed into the gray area before being denied entirely. Even if a rape victim actually does meet the maximum standards for sympathy, the implication is that the rapist's transgression against traditional values and polite society was more important than the actual act of violence done to the victim.[5]
  • White-washing the perpetrator. They can be direct excuses such as "He's a man, she was leading him on, he couldn't help it" or more indirect ones such as "If you don't want to be prison-raped, don't go to prison!" This often happens when celebrities such as Woody Allen[6], Roman Polanski[7], and well-known athletes in general[8] are accused of sexual assault, with many people invoking their other work as some kind of justification to prevent or drop charges.
  • Dehumanizing the victim. The victim has to "justify" his/her report of rape in a way a mugging victim does not. Emergency room staff talk of "DNA evidence in the vagina," and "make sure to photograph all the bruises on the victim," in a way which is insensitive to the victim. This aspect is an unfortunate side-effect of the compartmentalization and disconnection emergency workers have to utilize to keep their sanity in the face of daily tragedies (and most still end up on antidepressants anyway[9][10]).
  • The downplay and ignoring of warning signs that often precede rape such as sexual harrassment, sexual humiliation, non-coital sexual assault such as unwanted breast or ass-grabbing, and the objectification and othering of victims by rape apologists.
  • Eroticization and romanticization of rape in popular culture, without showing the negative side effects or at least imploring a heavy degree of due diligence from the audience.[11]
  • The urban legend that women don't want sex, and must be "encouraged" to have sex. Played out in the old joke "No! Don't! Stop! No, don't stop!"
  • Overplaying incidents of false or politically motivated rape accusations in order to create a cloud of doubt on all potential rapes. While there will always be some scumbags who make intentionally false accusations of any kind of crime, one gets the impression that false rape accusations get so much attention in order to preemptively shame anyone without an ironclad case to silence. This can create a chilling effect on rape victims who don't want to be accused of lying and/or be subject to the media circus afterwards.
  • Allowing a rapist to sue for custody of any children. This is legal in 31 states, and usually used by defense attorneys to get a reduced sentence for the rapist ("if you reduce his sentence, we won't sue for custody of any children"). But, it still happens that rapists really do sue for custody — and sometimes, they win.[12]
  • Jokes and other humor about rape is generally viewed as problematic due to trying to bring levity to the horror of sexual assault. In particular, jokes that marginalize victims by framing rape as a forgivable and just retribution for some other action (usually grossly disproportionate to the punishment e.g. "leading a man on" or "heckling a comedian"[13]) propagates rape culture[14]. This includes jokes with male victims and prison rape, which feminists are just as much against as ones about male-on-female abuse[15].

[edit] What rape culture isn't

Bear Hanlon's razor in mind; rape culture is not a conscious conspiracy by men to keep women "in their place". It's more of a question of cultural inertia for most people, the results of not questioning the beliefs on gender relations that they were brought up with. There are people -- too many -- who actively deny women's rights, but even they aren't actively conspiring with anyone else for the most part; they're mostly just authoritarian assholes who should be ignored. Victim blaming in particular is often done out of denialism by the pseudo-logic that if there's something that "causes" rape, there must also be a way to not cause it and thus be safe. All that said, a problem is still a problem, whether the perpetrators are intending to hurt or not.

[edit] In practice in the US

  • Rape kits, used to collect evidence of rape, have been frequently charged back to the victim. Alaska under Sarah Palin is perhaps the most well known example, but at the time, over 20 states were doing the exact same thing. Victims (or their families) of muggings, theft or murder are not charged with the cost of collecting evidence.
  • A US reality of 1 in 5 women being raped, and 1 in 4 women facing sexual violence or rape of some kind.[16]
  • A prison industry where more than 10% of the men will be raped at some point in their incarceration. Because it is "expected" and they are "just criminals" little to nothing is done about this epidemic.[17]
  • Debates in the US House attempting to articulate what a "legitimate" rape is, vs... well, we aren't sure vs., what. The specific language they were debating was "forcible rape", which is the only type of rape that would be covered by US aid from the Violence Against Women Act, would be used for FBI and CDC statistics about the commonality of rape and pregnancy and diseases born from those rapes, and would of course be the defining example for any exception to abortion law, or access to federal funds for abortion.
  • In the US at least, it is becoming more and more common for rape victims to have their pictures in the newspaper,[citation needed] an incredibly disturbing thing to do to the victim of any crime, and a demonstration of complete lack of empathy for the victim by the "reporters" who do this, and the societies that allow this kind of nonsense to happen.
  • Twitter, Facebook and other social media are often outlets for images of rape victims and/or support for rapists, especially when so-called "popular" students are involved. Steubinville[18] is the most recognized incident.

[edit] Continuing fights against rape culture

  • Rape shield laws[wp] and victim confidentiality laws are specific attempts by various governments to fight rape culture. The former is to fight various victim blaming tactics often used by defense lawyers (most commonly invasive questions about sexual history) while the latter is to prevent harassment and discrimination of victims.
  • In 2013, after sustained pressure from women's groups, both Twitter and Facebook reviewed their policies around incidents of rape, threats of rape, and jokes about rape. Facebook agreed to view any images of rape, or humor specifically supporting rape or violence against women as hate speech and agreed to remove those types of images. Twitter, a medium that is a haven for threats of rape against out spoken women[19][20][21][22] agreed in early August, 2013 that it would provide a better way to report such threats.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture
  2. A particularly ugly example of this.
  3. [1]
  4. [2]
  5. The blog Yes Means Yes refers to this stereotyping as the social script of stranger rape.
  6. Woody Allen's Defenders and Rape Culture
  7. Over 100 In Film Community Sign Polanski Petition
  8. Why Are Colleges So Terrible at Following Up on Rape Accusations Against Football Players?
  9. Psychological issues faced by disaster rescue and response workers
  10. Study: 911 Dispatchers Experience PTSD Symptoms Too
  11. This isn't to say that people shouldn't be allowed to have any form of entertainment and fantasy they want as long as it doesn't involve a real-world crime. However, the lackadaisical or ambiguous messages sent by heteronormative pop culture often ends up creating an environment in which actual rape can be pushed into the aforementioned grey area.
  12. [3]
  13. Why Daniel Tosh’s ‘Rape Joke’ at the Laugh Factory Wasn’t Funny
  14. A woman walks into a rape, uh, bar
  15. Why Your Justin Bieber Prison Jokes Perpetuate Rape Culture
  16. http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/SV-DataSheet-a.pdf
  17. http://bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=4373
  18. Wikipedia Stueubenville article
  19. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/twitter-trolls-send-mary-beard-2123303
  20. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jul/29/labour-mp-stella-creasy-twitter-rape-threats
  21. http://jezebel.com/if-comedy-has-no-lady-problem-why-am-i-getting-so-many-511214385
  22. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/aug/04/caroline-criado-perez-twitter-rape-threats
Personal tools