Rape Culture Is:

If you’ve recently delved into the depths of the internet you will have seen references to the term ‘rape culture’, which has recently come into our daily vernacular. Some of these may include:

“Oh god, yet another crazy term feminists are dreaming up to push their own agenda.”

“Rape culture is a myth created to justify misandry.”

“LOL – it’s not rape culture if it’s a joke. Calm down you psycho!”

While internet trolls provide us with endless entertainment and reasons to be enraged, rape culture is in fact an academic term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970’s. It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence.

Since then, a number of feminists have provided great definitions of what rape culture is and how it plays out in our everyday lives. Emilie Buchwald, author of Transforming a Rape Culture, defines rape culture as: “a complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and support violence…”

Rape culture encompasses behaviours and beliefs that involve victim blaming, trivializing rape, sexual objectification, denial of widespread rape, making jokes about rape, stigmatizing rape victims, using rape in warfare, etc. etc.

Rape culture manifests itself by continuously normalizing sexualized violence until it is an accepted notion in mainstream society. It is exacerbated by victim blaming, stigmatization of rape victims, and police apathy in handling rape cases that often leads to reluctance on the part of victims to go to the authorities.

In a rape culture, women exist within a scope of threatened violence that ranges from sexual comments muttered under one’s breath, to unwanted touching, to rape. Both men and women in a society that perpetuates rape culture understand sexual violence as ‘just the way things are’. Rather than seeing the culture of rape as an issue necessitating change, individuals believe the persistence of sexual assault as an inevitable part of life.

But what exactly is rape culture?

Rape culture is…

The existence of “Keep Calm & Rape Me” shirts.

The media grieving when rapists get convicted because it will ruin their ‘promising’ lives.

Rap songs that sing “popped a molly in her drink, she ain’t even know it”.

That nearly one in five women are raped in the United States.

When a kid loses their soccer game and says they “got raped” by the other team.

A Federal Court judge berating a sexual assault victim; holding a “dismissive, if not contemptuous” outlook toward sexual assault laws and perpetuating numerous rape myths.

Sexual assault prevention education programs teaching women various measure to take in order to prevent being raped, rather than teaching men why it is that they cannot rape.

People continuously purporting how often women make false accusations of rape, when in reality the number for false reports is between 2-8%, as reported by The National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women.

The endless measures which women take to protect themselves from harassment, assault and/or rape.

The hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in the United States.

Society trying to determine if it was a “violent rape” because they do not understand that all sexual assault is inherently violent.

Photo ‘alterations’ like this:

rape photo

A university allowing the student orientation chant: “Y is for your sister. O is for oh-so-tight. U is for underage. N is for no consent. G is for grab that ass.”

Defending celebrities who are accused of rape, back up by endless evidence, simply based on their public disposition, and ignoring or denouncing the victim(s). (Think Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi.)

The ubiquity of street harassment and the repeated insistence that ‘it’s a compliment’ or ‘it isn’t that serious’.

Out of 100 rape cases, only 3 alleged rapists will ever spend a day in jail.

Politicians who justify rape in so many different ways a chart is made of the different ‘kinds’ of rape.

Widespread retaliation when campus rape victims share their stories.

North American school dress codes that prohibit girls from wearing ‘revealing’ outfits because it will distract the boys. When girls are in violation of the dress code they are sent home to change, rather than teaching boys to not objectify and sexualize girls.

A business using the decal of a bound and gagged woman to “promote the business” and increase sales.

The Canadian Criminal Code allowing the accused in a case of sexual assault to use as a defence, his/her belief that the complainant consented to the act, unlike any other criminal offense.

Every. Single. Rape. Joke.

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3 comments

  1. Globe & Mail, November 9, 2015: ” The Federal Court of Canada is not allowing one of its judges to hear any cases involving sexual conduct, a rare step, pending the outcome of a review by a judges’ disciplinary body of his handling of a rape case in 2014. The review comes after an appeal court said Justice Robin Camp had fallen prey to myths and stereotypes about sex-assault victims in acquitting a man of rape.”

  2. Excellent Paula. xo Bri

  3. It’s sad how easy it us to come up with a litany of examples. I recently finished reading “Asking For It” by Kate Harding, and I thought it did a great job of laying out the problem and also providing good responses for when you’re arguing with someone who doesn’t believe it exists.

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