What is Rape Culture?

We’ve had a few posts this week using this tag, and we’re getting some backlash.   Some folks get pretty testy when the concept of rape culture is brought up, and while my natural inclination is to be not nice, I’m going to try a slightly different track – education.  

This may turn out to be as productive as slamming my thumbs in the fridge door over and over, but who knows, maybe we can change some hearts and minds.  I’d like to offer a special thanks to this post by Shakesville’s Melissa for helping me articulate what I was thinking better than “SELENA SMASH.”  Also a big shout out to RAINN’s statistics page for the first part of what follows.

Rape Statistics

1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape)
17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.
About 3% of American men – or 1 in 33 – have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. (That’s 1 in 10)
2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.
15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.
In 1995, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse.
In 2007, there were 248,300 victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. (These figures do not include victims 12 years old or younger.)
Sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes, with 60% still being left unreported.
Males are the least likely to report a sexual assault, though they make up about 10% of all victims.

If a rape is reported, there is slightly more than 50% chance an arrest will be made.
If an arrest is made, there is an 80% chance of prosecution.
If there is a prosecution, there is a 58% chance of conviction.
If there is a conviction, there is a 69% chance the accused will spend any time in jail.

So, if 100 rapes are reported, only 50 of the accused rapists will be arrested. Of those, 40 will go to court. Of those, 24 will be convicted, and of those 16 will actually serve any time in jail. That’s not accounting for the 60% of rapes and sexual assaults that are never reported to law enforcement.

What is rape culture?
Rape culture is using the threat of prison rape against men as a crime deterrent.
Rape culture is putting the onus of responsibility to not get raped on the potential victims. (Don’t wear revealing clothing, don’t leave your drink unattended, don’t flirt, don’t be a prick tease, don’t go places alone at night) This implies that women who do wear revealing clothing, leave their drinks, etc. get raped as punishment for not following the rules.
Rape culture is using a woman’s sexual history to prove she couldn’t be raped, because she was a slut.
Rape culture is romanticizing sexual violence.
Rape culture is Judge Joe Rehyanksy of Hamil­ton County, Ten­nessee, advocating raping lesbian soldiers to turn them straight.
Rape culture is creating a Frigid Farrah sex robot that will resist your sexual advances so you can play rape it.
Rape culture is when any woman’s body (or images of her body) is/are used in a sexual way without her consent.
Rape culture is the belief that consent is over-rated.
Rape culture is using rape as a tool of war.
Rape culture is saying that sex workers and wives can’t be raped.
Rape culture is saying only “good” girls can be raped.
Rape culture is starting a description of a woman who was raped, murdered, dismembered and left in a dumpster by saying she drank too much.
Rape culture is the assumption that men can’t help but rape drunk women, sex workers, women who wear revealing clothes or women who need or want to go places by themselves.
Rape culture is saying someone just needs to get fucked so they’ll loosen up.
Rape culture is treating women’s (and men’s) bodies as a commodity.
Rape culture is jokes about prison rape.

Rape culture hurts everyone, men and women alike.

I know I’m not even close to being comprehensive here,  so please add what I didn’t in the comments.  We have incredibly articulate and conscientious commenters around here, I know you folks can add a lot.

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

4 replies on “What is Rape Culture?”

“Rape culture is saying someone just needs to get fucked so they’ll loosen up.”

That one REALLY bothers me, and I can’t really articulate exactly why.
I don’t know if I would have been able to move past the wanting to smash things. I’m saving this and will show it to annoying people in the future, in hopes that it will have an effect.

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