I Don’t Want To End Rape Culture. I Want To DESTROY It.

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If anything positive and encouraging could come out of something as horrible as the Steubenville case, it’s the growing attention to ending rape culture. There is a problem here,though. There are people angrily proclaiming ,”We must end rape culture now!” but then there’s a whole other group of people who are like, “Rape has a culture? Can you make yogurt from it? Can you see it in a museum?”.

To change the rape culture, many more people need to become aware or even just acknowledge that there is a rape culture and where it comes from. To change something, you need to understand how it works and what caused it in the first place.Rape culture by almost  exact definition is the denial that there even is a problem. It isn’t just as simple as telling everyone to knock it the hell off and stop raping or to stop victim blaming. It’s complicated. It’s going to take a lot of work. It’s going to take a lot of education and awareness. There will need to be more activists for this cause than there ever has been before. But I’m an altruistic sucker for impossible feats that change the world.

So,hey….let’s do this thing.

What It Is

The popularization of the  term “rape culture” was born through the Slut Walk and Indian sister-movement Besharmi Morcha when they referred to the term in protests. The protesters defined a rape culture to be as ‘a culture where sexual violence is both made to be invisible and inevitable”.

Before this, the term began to be used in the 70s by feminist theorists and wasn’t used much outside women’s studies classrooms and the feminist community. The  feminist protesters in Slut Walks threw it out there and it became something that made sense to a lot of people, both survivors of rape and those aware of the issue through association, who had never studied feminism in a classroom  but certainly knew what it felt like to be living in a rape culture. The Slut Walk rallies were a dividing force in the feminist community from different angles. Some feminists felt that embracing the word “slut” & wearing of provocative clothing during the rallies only fed into the patriarchal sexualization of women and women of color felt excluded and refused to embrace a term that was culturally insensitive. However negative some feminists viewed the Slut Walks themselves, the term “rape culture” is a widely accepted part of the language used to discuss rape in a vast majority of the feminist community. The fine lines of acceptance of rape culture  exists when we start examining rape as it happens not just to women but to men & children,too; and rape & sexual violence perpetrated by women. Overall,though, the expression is now also used by others who don’t see or think of themselves as feminists but recognize the problematic issues we have in our society.

To expand on the Slut Walk truncated definition, rape culture is a societal acceptance that rape is something that “just happens  *shrug* ” .Even if many say outwardly that they think rape is horrible, the collective society does not behave as if they support that statement.  There is an aura of shame attached to the victims of rape. Victims of rape are blamed and held mostly responsible for the violence against them instead of the rapist being held accountable & responsible for his actions. The shame & blame silences victims and prevents them from speaking out . Perpetrators and others who are witness to how these scenes play out are presented this idea that rape isn’t that bad, and that those who are raped probably deserved it anyway.

What the fuck?! How did this happen?

The simple answer is sexism.

[via Cherry Bomb Zine ]

At the base of rape culture lies this thing we (society) has been doing to women for -fucking- ever : objectifying  & treating women as a lesser,weaker type of human being, just put on this planet to be a pair of tits and a vagina. Alongside this is the societal concept of what defines masculinity. You know…real men conquer,take what they want, and dominate everyone like a boss.  Rape has become a very useful way for men to exert power,control, and dominance. Since it’s a man’s prerogative to do this and women are held in such low regard anyway, it’s become this acceptable thing that men just do as their entitlement as a male  and women…oh,those evil temptresses! They cause all this trouble with their tricky,sneaky feminine wiles . It’s all their fault anyway.

And that honestly feels like a really bad explanation about how sexism plays into this. It feels unfair to refer to men and women in such a generalized way because we as a huma society are more complex than just that but so is sexism. The sexism that is at the base of rape culture could be something as simple as thinking a boy pushing a girl around on the playground and pulling her hair as “cute” and part of how kids act  or statements that place no value on a woman as a person . Like saying breasts are so great because “you can’t motorboat a personality”, implying that the greatest asset a woman has is her boobs, not the content of her being

Obviously,other things play into how a rape culture works. It goes  deeper than sexism and that explanation only addresses men as the perpetrators & females as the victims, which is an inaccurate picture of who rape victims can be. However, once this wide acceptance and trivialization is there, the base cause feeds into and produces the same end result, regardless or sex or gender of perp & victim.

We could probably attribute quite a bit of it to the increasing apathy and desensitization human beings have developed  for other’s pain,suffering and struggles.

I asked people via social media earlier this week to tell me how we end rape culture. I’ve consolidated, edited,and elaborated upon all of the responses and put them in a handy list here. You can see some of the responses here . Consider the comments section on this post to be an open thread to have a dialogue about how we can better understand rape culture and the ways we can kick it’s fucking ass into the history books.

How To End Rape Culture

1. Teach your sons not to rape instead of teaching your daughters to not get raped.

2. Stop focusing on what women are wearing & determining her rape-deserving-factor based on her clothing. People have been raped wearing burqas, military uniforms,nuns habits,mini-skirts,nothing at all, and diapers. Clothing is irrelevant.

3. Every sex ed program and school handbook in the country needs to include complete and thorough explanation of what consent is.

4. Teenage boys should have to watch videos at school of girls talking about how being raped has messed up their lives. Even better would be if there were girls/women who would be brave enough to go to schools to talk about it in person.

5. When we see and hear major news outlets reporting on a matter that is rape or abuse  related, hold them accountable for not using language that feeds into rape culture. Point it out on public forums such as their Facebook & Twitter accounts, call or write letters to protest & educate.

6. Accept that rape is not a trivial thing that means nothing and has no long lasting,permanent effects. If it was a meaningless act, it wouldn’t be used strategically in war.

7. Teach your daughters it’s okay to enjoy sex, that she doesn’t have to be convinced. That if she wants it, to ask for it. No coyness.

8. Respect and teach that human beings are all sexual beings but that sex is something you do WITH another person, not TO someone.

9. Truthful and actual facts about rape. Not any of that “a woman’s body just shuts that whole thing down” nonsense.

10. It may seem like it’s humanizing rape victims & helping people empathize, but saying things such as, “What if it was your daughter or sister?” isn’t helpful & in a way perpetuates rape culture  by advancing the idea that a woman is only valuable in so much as she is loved or valued by a man .

11. It’s a myth that women commonly lie abut being raped. This needs to be debunked. If the topic of someone being raped should come up and someone states, “She could be lying.”, you know what to do. Put an end to that shit now.

12. Be an active parent ,teacher, or role model who teaches and demonstrates compass-

ion,empathy, and awareness of how to just be a decent human being. More than rape culture can be cured.

13. Take the feminist movement seriously.  Every aspect of rape culture are things feminists have been working to change for a fucking long time. Maybe change can happen a little faster if everyone pays closer attention. You don’t have to call yourself a feminist to work towards the same goals of equality & better treatment of human being.


14: Feminists: Get off your high horse & stop alienating people who are not part of your world. Elitist scoffing at people who are just as angry and trying to understand it all isn’t helping anything. Not everyone has taken feminist theory classes or read every single word Andrea Dworkin. Also: respect that other feminists may not embrace all the same theories & if you just concentrate efforts fighting about who’s theory is correct and proper feminism, then nothing will ever change. Stop worrying about the theories and just be activists for change.

15. More men need to speak up & be a guy like Henry Rollins or Tony Porter.Men should want to refute the stigmas surrounding rape.

16. Teach your kids that if there’s a girl puking all over herself at a party, HELP HER. Don’t stand by and allow her to be taken advantage of because she’s in a vulnerable state. This applies to adults who see someone in a vulnerable position.

17. If you witness sexual abuse or rape happening, don’t be the asshole who just walks away and lets it happen.

18. Recognize that even “nice guys” rape and don’t take their side just because you previously thought they were such a nice guy. A lot of abusers and rapists are sociopaths who are fantastic at presenting a nice guy visage. Once you find out  who they really are, don’t stand up for them or take their side.

19. Foster acceptance of people who do not live in the sex or gender role they were biologically born into and all LGBT people. Acts of sexualized violence against people who do not fit into the heteronormative mold are a huge problem.  Make it acceptable for people to be who they are meant to be. Show zero tolerance for those who cultivate the hate.

20. Stop slut shaming. It doesn’t matter how many sexual partners someone has had in the past or presently. What a woman choose to do with her body consensual is up to her and whether she is promiscuous or not is irrelevant. No one is “asking for it”.Nope, not even sex workers.

21. Don’t ever joke about rape. It only helps to trivialize it.

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More To Read On The Hows, Whys ,and What To Do About Rape Culture From Around The Web

Steubenhell on Earth from Americas Studies

“Asking for it”: some personal thoughts on conquest, discipline, and women’s bodies from The Shadows of Birds

Steubenville, Bullying and a Culture of Rape from The Redhead Bedhead

What We Should Teach Our Daughters (and Sons) About Rape from DeBie Hive

Ending Rape Culture from DeBie Hive

So, You’re Tired Of Hearing About Rape Culture? from Rant Against The Random

I Did Nothing from A Lot of Layers

The Healthy Sex Talk:Teaching Kids Consent,Ages 1-21 from The Good Men Project

Teaching Kids About Consent (and How Not To Rape) from Anktangle

25 Things Our Sons need to know about Manhood from A Holy Experience

The Day I Taught How Not To Rape from Accidental Devotional

What No One Is Saying About the Steubenville and Torrington Rape Cases from Everblog

21 thoughts on “I Don’t Want To End Rape Culture. I Want To DESTROY It.

  1. I agree 100% with this. The idea that someone “asked” for it, or trivializing, or whatever other patriarchal bullshit gets lobbed around is just obscene.

    On the flip side, though, I think many feminist groups are doing more harm than good by trying to raise awareness by expanding the definition. There’s a large gap between rape and not gaining 100% consent. And when people see advice column articles about marital rape because both spouses were drunk…it really (really, really) trivializes the whole thing.

    It’s all well and good to say no one “asked” for it, but in the same way we have to cut this shit with slut shaming, let’s cut the shit with “prude shaming” for lack of a better term. It happens. Other women are often the worst about coercing friends into “relaxing” and “living a little.” So when the prude wakes up the next morning and feels violated, who’s the real rapist? The man who stuck his cock in, or the friends who told her “you’re just nervous you’ll love it”?

    As a culture, too, we bandy about the word for things that aren’t necessarily rape (see also: statutory rape).

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  3. Thank you for writing this fantastic post! I don’t remember ever being taught about consent in Sex Ed. It should be mandatory. I just remember a lot of gender stereotyping and talk of abstinence. I also think your idea of showing videos of women talking about how rape has impacted their lives is excellent and I imagine it would be a very effective preventative tool.

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  5. Ever since the Steubenville sexual assaults made the news, I’ve been thinking about three things that happened in my life, things that have to do with the culture of rape.

    Rape perplexes me. It simply doesn’t make any sense to me, and I just can’t comprehend that a boy or man could even have the physical capability of performing rape.

    I’m not a shrinking violet, either. I’ve had a lot of sex in my life, and many women in my life who meant (and mean) a great deal to me. Once a friend told me that her mother wouldn’t allow her as a young girl to wear tampons, insisting instead that she use sanitary napkins. Sandy described the intense humiliation she felt wearing something that felt like a canoe between her legs that she was sure everyone could see. I laughed, and then told her that from sixth grade on I was plagued with monster erections that would occur at the most embarrassing and inopportune times. In retrospect, I realize that my adolescence was a decade of nothing less than balancing a telephone pole on the edge of my pelvis. So, yeah, I was a horny little bastard, and that’s what made my first encounter with rape culture so horrifying.

    It was nearly fifty years ago, at a beer party at the small, rather expensive and exclusive Catholic men’s college I attended. I was just seventeen, and the idea of my first beer bust was very cool. Of course, once I got there I had too much to drink (which would become a nearly fatal habit in my life, but that’s another story) and that only amplified what I later experienced.

    Perhaps a quarter of the people at the party were girls who attended a small and equally exclusive Catholic women’s college just down the road from our school. I was surprised to learn that some of the ladies could belt down as many brews as I could (believe me, that’s saying a lot!), and everybody got very sloshed, in the way kids do because they don’t yet know how to drink. As the evening wore on, I noticed some guys were smirking and going into the woods. So finally I followed them.

    A young girl was there, sitting, slumped against the trunk of a tree, drunk out of her mind, and a few of the guys were trying to make out with her. The guy I followed already had his hand in her blouse.

    Now, I don’t know why I did what I did, but, like self defense, it was automatic. I stepped up and shouted “Stop it! Stop it right now!” and the guy came up with both fists clenched. I slipped around him so that the drunken girl was behind me. In the meantime, several of his friends showed up, and I honestly thought I was going to get a terrible beating from these polished, cosmopolitan Catholic brats. For whatever reason that made me even more resolute, and I raised my fists and said, “Nobody’s going to touch this girl. Nobody.” I’m sure that wasn’t too terrifying coming from a 120 lb. beanpole like me, but it worked. We glared at each other for a time, I in front of the girl and they standing around looking tough in the way football players do.

    Then, thank God, her friends showed up and hurried her out of there, and I was able to rejoin the guys I thought were my friends. They weren’t. They not only had not tried to help, but thought I was some kind of Dudley Do-Right. “Why did you do that, you asshole?,” one asked, “it was none of your business.” Another said, “Shit, I was hoping they’d kick the shit out of you.”

    This was just incomprehensible to me. I couldn’t imagine that my friends didn’t share my protective impulses, that they were content to watch what would have inevitably developed into a gang rape. Years later I read Edmund Burke’s aphorism that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” and the first thing that came to mind was that night in the woods.

    The beer bust broke up shortly afterwards. As I was getting ready to leave, I noticed a guy abandoned by his friends, who was drunk out of his mind, and I just couldn’t leave him there to freeze. Nobody would even help me to get him up off the ground, but I was able to shame a guy from my floor to help me, a guy who would later become a conscientious objector during Vietnam. He just couldn’t fathom the fact that I wouldn’t leave the drunk alone in the woods to sleep it off, and he complained bitterly about my insistence that we walk the guy the few miles back to school.

    After that night, people began to treat me differently. At first, it was nothing all that noticeable, but later it became unmistakable. I was never invited to another beer bust because I was a “straight arrow,” someone who couldn’t be trusted, and I was gradually eased out of the group on my floor at the dorm. It was odd that I was thought of as impeccably moral, because I smoked, drank and swore more than all of the rest of the guys put together.

    I left school a year later because my girlfriend was pregnant, and ended up joining the Army because the draft board was breathing down my neck.

    Fast forward twenty years. I’m a criminal defense lawyer, and I’m talking to Alan, a friend of mine. He was black, an athlete and a body builder, and the handsomest guy I’ve ever known. Women flocked to him. We were talking about a guy I didn’t want to defend, a vicious serial rapist. I said to Alan, “How in the world do these guys keep their hard-ons? I mean, I can’t thing of anything that would turn me off more than beating up a woman.” “I know, man,” Alan said, “I can’t figure it out either, but there must be a lot of guys out there who get off on beating up chicks.”

    Another decade passes, and it’s time for me to have the “talk” with my teenaged son. He knew all about the birds and the bees and all that, but we hadn’t talked about relationships with women. I thought and thought about how to convey to him how I thought real men acted in a relationship. Finally, I came up with this: “You will never use a woman as a receptacle or a object for your sexual desires. You can do whatever you want with a girl as long as she wants to, and as long as you realize that her pleasure, and her well-being, is just as important as yours.” I told him that because it was the sum total of everything I’d learned about loving women.

    I’m in my late 60s now, and I still can’t comprehend rape. Well, I learned as a lawyer that more men are raped in prison than women are out in the world, and that people rape their little kids, and that there’s more rape going on out there than anyone ever dreamed, and that some of the most innocuous guys in the world can be the worst sort of rapist. I still don’t know how the bastards keep their hard-ons, about how this horrible brutality is somehow sexually exciting to them.

    But I’ve surmised that rape is only apparently about sex, that the sexual violation of someone is just the vehicle for that which the rapist really craves: the sadistic humiliation of another human being. It’s his diseased way of saying, “I ain’t much, but at least I’m more than you.” Rape, I’m convinced, is really about violence, and the reason why it hurts so much – not just physically, not just immediately, but emotionally, and for years and years and years – is because that’s exactly what the rapist wants. Rape is the scar he wants to leave on your soul.

    One other thing. I’m in my late 60s now, very sick – I have three different kinds of heart disease, and a prostate the size of a basketball, and I ache all over – but I look back at that night so long ago and I am so proud of that skinny little 17 year old who hesitated not a single second to defend another human being in a moment of helplessness. After all, that’s what it means to be a real man, a man who protects, who gives rather than takes, who spends his life helping those who need him. And a man who loves, who really loves, women.

    • First of all, I wish I could up vote your comment more than once.

      “Rape is the scar he wants to leave on your soul.”

      I think you’re spot-on with the purpose of rape. It sums up that necessary difference between a “rape victim” and “someone who has been raped.” Some people – typically through no fault of their own – give the rapist what s/he wanted, which is a portion of their soul. Others fuck the rapist in return by not being defined by the event.

      I wish I (or anyone, really) knew what difference in perspective/psychology/system/etc leads to the outcome so we could bottle it and hand it out after a rape.

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  7. Pingback: Comment of the Week: “Ever since the Steubenville sexual assaults made the news, I’ve been thinking about three things that happened in my life, things that have to do with the culture of rape.” | crazy dumbsaint of the mind

  8. Pingback: “Ever since the Steubenville sexual assaults made the news, I’ve been thinking about three things that happened in my life, things that have to do with the culture of rape.” — The Good Men Project

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  13. This is a good post and I enjoyed reading it! The violent reactions I’ve seen from people having their assumptions challenged is just so galling to me. I’ve even seen people making statements like “I wish people would just SHUT UP about this MYTHICAL ‘rape culture.’” Since saying it doesn’t exist is one of the primary ways rape culture persists, I think claiming it’s mythical does a lot to show how real it is.

    I’d just like to make one small point about the wording here in #8: “Respect and teach that human beings are all sexual beings.” Just so you know, the asexual community is negatively affected by statements like “everyone is sexual,” because in the way you meant it here, we’re not, so we’re implied to be not part of “everyone.” Messages like that can (though not necessarily do) encourage people to learn that everyone wants sex sometimes, no matter how little or how much . . . but since there are asexual people who never want to include sex in their relationships, we should always be acknowledged as existing when sexual diversity is being examined. Asexual people sometimes experience “corrective” rape, and sometimes what feeds rapists’ idea that raping asexual people is okay is the idea that they’re fixing us and helping us learn that “everyone” wants sex. You can make a sex-positive, affirming statement about human sexuality without excluding/alienating asexual people if you revise that #8 to “Respect and teach that sex is something you do WITH another person, not TO someone.” We can certainly teach that sex and sexual attraction are natural without implying that everyone’s life includes these experiences. Thanks. :)

  14. Pingback: Not Asking For It. | Beneath the Tin Foil Hat

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