Feminism | Posted by janedoe225 on 03/11/2011

What Is Rape Culture?

well, she shouldnt have been walking there...

well, she shouldn't have been walking there...

There is a married woman and her husband works long nights and doesn’t return until the early morning. When her husband is away, the wife gets dressed up and goes to an island where she has affairs with random men. When these men get too close to her, like if they want to take their affair to the next level, she purposely gets in fights with them. Then she takes the ferry back home before her husband arrives. She’s also really drunk.

So one night she does her usual routine. She goes to the island, has sex with a guy and then acts like a jerk so they can break up. As she is on her way back to the ferry she realizes she doesn’t have enough money to get back home. She needs to get home soon before her husband comes back. She asks the ferry captain to let her go on for free. She promises the next time she comes she’ll pay double the fare. But the ferry captain tells her no.

The wife goes back to the guy she just broke up with. She’s really desperate. But of course they just got in a fight and he refuses to give her any money. She goes to a guy she was with last week, but he is still pretty pissed off and he won’t give her any money either.

She really has no option other than to walk home over the bridge. It’s really dark at night and she doesn’t want to walk home alone. But she takes the chance…and she is raped and killed by a group of thugs.

Who’s to blame for the wife being raped?

-the husband
-the wife
-the ferry captain
-ex number one
-ex number two
-the thugs

When my psychology teacher told my class this story for the first time, every single hand went up for the wife–including me. And everyone’s reason was the same: if she wasn’t slutting it up in the first place she wouldn’t have been raped.

So then my teacher changed the story a bit. What if she didn’t have a husband? What if she wasn’t having affairs with other men; she has a baby at home and the baby sitter has an emergency and had to leave. Would we still blame her? Most of our answers changed, but there were still a few that blamed the wife.

Basically the just world hypothesis is: The fundamental attribution error is based on the assumption that bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people.

Of course the wife was raped! She was a bad person, a lying slut, and she deserved it! If she were more careful, if she were sober, this wouldn’t have happened.

This makes no sense because, for a lack of a better description, a variety of people are raped. Rape victims range in age, sex/gender, race and class. And obviously not everyone who has ever been raped has been drunk or wearing shorts skirts, heels, or anything else that translates into “asking for it.”

What happens if you applied that logic to other crimes?

Your car got stolen? What were you thinking driving in a such a shitty neighborhood?
Your house was broken into? Well that’s what you get for not having a burglar alarm.
You were robbed? Well you were just asking for it by dressing really flashy.

We blame the victim, so we can distance ourselves from the possibility of bad things ever happening to us. It can never happen to us because we’re smart, we follow the rules, we know better.

If you repeat this a million times it seems like simple logic. Our ideal society claims rape is bad, but in our real culture only 6% of rapists ever see a day in jail.

Rape myths permeate our society and it spreads more thanks to forces like misogyny, racism, ableism, classism etc etc.

Like I mentioned before, dressing like a “slut” isn’t a social norm, it isn’t socially acceptable. But slut shaming mostly applies to women. It is socially acceptable for a man to have more sexual partners and engage in casual sex. When women break this social scripts, they are called sluts, whores and promiscuous. Furthermore, women are expected to be pristine and virginal.

Next, you have to examine the stereotypes pushed as truth by the dominate culture. Men just can’t control themselves. The stereotype is that men always want sex. So if a man sees a woman dressed like a slut, who shouldn’t be dressed like one any way because it’s a breaking culture mores, of course he is going to sexually assault her.

When women are harassed on the streets, for some fucked up reason, it is supposed to be considered a compliment. Men feel entitled to approach you on the street, a bar, or book store to invade your personal space. He just wants to talk to you.

Rape has nothing to do with sex. It’s about power and it’s about violence.

Common rape myths:
Myth: Rape is sex.
Fact: Rape is experienced by the victims as an act of violence. It is a life-threatening experience. One out of every eight adult women has been a victim of forcible rape. (National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, 1992) While sexual attraction may be influential, power, control and anger are the primary motives. Most rapists have access to a sexual partner. Gratification comes from gaining power and control and discharging anger. This gratification is only temporary, so the rapist seeks another victim.

Myth: Women incite men to rape.
Fact: Research has found that the vast majority of rapes are planned. Rape is the responsibility of the rapist alone. Women, children and men of every age, physical type and demeanor are raped. Opportunity is the most important factor determining when a given rapist will rape.

Myth: There is a “right way” to respond to a rape situation.
Fact: Since rape is life-threatening and each rapist has his own pattern, the best thing a victim can do is follow her instincts and observe any cues from the rapist. If the victim escapes alive she has done the right thing.

Myth: A victim should be discouraged from dwelling on the rape. She should “forget it”.
Fact: This advice generally comes from people who are more concerned with their own feelings than the victim’s. All victims should be offered the opportunity to talk about the assault with those personally close to them and knowledgeable professionals. Victims who are not allowed to talk about the rape have a much more difficult time recovering form it.

Mores facts about rape:
Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.
73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.
38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.
28% are an intimate.
7% are a relative.

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  • What Is Rape Culture? « medium – wenn schon n3rd, dann richtig! @ at 11:15 am, March 11th, 2011

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  • Katherine C. @ at 11:57 am, March 11th, 2011

    Good, thorough post. Well done!

  • Allie @ at 12:12 pm, March 11th, 2011

    i agree with you 100%. we have to get rid of these gender roles they are doing nothing for women and MEN! when you limit yourself because of what society tell you to be, you are missing out on a lot. now some may get mad at me for saying this but i do not agree with dressing in ridiculously revealing cloths,wearing booty shorts and stripper cloths, but i do not think that it warrants rape. and also there are a lot of definitions of dressing “slutty” my grandma buys me shirts that start at the neck because she does not believe in anything shorter.

  • Allie @ at 12:14 pm, March 11th, 2011

    also like to add, i am not for slut shaming. i hate it when people compaire women who have regular casual sex like a man to a prostitute it very much annoys me because their is a difference. prostitutes do it for money, not sexual pleasure, they become sexual objects, women who have casual sex want to get laid, no questions asked, they need to get some, they are being sexual beings like men. that to me is a huge difference. i only say this because some stupid troll tried to compare the two and it made me angry!

  • Allie @ at 12:15 pm, March 11th, 2011

    and no i do not think a women who is a prostitute should get raped, for those who want to twist my words!

  • Lolita @ at 2:34 pm, March 11th, 2011

    am I the only one who thing the whole thing was . . silly and that of course the thugs were to blame?

  • Natalia @ at 3:16 pm, March 11th, 2011

    I agree with you completely.

    I would never blame the wife but I would definitely think that she was at the wrong place at the wrong time. And maybe if she had stayed home just that one night, she would have survived :(

    But I blame it on the rapists and even the ferry captain and her ex boyfriends. Not because it’s their job as “men” but because that’s what you do as a human being.

  • NWOslave @ at 3:55 pm, March 11th, 2011

    2009 307,006,550 3,465.5 429.4 3,036.1 5.0 28.7

    Here is the actual number of rapes taken from the “UCR Crime Statistics” which stands for United State Crime Rate. 2009 is the year, 307,006,550 is the population and the last number 28.7 is the number of forcible rapes per 100,000 people.

    So if 1/2 are women 50,000 and we divide that by 28.7, 50,000/28.7= 1742. That means the true number is 1 in 1742 which in no way can translate into 1 in 8.

    No one is argueing rape is not a horrible crime, these men should be beaten to within an inch of their lives a imprisoned for 20 years.

    Worse then this stat is the often used 1 in 4 women in college are raped along with the gospel truth of 90% of women don’t report rapes. Colleges these days run about 60% women and 40% men. So if there are 1000 student 600 are women and 25%, 150 reported being raped but an additional 90%, 1350 didn’t report being raped and thats a total of 1500. Now say 10% of the 400 men are rapists, that means 40 men rape 1500 times. Which means each of these men commits 37.5 rapes while in college.

    This article futher states, “Research has found that the vast majority of rapes are planned.” Are you kidding me? I guess if you commit 37.5 rapes in college you’re gonna need some damn good mastermind planning allright.

    I guess if the above stats were true we would live in a rape culture. Picture this father/daughter moment…Father, “Well sweetie it looks like you’re graduating college.” Daughter, “No daddy please!” Father, “Thats right little lady time to make a woman out of you, off to college.” Daughter, “No daddy please don’t make me go!!!” Think about it, it’s insane. No one would ever send their daughter to college and no woman would want to go.

    This article also states, “Rape has nothing to do with sex. It’s about power and it’s about violence.” If a thief steals it’s about theft, If a murderer kills it’s about death, if a vandal vandalizes it’s about vandalizing. They all had “power” to commit a crime but it’s about that particular crime NOT power. Rape is about sex, because if there is no sex there is no rape.

    Can’t you see how I’m trying to help you? If you tell an individual man or men in general that 1 in 1500 women are raped, we’re going to say, let’s lock these pieces of shit up so they never see the light of day. If you tell us 1 in 4 or 1 in 8 women are raped, and I know 160 women which means between 20 and 40 of them should’ve been forcible raped yet none have been…So if a woman is raped for real, these men who’ve been told this lie and easily deduced it was a lie might just think she’s part of the bogus stat and say well it was just a lovers tiff.

    Here’s a stat you might not know about, every time men have to listen some lie about living in a “rape culture” we become a little more sceptical. How readily should I put myself in danger to stop a rape in progress when the following day I might read or hear on the news some woman spouting off how “all men are potential rapists?”

    Do you now see how I’m helping you? I might risk my life to save you from a burning building, but if I’m continually demonized as a potential rapist, I might not.

  • Paul S. @ at 5:30 pm, March 11th, 2011

    Students at the George Washington University have recently been in conflict with the student newspaper over rape culture: http://thesecondsexcolumn.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/the-one-where-they-take-down-the-hatchet-sady-doyle-style/

  • Hecuba @ at 6:08 pm, March 11th, 2011

    Fact is rape is about male sexual power and men’s belief in their right of sexual access to any woman/girl 24/7. That is why men who commit rape commonly claim ‘but I didn’t rape her I just used a little pressure.’ Why? Because men are socialised by our male supremacist society to believe it is their innate right to have sexual access to any woman and furthermore male sexuality continues to be defined as one wherein a male dominates and controls the female. He decides when, if and how he will initiate sexual contact and what the woman wants are irrelevant – instead she can either submit or refuse. If she refuses the man commonly ignores her and forces her to submit to his demands. That is our rape culture – a society wherein men are told it is their innate right to have sexual access to any woman – provided she is not the property of some other male.

    Therefore only certain ‘rapes’ are real rapes because all the other ‘rapes’ are just acts of normal male sexual entitlement to women and their bodies. That is why women still do not have sexual autonomy or ownership of their bodies because they are supposedly men’s sexual property.

    Read Rus Funk’s book Stopping Rape because he writes from a male perspective and he shows how men are socialised into believing they have innate right of sexual access to women and/or girls.

  • The Raisin Girl @ at 6:59 pm, March 11th, 2011

    This has got to be the most concise explanation of rape culture I have ever seen. Facebook sharing this.

  • Andrew Pelt @ at 7:28 pm, March 11th, 2011

    If I were you, I would optimize this blog more. So more people will come and enjoy your nice posts. Thanks.

  • Halle @ at 11:29 pm, March 11th, 2011

    Great article but when I read the situation and the subsequent question about whose fault it was I immediately thought the people who raped her. Her previous actions led no way into being raped- just because someone does something bad doesn’t mean something bad must also happen to them. I don’t understand why anyone would blame the wife. Yes, it was her fault she was walking along the dark bridge, but ultimately she didn’t incite the rape.

  • Quinc @ at 2:10 am, March 12th, 2011

    As I understand it these seemingly absurdly high statistics come from studies where they ask men and women “Have you ever been forced or coerced into sex?” or “Have you ever forced or coerced someone into sex?” or a variant. I think few would say yes if you used the word rape, but you’d be surprised.

    1 in 4 men in Southern Africa, apparently. Feel free to scream

    A feminist blog, there’s also a book version, discusses a pair of similar studies in detail. Has the specific questions asked in bold halfway. A little over 6% said yes.

    I remember (but can’t find the link) that there was a study on a college campus where 1 in 4 women said yes, which matches the statistic many feminists use. There was a controversy as some journalist debated the definition of rape used. But really how else do you define rape other than “Forced or coerced sex?” or “Sex without clear minded consent?”

    I think another important element of rape culture is that we don’t always call forced or coerced sex “rape”.

    The idea is that women submit to the man’s sexual desire rather than her own. Often whether or not a guy gets laid is a matter of how awesome he is, and not what the woman wants. We need to change this thinking.

  • Sargasso Sea @ at 5:32 pm, March 12th, 2011

    “U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1999) estimated that 91% of rape victims are female and 9% are male, with 99% of the offenders being male.”

    Perhaps you could add this rape statistic to the list as well? I think it is important to always remember who is perpetrating these crimes upon women, children and men too.

  • Teasaidh @ at 2:29 am, March 14th, 2011

    Regarding NWOslave’s comment: “…the true number is 1 in 1742 which in no way can translate into 1 in 8.”

    The statistic 1 in 8 refers does not refer to the number of women who are raped in any given year, but to the number of women living who have ever been raped in their lifetimes.

    If you are lucky enough to know 160 women who have never been raped, consider yourself lucky. Or consider that they may not be telling you everything about their lives.

  • Rachel @ at 12:17 am, March 15th, 2011

    “Men just can’t control themselves. The stereotype is that men always want sex. So if a man sees a woman dressed like a slut, who shouldn’t be dressed like one any way because it’s a breaking culture mores, of course he is going to sexually assault her.”

    We continue to fight this stereotype; we know that men are capable of living their lives without sexually assaulting women. Yet somehow, feminists get called “man-haters”. Something doesn’t add up. I think the real man-haters are the ones who think so little of men they they honestly believe men can’t help but rape women.

  • Adrien Gogh @ at 7:05 am, March 15th, 2011

    I know what you mean about the victim being blamed, I am a serious appreciator of music (I have been categorized as “addicted”) so the day I got on the bus and looked for my I-pod and realized IT WASN’T THERE! I completely freaked, I called everybody I knew would help. But when I called the school board they said “they would handle it tomorrow” yeah right! It would have been on the other side of the planet by tomorrow, for all I knew. Luckily there were some after-school activities on that day and the person who had stolen my I-pod was attending. And yes I knew it was Stolen, I mean it’s my most valuable belonging, I can’t live without it. The I-pod was found and returned to me the next day; the person who had stolen it didn’t even get blamed because she insisted that it wasn’t her. But the thing that actually made me fell mad was that the principle told me “It was my fault, for bringing it to school.” I mean I only take it out of its case on the bus, and at school it is (and always will be) safely tucked in a secret corner of my satchel. So yeah I got blamed for being a music addict, for being me.

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  • Ankhe @ at 2:06 pm, July 5th, 2011

    You’re right. Rape is always exclusively the rapist’s fault. Nothing can induce forcing someone to submit to unwanted sex, period.
    Those who say “bad things happen to bad people” or “she looked for it” are forgetting CHILDREN get raped. How could a child be other than innocent and unknowing? Rapists do seek power, domination. The only thing that entices them is the availability of the victim, its helplessness. They behave EXACTLY like predators (those always go for the weakest prey of the herd).
    Also, rape has always been a weapon against vanquished enemies, a way to assert domination.
    No, it is not about sex.
    The sexual kick derived from raping is extremely poor. The rapist’s thrill comes from the fear, the rejection, the pain and distress of the victim. Rapists are, at their core, sadists. It’s a true perversion, something no sane man would ever stoop to.

    In the story you presented, there is only one culprit: the gang of thugs.

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  • Lilian @ at 4:40 pm, November 9th, 2013

    In the beginning, you sortof almost mention that IF someone were to wear a short skirt, with a shirt that says; DARE to rape me!’ that it would be your own fault…
    I dont know if I read that wrong…but rape is unwanted sex. So even if you’re halfway in the middle of having ‘nice’ sex, and you change your mind, it can become rape… Rape is NEVER the victims fault, never never never….
    And it’s important to keep mentioning that, because most victims tell themselves they probably made a misstake, when they actually did not.

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