Rape Culture in Action Round-Up

A few links from the last few months:

  • [Content Note: descriptions of sexual assault, denial and trivialisation of sexual assault]
    Angus Johnston posts on the latest pushback against the verdicts in the Steubenville rape – Richard Cohen Lies About the SteubenVille Rape.
  • [Content Note: graphic descriptions of sexual assault and injuries sustained thereby, denial and trivialisation of sexual assault, victim-blaming, misconduct and abuse by police investigators]
    EEB guest-posts at Almost Diamonds about her own assault and how when she reported in the way she had been taught was proper she was simply not believed – I Am a False Rape Allegation Statistic.
  • [Content Note: descriptions of sexual assault, denial and trivialisation of sexual assault, victim-blaming, misconduct and abuse by police investigators]
    EEB’s post prompted Dana Hunter to post about the misunderstanding and misuse of statistics regarding false rape allegations – One Reason Why False Rape Allegation Statistics Are So High.
  • [Content Note:  descriptions of sexual assault , denial and trivialisation of sexual assault, victim-blaming, homophobic abuse and misconduct by police]
    Josh Spokesgay posts at More Than Men about why he didn’t report being raped at age 17 – Last Night.
  • [Content Note:  denial and trivialisation of sexual assault,  descriptions of victim-blaming, misconduct during investigative procedures]
    Across the country, colleges are under fire for using antiquated and amateurish procedures to prevent and investigate rapes and other sexual assaults on campus – College Serial Rapists Evade Antiquated Campus Responses
  • [Content Note:  rape myths,  descriptions of victim-blaming, romanticising sexual assault]
    One final link that’s older (2012) but very powerful and comprehensive from Latoya Peterson at Racialicious regarding the media messages we all consume – Some Notes On Rape Culture

    Rape culture is why we have to treat random men on the street like Schrodinger’s Rapist. Because we don’t know. And we can’t know.

If you’re noticing a pattern to the most comment elements in those content notes on these posts about rape culture – “denial and trivialisation of sexual assault, victim-blaming, misconduct and abuse by police investigators” – that might just be because these are some of the strongest planks underpinning the rape culture platform.  In combination with other toxic cognitive-bias defense mechanisms they combine to repeatedly give doubters an array of reasons to deem any particular accuser as inherently unrapeable (at least right then) because they weren’t a perfect enough victim according to the status quo’s narrow rape myth scripts, and therefore to conclude that no “rape-rape” occurred.

I’m sure most readers have seen more examples published in recent months, or know of examples personally. Please do add your links and, if you want/can, share your stories in the comments, because continuing documentation of these toxic social phenomena is crucial in persuading people that a problem actually exists, which is the first step in building momentum for reform.

Moderator note: this blog’s contributors firmly stand by the positions that rape culture exists and that false rape allegations are vastly overstated when in fact they are no more common than false allegations of any other crime (see Dana’s post linked above). The fundamentals of these positions are not open for debate on this thread, because we’ve heard all the counterarguments before and they just derail the beyond-101 discussion that we want to see happening here (strawman misrepresentations of the Schrodinger’s Rapist post are especially tedious). Comments arguing otherwise on this thread will be redacted (if they make it out of the mod queue at all). Commentors who are determined to argue otherwise somewhere on Feministe may take their arguments to the #spillover thread (see sidebar links) where they will be given the consideration they deserve.

Pepe Le Pew assaults a woman he has stalked despite her repeated refusals of his attentions

What rape culture?

Image Credit: index-page thumbnail is a screenshot from a Pepe Le Pew cartoon, where relentlessly stalking and blithely assaulting a woman who has consistently indicated refusal and who is obviously fearful for her safety is presented over and over and over again as obviously hilarious, just a bit of fun, and nothing that anybody should be getting upset about. She should be flattered!

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17 comments for “Rape Culture in Action Round-Up

  1. September 3, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Note to regular readers: the specific assertion of acceptable content boundaries for comments on this post is meant as an innovation which might be useful generally in our posts on social justice issues that we know from experience tend to bring out the ‘splainers and JAQ-offs in droves. Your enthusiastic cooperation in promptly sending a moderator alert if a comment needs a giraffe inspection will be much appreciated.

  2. Angie unduplicated
    September 4, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Wow, everyone’s disappeared. The Man spotlights the rare false complaint and dramatizes it, while refusing to prosecute it for fraud, so that rape culture can get off the hook for all of its actual rapes. I’m subbing for Captain Obvious today. Cops are lazy bastards too, and will label anyrhing, notably burglaries and illegal entries, as false complaints. This gets them out of a bunch of work and enables rape culture to prep for perpetration.
    Sideline: it’s Dead Rapist Day. Ariel Castro is out of our midst. Celebrate freedom for his former captives.

    • September 4, 2013 at 10:05 am

      Is it possible that my admonitions in the Moderator Note had some sort of effect on the usual flood of contrarians, Angie?

      • September 4, 2013 at 10:11 am

        Oops, spoke too soon.

  3. Rango
    September 4, 2013 at 9:26 am

    [Moderator note: Comment content has been deleted. Do not equateuse rape withas a metaphor for any phenomenon that is not rape on this blog.]

  4. Rango
    September 4, 2013 at 9:29 am

    [Moderator note: Comment content has been deleted. Repeating the note above, and adding that debating the existence of rape culture is not on topic for this thread. Take it to #spillover or drop it.]

  5. whistlewren
    September 4, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    EEB’s story is heartbreaking. Thanks for this link round-up.

    (CN for discussion of rape/victim blaming)

    I would be hard-pressed to find a single female friend who has not been sexually aassaulted. Only one friend has ever reported it though, and her experience was less than pleasant. Small town gossip provided constant scrutiny, with the typical victim blaming BS being touted: she had already slept with him before that night anyway, she was drunk, she should have been at home with her kids anyway instead of out partying… It was awful. And the constant questioning if she ‘really wanted to go through with it’. Not because it would mean repeating the details of a rape, but because it would ruin the perpetrators life.

    • September 4, 2013 at 6:50 pm

      whistlewren, I hear you.

      [Content note for description of gang rapes and victim blaming/shaming]

      Because my dad had a public service job, we moved around the state and I went to a few different schools. In two different high schools there were whispered rumours of “that girl” in our year who had “gangbanged*” the football team, and wow what a slut she must be. At the time I didn’t question the narrative, and I’m glad in retrospect that at least I wasn’t the sort of girl who shunned someone for a rumour like that, because in hindsight it was obvious bullshit (and that was before my paths crossed with one of those women in later years and I actually got to hear her side of the story as an adult who no longer felt shamed into silence).

      She described how she hooked up with one player that she had a crush on who seemed sweet, and they’d been drinking and started fooling around in a dark spot near the football stands, and then the next thing she knew the whole team was standing around saying horrible things about her being a slut who obviously wanted it bad and they were going to give it to her and making it obvious that there was no escape. She laid there as still as possible, crying softly because she was either slapped for making it too loud or they made jokes about how her groans of agony were signs of her sexual ecstasy, and just trying to endure the pain until it was over. Then they went and bragged about gangbanging that nympho slut, and how loudly she moaned because she was loving it so much, and everybody just believed them that a 15 year old girl who’d never had a boyfriend before “obviously” was just that sexually precocious that she was ready to bang 15 guys one after the other, because hey it’s not like that would really really hurt any adult sexually experienced woman who was unprepared let alone someone who was a virgin but the town as a whole totally believed their story because they were the football heroes who could always get the girls so why would they need to force anyone?

      Yeah, just count the rape culture tropes in that story. I have little doubt that the way the girl at the other school ended up “gangbanging the footy team” was an almost identical scenario, and in both cases the young girl was slutshamed and blamed and the boys were lionised by their peers for their ability to “find” such nympho sluts in the first place, and the rest of the town’s young girls were encouraged to shun the victim rather than the perpetrators, because obviously it was the sluttiness that might be catching, not the rapiness. Obviously, neither girl reported their assault to the police as a rape. They already knew that nobody would believe them. *ragesmash*

      * * * * *

      *TWIAVBP: in Australia, the term “gangbang” always referred to group sex, and in fact pretty much always referred to a footy team all having sex with one girl. Now it seems pretty obvious that all those incidents that were just everyday slang in my youth were in fact unacknowledged group rape that nobody ever considered to be really rape, because she was drunk and if she wanted to bang one of them then obviously she wouldn’t say no to the rest of them, right? It used to be a common term of shaming/joking on TV shows, even, which it certainly isn’t any more (probably because there have been a few prosecutions, finally).

      When I first heard the American usage of “gangbanger” for a member of a street gang, it was jarring (although I’ve read about the “pulling a train” gang initiations for the girls who hang with the gangs, so I guess it’s not that different really).

      • September 4, 2013 at 7:51 pm

        tigtog, that’s heartbreaking. It’s the major reason I hate football of any code: it’s rape culture to the Nth degree.

        Slightly OT: had you seen the Pepe le Pew clip on Manboobz the other day? I said how I loved it when I was little (ie. the 60s). All I saw was that the cats just wanted to get away because Pepe smelled so bad; I had never heard of sexual assault and had little or no idea about sex in general.

        But now? Skin-crawlingly horrible.

      • September 4, 2013 at 9:07 pm

        Kitteh, I hadn’t seen it on Manboobz – I used that image on a rape culture post on Hoyden years ago, so I repeated it again. There must just be something skunky in the air.

      • September 5, 2013 at 10:39 pm

        Something Skunky In The Air would make a great song title.

      • whistlewren
        September 4, 2013 at 8:36 pm

        Good Christ. That is awful. And scary that, as you say, the tropes are so obvious and common. We shouldn’t know this story so well, over and over again.

      • karak
        September 5, 2013 at 1:38 am

        A girl at my school was groomed and raped by her ROTC instructor. When she reported him pretty much the entire ROTC group and a good chunk of the school set out to destroy her; it was frightening to witness.

        The penultimate moment was when she got her diploma and a bunch of guys sitting behind me started talking about what a dirty slut she was for ruining coach’s life. I turned around and told them then coach shouldn’t have been a fucking pedo rapist (he started when she was in her freshmen year) and these big giant proto-army guys threatened to find me and beat me later. And they meant it.

        I was afraid. I’m proud I stood up for her but I’m ashamed I turned around after that, because I am a small woman and probably couldn’t survive a beating.

      • September 5, 2013 at 8:02 am

        That is so fucking horrible. Heartbreaking.

  6. Alexandra
    September 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I was just talking to a friend earlier today about how one of the colleges I attended transferred a male student to another campus after three women came forward together, as a group, to notify the administration that he had sexually assaulted and raped them. They just transferred him to another campus, like the fucking Catholic Church with pedophile priests.

    I have been having horrible goddamn flashbacks since that conversation to my own experience, where the campus’s so-called sexual assault counselor told me I was just being uptight, and that I should have a private conversation with my rapist about how I wasn’t happy we’d have sex. At that private meeting, he raped me again. I was sixteen, and had never so much as kissed anyone before him. I haven’t had a successful relationship since in my life – every time I try to be intimate with a man, I freeze up and dissociate, and I haven’t had a relationship with a woman yet, just little flings.

    Now I am at work, and instead of working I am checking Feministe because I cannot focus or keep my mind straight. Seven years later, and still I have no justice and no peace; and the university I attended discouraged friend after friend from seeking justice, because they wanted to keep their crime stats low.

    I have the opportunity to get in touch with a lawyer building a class action lawsuit against this college. Part of me wants to say – yes! yes! – and part of me knows that seven years later, with no evidence, no witnesses, and no allies, living 3000 miles away, there’s almost nothing I could do, really, except tear my heart into pieces again. I don’t know what I’ll do, except keep on grieving for the girl I was, and the woman I might have been; and try to be the best person I can be every day, despite the fact that there is this still-unhealed wound I live with.

    • September 5, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      Alexandra, all the Jedi hugs. The way you were treated by that administration is so appalling and so fucking common. The callousness of it is enraging, and it happens all the time.

  7. Tony
    September 6, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    I can’t get through another story about rape. Just can’t. I know there’s important stuff going on right on, there’s another horrible story from the Navy in the news today. I could be researching, I could be writing more diaries on Daily Kos. I could be making more calls to my representatives. Somewhere inside me I want to, I want to be a better ally. An effective one. It’s just too hard to read painful stories again and again when it seems like nothing ever changes.

    The most depressing thing is that when one of the front pagers on Daily Kos tries to write about military rape, I saw a self proclaimed military lawyer trying to argue things like ‘the conviction rate in the military is no lower than in the civilian world, therefore nothing’s wrong!’ Passionately! making these arguments. On a supposedly far left site. It’s pretty demoralizing.

    Flavia talked about feeling like a “merchant of pain or death” in her #sifww post and that’s how some of the rape stories on HuffPo seem these days. Like they’re just trying to find the saddest, most outrageous story for clicks. I really appreciate those that have the stamina to be deeply involved in this issue day in and day out- and I know that for a lot it’s not a choice at all. Does anyone have any positive stories about fighting back against Rape Culture to share?

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