Rape Culture?

I'd like to get people's thoughts on this blog post: http://wrongquestions.blogspot.com/2012/10/your-daily-dose-of-rape-culture.html#comment-form

Please disregard the comments following the post--as is so often the case, the discussion there becomes a pissing match, and therefore irrelevant. I just want to know what people think about the initial subject. Does Western culture condone rape, in the mechanism of oblivious chauvinism? If criminal acts happen in a culture, does that define the culture?

Again, I honestly want any responses to be limited to the initial blog post. So tell me what ya think.

grey

  • Obfuskation

    I had a couple recent conversations regarding "Rape Culture", and look at it as a creation of the more rad-fem elements of the feminist movement, that has somehow gained traction because of the gut-level impact of it's message.

    Rape is horrible, and does impact more women than men; that is not in question.  What is ignored in the equation it's low statistical probability, and the fact that the majority of sexual assaults are committed by somebody that the victim knows, contrary to the "stranger danger" message the RC proponents seem to push.

    What is also ignored is the widespread sympathy to the "rape culture" message that reflects a culture that abhors the act, and which would seem to contradict the message itself.

  • greyfoot

    Ob,

    That's my reaction almost verbatim. The author issues broad sociological statements without backing them up. Had she cited a specific portion of our culture, she might have a little more credibility. But her indictment is of the entire culture, and there's far too much evidence to the contrary.

    I really want to hear from more women on this, too, though. I'd like as many perspectives as possible.

  • Strega

    There seems to be a dividing line between "statutory rape" and "forced rape".  In the case of the latter, we are all opinionated against it.  Statutory rape is much trickier because the "victim" may be very willing, just not of legal age to make the call wisely. 

    I grew up with Jimmy Savile in public life.  He was a radio DJ when I was a young teen, he was a TV presenter when I was older, and he did loads of charity work and he was a bit eccentric.  I'm really upset he turned out to be a teen-molester.  But we are talking about London, England, here, not some poor country.  Where were the bloody parents?  How did all this get brushed under the carpet?

    I remember going to the local dance when I was 14.  The sneaking of make-up out of the house so we could paint our faces in garish colours.  Luckily, our potential partners at these dances were also young teens, although I do remember the vicar (yeah it was held at a church hall) finding a used condom on the grounds and reading everyone the riot act.  At least ten boys claimed it was theirs.

    We really did look like tarts.  We were what is called "jail bait" and we thought we knew it all.  If it looked like we would have got the interest of a (gasp) famous man, who thought we were attractive, I don't think we would have run screaming from a fumble.  I can now understand why there are laws for underage sex, but forty years ago, in England, we sure as hell thought we knew everything.

    The problem with our society is that there are so many rules, it's not always clear which ones are good and which ones are a bit silly.  I smoked my first joint when I was 14.  I got drunk too, around that age.  Went in to an Adult rated (over 18) movie when I was 15.  As teens, we would do anything to seem older than we were.

    I'm really not convinced that there is evidence that a whole lot of forcing was going on.  Not that it makes it a pretty tale, but if these girls were anything as ghastly as my age group was in those days, they may well have been eager to please, in an inappropriate way.

    If a parent goes to the police with an accusation of child molestation in England, I'm just not convinced they would have been turned away, irrespective of whether it was a TV presenter, a politician, or a rock musician who is being implicated.

    I don't know, grey, it's a tricky one.  The blog itself, incidentally, isn't written with much style, it just seems to be meandering about.  Not my cup of tea.

  • Kir Komrik

    Hey Greyfoot,

    Please disregard the comments following the post--as is so often the case, the discussion there becomes a pissing match, and therefore irrelevant. I just want to know what people think about the initial subject. Does Western culture condone rape, in the mechanism of oblivious chauvinism? If criminal acts happen in a culture, does that define the culture?

    Again, I honestly want any responses to be limited to the initial blog post. So tell me what ya think.

    Ask any man or woman and you'll get a million different definitions as soon as you get far enough into the weeds to see where they really stand on the definition of rape. Consequently, the "buy-in" of the male population, and to some degree the female population, has not perfected. Therefore, yes, it is a rape culture, like most societies. But it is a rape culture because men have never been given clear boundaries about what rape is. There needs to be a society-wide consensus that is clear and concise about what rape is. Just saying "no" doesn't clear it up in every case either and I hope we don't need examples to show why ... ;-)

    - kk

     

  • greyfoot

    Streg,

    That's a very interesting perspective, especially from (no stereotype intended) a woman, who I actually want to hear from most, considering the implications of the initial blog. An idea of an older generation's view is very profitable for this discussion. I hope we get more.

    Kir,

    I think you can pretty much count on a demand in proceeding comments for such examples. Heh.

  • Unseen

    1) Please use the Forums rather than a blog. In a forum, one can hit Reply and Edit if one notices a mistake in that reply.

    2) "Most of all, it's the product of a culture that teaches men that they are entitled to other people's bodies." I never got that memo.

    3) "Most pedophiles, I believe, rape children because children are easier to rape than adults." No, pedophiles fantasize about sex with prepubescent children. Once puberty is reached, it's no longer pedophilia, it's statutory rape. Rape by legal art, in other words.

    4) The hysteria around pedophilia is dysfunctional. It increases the pressure by the pedophile on the victims to be silent, often done by threatening the lives of their parents. In the worst case scenario, the pedo murders the child to cover up the crime.

  • greyfoot

    Unseen,

    1) Very good points you make.

    2) You're absolutely right about the blog--I was wondering why there was no reply button. I very rarely deal with forums anymore, so I'm not that knowledgeable. My mistake. I'll be mindful of that in the future.

  • Strega

    Yes, you are a perfectionists worst nightmare, grey!  

    I actually prefer this format because new posts don't turn up all over the place and I know where I got up to on my last sweep.  But I know other posters can cope with that.

    Oh, and cheeky! Calling me "older generation".  Laughs (and carefully checks for typos before hitting Add Comment)

  • Erin

    I found the blog very tough to read and follow, as well. This Jerry Savile character is one I'm not familiar with, having just heard of him recently on some late night talk show. I think I might have something to add, but I was hoping you could clarify what you mean by oblivious chauvinism. And I think what defines our culture isn't what criminal activities happen, but how they are dealt with, the US comes to mind here with their huge percentage of jailed citizens. And I guess if you can easily get away with rape, then that makes it a rape culture? Am I on the right track here? I cannot begin to imagine why people are pedophiles, but I do get that people blame victims and I know victims blame themselves. How confusing for someone to terribly assault you, but this assault gives you incredible pleasure, and they're telling you they love you, it's really messed up for the poor kids. They probably start wanting more and more of the abuse and hating themselves for it. Sometimes I wonder if judges aren't all pedophiles due to the incredibly light sentences they seem to impose.
  • Kir Komrik

    Hey Erin,

    Sometimes I wonder if judges aren't all pedophiles due to the incredibly light sentences they seem to impose

    lol. You will know them by their rulings ;-)

    - kk

  • Ward Cressin

    My take on the "rape culture" idea is that it is more of a subculture. We are transitioning from a society where women were de facto property of their husbands and that the weak must submit to the strong –  ideas often courtesy of their religion – and most people bought into those ideas. But we have opened our eyes and realized that we need to treat everyone decently.

    However there are those who don't want to change so they teach their children the antiquated notions of men having dominion over women and children. So we end up with a subculture when "maybe" means "yes" and "no" means "maybe". And if you didn't like it, shut up because he did like it.

    I wonder at times about the lack of compassion demonstrated by rapists but I still have not seen, read, or heard anything that makes me think they are helpless to control themselves. Just that they believe they don't need to control themselves or they allow themselves to get drunk or high so they can't control themselves.

    (It's late enough that I can't think of what's missing but it seems like something might be so I might post a continuation.)

  • Arcus

    That Savile went from national treasure to being the most hated man in the immediate aftermath of the revelations should blow the hypothesis of a widespread "rape culture" clear out of the water. I haven't followed the Savile story close enough to know who knew what and when, but there must have been some at best a disinclination against believing those who accused him of misconduct, and I would assume some cover up. Implicit in the assumption of a cover up is that there has been unacceptable ongoings, which again would mean that society in general, and thus culture, does not condone or accept rape, but that individuals at times both rape and help cover for rapists. It is essentially like saying we have a "murder culture" because there are murderers and people willing to help them cover up murders. 

    The blogger tries to chew over a lot of disparate information, but seem to instead just to pull threads. I find it a bit odd that in paragraph 4 there's a disagreement with the claim that the British culture condones rape, which later is the exact same conclusion the blog eventually meanders towards. I would also disagree with calling 14 year olds children, and those who have sex with them pedophiles; both terms belong to prepubescence. Not that it makes it right to have sex with young teens, but the only reason to misappropriate the terms is to elicit an emotional response. Finally, while I did not exist in the sixties or seventies, I am well aware that it was in the middle of the sexual revolution where all sexual moors were questioned. I find it a bit of a reach to use today's morality to judge it.

  • Dale Headley

    I had something to say but since everyone is supposed to "disregard" it, I won't bother.

  • greyfoot

    I'm welcoming and delighted at ALL the comments, of course, whether I agree or disagree, but Erin's comment is what I was hoping to attract. I want dissenting perspectives, especially from females. She does raise a poignant question: "...I think what defines our culture isn't what criminal activities happen, but how they are dealt with...And I guess if you can easily get away with rape, then that makes it a rape culture?"

    Firstly, though, Erin, we have to ask ourselves if it is indeed easy to get away with rape. Consider that what we consume in the media isn't necessarily an accurate picture of the state of society. Yes, we read/hear/see stories about sexual assault pretty much every day, but we don't read about the people who DON'T sexually assault other people. Those outnumber the above offenders greatly. Just like with murder, or harassment, or cruelty to animals. People who behave properly (at least according to our particular society) aren't going to be in the news, because they aren't really news. This http://wrongquestions.blogspot.com/ is one of many treatments of the subject that should be considered. Now, certainly, you can come back with rivaling statistics of your own (and I won't mind if you do, we ARE trying to get at the truth here), but any of these stats aren't really the point, because when we're talking about rape, we're talking about violent crime. Again, the corollary here is murder. It is a fact that violent crime, period, gets treated less harshly than drug offenses and more-or-less "white collar" crimes (counterfeit, laundering, embezzlement, etc). Does this truly mean that our culture actually condones rape, assault, and murder?

    The U.S. justice system--and Western justice as a whole--is a very complex entity. The initial blogger feels that that is irrelevant, but I vehemently disagree. While her real intent may have been to ask "What about the victims?" her actual words didn't remain with that rather obvious question--a question that the greater part of society--of our culture--has been asking for a very long time.

    I beg you, and anyone else, come back at me. I think this is a very important issue, and needs to be hashed out. I'd like multiple modes of reasoning from those who disagree with me on this. For those of you who agree with me, I'll just high-five you. Heh.

  • Unseen

    violent crime, period, gets treated less harshly than drug offenses and more-or-less "white collar" crimes (counterfeit, laundering, embezzlement, etc).

    Look at the huge fines and prison time someone is potentially exposed to by torrenting music or movies and/or simply making a mix tape. And yet few get prosecuted, so I guess we have a "copyright infringement culture," too.

  • Unseen

    @Dale Headley

    I had something to say but since everyone is supposed to "disregard" it, I won't bother.

    Thank you.

  • June

    " Most pedophiles, I believe, rape children because children are easier to rape than adults.  The tabloid hysteria over pedophiles, which turns them into boogeymen, does nothing to combat this second, more pernicious form of pedophilia--in fact, it may reinforce it, since tabloids also perpetuate the victim-blaming, slut-shaming mentality in which so many pedophiles are steeped.  But neither do articles like O'Hagan's, which pretend to offer an even-tempered, rational alternative to this hysteria while echoing the same perception of sex as something divorced from consent, do anything to bring about a solution.  Both are products of rape culture, and both are part of the problem."

    She seems to paint a pretty dim picture of men and the world they apparently wish to create according to her reading of the facts. One cannot deny that when talking about rape men are usually cast as the rapists and women the victims. She added "children and low status men."

    She is typecasting this as the strong against the weak, as though that is the main thing at work here. Wouldn't that conclusion also mean that "strong" woman would also be more likely to rape, or as she says using someone "as receptacles for your lust." I don't think that the distinction in physical strength should be the only distinction made. 

    I know some people want to get very upset when distinctions between women and men are made, choosing to call men out as chauvinists. But one cannot seriously look at the make-up of men and women and say that they are equal. One is not below the other, but they are not equal. 

    I get yelled at a lot for thinking that women should pay more for insurance. (That's a whole other conversation, but I know it costs a lot more to give a mammogram than to slap on a glove for a prostate exam.) There is a difference in how men and women view sex. I do not say this to accuse men, as though every one of them wants to rape and therefore do their damnedest to make sure we live in a society that will turn a blind eye the way the way Abigail seems to see it, but I say this only to recognize that difference. Men are able to have sex without it needing to be meaningful. That is not to say that they never have meaningful sex, just that I think this is more of a male thing. Women on the other hand tend to have sex to feel accepted, it isn't just another physical thing for them. 

    But I don't think that makes men "inherently" bad. I just think that it's easy for a feminist agenda to peg it on the board as a male conspiracy against women. I mean, the facts are in their favor, with that ratio of male attackers to woman victims, to appear like it's just another way of keeping females down, but I don't see men giving each other high fives when a woman gets raped. Many times men are the most angry at rapists because the know how cowardly that action is. 

    My point is, you just can't look at the number and decide that all men are "rapist pigs". They also can't say the sexualization of women rests solely on men. It might be true that women who dress in a sexual manner are not always "asking for it," but those same women want to blame men for following that lead. You don't want sexual attention? Don't dress that way. Not saying woman cause rape, but they also don't help the issue. I can't really even say that I have met more than one chauvinist, so I have a hard time believing that most men are and in addition to that perpetrated this extensive culture to keep women down.