PSA: Rape Culture is Alive and Well

TW: Rape, sexual assault

It has come to my attention recently that many people seem to think an appropriate way to respond to rape culture is to deny its existence. Similar to the belief that the cure to racism is “colorblindness” or that the wage gap is a figment of our imaginations, the denial of society’s unequivocal acceptance of rape solves nothing. In fact, it makes it worse. Much, much worse.

Newsflash: Rape culture is real and it’s stronger than ever.

Perhaps the problem is that people just don’t recognize it when it’s right before their eyes (and it really is hard to miss). So let me help define it for you.

Rape culture is when a judge asks a rape survivor in his courtroom why she couldn’t “just keep her knees together” or “skew her pelvis” to avoid being raped, and then explains that drunk women “want to have sex,” that “sex and pain sometimes go together” and that “that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

Rape culture is when a college student rapes an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and gets sentenced to less time than it takes paint to dry for what his father described as “20 minutes of action.”

Rape culture is when a high school sophomore is sexually assaulted by a classmate and is, herself, suspended from the school.

Rape culture is when one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.

Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons

Rape culture is when there have been 259 reported sexual assaults at Stanford University from 1996-2013, and only three resulting expulsions (watch the documentary “The Hunting Ground”).

Rape culture is when Yale’s Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter chants, “No means yes, yes means anal,” near the women’s dorms as a fun, fraternal activity.

Rape culture is when rape survivors in the military are brushed off, ignored or demoted because the military’s judicial system is designed to cover their own asses (watch the documentary “The Invisible War”).

Rape culture is when women are blamed for being raped because of how they dressed or how much they drank, as if a woman being drunk or wearing a crop-top somehow suddenly turns innocent men into rapists.

Rape culture is when men who have experienced sexual assault are made to feel like they are now somehow “less of a man.”

Rape culture is when I have to write an entire post to try and convince people of a problem that’s as clear as day. We as a culture have been so desensitized to sexual violence that we are taught to expect it. Instead of teaching people not to rape, our national rhetoric surrounding sexual assault centers on teaching women how not to get raped (which is impossible, since rape is defined as forcible. And if one is forced to do something, one has no control over what happens to them – something the aforementioned judge clearly doesn’t understand).


Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons

It’s time to ignite some change in our national discussion of sexual assault, and it needs to start with recognizing the twisted rape culture we live in today. Denial only worsens the problem.

Feature image source: Flickr Creative Commons


3 thoughts on “PSA: Rape Culture is Alive and Well

  1. I appreciate that you mention that males also are victims of rape. It would be interesting to look at how fraternities and “brotherhoods” reinforce and perpetuate rape or to look at rape statics between male-male, male-female, female-male, and female-female and family vs. friend vs. stranger situations…


    1. Mmmm, you make a very good point. There’s a lot I could do within this subject matter. I am considering writing a follow-up piece or two concerning rape culture – so thank you for the suggestions!


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