We live in a culture - the culture of virtually all of humankind, not any particular national culture - which refuses to hold men accountable for acts of sexual aggression against women. The sociological term for this is Rape Culture.
Rape Culture affects every woman. The rape of one woman is a degradation, terror, and limitation to all women. Most women and girls limit their behavior because of the existence of rape. Most women and girls live in fear of rape. Men, in general, do not. That’s how rape functions as a powerful means by which the whole female population is held in a subordinate position to the whole male population, even though many men don’t rape, and many women are never victims of rape. This cycle of fear is the legacy of Rape Culture. (Rape Culture, Marshall University Women's Center.)
From very early ages, men and women are conditioned to accept different roles. Women
are raised to be passive and men are raised to be aggressive. We are conditioned to accept certain
attitudes, values and behaviors. Our conditioning is continuously and relentlessly encouraged and
reinforced by the popular media, cultural attitudes and the educational system. The media is a
major contributor to gender-based attitudes and values. The media provides women with acomplete list of behaviors that precipitate rape. Social training about what is proper and ladylike,
as well as what is powerful and macho, teaches women to be victims and men to be aggressors.
The high incidence of rape in this country is a result of the power imbalance between men
and women. Women are expected to assume a subordinate relationship to men. Consequently,
rape can be seen as a logical extension of the typical interactions between women and men. One
way to analyze the power relationship between men and women is by examining some of the
common social rules women are taught. (Defining a Rape Culture, UC Davis web publication.)
With very rare exceptions, not quite consensual sex is seen as the inevitable result of mistakes made by women (leading men on, dressing like sluts, asking for it, etc) and therefore most people are uncomfortable labeling such incidents "rapes". After all, it somehow strikes people as unfair to call a man who uses a woman's body against her will a rapist, when he is otherwise a nice guy and anyway it was a natural reaction by any red-blooded male to female provocation. For many people there is really only one definition of rape: the violent 'bushy-haired stranger' (this imaginary monster is always a 'bushy-haired stranger', ever notice?) who sexually assaults a virgin, leaving visible injuries.
Violent stranger rape is comparatively rare. If Republican hopes to narrow the definition of rape to so-called "forcible rape" are realized in every state, rare violent stranger rape could become the only kind that will be recognized as criminal, while women actually live in fear of the myriad forms of "not-really" rape that can happen to them at any time, while society looks the other way. Since in Republican dreams the coercive power of the threat of force is not equivalent to the use of physical force, cannot be measured and is probably all in the woman's hysterical, over-reacting imagination anyway, nearly all of the most prevalent rape scenarios would no longer be considered crimes. Women will be victimized by the sexual aggression of men without even the inadequate protection of seldom-prosecuted laws to give them the courage to step out into the world knowing that they have the legal right to not be sexually harrassed - even though that right is assaulted every single day in a thousand little ways. This systemic intimidation which limits women's ability to pursue their lives and happiness as freely as men is sanctioned and encouraged by Rape Culture.
|22 Ways to Stop Violence Against Women|
*TRIGGER WARNING! Please be aware that this ad portrays a commonly-experienced scenario where a rape occurs, and though very well-done, it may be painfully triggering to many viewers.
via Love, Joy, Feminism