WHAT IS RAPE CULTURE?
Rape culture is a term that describes a culture in which rape and other sexual violence (usually against women) are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage sexualized violence.1
A wide variety of examples of rape culture can be found in this excellent post at Shakesville.
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT RAPE CULTURE
Proponents of rape culture consider all men to be potential rapists.
People who deny the existence of rape culture often equate our call for better rape education (‘teaching men not to rape’) with a misandric view that all cisgender men are rapists in training. This is not the case. There are several reasons to include men in rape education:
Beyond that, we respect men. We recognize that they have the capability and the desire to be advocates against sexual violence. Educating them about sexual assault empowers men to stand against culturally accepted degradation of women and the normalization of sexual violence.
Acceptance of rape culture perpetuates a “victim mentality” among women
We recognize the ways in which our society promotes and accepts the devaluation of women and romanticizes and/or ignores violence against us. I think we’re all familiar with the phrase, ‘the first step is admitting you have a problem.’ Admitting that these problems exist within our culture is not the same thing as accepting them as unchangeable. Rather, we cannot hope to fight back and make real changes in the way women are viewed and treated unless we first expose the problems that exist within our current system. Burying your head in the sand and pretending rape culture doesn’t exist will not help prevent or eliminate rape.
CONSENT AND INTOXICATION
People who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs cannot consent. In some cases it’s obvious—the person is barely walking, is unconscious, cannot speak to you, etc. But in some cases it may be less clear. Any time you have sex with someone who has been drinking, you run the risk that the other person could later say they would not have consented while sober, and what occurred was rape. If you’re both drunk, that doesn’t matter. Being drunk doesn’t absolve you of responsibility for committing a crime.
You are still responsible for your actions while drunk. You are not responsible for the actions of other people. Rape is an action, committed by one person against another person. Fault lies with the rapist, regardless of what the victim was doing.
People are responsible for crimes they commit while they are drunk. They are not responsible for crimes committed against them. If I drive around drunk and hit someone with my car, I am legally responsible. If I walk around drunk and someone else hits me with their car, that’s not my fault.
ARE RAPE JOKES EVER ACCEPTABLE?
No, for several reasons: