Rape Culture

Rape culture is a term or concept used to describe a culture in which rape and sexual violence are perceived to be common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone sexual violence. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women's and men's bodies and the glamorization of sexual violence. Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification and trivializing rape.

Examples of Rape Culture:

  • Blaming the victim ("He/she asked for it")
  • Trivializing sexual assault ("Boys will be boys.")
  • Sexually explicit jokes
  • Tolerance of sexual harassment
  • Inflating false rape report statistics
  • Publicly scrutinizing how a survivor's dress, mental state, motives, and history
  • Gratuitous gendered violence in movies and television
  • Defining "manhood" as dominant and sexually aggressive
  • Defining "womanhood" as submissive and sexually passive
  • Pressure to "score"
  • Pressure to not appear "cold"
  • Assuming only promiscuous people get raped
  • Assuming that men don't get raped or that only "weak" men get raped
  • Refusing to take rape accusations seriously
  • Teaching potential victims to avoid getting raped
  • Rape Language

 

How can we combat Rape Culture:

  • Avoid using language that objectifies or degrades women or men.
  • Speak out if you hear someone else making an offensive joke or trivializing rape.
  • If a friend talks to you about being raped, be supportive, encouraging and take it seriously.
  • Think critically about the media's messages about women, men, relationships, and violence.
  • Be respectful of others' physical space, even in casual situations.
  • Always communicate with sexual partners and do not assume consent.
  • Define your own manhood or womanhood. Do not let stereotypes shape your actions.

Examples of Rape Language

Through metaphors, common English phrases contribute to and perpetuate attitudes that condone or trivialize rape. The metaphors which we commonly use to talk about sex often create or legitimize attitudes which connect sex with violence, sex with degradation, and sex with dominance. (The following list is an incomplete adaptation from Timothy Beneke's  "Men on Rape.")

SEX IS A SPORT:

I hope I score tonight.

I struck out with him/her.

I got to second base.

She/he made a pass.

He/she is playing the field.

SEX IS ACHIEVEMENT:

I'd like to make it with him/her.

He/She is successful with men/women.

I went all the way with her/him.

I didn't get anywhere with him/her.

SEX IS A GAME:

If you play your cards right, you'll score.

Your best bet is to go easy or you'll strike out.

SEX IS PERFORMANCE:

You were great last night.

I got rave reviews in bed.

He/she is good in bed.

SEX IS WAR:

He/she got shot down.

She/he was hitting on him.

SEX IS BEING SERVICED:

She/he wouldn't put out.

He/she wouldn't do it for me.

SEX IS A COMMODITY:

I never had to pay for it.

I couldn't get any.

Is he/she available?

SEX IS A POSSESSION:

I'd like to have her/him.

I bet I could get him/her.

You're going to lose her/him.

I'd like a piece of that.

SEX IS A  CONQUEST:

She/he gave it up.

A SEXUALLY ACTIVE WOMAN IS BAD:

What a slut.

She's a little tramp.

A SEXUALLY ACTIVE MAN IS GOOD

He is a stud.

He's a player.

Words the describe sex also describe ways of hurting or taking advantage of:

Screw, Nail, Fuck, Hit, Bang