On Facebook I always see people proclaiming that RAINN said that rape culture is a myth, and therefore it is one. Feminists are just perpetuating this myth because ‘censorship’ and ‘conspiracy theorists’ (seriously, do you know how crazy you sound? You sound like one of those Area 51 fanatics. Please just stop, it’s embarrassing).
Firstly, while RAINN is a fairly reputable source, that does not mean they are correct. Seriously.
Incredibly successful people – like Einstein, Freud and the people who fired Steve Jobs – have been proven wrong before. Humanity is flawed. Just because RAINN says something isn’t true does not make it so.
As the only documents that support RAINN’s statements are opinion pieces, and many other rape and women’s crisis centres (like WAVWA) state that rape culture is a fact, it stands to reason that before you start quoting RAINN, you should do at least a little research.
Secondly, when using this source as a reference, remember to put the quote you’re choosing to reference in context. RAINN refers only to the epidemic of rape on college campuses in America, not rape culture as a whole.
What RAINN actually states in the document I’m so frequently shown is this: “In the last few years [it has been] a trend to [blame] “rape culture” for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campuses. While it is helpful to point out the systemic barriers to addressing the problem, it is important [to remember that] rape is caused [by] conscious decisions” (RAINN, 2009).
RAINN is not actually saying that rape culture doesn’t exist, at least not in this frequently-quoted paragraph. People are interpreting it that way, but it’s not necessarily what they’re saying. They are saying that blaming rape culture is not the solution we need to work on holding the rapist accountable. RAINN also goes on to state that, even without rape culture, some men will still rape because they are rapists.
However, RAINN’s statement actually works in conjunction with the “rape culture” ideology as rape culture works to create better support networks for victims, less shaming and blaming, and holding the rapist, not the victim, responsible.
Regardless, no matter how you interpret RAINN’s statement, rape culture is an epidemic.
Because of the song Blurred Lines. While it’s sexist, misogynistic and is basically telling men that it doesn’t matter what a woman says “she wants it”, it has a point. You can say it’s just a song all you want, but the problem is that there are blurred lines and, as a result, some men don’t actually realise they are rapists. In fact, a study performed and published by Thomas Millar proves as much.
Thomas Millar interviewed 1,882 male college students and found that it you substituted the word ‘rape’ for ‘forced’, and phrased questions a particular way, one third of men had actually raped someone. (Click here to read more about Millar’s study and the questions the men were asked.)
Some of the men in the study, it was found, were actual repeat offenders.
Just because you don’t see yourself as a rapist doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not – and we have rape culture to blame for that (and the people who refuse to admit and accept it exists).
Because we’re told, time and time again, that “women are asking for it” and “men can’t control themselves” and “you know you want it”.
In America, an eleven-year-old girl was gang raped.
The defence lawyer stated that the victim was, “A spider luring men into her web” (The Washington Post, 2014).
She was eleven.
They were men.
The idea that someone could even blame a young child for being raped is beyond repulsive.
The fact that the lawyer found that this was a suitable argument to use highlights the very epidemic and nature of rape culture (we frequently find reasons to blame the victim, not the rapist).
After all, how many Brock Turners are there in the world? Where half of society worries about his future and because it was “so bright”, and not the victim’s? Every single time you hear about the tragic demise of the rapist’s future, and not the victim’s, that’s rape culture.
We see it when mothers blame other girls for taking “sexy” photos that “encourage” their sons, instead of speaking to their sons and holding them responsible, they are perpetuating rape culture.
Schools who tell girls that men can’t control themselves and women need to dress differently so they don’t look like sluts are perpetuating rape culture.
When rape victims come forward and accuse celebrities of sexual assault, and they are in turn blamed for trying to destroy that man’s career, that’s rape culture.
Telling male rape victims that they should feel lucky because the woman that raped them was hot is rape culture.
Saying, “Men get raped, too!” as an afterthought is rape culture, because that sentence should be on its own. Men deserve better.
Telling women that they need to make changes to their lifestyle, and not get drunk, or wear short skirts, or flirt too much, doesn’t work.
And worse, that’s still rape culture.
How do I know?
I don’t need a published journal article to tell me (although I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to find one).
I just need to know that rape statistics don’t go up in summer, where women, as a whole, are wearing less clothing.
So changing what women wear has no effect on our likelihood of being raped.
Not walking home at night doesn’t stop women being raped in their homes, by people they know.
If promiscuity caused rape, virgins would never be raped.
But they are.
If drinking caused rape, sober women wouldn’t get raped.
But they do.
If being in groups meant you were safe, women wouldn’t get raped in pairs at work, like Gabrille Union.
You can be a conservative virgin, who never drinks or goes anywhere alone at night, and still get raped.
While I’m not saying women shouldn’t be mindful of their surroundings, or take some responsibility, we need to focus our attitudes on making it clear what rape is and what consent means.
We need to abolish the myth that only certain women can be raped. We need to stop spreading the lie that the woman is at fault. We need to stop saying that rape is violent and brutal – it’s not always. Some women are afraid. Some women lose their lives fighting back. Some women are drugged or are unconscious during the attack.
As a society, we need to address the fact that we have rape culture and accept it.
Like Thomas Millar said, “It takes one rapist to commit rape, but it takes a village to create an environment where it happens over and over again” (2014).