So you’re tired of hearing about “rape culture”?


The following includes descriptions, photos, and video that may serve as a trigger for victims of sexual violence.
Please be advised. 

Someone asked me today, “What is ‘rape culture’ anyway? I’m tired of hearing about it.”

Yeah, I hear ya. I’m tired of talking about it. But I’m going to keep talking about it because people like you keep asking that question.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and though there are dozens of witnesses, no one says, “Stop.”

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and though there are dozens of witnesses, they can’t get anyone to come forward.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and adults are informed of it, but no consequences are doled out because the boys “said nothing happened.”

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and we later find out that their coaches were “joking about it” and “took care of it.” 

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and even though there is documentation of the coaching staff sweeping it under the rug, they get to keep their jobs.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and one of the coaches involved in the cover-up threatens a reporter – saying, “You’re going to get yours. And if you don’t get yours, somebody close to you will.” – but the town is more worried about keeping their coaching talent than his integrity.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, take pictures of the process, and it becomes a source of ridicule along social networks, whitewashing the crime with hashtags.

[Note: Initially, there was an image of two young men holding up an unconscious young girl by the arms and legs. The image has been widely circulated, and its inclusion here was an attempt to find a silver lining in this survivor’s tragedy by prompting aversion and self-reflection in the reader, as well as to demonstrate the egregious nature of the crime. However, after measured conversations in the comments section and via email, I have chosen to take it down. It’s not my choice to make.]

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and then joke about it on video – saying, ““She is so raped,” “They raped her quicker than Mike Tyson!”, “They raped her more than the Duke lacrosse team!”, and she was “deader than Trayvon Martin.” – while everyone else laughs. (Warning: this video will make you sick to your stomach.)

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and the town is more concerned with preserving their football program than the fact that their children are attacking others without remorse.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and the mainstream media laments the fact that their “promising futures” have been dashed by their crimes – as though THEY are the victims.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and even though she’s been through enough, the 16 year old victim’s name is shared on national television.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, but because it happens at a party where both sexes were drinking, complete strangers on the internet argue ferociously that she is to blame for being attacked.

Click to embiggen. Warning: it will make you sick.

Click to zoom. Warning: it will make you sick.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and members of the community issue death threats against the victim.

death threats

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and it is documented across social media channels, and the media informs us that the takeaway is to be more careful about what we post to social media.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and when a cover-up is exposed by a group of hackers, we call them “terrorists” and the culpable “victims.” 

Yeah, I’m talking about Steubenville. Tired of hearing about it? Ok, let’s talk about something else.

Rape culture is when the Steubenville is far from the first instance of athletic clubs covering up sexual violence allegations. See: Sandusky, Michigan State 2010, Arizona State 2008, University of Colarado 2006, University of Iowa 2008, Lincoln High School 2012, University of Montana 2012, Marquette 2011, plus this research (and there’s more to find if you dig)

Rape culture is when universities across the country do not report rape to the police, but handle the matter via “honor boards” – ultimately shielding perpetrators from criminal consequences.

Rape culture is when universities threaten to expel a student for speaking out about her rape (without ever identifying her attacker) because it’s harassment to talk about her suffering.

Rape culture is when a comedian has a long history of making jokes about rape and sexual assault, is defended from backlash by the comic community, and doesn’t lose his fan base.

Rape culture is when a journalist says this ….

I think that the entire conversation is wrong. I don’t want anybody to be telling women anything. I don’t want men to be telling me what to wear and how to act, not to drink. And I don’t, honestly, want you to tell me that I needed a gun in order to prevent my rape. In my case, don’t tell me if I’d only had a gun, I wouldn’t have been raped. Don’t put it on me to prevent the rape.

… and the public responds with this….


Rape culture is when politicians don’t understand how requiring a transvaginal ultrasound of a rape victim seeking an abortion is like raping her all over again.

Rape culture is when political candidates say that God sometimes intends rape, and that some girls just “rape easy,” and that “legitimate rape” does not result in pregnancy… and do not lose the backing of their party or party leaders.

Rape culture is when a speaker at a political convention makes a rape joke about a sexual violence victim advocate, and he brings the house down with laughter.

Rape culture is when we spend all our time telling women to avoid being raped by modifying their behavior, inferring blame back onto the victim.

Rape culture is when stunning displays of privilege and willful ignorance combine to create this.



voice for MEN

and this:

no rape culture

Rape culture is when a woman speaks out about rape culture, and gets subjected to this.

Rape culture is when we see ads like these on a far too frequent basis:

belvedere ad rape jumpgrossfriendzonedrinkdominos

Rape culture is when you’re tired of hearing about “rape culture” because it makes you uncomfortable, as your attempt to silence discourse on the subject means we never raise enough awareness to combat it – and that’s part of why it sticks around.

So yeah, I’m sorry you’re tired of hearing about it. But I wouldn’t expect us to shut up anytime soon. Nor should we.

UPDATE: I will no longer be publishing comments which caveat the discussion of rape culture with false rape accusation concerns. There is a reason for this, which you can read here


      1. I don’t know if I agree….

        I’d have to say Rape Culture is when the World’s Black Market enterprise is funded by the selling/ kidnapping and extortion of the HUMAN FEMALE at ALL ages.

        Rape culture is when an entire world can still acknowledge and DENY at the same time that women are brutalized in ALL parts of the world even in the wealthiest homes of America.

        Rape culture is when a country not 5 decades ago endorsed large women as beautiful and then suddenly did a complete 180 on that perspective and has created a mentality that persuades a sexual life in private but shuns it openly.

        Rape culture is THE unknown organization running the world that no one challenges…

        Just wanted to clarify.

      2. I hear you. To be clear, this piece is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all manifestations of rape culture. Talking about rape culture in all forms is important to understanding and combating it, so thank you for commenting! The examples you point out feed a broader mindset of inequality, which is what facilitates rape culture. If we see individuals as less than human, or somehow worth less, atrocities like rape suddenly don’t matter as much.

      3. Largely agree with your sentiments, but please reconsider the ethics of reposting that video. It shows a real rape and not a reenactment of rape, correct? It certainly should have been removed from youtube ages ago. I can’t imagine my horror if I were the victim knowing that well-intended feminists were posting images of my assault without my permission. Fox News (and I believe CNN?) “accidentally” revealed her name. We can do better than this. Violence after violence is committed against Jane Doe with each view, regardless of whether one watches in disgust and horror. The fact is, no view– sympathetic or not– can be justified without Jane Doe’s personal consent. Thank you.

      4. You can’t yell too loudly, nor too long about “rape culture.” I knew what Zerlina meant, but carrying a firearm, in the absence of immediate change is an option worthy of consideration. It shouldn’t have to be that way, but it is.

      5. Wow I had no idea this was even on the net till I came across your post. Sickening doesn’t begin to describe this idiot and co video. The dark side of me wishes all the evils they joke about on that video to happen to them and for that to be video taped and shown for all to see. Then we’d see just how funny Rape is.

      6. Most are your examples seem to involve stupid people making stupid decisions. Why are you calling it “rape culture”, isn’t more so ignorant people making shitty decisions? Why is the Tosh incident even mentioned?

      7. That’s a very general description of what rape culture is: people making really terrible decisions and comments without thinking about the consequences. The label is a means of framing the conversation.

    1. Ok, I haven’t had time to read all of the comments, but the ones I have read I have found very interesting that the whole conversation slowly became about the very few men who have been raped. Of course, rape is an awful experience for anyone who has to go through it, but it’s interesting that the rare cases of men being raped starts to overshadow the actual CULTURE of raping and dehumanizing women. Perhaps we should add in a male privilege lesson into this convo as well.
      I was reading a blog about white privilege earlier today where a white dude was like, “Hey! I’m a white guy and I’ve had a tough life!!!” Totally missing the point completely.. that kinda reminded me of this…

      1. Overshadow? Are you joking? If it became a topic of discussion it’s because of the sheer novelty of the conversation, not because of male privilege. Violence against man is rarely taken seriously as an issue, and I say that as a male victim of domestic violence. The idea that a serious consideration of it could be belittled as you have done is beyond offensive, and disqualifies you as part of any sincere anti-rape stance.

      2. You seem to forget that rape culture isn’t a culture against women by definition, it is a culture against women in practice because the majority of rape victims are female. (The majority of rapes may well have male victims, but that is another matter)

        We have exactly the same culture against male victims with a couple of special bonus belittlements added in. (Men can’t be raped is the best one, I’ve had that a few times.), so as a male victim it is fustrating that every time someone talks about this it is from a ‘rape culture hates women perspective’ we need more writing on ‘rape culture hates me'(both in assuming that they are slaves to their own sex drive when the are victims and possible criminals. Or we need the more accurate ‘rape culture hates victims’ perspective.

      3. Two things being overlooked in your remarks Jaclynn:

        1.) men as victims of rape is a vastly under-reported phenomenon; under reporting is constantly regarded as a valid rhetorical point when discussing the estimated number of rapes, i.e., ” women who are raped but do not report”, yet this is commonly dismissed when discussing men as victims, despite the obvious nature of rape as a greater social stigma when the victim is male. This double-standard indicates a bizarre lack of concern for all potential victims of rape — not JUST women.

        It’s not “overshadowing” when men as victims are excluded completely from discussion of the subject, and someone points this out.

        Discussion of rape tends to be myopic, as if women are the only people who are raped; male rape is minimized and dismissed. Numbers, even if they were accurate, shouldn’t matter — rape is rape, it’s a problem even if just one person is raped; and it’s about establishing power through violence, to make the victim feel humiliated and insignificant, not about sex or gender; why should the victim be “insignificant” just for being male? Why would anyone sensitive to the nature of rape dismiss a victim for being male, when this symbolically enforces the “powerlessness through insignificance” that rape is meant to produce in the mind of the victim?

        People talk of triggers, then tell male victims of rape “your numbers are so low, you don’t count” — brilliant.

        The US government didn’t even keep numbers on male victimization until the 1990s — not for lack of incidence, since not keeping numbers means you can’t establish rates of incidence, but because of cultural stereotypes that men are not capable of being rape victims — (and similarly, did not start keeping numbers on women as perpetrators of any kind of sexual assaults until roughly the same period). Many arcane definitions of rape under the law exclude the possibility of men being raped; by legal definition, men are not considered “rape-able” under many laws;

        2.) When you speak of men, white or otherwise, as some uniformly privileged, monolithic, homogenous “class” sharing in some abstract notion of “privilege”, you erase all individual difference from the equation, and cover-up instances where your rule doesn’t hold true. You wind up excluding people who might also be victims of the same culture, and make them seem insignificant in a flawed attempt to make your chosen group seem “more significant”.

        No human being is reducible to a single dimension (like their sex). Men in prison are not privileged, white or not. Homeless men freezing to death under a freeway overpass are not privileged, white or not. There are many ways in which your abstract notion of “privilege” is so practically non-applicable as to make it farcical. Why defend it so vociferously, if its so limited in its usefulness for diagnosing social injustice? Just because ALL men have to be excluded, scapegoated, for the sake of women? How does that benefit women or men?

        Others have written extensively about this (like the head of the Board of Directors of the National Organization for Women’s New York City chapter, so I won’t write a thesis length rebuttal here. It’s safe to say, your critical thinking skills should tip you off to the fact that generalizations of this sort tend to be fallacious, at the very least. Approach concepts like “class/sex/gender privilege” that incorporate over generalizations about entire groups very carefully; they’re tempting but logically problematic.

      4. Co-sign on your thought process; almost 100%. The part I disagree with is NOT we should NOT add men into this equation as victims..this topic and the VAST majority of rape victims are women. Exclamation point. Period..No one is saying there aren’t male rape victims..however, that is NOT what the prevailing topic is on this post. It IS because of male privilege in our country(and others) that women are dehumanized, blatantly USED as sex symbols(the sex/porn industry is a multiBILLION dollar industry) , and respected SO little overall that laws had to be written for women to be paid what they have EARNED in comparison to men doing the very same JOB. I commend the author of this post for the indepth amount of time & research done on this topic. It hits me VERY close to home; and I’ll part with that comment…Kudos for the courage to voice what many can’t voice; but wish they could. 2 thumbs UP & be blessed. You’ve just gained yet another follower…Me

      5. No, Jaclynn a better example of a comparable situation would be if I were t say “I’m a man and I don’t like rape”, a comparison of pointing out male rape in white privlage disscussion, would be if I were to say ” I’m white and I am constantly accused of being racist and spoiled and privlaged, when I am poor and a civil rights activist” which is on topic in both cases as it shows the other half of the equation which in this case is that women are taught and trained they victims waiting to be victimized. Many minorities in our culture are trained to be victimized and so expect ill treatment from every angle, some individuals respond by lashing out at any who might be a threat before they do. Hence the response To the topic, and the racism-ception. Men are not only being trained they stonger and can take what they want, but we teach women they are weak and just waiting to become a victim, creating fear, and leading to more abuse. Both sides ARE Rape Culture, they are the representation of this phenomenon, these messages are what creats rape culture. Ignoreing this simply leaves this as a disscussion about how women are Raped and victimised all the time, and just how it is, women are the victims and always are the victims, and vary message perpetuates and is Rape Culture. Please think on this, so we all can change our ways.

    2. So why exactly is anyone surprised that rape is so prevalent? I see it as the natural consequence of a culture that sees the ideal man as ambitious, aggressive, and never taking no for an answer.

      And as for men not coming forward as witnesses to rape in Steubenville, why would they? I’d say a majority of men put loyalty to friends above the law. As in “Yeah, they f’d up, but I’m not selling them out. I’m not a rat.” Especially not for some random girl I’ll probably never see again.

      It’s a tribal mentality ingrained over millenia. I don’t see it changing any time soon.

      1. Wow, I’m not sure what kind of people you know, but I can’t imagine a single person I’m acquainted with responding that way. If nothing else, I suppose it illustrates the dangers of trying to approach these issues as though any part of them is an objective constant.

      2. And where are the parents of these witnesses????? If I find out that my kid knows about something like this happened, I’ll drag them down to the police station and then have some privileges revoked….

      3. I put loyalty to friends above the law…but not above my sense of empathy. It’s not a fear of legal retribution that prevents me from raping, it’s the simple fact that it is SICK.

      4. As a man, had I been present when that occurred it would have been stopped. Physically if necessary. So yes be very careful when saying “majority of men”. Had it been you I’d have turned on you in a second flat. Tribal loyalties be damned. I belong to a much bigger tribe than friendship with you or any other individual. I belong to the global tribe of humanity and it is those human dignities that I protect against all that seek to dominate it.

      5. I have reported a friend for rape. He is still rotting in a jail cell and will be for the next 20 years because of both me and another one of his male friends who both put human rights above friendship. Do not make blanket statements like that.

      6. Uh, please don’t try and speak for my gender. I am a man, and if I heard about this happening anywhere NEAR me I’d be telling everyone who could listen. “Tribalism” is just a pathetic excuse. If you are seriously unsurprised that not one male came forward, your view of masculinity is as distorted as those involved. This is not about putting anyone above the LAW – this is about people turning a blind eye to the destruction of a life – and if all you see this is as a legal issue, maybe this is telling you something about your own view of women, I’d certainly see it as a bad sign.

      7. My response when hearing that a guy I knew had beaten and raped someone (who I also knew but probably not that much of a multiplier) was, admittedly not to call the authorities. It was not however to accept or condone it,
        I sought him out.
        I was damned lucky he’d flown to the other side of the continent at about the same time i started looking for him or I might not be enjoying the freedom I have today.

        Fewer men than you think accept that behavior.

    3. I have one to add: Rape culture is when a a Dawson College professor is allowed to teach a course which includes playing tapes that prove that some girls lie about being raped which ruins boys lives. The purpose – to show that a high percentage of rape charges are “made up”.

      1. It’s bad, Charlotte, because it makes it so that when someone is raped the likelihood of it being disregarded is increased. It belittles the issue of rape. Yes, some rape cases may be “made up” but by creating a class that is focused on cases in which the charges were false it further increases the rape culture atmosphere by making it more likely that people will not believe when someone says they were raped. It creates doubt where there shouldn’t be.

      2. Charlotte, I guess the reason it’s bad is because it undermines every rape accusation, be they legitimate (probably the vast majority) or false, and appears to be from a professor with an agenda and one-sided evidence. Having some skepticism regarding an accusation is natural and worthwhile, but to demonise rape victims further by suggesting that they are not telling the truth must firstly do incredible damage on top of that from the rape itself, and secondly it may discourage rape victims from speaking out.
        With a quick google search I can’t find anything to back up Helen’s claim, but if it were true then that would be my argument as to why it’s bad.

      3. Charlotte – it’s bad because it’s not only a lie – the percentage of rape charges that turn out to be false is close to 2%, not’high’ – and also because it marginalises rape victims and trivialises what they went through, as if somehow the problem of false accusation is comparable to the problem of rape, which all actual evidence shows is bullshit.

      4. Check out the post I did on false accusations and why I started limiting comments on the topic. There is literally ZERO good data on the subject, and reason to believe the false allegation rate is probably a LOT lower. Thanks for lending your voice to the issue!

    4. it’s the first time I have personally ever heard the term “rape culture”, however the description is apt. The video is so disturbing and so offensive to me, the way they were describing this girl like she was a non entity and of no consequence, that I could not watch more than 2 minutes of it. I am horrified and completely disgusted to the depths of my being. Keep up the good fight Lauren. CLEARLY it hasn’t been said enough or reached enough people for it to HIT HOME, just how deplorable this kind of thinking and acting is.

    5. I totally agree with you. On some issues I agree with mens rights but on this one I totally agree with feminism. Women should not have to plan on being raped in a civil society.

    6. I’ve got a quick question that’s always kind of been bugging me. As a side note, though, it should be kept in mind that I 100% agree with everything you said here. I’m just wondering about this one is all.

      In the case of “rape jokes” from comedians, and getting upset about them… why is it we get so upset by these, but not, usually, when that same comedian makes a joke about committing mass murder or something? It just seems weird is all.

      I’m of the opinion, really, that when someone makes a joke you find inappropriate, generally just stop listening to them – trying to tell them they can’t joke about that gets into a dangerous “pick and choose” territory. BUT I’m also willing to hear an argument against this viewpoint, since it’s possible I’m wrong. Could you explain it to me, if you have a moment?

      Thanks :).

      1. Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of rape humor because I’ve known far too many people to make the jokes, but mean the sentiment. In other words, people will hide behind humor in order to make denigrating and incendiary comments, and when the woman in the group speaks up, the response is met with criticism of how emotional or ridiculous she is. I am aware of the fact that comedians will use humor to an ironic end, but in the context referenced above, it was a response to a heckler, and he explicitly talked about how “funny” it would be if she were raped. Tosh is capable of much better. It was a colossally fucked up comment.

        The reason I distinguish between rape jokes and murder jokes is two fold. For one, the victims of murder are not around to be marginalized. Still screwed up? You bet. That being said, no a fan of mass murder (or genocide/Holocaust) related humor either…

        I know I’m in the minority on this thread on this one. An I will admit that with the right comic, and venue, and audience, humor can be used as an ironic tool to spur self-reflection and discourse. But look at Tosh’s fan base. Look at some of the comments they’ve made in response. These are not “enlightened” folks analyzing Tosh’s discursive efforts – they’re turning around and saying anyone who has a problem with thinking a woman being raped by 5 guys in a row is somehow “funny” is a whiny bitch/feminazi. I’m not going to repost some of the comments I’ve seen elsewhere.

        But I will talk about it here. Most of the comments I’ve received in reference to the other arguments (again, most) have been pretty respectful. Some have had a fair dose of vitriol. But the people responding to the Tosh comment? They’re the only ones who have wished bodily harm on me. Like, in detail. They were deleted/blocked/whatever. I’m fine. I knew that was a possible response when I put this up.

        But THAT is why I won’t back down from Tosh’s comment being representative of rape culture. Because he may not have wanted that poor girl to be raped, but his comments seem to have inspired other people to think that’s ok.

      2. That’s fair enough. It’s funny (and by funny I mean an odd coincidence, not funny haha), considering how much Tosh hates those types of people generally, yet they flock to him in droves. I guess they like the abuse or something, who knows, rofl.

        I see what you’re saying, and I do think Tosh’s comment was a bit OTT but I think it WAS meant to be ironic – on his part. I mean keep in mind, the majority of his jokes do tend to be just over the top offensive in more ways than one. It’s kind of his thing. And I mean really, to go to a Tosh comedy show and then complain you’re offended by something he said… that’s like getting front row seats to a Gallagher show and complaining that you got watermelon on your shirt.

        BUT, as for the idiots who have started yelling at everyone who disagrees, I make no apologies for them, and yeah I hear you – at the VERY least Tosh should probably come out and say something like “I don’t apologise for my joke, but I apologise for the reaction it’s gotten. This has gotten out of hand”. I think he’s responsible for how this whole thing has gone down, so he should accept said responsibility and step up.

        This all said, though, as a side question, I know you said you believe his (Tosh’s) joke is part of rape culture because of how people have responded to it (which I understand). But how do you feel about people taking offense to everything like, for example, when The Oatmeal did that comic “humanizing” all the keys on a keyboard and showed… one of them, I forget which one, as a victim of spousal abuse basically.

        I didn’t think it was funny, really, and frankly he’s capable of a lot better, but I still kind of think people reacting so OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DID THAT is a little weird. Your thoughts?

      3. Right. I want to make it clear that I don’t think Tosh is a bad person. I know he can’t be held responsible for every asshat out there. But, because of his influence, I think he has a responsibility to the audience to be careful. That doesn’t mean he can’t use his brand of humor or never say anything offensive, but 1) it’s important that we take ownership of our rhetoric, and 2) it’s important that WE allow for discourse on the subject.

        It’s a hard subject to tackle, because it really isn’t black and white. Ironic performance CAN be effective. The rise of Stephen Colbert is an excellent example of this. But the only way it works is in a world where you know your audience well enough, and tailor the presentation explicitly to them.

        RE: Oatmeal… I don’t know, I’d have to see the reaction, and how people interacted during it. I tend to measure whether or not there’s redeeming value in something like that based on the quality of engagement afterwards. Irony and humor are effective catalysts, but if we’re not engaging after the fact, it’s shock for shock’s sake, and then it’s trivialization. Does that make sense?

      4. Well, in terms of quality of the engagement, he did come out and wholeheartedly apologised a couple of days after the fact. But beyond that, it was pretty bleh from both sides. I do get what you’re saying about how offensive just to be offensive is trivializing (and, frankly, boring), but in this case I think the idea was just he was saying we abuse the hell out of that one key by pressing it all the time. Something like that, I honestly don’t remember it in full rofl.

        Anyway, thank you for taking the time to respond to me. I know you’ve got like 2353252 comments on here to get to, so I won’t take any more of your time. I appreciate your points, as well – I’ll definitely keep it all in mind 🙂

      5. This was the kind of dissourse I was looking to see on this subject. Personally I am of the belief that someone can make comedy out of any topic and subject. I will never back down on that belief. Even social censorship of any art form, including comedy, I find deplorable. One of the many purposes of comedy in is to create a safe environment to express fears after all. I have no idea of even who this Tosh person is, so there is nothing I can say about that subject, but I however have personally taken flak for sharing diffrent things I have enjoyed because of my more morbid sense of humor, at other places. Saddly it seems the argument on what should be “acceptable humor” tends to devolve into people margenalizing each other based on their beliefs that their personal experiences are more important then everyone elses.

      6. I want to be clear. I am not advocating anyone be “censored.” I’m asking that we, as individuals, evaluate whether we think that’s funny (which, frankly, it’s not. Not even close), and speak with our wallets. That’s not censorship. It’s consumer advocacy. And really – if you can read the survivor stories on this thread and tell me they deserve to be the butt of a joke – I don’t know what to tell you.

    7. Wow I did not even know this type of horrific thing existed. I thought this was about all those women that talked about having been raped not this horrible thing. I’m just shocked thank you for sharing though and teaching us about it.

  1. Rape Culture is NOT just Athletes. I know this for a fact. It happens in big towns, small towns, College and High School. It happened to me. It is devastating. The “responsible adults” sweep it under the rug. They are morons.

    1. You’re absolutely correct. Rape can and does happen in all settings – and often in environments where we typically feel safe (see: pervasiveness of date and acquaintance rape). I focused on athletics here because it was relevant to a current topic, the stats on the matter are pretty scary, and it’s disturbing to see such concentrated rates in activities that are supposed to teach integrity, teamwork, discipline and more. But rape culture manifestations are deplorable in every form and scenario. I am so sorry you were forced to endure that. Thank you for having the courage to share your story.

      1. Thank you for bringing this back to the current case/news. I’d always heard of the “major events” in Athletic sexual assaults but the sheer list of continuous assaults is nauseating, ( I don’t use twitter/instagram so I hadn’t seen that photo, blech).
        TL;DRThis was a good honest entry that wasn’t bullshit for attention or links. Thank you

      2. I see that you are focusing on a certain topic, but within that “topic” two athletes were involved, not a group of athletes; two does not a group consist. As a male athlete who was raped by a non-athlete woman, it is especially vexing when people equate rape, in any sense with athletics. Because you are able to coordinate your bodily movements better than some of your peers does not make you a rapist. Because you are a man does not make you a rapist.

        I would appreciate it if you would please change your wording from “Rape culture is a group of athletes” because that statement is simply false, and anything following thus voided by the irrational logic of the statement that precedes it.

      3. Let me first say that I am very sorry for your suffering. Rape is never acceptable. I applaud your bravery in discussing your experience, and agree that gender does not dictate capacity for sexual violence.

        In terms of the refrain, it was a deliberate choice, and I’m surprised it hasn’t been talked about yet. When I say “group,” it is to infer culpability to the group that stood by and did nothing while the attack took place, did not call the authorities, and would not come forward. They facilitated the crime, they furthered her suffering. The ultimate act was conducted by the two young men, but the rape culture that radiated from the situation was not just a product of the rapists’ actions.

        To be entirely fair, I’m open to hearing additional perspectives on this subject. The goal was to start this conversation, so let’s have it.

      4. It might be worth noting here that the issue with athletes is not inherent to playing sports or to being athletic. It is a cultural system where athletics are prized so highly by a community that the athletes themselves become stars–as we saw in this case. We can list too many cases where football or basketball stars have eluded prosecution or punishment for everything from violence, to drug use, to domestic violence and rape. I am guessing that athletes in less popular sports get away with far less–of course this will depend on the community.

      5. And, while only two young men were charged, there were more than two members of the ‘Rape Crew’. This was the first on-camera incident (that we know of). This was not the first incident. Otherwise, why the name? And if one were to suppose it’s just a bravado thing . . . proudly calling ones peers “The Rape Crew” again points to a Rape Culture.

    2. How about your own family sweep it under the rug?
      Leaves you feeling very confused about “Family” “Love”
      “Emotional Support” “Trust”

      1. It sucks when it happens at home – check out my post on confronting rape culture in our own backyard. I can’t even put into words how hard it is.

  2. I’ll probably talk about this all day. I do wish however you talked about how men are raped too and their proverbial “masculine card” would be revoked if they ever came forward. I appreciate you so much for talking about this though, it needed to be said.

    1. This is so, so true, and part of a conversation I was having today with a male friend who had been date raped. I’m actually working on another post that will talk about it a little more. It doesn’t matter the gender of the aggressor – rape is disgusting, and rape culture revolting.

      1. What baffles me is that men don’t see THIS aspect of rape culture and what it has done to them. I usually don’t care much for the “male victim” derail in a rape discussion about male on female rape, however- when we discuss rape culture, I believe it’s a VERY valid thing to go into. I don’t believe I have ever read a female on male rape case that wasn’t LOADED with jokes, and the comment section full of more jokes and ridicule- and god forbid the attacker be attractive. (Which we also sometimes see in the male on female rape cases as well.)

        I have been thinking on it from that perspective- not so much trying to put myself in the heteronormative male mindset, because I can’t, but when I look at that, or I look at the way they respond to male on male rape- it becomes VERY clear how deeply invested the culture is in rape culture itself and how oblivious many of them are to how damaging it truly is to everyone: it isn’t just women who are harmed by it, though we do get the lion’s share. Consider also- I mean, we KNOW the full damage all of this denigration of women does. We KNOW how it impacts us as women. Psychologically, though, more than a message of rape as acceptable, the message goes even further in objectification- and implied weakness: so much so that we’re not just telling men that women are lesser and are a stealable commodity- we’re also telling them that being in any way feminine is to be that. We’re telling them that to be raped is to be feminine, and ergo- if it happens to them (You could also throw homophobia in there, too- because I think that is also a result)… It’s a big, sick rabbit hole when you really get down to it.

      2. Rape is an act of war. It is designed to dehumanize, to objectify, and to cause fear. It happens to men, women and children in many forms. It should be punished as a murder ~ because it is! Just with rape the victim is alive and has to walk around with it for the rest of their lives. We must all come together and protect each other…girlfriends should watch out for each other ~ in my youth at least one of us agreed to stay fairlly sober and look out for each other. There is no excuse for rape and until it is conquered we must all be viligent. Parents and friends need to look out for each other and to the best of our ability take care of each other, provide safer parties, teach our kids to the have the courage to stop or call the cops or to do something. Educate that these are not games, they are not entertainment, these are humans being hurt. And rapist must be treated as the worst type of criminal ~ even in prisons they are spit upon.

      3. Yes please, talk about it from a gender nuetral stance, when it happened to me I could even get a complaint filed (it was years ago-my employer that rapist) I was ridiculed, I was humiliated, I felt less a person of worth, and more, worth less. I was ridiculed by much of my family and called a liar. I’ve never committed and act of violence to a woman, and can’t see a time I ever will; however everytime I experienced ridicule, humilation, or denial, I felt raped all over again. So yes, please talk about MORE.

      4. I would love to read Your article on this subject very much. Whenever I come across any post like this, the issue that Men are victims of rape is always brought up, and is quite often shot down neglected and swept aside. The times it has not there have been promises of separate posts but I personally have never seen any results from these problem, quite frankly, and crudely it just seems like nobody has the ballz to actually to put their pen where heir mouth is, so to speak.

        If there is an issue of finding good case studies I would recommend New Zealand where women raping men is a more prevalent occurrence.

    2. Can we not start with the “but what about the men?” shit, please?

      Most rape–certainly not all, but the vast, VAST majority of rape–is committed by men, against women. And I seriously doubt a man who goes to the police to report his rape will be asked what he was wearing, how much he’d been drinking, why he didn’t say “no” enough times, or otherwise blamed for being raped.

      1. As a male who was molested by women on three different occasions I would like to talk about it. Is it uncommon? Maybe. But we don’t know how common or uncommon it is as it is rarely reported. We can continue to ignore it and say it doesn’t happen though if that would suit you though.

      2. No he’ll just be laughed at, patted on the back and told to go home. That a bad one night stand wasn’t rape, and how can a guy be raped. I’m not sure how asking to acknowledge that men can and are raped to is “shit”.
        Please tell me how what happened to me is any less horrendous then what happens to women. Because they’re both terrible.

      3. While you are clearly right that there is a double-standard facing women who are victims, and that women are victims more often than men, let’s not pretend that men being raped is not worthy of discussion. There are plenty of people guffawing on various social media venues about “how these boys will get theirs in prison!” and such nonsense. Nobody (man or woman, boy or girl) should be raped. Ever. Under any circumstances.
        My point is that prison rape, and the rape of men is still rape. It’s still a part of rape culture. To downplay any aspect of rape culture as being irrelevant or unimportant, or to demean it with such comments as “Can we not start with the ‘but what about the men?’ shit” serves only to reinforce the very real worries that were brought up throughout the post.

      4. If you believe rape culture is isolated to male on female rape, you are an idiot. Men are raped by women and by other men all the time. But they’re told that they can’t be raped. They’re laughed at, ridiculed, told to stop making a big stink, etc. etc. etc. The discourse is the same. It’s a discourse that ridicules the victim, invalidates their experiences, etc.. And by sitting here and trying to tell people to stop bringing it up in a discussion about rape culture IS RAPE CULTURE at work.

        Congrats. You’re a participant.

      5. Just to clarify: the comment above was meant for Stump, not for rantagainsttherandom. I realize the latter was in no way making the argument. Stump certainly was.

      6. From an ally… and a straight, male, 2-time victim, both of them at female hands:

        IT IS NOT “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MEN SHIT” thank you. So no, it can’t stop either. And there would probably be a lot MORE allies, a lot more men stepping forward to lend their voices, if they felt more like they weren’t also going to be attacked by shit like your comment.

        And, incidentally – yes, the men are blamed. In some of those ways (how much they’d been drinking is one, why he didn’t say no enough is another) – and in others (what sort of wimp are you; you must be gay or you’d have liked it; etc). And of course, plain old disbelief and dismissal, because of course men aren’t raped. Or beaten. And especially not by women.

        Yes, the majority of rapes are men against women. And in numbers, that’s the most under-reported crime in America. And in percentages, the most under-reported is rape of men by women. I found out why… the hard way.

        So actually.. you’re right. Let’s stop making it about the men. Let’s start making it about the action, the crime, no matter who commits it, and against whom. All victims are victims, all rapists are rapists – and I don’t give a shit about the plumbing of either one.

        Now: attack away. Quite honestly, I expect it, which is why I never comment to discussions like this. But I think it’s time I start again.

        (Ms Nelson, you don’t know me; I only found this blog by complete accident. I hope you’ll forgive this, and hope you’ll allow it to post. But honestly, I felt it needed saying. And many thanks to you and to Stephanie and frostforsetti79 and others for commenting on this aspect of it, and in such a positive and aware manner. I look forward to that upcoming post you mentioned.)

      7. @Rant: I really enjoyed your original post, and I was not objecting to that. Rather, my comment was a direct response to Stump Beefgnaw’s comment, which is why I quoted a portion of that comment… What I found objectionable, as I said above, was the “Can we not start with the ‘but what about the men’ shit, please?” comment. Sorry for any confusion.

      8. Although it goes outside the scope of the post, the suppression of male rape is so complete and pervasive as to obliterate even the possibility of its existence. In doing so, it contributes to the overarching idea of rape culture in that it seeks to force men into the mindset that they should always enjoy or be seeking out unrestrained indulgences of both their sexual urges and the underlying power-over/subjugation urges that drive what rape is really about. The culture perpetuates itself and traps people of both sexes into their respective roles.

        Underneath it all is victimization and dehumanization that is vile no matter someone’s gender. And it needs to stop. Anyone sick of hearing about rape culture should be busting their humps to make it go away.

      9. Agree that ‘what about men’ derails discussion unhelpfully, given rape statistics and the reality of gender politics. However, just to clarify, most men who are raped do indeed face a huge amount of aggressive and victim-blaming questioning when they report a rape, and often serious harassment, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination. Victim blaming is an ungendered aspect of rape culture, though the statistical reality of rape and assault is highly gendered.

      10. And I seriously doubt a man who goes to the police to report his rape will be asked what he was wearing, how much he’d been drinking, why he didn’t say “no” enough times, or otherwise blamed for being raped.

        No, he’ll just be given high fives (by the cops, by his dad, by schoolmates) for having “gotten laid” at 13, and accept them in a stupor brought on by first the event, and then the dismissal of it.

        He’ll be told (by her friends) that he’s “being unfair” to her by talking about it. Sometimes with a side order of accusations of “slut shaming” for “playing kiss and tell”.

        He’ll be told (by his friends) that he’s “demeaning rape” by referring to what happened to him by that term.

        Oh, hey look. And here you are. Telling us that … what term are you going to use today? Are we “derailing”? Is what happened to us just too rare to matter?

      11. I would rephrase that to say most rape is committed by men. As is most violence. That doesn’t mean women aren’t guilty or that it isn’t a topic worth discussing but in this context of this article, it’s not particularly helpful to be “what about x, y, z”. Rape culture is a curse on both genders for a vast quantity of reasons. There is a rape culture that says men can’t be raped or that men don’t get raped. A strong mental disconnect. I do think it’s a topic worth pursuing and bringing to light as part of rape culture, not separate from it.

      12. Men are ridiculed with equal or worst cruelty. They are demasculinized and humiliated by the police as are women. To discredit the pain of men is lessen our abilty as humans to come together and conquer the mindset that destroys lives and souls.

      13. Stump – your comment perpetuates the idea of women and victims and men as the one’s with the power. Gender bias makes it harder for men to report rape – so we really don’t know if the VAST majority of rape is male against female. That is a huge part of rape culture and a huge part of the discussion. Men can be victims. You really think that a homosexual male isn’t going to be asked what he was wearing, how much he’d been drinking, why he didn’t say “no” enough times, or otherwise blamed for being raconsensualped? Or how about individuals who argue that the victim was able to get an erection and therefore it must have been consensual? Don’t play the rape only happens to women game. Rape is something that happens to both genders. Rape is something that is done by horrible people – and both genders. We need to talk about all aspects of this culture openly – otherwise we shut out an entire gender’s perspective because rape culture is only about them being aggressors.

      14. Rape is Rape regardless of if the victim/survivor is a male or female. There shouldn’t be any difference in what we consider to be rape based on the sex of the victim/survivor.

      15. I understand what you’re saying, and normally in a conversation about rape I might agree with you – however, we’re talking about rape culture, and the harmful views that society has concerning male rape is part of rape culture, too. This article was specifically about the Steubenville rape trial, so I don’t know how appropriate it is to casually mention “oh, and by the way, men also get raped” at the end of it or something, but in a conversation about rape culture, men absolutely have a place in it, because they’re part of it. Rape culture doesn’t just apply to female rape victims.

        To everyone else – I would urge you to realize that not every conversation about rape that doesn’t specifically mention male rape means that the author doesn’t care, or acknowledge, that it happens.

      16. Yeah, the reason that I didn’t get told that by the police was that a female raping a male wasn’t a crime in the country where it happened. The vast majority of rape victims are under 50, shall we ignore the suffering of those raped in aged care institutions too?

      17. Um we get that, and quite a bit ..I won’t say more, I would say a different type of ridicule. Yes, the vast VAST majority of Rape is male to female, but to deny that it isn’t as an important part of this discussion is, in my mind, as insensitive as the group not thinking to stop the rape of that young woman. Rape is violence. That’s it make absolutely no sense to deny or minimize it. It is violence on the dignity and personal sense of self. No matter the sex or gender identification of the victim.

      18. I’m not sure how to start this response… I have no particular patience for the “woe is men” angle, especially not when it’s brought up by those men who have never been a victim of any such act simply to deflect from the fact that women are the majority of victims.
        I also don’t want every single discussion to end up revolving around men, and that really does seem to be a valid concern. Almost every discussion I’ve seen on this issue does have the obligatory guy bringing it up, so I can understand how frustrating it must be.

        That said, I don’t think this reaction is ultimately helpful, and I know it shouldn’t be on you to handhold people through this, but if someone’s first encounter with this discussion, when they finally feel like they can open up to someone about what they’ve faced, is, ‘can we not start with the “but what about the men?” shit, please?’ then they’re not going to look at the feminist community as allies. If anything, they’re more likely to turn to the “men’s rights” groups and drink in their bullshit.

        Speaking from my own experience, I’ve never been raped, but I’ve been pretty appallingly abused, both mentally and physically. It could be argued that the physical was self inflicted, but it was really just an extension of the mental abuse. You could also argue that the mental abuse was an extension of abuse that she’d faced at the hands of previous boyfriends, and I’d agree with that.
        I’ve never admitted that to my “manly” male friends, because I don’t want to be mocked to death, but I did once bring it up in a discussion about abuse with a feminist group and got something very similar to your response. I understand it now, but I did not then. Now I am a feminist, now I want to see rape culture and every scrap of gender inequality die and leave nothing but a historical warning. Then, I very nearly swung the other way, and if not for my girlfriend at the time helping me to understand it, and my own tendency to reject my knee-jerk reactions, I could have found myself won over by the MRAs.

        I know an example of taking the other route. To the best of my knowledge, he has never faced abuse or rape. He claims to have been falsely accused of rape… I’m not sure what to think of that, but since I would have had no way of finding out that he’d been accused, I have a hard time believing he’d bring it up if it wasn’t false. This might be a mistake on my part. I hope not. Because of the reactions he’s had to various questions he’d brought up, such as the ever popular question of what a woman did to provoke a rape (I’ve explained to him that blaming the victim is not a good way to get a calm response, and he seemed to understand this one.) he is of the opinion that feminism is dogmatic and anti-male.
        He’s an otherwise rational and skeptical person, but turns into a fallacy machine whenever the topic of feminism comes up, which is increasingly often as he’s currently campaigning to convince those around him that feminism is not only misguided but actually evil. I’ve tried persuading him otherwise, but he believes me to be uneducated on the issue, and compares me to a kindly, liberal school teacher who calls himself a nazi.

        This should not be on you, like I said, you shouldn’t have to handhold people through it, but I think that more patience is needed with those who bring up male victims of rape and abuse. Are they muddying the waters? Yes. Should we let men dominate the discussions with our own issues? No, absolutely not. Are they all genuinely trying to add to the discussion? No. Are they even helping support rape culture in some cases? Quite possibly so. But giving a blanket brush off doesn’t help. I know I have inadvertently supported rape culture in the past, and I understand now why the response I got was not a sympathetic one but a dismissal, but we can’t expect all men who make that same mistake and receive that same response to have the right people around them to help them, or the inclination to come to understand the reason why that response is justified.

        As it is, I know a lot of highly rational men who are not feminists, who react with disdain toward feminism, and imply that I support feminism because I’m trying to impress “some bird,” and not because it’s the right thing to do. I want to see all of them on our side. Not just because it’s the right thing to do for women, or because it’s the rational thing, but because it’s the right thing to do for men as well, but I think that this sort of response, justified though it is, is holding some of them back.

    3. Yes men are raped, all the time in fact. Sadly when a man says anything about being raped, he is ridiculed. What I don’t understand is a what age does this perspective change? If a thirteen year old boy is raped, a few will giggle if done by a women, all hell breaks loose if its a man. But that same thing at 20…whole different story, and my heart breaks for those men because of the reactions of others. Why does age change this so much? I know there cannot be a rational reason because there you cannot rationalize rape, but can someone explain to me why our society laughs at adult male rape victims? I what to know to be able to change this train of thought in my children because it is wrong. Rape is Rape, no matter the sex of the victim or the sex of the perpetrator.

      1. I can’t answer your question completely, but from my perspective, and a humble one at that, the young can be victims because they they aren’t expected to be able to “take care of themselves” meaning fight the rapist off, whereas a full grown male is.

  3. What a powerful blog, thank you for writting this, i hope we are able to keep this conversation in the public eye, and in particular i hope more men have conversations with young boys about these pressing issues.

    Rape culture hurts all of us.

  4. What I feel also is the issue is: this sense of entitlement people feel they have over others. In the case of Steubenville, the boys felt this entitlement over this girl 1. because she could not say ‘no’ 2. because sports and its “necessity” removes the humanity from people. Societies, seriously, seriously, need to rethink their priorities. Last time I checked, a young woman being safe to walk wherever she wants at night without fear of being assaulted is more important than a child’s game (it extends far beyond the Steubenville case, but it’s an example)

    1. To be clear, it (football) is not a child’s game. Children play football, sure. The same way they play cops and robbers, and cowboys and indians, and make no mistake – they learn the same things playing football that they learn playing those “other” things. Not ALL of the things they learn in any case are bad: but to see football as a root cause is to miss the point of what we mean when we target culture. Sports are not the disease, or even the symptom. The culture is the disease, and the misplaced exaltation of sport is the symptom.

      1. I don’t believe that football, in and of itself, is evil. Sports can and do teach students a great deal of positive lessons – I played sports as a kid, and it was a great experience. I DO think that when communities prioritize the success of their athletic teams over the safety of their kids, there’s a problem. And statistically speaking, athletic teams have been one of the worst offenders in perpetuating rape culture (see the research piece linked to above). Sports on their own are not offensive, but I would argue that the pervasiveness of rape culture elements within their broader athletic culture is worthy of additional scrutiny.

      2. As a queer butch woman, I have often been regarded as “one of the guys.” Over the years, I have been present when guys “talk pussy.” This is usually with men that I would otherwise regard as “great guys.” It is shocking to discover that guys I have held in high regard will refer to women as “cum buckets, pieces of ass,” etc.

        NOWHERE has this more prevalent than in my high school football locker room. I played on the guys team. While I realize that this was mostly guys putting up a macho front, and behaving in the ways they were socialized to believe they should act, that is exactly the problem. The fact that men are taught and encouraged to objectify women and to believe that they exist solely to satisfy their sexual urges is what underlies much of “rape culture.” I believe this culture becomes intensified in any organization that highly values traditional ideas of masculinity (sports, military, etc).

        After an away football game, I was confronted by a group of opposing team members who attacked me and told me they were “going to make me like dick.” This is referred to as “corrective rape.” I fought and ran, and thankfully they did not succeed. The look on my teammates faces when I boarded our bus with a torn shirt, scratches and tears was that of pure horror and shock. I don’t think that before that moment, they had ever considered the consequences of the culture.

      3. Yes football is actually mostly evil.

        We teach people to not develop their minds because they can make more money being neanderthals and giving one another brain trauma and education be damned because I got a new sports car and a hot girlfriend. That is football in a nutshell and the odd culture that supports that football stars are not given passes on violence related crimes because they are local heroes but also given passes on all sorts of crimes like car accidents they caused to speeding tickets to brawls which for us NON-athletes is called felony assault and battery.

      4. @JJ: Thank you so much for sharing with us. I honestly was waiting to hear from some one with your perspective. I personally have that aspect of male bonding the most disturbing myself. I treat those situations very differently than most. I tend to ingage in farce and paraody of that kind of behavior displayed by other men. That usually is because others tend to be shocked and discomforted when I turn it around describing the reverse of the normal concept, usually bringing everyone elses good time to a screeching halt. Until they get to know me.

        The very fact that young men in our culture tend to not even be able to concieve how a man could be the submissive partner in a relathionship, I believe has some part definitely to play in Rape Culture. It definitely stems from our predefined gender roles.

    2. ^^^This times a million. I run. I’ve been told to not wear tank tops while I run because it could lead to me being assaulted.

      Yes that’s the culture we’re living in, and I will do all I can to try and avoid becoming a victim..


  5. I have to admit, I’m a little dismayed at you defining rape culture as just applying to athletes. I’m going out on a limb here but I’m guessing that there are many more rapes committed by non-athletes than athletes every year. I understand the recency of the Ohio rape case but singling out one group hurts the message about the wider culture.

    1. Again, if you read the full piece, I don’t define rape culture as an athlete-exclusive phenomenon. Quite the opposite, actually. The first half deals with Steubenville 1) because it’s recent, and 2) because it’s startling in how revolting the details are, but the second half deals with politics, advertising, media, and more. I do not “single out” athletes, but there is research that suggests that athletic clubs frequently engage in cover-ups. It’s not an attack on athletes to say that; it’s a call for us to examine why it happens, and stop it.

      1. Yea wow.

        I can’t begin to use words to describe how inaccurate your narrow and limited perception of what ” is ” and ” is not ” ‘rape’.

        You seem only to sensationalize and serve the public media agenda to create a monopoly of what defines ‘rape’. And here we are, on a website called ‘rantagainsttherandom’ debating the subjective matter of a single word.

        Humans are a species of ‘story tellers’, have you noticed ?
        Rape is to deny another of their stories, or their dreams and desires.

        We can’t marginalize ‘rape’ to one specific category, because to do so would give the authorization to such a small group of people to determine what ” is ” or through negative averment ” is not ” rape. So lets go there, and say that i’ve raped you of your opinons in the latter article you wrote…

        This media coverage of ‘rape’ is in essence to deny the stories of everyone, and I mean EVERYONE of their own story. Lets not begin to mention that Wall St wants to rape everyone of their rights to resources. Or that Amazon Tribes are now being RAPED of their homes so Private Corporations who speak foreign languages can come demolish acres and acres of abundant flourishing Rain Forest that provides the ecosystem with the eutrophication.

        Or that for the better part of the past 200 some years now Native Indigenous people of the America’s have been RAPED of their cultures, and denied the rights of their heritage via naturalization .

        Rape is NOT reserved for one specific gender as you would define in your words a ‘culture’. I hope this serves as an eye opening experience for some of your readers, as well as yourself.

        So tell me, how do you plan to stop ‘rape’ ?

      2. I wish I could reply to Matthew Micheal Hackney, but the appropriation of the word rape to apply to so many things that it is NOT, namely anything that isn’t a violent sex act… is extremely disrespectful of those who have endured violent sex acts. People do horrible, horrible things to one another, yes, we all understand that, but to misconstrue and mislabel these acts does not do any good to anyone. The only thing the careless use of the word “rape” to describe various acts that have nothing to do with rape does is give rape survivors flashbacks and generally make people (WHO HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN RAPED) uncomfortable.

      3. Lauren:

        Actually, Matthew Michael Hackney makes completely legitimate use of the word rape in this case. The archaic definition of rape is to seize and take away by force, according to Webster’s. It probably grew to mean sexual assault because sexual assault involves taking away someone’s sexual innocence by force. When we speak of rape in that way, we of course think of a horrible act. The acts which Michael described are equally horrific. That his use of the word rape could make someone uncomfortable is exactly to the point, because you should feel uncomfortable about the atrocities happening to other people in other places on your behalf.

        When the word is tossed around casually in a joke, or used by high schoolers to describe how they feel after walking out of a test, your message is completely to the point. Rape is not a word that should be used so flippantly. Both your comment and Michael’s demonstrate a respect for the power held by the word.

      4. Lauren:

        I must disagree with your definition of rape as “a violent sex act”.

        Violence is not always present in rape. Some rapes are violent, but others are not.

      5. People are just nitpicking and trying to illegitamize the piece. It’s a perfect example of what you describe to begin with. A lot of this is relatable to the military and you could substitute the word “athletes” with just about any group of people; “Marines,” “college students,” etc. Your points are very clear. The people who don’t get it are the ones who are narrow-minded.

    2. But in the case where athletes are involved, you usually see a concerted effort to defend the rapist, blame the victim, and cover up the crime. This is where I feel the “culture” part comes in. Like when OJ was found not guilty. People cheered, even though the evidence was against him, because he was a cherished, former athlete. Or when church abuse victims are threatened and ostracized for coming forward and tarnishing the reputation of a priest.

      1. Which is exactly why the time is so perfect now for people within the culture (like players in the NFL) to come forward and take a stand against sexual and domestic violence. They have the power to redefine their culture. I’m not holding my breath on this happening, but with football featuring so heavily in this case, they could really sieze the moment here…

      2. Just want to point out that people cheered OJ going innocent because it was nice to know a rich, privileged black man can get the same justice as rich, privileged whites have been getting in America since its founding.

        It was poetic justice more than real justice. And yada yada what about the lives lost….sorry people die every day. Some things, like legacies of racism that affect millions, are worth more.

    3. I’m a little dismayed by all these men showing up in here to lecture women on what rape and rape culture is and isn’t, so I guess we’re even.

      1. It’s true. Men can never know what it is like to be raped. Never happened before, ever. You are right to say that it’s tiring, seeing all these men with opinions on what rape is and is not. That totally doesn’t fit in line with traditional rape culture or anything. We should all focus our rage strictly at men, because they are the only problem. It has nothing to do with the underlying social systems we have set up.

  6. I have some issues with this- what I see is list of sexist travesties that are all grouped under “rape culture” when, really, what we have a culture of capita-patriarchy where rape is one of the side-effects. I think we need to talk about why rape is so prevalent- but to try to encapsulate all of culture as if the goal of it to violate women is inflammatory, oversimplified, and wrong.

    This conversation is meaningless when we can’t see rape in the terms of the rapist. I think the victims perspective gets very little attention, but every conversation we try to have about it shuts down when we start asking the question “why do some men rape women?” then, we get lists like this that show all the other bad thing we do to women, but make no causal link. Yeah, it is about the most evil thing you can do to cover up a rape so that a boy can continue to play sports- but pointing that out does nothing to answer the question “why?”.

    I think we need to recognize a few things- the stand-by line of “Rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power” is cliche and mostly false. Some rape is about power, but some is about sex- and some rape is about getting sex from people you have power over. We need to recognize that we have a dysfunctional conversation about sexuality in america, and that includes our discussion of rape and precludes us from making any progress.

    what we need more than passion and motivation to prevent rape is a desire for a good, honest, coherent discussion about what is going on- and this article repeating “Rape Culture” ad nauseum isn’t going to do it. I think a better way might be to ask some questions, seek real answers, and avoid emotional hyperbole (not that there is any above, I just notice that good dialogue about rape INSTANTLY gets derailed when someone mentions the emotional pain of victimhood they personally experienced or saw a friend/family member go through). I get called anti-feminist, I hold back my thoughts because I don’t want to appear unsympathetic, because I don’t instantly cater to the emotional needs of rape victims- but I’m not.

    Saying things like “we need to see things in the term of the rapist” shouldn’t get me flamed, but I suspect they will. Any other phenomena, we would seek to understand the motives of the agent- and we should here too, but the people seeking to do that (if there are any besides myself) get drowned out by people broadcasting their vitriol.

    In sum, I think we need to be more clear about how we talk about this, I think we need to struggle and face some really uncomfortable truths, and I think we need to avoid simplifying things. “Rape Culture” and “teach men not to rape” are meaningless buzzwords we should avoid. We should talk about these things, but simplification should be avoided.

    1. Wow- thanks for taking the time to write such a nuanced and thoughtful comment. I’ll try to do it justice.

      First off- you’re right. Rape culture is not the only problem plaguing society. The current moment calls us to analyze it; there is a captive audience on the subject, presenting a teaching moment. But at the end of the day, intersectionality tells us that oppression in all forms stems from establishing a hierarchy of human worth, so I’m with you. However, I will disagree that the instances here are “just” a list of sexist travesties – these examples were explicitly isolated because of their direct relationship to rape. If I’d wanted to do a post about general sexist culture, it would have been 50x longer.

      I understand the desire for articulating a causal link to rape, but causal links for rape are specific to an individual. Maybe they were abused by someone as a child. Maybe they watched an adult abuse someone close to them. Maybe they are suffering from mental illness. However, a culture (represented here by examples indicative of a larger trend) which makes rape humorous or trivial or the fault of the victim lowers the stigma of the idea of sexual violence, which may change the risk calculus of the individuals making the decision to attack. Further, I would argue that – even absent a causal link – cultures of discrimination are empirically positively correlated with criminal trends tied to the victimized population (see: civil rights, LGBTQ hate crimes, etc.)

      And I’m going to have to tell you that you are flat out wrong on rape, power, and sex. It’s not about sex. Even if the rapist is horny as hell, and that provides the initial desire for an attack, the ultimate decision to go through with it is made because the attacker believes that he/she can – that there’s a sense of entitlement for them to take what they want. THAT is about power; not sex. Sex may have precluded the determinations about entitlement and power, but the trigger is not sex.

      Where we agree is that there needs to be a broad, complex, and sensitive conversation about why rape culture persists, but I feel like you’re biting your own argument with your exclusions. “Rape culture” is not a meaningless buzz word – it’s a term that is used to foster understanding of the social currents behind this problem. As far as “teaching men not to rape” is concerned – I actually believe that IS part of the solution, though not phrased that way. It’s about teaching EVERYONE (not just men – they can be victims, as well) that there is no acceptable form of sexual violence, that no means no, that inability to verbalize no does not mean yes, that rape is not funny, and that there are consequences for ignoring these facts.

      This may SEEM like a stupid solution. After all, there aren’t many adults you talk to who say rape is a good thing (at least, let’s hope not). But also think about it this way – when was the first time someone defined rape for you? When was the first time you learned the proper steps to take after an attack? For many, it was some form of pop culture – like Law and Order SVU. It certainly wasn’t covered in school. I definitely never had a conversation about it with my parents. And when statistics show that 44% of sexual violence victims are under the age of 18, that lack of information is patently terrifying. (This is probably going to end up being another blog post altogether)

      Bottom line: I’m all for nuanced conversation, but I feel like your comment falls victim to the very simplification you decry. (sorry for the approval flips – wanted to make sure it appeared with the response)

      1. Yesterday, before I had seen this post, I posted on facebook that “Unless you have a really specific understanding of what you mean and wish to explain it to my most cynical interrogation- don’t use the phrase “rape culture” around me. It’s quickly becoming KONY 2013.”

        and yeah, this is the depth we can talk about it without being trite.

        I want to, shortly, defend my point on sex and power. It ties into my larger point about seeing rape from the rapists perspective, and I think also connects to your (to be honest, I think ill-informed) connecting of rapists to past abuse or mental health:

        Some rape is solely about power- I can see that violent/stranger rape is about power, as well as rape that’s part of a system of domestic abuse. Date rape, intimate partner rape, marital rape- I think that sex and (for lack of a better term) horniness play a defining role there. I guess I think of it like this, from my years of pretending to be a lawyer. To commit a crime, prosecutors and investigators look for motive, opportunity, and intent. I think its a really good construct to consider, so I’ll talk about each in turn.

        Motive is really what I’m talking about. What motivates a perp to rape? When we talk about Jerry Sandusky, we automatically assume it’s about desire, about his sexual attraction to young boys. That motivated him to create access to young boys and to train them to let him rape them and then not tell.

        So what desire motivated these boys in Steubenville to rape this woman? I am ill-informed on the myriad social media posts (because, to be fair, the whole news coverage thing has been fairly disgusting. I can’t contribute to the case, so I think about other things. I’m being pragmatic, here- I can talk about rape theoretically, and talk about change on the macro scale, but when it comes to that particular victim and case, the liklihood of me getting good info is so small as to be disregarded) but I have to think they were motivated to rape her because they wanted to have sex (maybe not ever sex with her, but sex in general. Having once been a 17 year old boy, I can tell you that sexual desire doesn’t have to have a subject) for reasons that might include that they were attracted to her, that they were horny, that they sought the status associated with having sex, or that they were actually young psychopaths who did it for no good feeling for themselves, but simply because they could.

        Occams razor says the answer that makes the least assumptions is typically the best one- so I’m going to think it is mostly likely the boys were attracted to her, saw a chance to have sex with her that required no effort, and took it. That would be the opportunity, the second part of the equation I mentioned. Beyond that, this is where we talk about privilege and power. The opportunity to have sex with a girl with no consent needed, no effort required, and no foreseeable consequences is a temptation some boys can’t resist. Should they have? Of course- but if we see the instance from their perspective, we see what went wrong. We see that the consequences weren’t apparent enough to dissuade them from action.

        So what are those consequences? Well, the immediate one thinks of is criminal prosecution. If we want to talk about causes of rape culture, there are two here- we don’t enforce rape law well enough, and we don’t talk about it when we do. This, I think, is where sympathy for the victim (what I’ll call micro-issues[not to imply that they are small, but to imply that they are individual]) overtake the macro-issue of addressing cultural problems with rape. We don’t talk about rape prosecution, and we under-prosecute, because we want to make sure that victim feel control over their lives afterwards, because that helps with healing. I don’t have a solution to this conflict of micro and macro, but I think it needs to be identified.

        The consequence we talk less about is more intangible. I hate using hippie-dippie words like Ubuntu, but we have to recognize that the heirarchy we place ourselves on is a divider. The consequence these boys didn’t consider is that by putting themselves in a position of power over this girl and then abusing that power, they are making themselves despots. They are missing the chance to become better, more loving, more happy people. More on this point in a bit, I want to address intent before I wrap up.

        So now we get to intent- did these boys intend to harm this girl? I don’t think they did. I think they likely intended to humiliate her, or they were at least willing to do it to serve their own desires because they acted with the power to do so. There is a difference, I think, between intending to hurt someone and disregarding their pain. it’s the difference between aiming a gun at someone or just shooting wildly. This, I think, is important because by looking at rape from the rapists view, we find that it might be recontextualized: Sometimes, rape is not about violence, it is about selfishness.

        Which leads me back to the point I wanted to end on. This article, nor nothing you have said, falls in with a lot of the commentary calling for the boys to get harsher sentences, but I think it’s relevant to mention. Rape is a crime, and should be a crime, because it causes real damage to people. It accosts our ability to feel safe, which is very important a persons full sense of well-being. However, we need to see that the wrongness of the act doesn’t come from the damage it does, but because of the disregard for that pain by the rapist.

        That, the disregard itself, is what we should seek to cure- because it is the cause I’ve been seeking. We should teach men it is good to love people openly, honestly. We should do what we can to abolish these separations between people. We should teach what healthy sexuality is, so that children have a context of desire and joy, not shame and regret and pain. I think we need to complicate everyone’s understanding of humanity, we need to see more of people, of others. Stereotypes are simple, and if we try to teach a simple tenet that “all people deserve respect” we run further into that, and away from the truth that we all have to experience day to day.

        What I think is that we need to celebrate difference and love each other more, even the wrong, the bad, the incomprehensibly evil.

      2. I’m just replying here because of this: “But also think about it this way – when was the first time someone defined rape for you? When was the first time you learned the proper steps to take after an attack? For many, it was some form of pop culture – like Law and Order SVU.”

        And I want to say it’s spot-on. When I was 13, my mother made me watch news coverage of a rape scene in a soap opera, making said newsrounds so people could cluck-cluck over the filth being shown on TV. She was bed-bound by this time and she yelled at me from across the house to turn on the TV and watch this news item (complete with the rape scene) so “you’ll know”. The irony was that her husband at the time (I can’t even bring myself to call him my step-father) was blustering and raging about how I shouldn’t be subjected to it, yadda yadda. I remember looking at him very confused, because HE was the one I was afraid of raping me. I wondered what he was trying to protect me from. I turned off the TV and hid in my room and avoided the whole thing as best I could.

      3. I appreciate Zach’s thorough examination of power and sex. I am a strong believer that the two are intimately intertwined. I also appreciate the authors earnest response.

        That said “rape culture” is in large part an incredibly patriarchal device that is leveraged to obscure much more prevalent cultural issues.

        For both of you: Sex is complicated.

        For the author: Rape is often about power, Rape is always about sex. Power has many forms, sex is an expression, so is news coverage.

        On January 30th a 19 year old white man (highschool student) was let free of legal prosecution, yet no one outside that community is talking about it: Why is it that Steubenville is our case study? Sure, the coverage includes victim blaming, so does the Romo case. Why is Steubenville a major Internet darling, while Romo is just local news? People are calling for the athletes to be tried as an adults, and yet Ryan Romo isn’t tried at all.

        Like Zach points out people commit crimes because they think they can get away with it. For the vast majority of people opportunity does not cause desire. If you need money and have an opportunity to steal without expecting repercussion you become a burglar. The expectation that culture is going to protect you doesn’t define the crime you commit, the thing action that fulfills your desires does. Even though, as people in other places have pointed out, the athletes could have gotten sex in other places the specific opportunity made it (they thought) the path of least resistance.

        And, in case it wasn’t clear previously, this entire debacle is an intersection between media coverage of rape and race.

      4. I haven’t been able to read all of the replies, so some may be like mine, but I guess I disagree with the people who talk about consequences. Zach writes “we see that the consequences weren’t apparent enough to dissuade them from action”, and goes on to talk more about deterrents like criminal prosecution. While that may be true, I don’t think focusing on deterring rapists with potential consequences. I think this only buys into the the “deterrence fallacy”, eg. that the threat of imprisonment deters criminals, that the death penalty deters from murder, that gun ownership reduces crime, etc. Most importantly, it only addresses opportunity, not the problem. Focusing on the legal consequences of rape isn’t nearly as harmful as victim blaming, but they are similar in that they both make assumptions based on false premises; “Rape wouldn’t happen if women covered up their bodies, if they didn’t drink in excess, if they didn’t walk in dark alleys” and “rape wouldn’t happen if people thought they’d go to jail for it” don’t fix the problematic desire to rape. Rape may always exist, but if we teach society what rape is, and not to do it ever, then we can at least outnumber rapists, rape apologists, and victim blamers with allies.

        I absolutely think the consequences for rape should severe, as severe as rape itself. I want rapists and potential rapists to fear these consequences. I want victims to know that, should they chose to come forward, justice will be fair and exacting. But I don’t think we should talk about consequences like that’s going to be what saves us.

      5. I’m from Stuebenville. If u want some insight, here goes…There are some perfectly decent guys in this area, who would never even think to do such a disgusting thing. However, there’s also groups of guys (always seem to come in groups) who hold certain “old fashioned” views about women that have devastating results. These views include things like “a respectable girl does not go off alone/drink with guys” or “want to have sex”, that a girl who can be coerced/tricked/drugged into having sex really “wanted” to which makes them “disrespectable” and thus “deserving” to have their “reputation” ruined. It’s all about appearances. These groups are prone to the view that guys who “pass up on an opportunity to get laid” are “idiots”. On the other hand, girls are pushing each other to have sex and perform sexual acts as young as 12 to “keep a guys’ interest”, which might seem counter-intuitive, but comes from this: “Girls should shut up and do what they’re told especially by men…Nice girls are passive” cultural view around here. Abstinence is considered the rule of thumb despite high teen pregnancy rates. But what does ne1 expect when marriage and babies are glorified while college is viewed as a long shot? Personally, I think all this comes from lingering prevalence of religious gender ideals even in the face of declining religiosity in the region.
        There is also a strange and often sadistic competition for guys who are viewed to have any type of “worth” or “accomplishment”- probably related to the sever lack of job opportunities. And, yes… that starts in high school. Many want the hell out of here, but girls are not encouraged to find their own merits. The only real merits for boys are sports-related… or if they come from one of the families lucky enough to have the $ to give them some opportunity…like a house or ta send ’em off to college. I could tell many antidotal stories, even some personal ones, which would make your skin crawl. Trust me, this is first hand knowledge. Not to mention the political corruption in the area. We know it’s there. A few families run everything from the legal system to the schools. But none of us know what to do about it. Quite frankly, even writing that much about it here, could be risky if the wrong people came across it. Let’s hope they don’t. So, to answer the question…yes. They were trying to humiliate her in every way possible. Yes, they were trying to harm her. It’s the same thing and they knew it was the same thing. They just genuinely didn’t know that it was wrong, or that they would get into trouble for it. And yes, they thought it was funny. It was Schadenfreude, through and through.
        Now mind you, let me re-clarify that these mentalities are not universal in this area, but rather more common than should ever be tolerated. And for this reason, I think that underplaying the motives of the people involved does a great disservice to the decent guys around here and to the good people who would not stand around and let something like this happen…esp. those who have stepped up and stopped this sort of thing in the past. However, I would ask that the rest of the world keep the pressure and attention on this area to make the changes needed. Please research and speak out about the things that are wrong here, because many of us are afraid to do so ourselves, or we don’t know how to even begin.

    2. Thank you Zach for the insight. I couldn’t actually get through the majority of the blog because buzz words and oversimplifications annoy me as much as they seemingly annoy you. I’m glad to now have a more meaningful understanding of this issue

      1. Great thread and definitely gave more nuance and depth to the discussion. I think you both made some good points. Zach, I think you hit the nail on the head about selfishness being one of the prime issues here. I think what makes rape so difficult to understand is that it’s hard to get why someone could do something that so disrespects and violates someone. And I think society jokes about it because it makes us so uncomfortable. If sexual urge were the only cause of rape, then a lot of men (and perhaps women) would be doing it all the time. The issue is, it’s not just about sex, it’s about a willful lack of compassion for someone else. I don’t want to sound sexist here, but there have been studies that show that men have a harder time feeling compassion and empathy. (Just the first of many articles I could find: It’s something that they need extra special training on, which needs to come from parents and society. Unfortunately, society is made up of a great deal of people, some of whom find it difficult to talk seriously about this topic, perhaps because they lack compassion as well. Ultimately they are almost as guilty as the person who committed the original crime. I think we need to teach men to care and feel and put an end to the culture of masculinity that objectifies women, teaches men to be selfish, ruthless and take whatever they want.

      2. Rape is a demonstration of brutal power over another individual committed because the rapist could and would.

        Ultimately, rapist have no self-esteem. They are merely bullies escalated one step up. They attempt to bolster their failing pride by stealing from others to make themselves feel better about themselves and also so they can look powerful in the eyes of their buddies/competitors.

        You may be as nuanced as you wish but, at heart, rape is committed by paltry people. Those who witness and do not help or those who cover-up the crime for the rapists’ sake are only sightly less paltry. All of these people are culpable and should be prosecuted. All should also receive counseling for their lack of empathy, lack of self-esteem and lack of courage.

        Sports itself isn’t the problem. Cult of celebrity is the culprit here. That too speaks of low self-esteem. Just another way of draping one’s self in borrowed/stolen/reflected power.

        While I desire severe punishment for rapists, I would also like to point out that each rapist puts a metaphoric noose about his/her neck for each rape committed. The sweetest revenge, for I am not above revenge, would be the rapist awakens to what he/she has done for that is when that noose will tighten.

        Rapists doom themselves.

      3. @Kay Allen: You assume rapists are missing something and need to fill a void. The reason you believe so, and indeed the only thing this line of thinking accomplishes, is to separate yourself and your ego from the rapist to not only shelter and protect yourself from the thought he/she may be the same as you, rational, sane and completely healthy, and selfish. This however also serves to bolster your own ego as you now feel superior to the rapist, very much same way and driven by the same reasons as the bullies you see as ‘paltry’ people. This way of thinking only serves to flatter the individuals whom harbor it, and is quite archaic Freudian and 20’s era beliefs. This will never get to the heart of the issues as to why rape and its approval happen, nor will ever find a a way to reduce remove or solve this problem.

    3. I am in agreement with the author here Zach. While you raise some important points re: in depth discussion of overarching socialized norms and ‘causal’ links. I for one am ANGERED any time I hear someone refer to rape as ‘sex.’

      For anyone who has ever been raped can tell you there is a very big difference between the two acts. Rape firmly stems from a desire for power and control and a culture which identifies women as acceptable objects for ridicule and ‘domination.’ It is a violent attack, a form of torture and a base violation of your person, whatever the residual causal motivation. And yet it is never treated as such. It is an act where rather than shaming the perpetrators we shame the victim, which is what we are talking about when we refer to ‘rape culture.’

      It is for this reason the vast amount of victims do not come forward.

      Having a frank and open conversation about motivations of perpetrators is undoubtedly a part of ‘teaching men not to rape.’ And in fact has been proven effective in many instances in the human trafficking arena, with ‘john schools’ proving an effective way to increase reporting and increased social awareness of the slave trade.

      This said however, we must be very intentional with the language we use in discussion as for someone who has been violated in the most personal way possible would have strong objections to you referring to rape as sex, to considerations which classify the inherent ‘worth’ of their attackers above their own inherent worth as a person, (such as examples listed in the article above), denial, cover ups, victim blaming, victim shaming. These things occur unfortunately in ALL rape cases.

      The pervasive nature of this crime means that yes we do need an in depth discussion of wider societal causes, however this does by NO MEANS equate to less sensitivity toward survivors.

      Even the term ‘victim’ could somehow infer that survivors are somehow culpable as they are somehow ‘less, weak, or less able to protect themselves from attack.’ Rape is a sensitive multi-layered topic and the fact that the vast majority of rapists are known to those on whom they are inflicting damage is another serious layer for consideration. In that respect I agree that we should be asking why. For if ‘victims’ are our mothers, daughters, sisters, the perpetrators are or fathers, our brothers and our sons. Moving the conversation away from a discourse of personal shame or something taboo is undoubtedly the first step. Which is why I would like to thank the author and say that articles like this make me smile and feel empowered because people are standing up, refusing to be relegated to silence and refusing to accept the discussion as it stands.

      Perhaps Zach, if you take a more sensitive tact you would gain a greater insight to the pervasiveness of the phenomenon under discussion. The experiences of survivors at the hands of the wider community are some of the most distressing instances. And rape is much more prevalent than you may realize. By being able to be honest about my own life experiences I have had many people come forward admitting ‘it happened to me’ colleagues, friends, peers, family, none of whom ever felt they were able to report the crime and often is something they would not speak about as they were shamed and ridiculed when they had confided in someone or the conversation had been shut down. None of these people received any justice. I wager that you would find a similar scenario in your own networks which would greatly disturb you if you were more intentional and empathetic with your choice of words. And if anyone’s voice should not be discounted in attempts to understand and therefore prevent rape occurrence it is the victim, the survivor.

      In this sense ‘rape culture’ is not meaningless, we are talking about reframing the issue and disrupting the societal norm. This is how social change happens.

      1. “Rape firmly stems from a desire for power and control and a culture which identifies women as acceptable objects for ridicule and ‘domination.’ ”

        I just disagree with this.

      2. So your assertion is what Zach? CNN was right to lament the ‘ruined’ lives of the rapists as opposed to the victim in the Steubenville case? Also we know this is not an isolated occurrence. And we presume the parties involved would feel vindicated by the public coming to their defense.

        Perpetrators are social deviants? And we should not presume they feel entitled and excused for their behavior by societal norms? As we may like to see this as correct, the experiences of many people in this forum would seem to prove otherwise.

        Or are you implying it is some sort of biological urge which might cause a man to rape? If so, that is simply false.

        There is quite extensive theorizing and study on the harmful psychological effects of desensitization to sexual violence and the framing of sex, gender and power and we can certainly agree that there lies multi-layered correlations between ‘sex’ and ‘power’ as concepts, we can also digress into theories that all sex concerns power to some degree. Perhaps for some rapists the act of rape is as you say simply an act of sex and this is their motivation. In saying that, for the victim rape is rape. It is without consent. The rapist therefore feels they have all the power and all the control in the act. They know this. Though they may claim otherwise, or try to convince themselves otherwise. This is, in my belief where the primary motivation ALWAYS lies. If he was somehow emasculated he may (in his mind) regain this notion of ‘masculinity’ through taking away the choice of another person.

        Also you can see it in their eyes, in the attempts of any abuser to relegate someone to ‘victim’ status and make them believe they have power over said victim, so why fight.

        As ever our primary concern should lie with the victim and for this reason we cannot refer to rape as an act of sex. Sex requires BOTH parties to consent.

      3. @opposehumantrafficking: You read Zach’s comments completely, correct? At what imaginary point did he ever support these boys actions? Also I might add your very language implies the gender of the attacker and the ‘survivor’ ,as you put it, which is irrelevant in this broad of a discourse about rape. His generally does not, but you however assume the attacker must feel “emasculated” some how to rape. This is absurd and rules out plenty of rapes which do occur as simply a way to exert and abuse existing power over an individual such as a very twisted truant officer abusing his position to molest a High School Cheerleader. You miss the reason of why, because you believe it is caused by the assailant somehow missing something and wanting to fill a void. This is an irrational assumption. The simplest answer is that the person wishes to commit some sexual act to another individual with or without consent and then also perceives they can with little or no consequence, or they really don’t care about the consequence. Power is part of the equation but certainly not the only factor that needs to be considered.You assume that the rapist is someone who isn’t a sane and rational human being like yourself, that is your logical fallacy.

        Also “denial, cover ups, victim blaming, victim shaming” DO NOT always happen with EVERY rape case and it will be impossibly hard to prove so sense so many cases of rape are not reported. You obviously have a very specific situation which comes to mind when you hear the word rape which does not fit every circumstance. Say for instance lets just think of a hypothetical situation of rape where a young woman gets drunk on her 21st Birthday and so decides to walk home alone. She later passes out in a dark alley falling unconscious in a pool of her own vomit. A homeless man then walks by and is shocked and frightened to find the young girl believing she is dead. He then rushes over to her and checks her pulse to thankfully find she is still alive. Doing so he can’t but notice how attractive she is without the puke. He drags her out of the puddle of her own bile and our would be good Samaritan realizes he could simply take this opportunity to quickly take the money out of her wallet and improve his own prospects, and after realizing this he comes to understand that he could take this opportunity to fulfill a very different need of his, considering how attractive she is to him, and the fact that he has not had a sexual encounter in several years. He quickly looks to see that nobody is watching and gives into his temptation pulling out a condom proceeding to get in a quickie and skedaddle before she awakes. She awakes the next morning having been raped by a creepy hobo in the night while her body was to busy dealing with the near deadly dose of toxins to allow her any fragment of consciousness during the event, and so she never discovers what exactly happened, but deep down still feels and knows something went horribly wrong, and she was violated. She never reports the incident because she has no clue as to what exactly happened.

        Now please tell me if that fits your definition of rape? It definitely fits our legal definition. What if we switched the genders of the individuals? What if he only jacked off onto her face? what if instead of a young woman it was a young man? Do these situations fit your definition of rape?

      4. Phluffy, are you by chance a male? Speaking in broad terms we are perhaps generalizing however it is safe to say well over 90% of rape victims are female and most rape perpetrators are male. To this end when we are speaking aout rape culture, gender is never irrelevant. Yes my opinions stem from personal experiences. I am also operating on the premise that most rapists are known to their victims. Which is supported. How many first hand accounts have you heard? Just curious. I have heard many many many. Unfortunately I have yet to hear a first hand account where some form of victim shaming, blaming or denial did not occur which is why I make the statement that in my view it occurs 100% of the time. And nobody who has been raped ever wants to be referred to as a victim ever again which is why I am tentative about the use of the word.

        I do not presume that Zach supports the Steubenville “Crew” however to deny the existence of rape culture is in my view a passive perpetuation. Also similar to Princess, I think I am simply unclear on what Zach is proposing is his perception of alternative causal motivation? Opportunity?

        “Lack of consideration and empathy” for the other parties concerned also translates to a disregard for that person as a feeling human being with rights and a perceived “lack of power” on the part of the victim is often what will cause said predator to pounce on an opportunity as you say. Power may not be the only factor. But it is a factor.

        I apologize for inferring that a rapist must always feel “emasculated” or that they are not “rational” and yet we must ask why would someone abuse an existing power relation? Simply because they can? Because they perceive a lack of consequences? I believe this is false. I choose to believe people do not naturally want to inflict harm on someone, that they do not perceive women (or other rape victims) as not being worthy of consideration and respect as a natural state or of their own accord, without outside influences, societal perceptions or pressures or norms or a skewed psychological state, perhaps their own life experiences. It is generally believed people bully because of a lack of a sense of personal worth. To this I feel there is merit. Convenience does not simply cause someone to commit such an act.

        Yes your imagined scenario/s absolutely fit with my definition of rape. However I do not suppose that someone seeking to engage in such a scenario would do so if the “object” of their “attentions” had any perceived power in the scenario, such as capacity to inflict damage or were even conscious. The perceived vulnerability would be the “turn on” and not a desire stemming from the person’s “beauty,” the ability to “use the opportunity” is still a form of power over another person as is the assumption that this persons welfare matters less than their own. Whether they are actively seeking to exert power over someone or simply abusing an existing imbalance.

        In any case Phluffy, your scenario is in my view the least common set of circumstances. There are certain realities we must face about why so many rapes go unreported, why perpetrators would seek out or take advantage of as the case may be these acts, why they feel there is status in such acts and why the experiences of so many survivors are so negative upon speaking out.

        I do not seek to discard the experiences of male victims of rape or the myriad of forms the crime could take. However when speaking of the prevalence and pervasiveness of the crime I think my assumptions are for the most part justified.

      5. @ opposehumantrafficking: Thank you for your patient and thoughtful response.
        First I have Read and heard many accounts. Some from a few of my closest personal friends, both male and female. My empathy and sympathy towards survivors is great, even though I am attempting to keep as much emotional distance here as possible. An account I know from one such friend specifically had no blame or shaming that was not inflicted by himself, as I was the only person he told. Statistically speaking you are correct in that most rapes happen by someone who knows the individual, and more specifically most rapes occur by family members; it is a very sad thing.

        On many points we most certainly agree. The relationship of power between the would be, sorry to put it this way(but I can’t find a better term for the future action), victim and the would be rapist, is most certainly the key player due to the fact that rape cannot even happen without the rapist holding some power over the other individual. Things just are a little more complicated on whether or not the point is to simply use the power over the individual to obtain what they want, or as it is very very commonly the case, too simply hold the power over that individual and demonstrate that power for their pleasure, and so the goal is simple to obtain that power and demonstrate it to boost his/her ego. The difference is that in one case the power itself is the goal and the rape is a way to obtain that feeling of power, were as in the other the power is simply an opportunity and the rape is simply to gain sexual gratification. As far as I’ve seen, both have existed.

        The more we discuss and sharpen and refute our ideas like this, the closer I believe we can get to understanding why, and then getting to a way to discourage this behavior. Thanks for your input please continue to discuss and to question and think and learn. This has been a very septic issue for far too long.

    4. Zack, your intention for opening a discussion on the motives behind rape is something that I think is very much needed. There is a disconnection between all the people involved in rape incidents as well as what is being referred to as rape culture. Without closing this gap through exploration of how this whole thing works, it will not be possible to deal with this effectively.

      You mentioned also that power is not the only motivation behind rape. I have some specific points about some possible motives you mentioned in a later comment…

      You said: “I have to think they were motivated to rape her because they wanted to have sex (maybe not ever sex with her, but sex in general. Having once been a 17 year old boy, I can tell you that sexual desire doesn’t have to have a subject) for reasons that might include that they were attracted to her, that they were horny, that they sought the status associated with having sex, or that they were actually young psychopaths who did it for no good feeling for themselves, but simply because they could.”

      I would like to examine each of these possible reasons to see how they are or are not related to power…

      1) They were attracted to her: If they were attracted to her specifically, for what reason did they not care about her well being? Is it that they only were interested in her body and had no thoughts about what the inhabitant of the body would feel about what they did with the body? If that is the case, then does that not imply that they felt more entitled to the body than its actual owner, simply because they felt that the body was attractive? Or was it that they did not even understand that she might have something to say against what they were doing to her, since it is motivated by attraction? In what ways is this not related to having power over her?

      2) They were horny: If they were horny and just needed to get off, there’s a safer way to do that and that is masturbation. If horniness is the only thing they want to deal with then they did not even need to go all the way to her. I suppose it was convenient that she was unconscious. Here again it seems that they assumed that they were entitled to use her body because she is not conscious. Or they are really scared of masturbating for some reason. In what way do you suppose this isn’t related to them exercising power over her?

      3) They sought the status associated with having sex: I am familiar with the idea that young people who have had sex are considered to be cooler or more important. I have experienced that kind of mentality in my own life in various settings. That is something that is part of culture. And status itself is about power. If they had been doing it just for status, then that would also make this incident about power rather than just sex. The sex itself was not important but rather the status they get from their peers was more important. Then that would mean that power is the driving force here. How would you interpret this possibility?

      4) They were psychopaths and they did it simply because they could: That simply takes it back to power. They had no empathy for the girl and so they exercised the power they felt they had over her.

      You sound like someone who thinks a lot about these things and so I really want to know what you think about these views in details. I think there needs to be more people who think deeply about these things as you seem to do and all those people need to talk together more often.

      It seems to me that sex is more often considered to be a power/status gaining method rather than an expression of self or an act of love. And so a lot of horny people just associate their arousal as a need to gain power through some “sexual” means, and sometimes in the case of rape by taking it away from someone else. If we consider sex to be an act of mutual connection and love, then can rape really be motivated by sex alone? And if the association of status/power with sex exists so much in people’s minds, then isn’t that being perpetuated by some sort of culture that exists in our societies?

      1. Thank you Princess for articulating so well what I was trying to get at with the problem of defining rape as sex or motivated by sex. The definitions of these two acts must be entirely separate in my view

      2. Your assertion is unarguably true, as it seems to me. Power most certainly has some part to play in any rape, but you miss The other point in that we should question if it is the bottom line purpose reason and intent of every rape. That is something that is easily argued against, and the causes and reasons behind rape can only be definitively determined by questioning rapists themselves, as to why, and analyzing there answers and psyche will keeping in mind social pressures and ramifications. But doing so we must treat these individuals with the respect we would give any other human being, as they are still human beings, and we cannot dehumanize them simply because we find there actions deplorable.

    5. Zach: I don’t see a link to reply to the second portion of your response so I’ll put it here. I appreciate your time to write a thoughtful response to this but this statement blew me away: “Date rape, intimate partner rape, marital rape- I think that sex and (for lack of a better term) horniness play a defining role there”. To say that “horniness” plays a defining role in this circumstance comes dangerously close to justifying it/giving it a free pass. If a man’s motivation to commit rape is being “horny”, your argument implies that he simply cannot control his biologically given sexual desire and therefore committing rape is out of some sort of inescapable urge or necessity. Likewise your argument infers that that a husband/boyfriend’s “desire” to have sex with his wife/girlfriend is natural and therefore, by raping her his desires merely trump whether or not she consents to having sex…because sex is what is expected in a relationship (enter arguments that marital rape cannot exist for the aforementioned statement). Forgive me if I’m simply not understanding your comment but that is what it sounds like and it’s a totally irresponsible concept. A husband, a potential partner or an intimate partner is just as capable of wanting to exact control and power over their actual or potential mate just as much as a violent and deranged stranger. Rape does not have to be violent to be rape. Rape does not have to be committed by a stranger to be rape. I’m so sick of rape being “watered down” depending on the context. It’s still wrong and YES control has absolutely everything to do with it. If women weren’t powerless in these situations, do you honestly think these men would keep doing it? What is so hard about getting consent before engaging in a sexual act with a person? It’s as simple and listening and asking and then stopping when the answer is NO. If my husband/boyfriend/date forces me to have sex with him against my will (whether I am conscious of the fact or not), he has taken control of my body and he has raped me. PERIOD. If he simply wanted to have sex with me, the story would play out differently. Maybe these men get turned on by that power…there are plenty of people with rape fantasies stemming from myriad experiences of their own abuse/traumatic experiences. And in your example of Jerry Sandusky, I don’t see how the concept of power and control does not play into his actions IN ADDITION to his obvious attraction to young children. Those children were completely powerless and mold able. He was literally playing god–shaping them into his sex slaves. How do you not see the power dynamic in that situation? Please step outside your lawyer person for a moment and think about this as a person with empathy and emotions. It doesn’t matter the initial motive, rape and sex are NOT the same thing in any context. That is a very careless connection to make.

      1. I don’t feel that Zach is saying or implying that because men get horny that rape is should be justified or even close to it. “If a man’s motivation to commit rape is being “horny”, your argument implies that he simply cannot control his biologically given sexual desire and therefore committing rape is out of some sort of inescapable urge or necessity.”

        I would say that sex and horniness for the most part is an inescapable urge and/or necessity. Rape is not. But what rape stems from is the inherent selfishness and lack of empathy, compassion, and/or imagination of the other person’s perspective/feelings/situation from the rapist.

        “So now we get to intent- did these boys intend to harm this girl? I don’t think they did. I think they likely intended to humiliate her, or they were at least willing to do it to serve their own desires because they acted with the power to do so. There is a difference, I think, between intending to hurt someone and disregarding their pain. it’s the difference between aiming a gun at someone or just shooting wildly. This, I think, is important because by looking at rape from the rapists view, we find that it might be recontextualized: Sometimes, rape is not about violence, it is about selfishness.

        Which leads me back to the point I wanted to end on. This article, nor nothing you have said, falls in with a lot of the commentary calling for the boys to get harsher sentences, but I think it’s relevant to mention. Rape is a crime, and should be a crime, because it causes real damage to people. It accosts our ability to feel safe, which is very important a persons full sense of well-being. However, we need to see that the wrongness of the act doesn’t come from the damage it does, but because of the disregard for that pain by the rapist.”

        I am not denying that the want/need/desire for control could play a large inherent part in many cases of rape; but, I don’t feel that saying that control and power hunger is the root of all the cases of rape and saying it is so is in itself shortsighted. From how I see it and how Zach was describing, people get horny. People want sex. Just because a person is thirsty for sex doesn’t mean that person will just go out and rape someone and thus being a natural course for a human being. People, I want to say, for the most part have empathy, restraint, among other traits. Rape does come about from the fundamental flaw that there is in fact disregard for another person. Disregard for another’s feelings, disregard for another’s dignity, disregard for another’s integrity, disregard for another’s perspective/point of view, disregard of everything. Because of this lack of regard, the rapist rapes another person. There may or may not be a complex about control and power. Control and power may be used as a tool to rape another person. But I feel it’s misappropriate to say that control and power are the key motivations or even the reason in all cases of rape.

        Well, that is how I understand it and if I’m wrong I wouldn’t mind in engaging in more dialogue. For me and how I see it up to now (my own thoughts of the matter are open to grow with an open mind) rape is one of the many by-products of the lack of empathy, sympathy, understanding or even the attempt of understanding, and perspective.

      2. He had been saying from the start that rape and sex are obviously NOT the same thing, but was quite lacking in his communication that sexual desire, our conscious manifestation of our biological imperative to reproduce, the basic instinct in w/e distorted and malformed shape it may take from our human complexity, be it hetero-normative or a fascination with bestiality, sometimes has a part to play in rape. You reading men into this is vehemently impassioned from something I do not care to guess about but unfortunately is not at all the case, nor is it relevant what gender any individual may be. We all have the instinct of sexual desire, and we all have the instinct of selfishness. Rape is simply deciding to take what someone already wants by force, whether or not taking it by force and indeed exerting his/her power over another individual is the desired intent, and the only outcome that the individual had desired in the first place, may or may not be true, and is an overshadow to the statement of cause. It is illogical to assume all rape occurs solely for the purpose of exerting ones power upon another individual, willing or not, and so in a sense ‘conquering’ them, and other reason. This is an absurd pile of assumptions you have made, but the more you and others recognize learn and accept that this issue is larger and more complex than you previously understood, the better.

        Thanks for being a part of this learning process and being brave enough to voice your question. The more we keep breeding this and other discussions like it, the more we can hope to spread the message that rape is unacceptable behavior in our society, to persuade individuals in our society who might fall astray from committing such acts, via peer pressure. It is a small hope.

    6. No, I’ve read your response twice and am still left with a sense of….you cover up the “just plain wrong” ness of rape and harm to others by a lot of words and meaningless analysis. Its really not that complex at all. Harming another person and/or violating them is wrong and it really does not matter why. We could spend a tremendous amount of time analyzing the “why” of rape and it won’t ever change the fact that its not okay to violate another persons body.

      1. And how then do we find a way to encourage people not to rape each other, if we do not know why? How do you intend we find a solution? Rape is wrong. Stating so does not stop it from happening. You completely do not understand what is trying to be done. I just… I can’t even… I have lost the ability to even….

        Do you understand now?

  7. No one should be raped and it should never be ignored or swept away. A victim of rape lives with an emotional scar that never goes away no matter how much therapy or even after there is some sort of “justice” because most of the time the “justice” is no justice at all. I feel all victims of rape should not have their names or faces plastered all over the world because again they become a victim because they can not proceed in life without being labeled as a trouble maker and many other things. Sexual abuse, rape or any crime of this nature generally punishes the victim not the criminal. Yes, in the case of the Duke Lacrosse team those young men were victims of a liar but that should not label all people who report these crimes as automatic liars. A victim should not fear repercussions to themselves and people who see it should stop it.

  8. I don’t know who you are but my friend shared your article on facebook. Thank you. I think this was very well written and I think it’s about time people stood up and spoke out against this issue. I’ve posted many rape awareness/anti rape things online and I’ve had a frightening number of people argue with me about it. I’m horrified that this is becoming so acceptable in our society. I had a guy straight up tell me to my face if women were raised to be tougher and learned how to conduct ourselves in public we wouldn’t be raped so much. I’m disgusted and sick that there are people alive in this world who say things like this. Basically I just want to tell you this article was amazing and I thank you very deeply for posting it. I’m so glad when I see other people standing up for this. It’s a subject very close to me (not me personally but I’ve had a very close friend or 2 live with this ordeal) and I’m moved that other people will help me give them a voice.

    1. A guy on Facebook told me yesterday that if women just stopped leaving their houses, they wouldn’t be raped, and so whenever a woman leaves her house and ends up getting raped, then she needs to take responsibility for her own actions.

      1. Holy Smokes! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, mysogent is alive and well in the world. A question though, Does this person dispay bigotry and narccisstic tendencies as well?

      2. And here in my hometown (in Australia) we had a man who raped a woman in her own backyard… I guess that’s her fault, too! Makes me sad that there are people who think this way. It’s disgusting.

  9. It’s interesting how we were shocked by the rape culture in India, but ignore the rape culture in our own countries with “boys will be boys” or “she asked for it.” Are our attitudes that much more advanced?

    1. You’re absolutely right. Clearly everybody knows and cares that rape is bad, which is why it never happens anymore, and which is why there’s no need for a discussion about it.

  10. Really well written. I hope we can move on to ask what we do about it. And “teach men not to rape” is probably not specific enough.

  11. Thank you for this. The very notion of vilifying the VICTIM and pitying the PERPETRATORS is just beyond comprehension to me. To be perfectly honest, the sentencing that those two miscreants received was far too lenient. The news media’s coverage and handling of this travesty was absolutely reprehensible. Perhaps if the representatives of the “news media” was more responsible, then maybe what the hackers had done would not have been necessary. the people who attacked the victim after the fact and those who tried to cover the incident up are just as guilty as the two poor excuses for males perpetrated the crime in the first place and, as such, they should all be held accountable under the law. But more to the point, our society as a whole is in dire need of repair. Maybe one day, we will actually view one another as human beings and stop visiting such barbarity upon one another. Maybe one day, humanity will actually grow up and learn to be humane. Just a thought.

  12. Is there a way for us to appeal the ruling for their sentence and force them to change it from 1 year to eternity? Seriously this is terrible, I personally think rapists should be castrated. I know it’s pretty extreme, but that’s just my opinion. Getting 1 year in prison is pretty much a light slap on the wrist. It would make me feel better knowing that they spend every day of that 1 year knowing what rape feels like. Is that a horrible thing to say? It feels kind of evil to wish that on someone, even if they deserve it. Women are a treasure and should be treated as such, you are our equals and in many ways so much better than us. I only wish every idiot male realized that and gave the respect and admiration everyone one of you deserve. We all need to step up and do something about this craziness. Rant over.

    1. @Brandon Boss–I vilify the act of rape and sexual violence as strongly as anyone, but castration is NOT the answer, in fact it would not even help, and might actually make matters worse. This is a hot one for me, so I will try to be coherent here:

      One of the first problems with suggesting castration as a punishment for rape is that it implies that rape = sex, and that if you take away what he uses for that, then you have punished him adequately. First, RAPE DOES NOT EQUAL SEX. Ever. Rape is violence, and sex is the tool used to inflict violence.

      It also implies that only those with a penis and testicles rape. This is not the case: although it is comparatively rare, women have been the perpetrators of sexualized violence; hell, perhaps there are men who have lost their genitals, who also commit rape. how would you punish them?

      Additionally, just because a man’s testicles (and even penis, if you plan to go the whole hog) are gone, does not mean that he can not have sex…therefore, just because a rapist’s testicles and penis are gone, does not mean he can not rape.

      There are worse things than a penis to force into an unwilling orifice. I’d rather not dwell on the kind of alternatives that a rape-culture infused beast, in a rage over the loss of his precious manhood, might come up with as a way to avenge himself on those who (in his twisted view) stole it from him.

      Certainly it is understandable, even natural, to desire a sort of “eye-for-an-eye” punishment…but that rarely solves the actual problem.

      What the actual problem is, and how to solve it, are what we are trying to figure out…and it has me stumped, though I have a lot of speculative ideas as to large portions of what the problem is…

      1. Ok, so maybe not castration, but can we send them off to a deserted island where they can all rape and molest each other, like a modern day Australia for sex offenders? It doesn’t solve the problem but it’s hard to stomach the fact that rapists so often get very short sentences, and many are VERY likely to offend again.

      2. Castration might not be THE answer but I could pretty much guarantee you that it would reduce male on female rape drastically!! Castration is not eye for an eye; it’s more like taking the weapon away from the criminal. From what I understand castration calms a man better than any drug out there. I doubt there would be much retaliation.

      3. I’m not sure “yeah… let’s just not espouse violence” is a strong enough rebuttal to this post. It’s a vile suggestion. I sincerely hope it was only allowed through moderation so that you could reply to it in the negative, but in either case that faint response does little to counter it.

      4. Whenever someone suggests violence as a solution, that’s my response. If they’re adamant about it, they argue with me, and I explain the million reasons it’s a terrible cycle to get into. If they just didn’t think about it that way, I save time and can moderate the other 100 posts waiting. Let me be clear: I do not endorse violence as a solution to… well, anything.

      5. I was raped by a woman friend. The discussion about “disregard” fit the situation exactly. It wasn’t violent or deranged…it was simple disregard for my own autonomy.
        Thank you all for a wonderful discussion.

  13. rape has nothing to do w/ how cute you are or how young …a few years ago a young man broke into a gated sr. community and raped a 60-something year old and a woman in her 80’s….he recently died in jail from reasons “unknown”…yeah…he was only in his 30s and apparently let out into the general population….regardless…this is where the gun regulation stops…if you come after me or mine…(i’m old and have been diagnosed w/ stage lv colon cancer)….you’re going before me…there will be no intelligent discussion preceeding the “bang”.

    1. That is a wise attitude to have. Bravo! You are doing your duty to yourself to do the best you can to defend yourself.

  14. Forget rape culture. I’ve been raped. By a guard for the state prison in a small town who I had played pool with at a bar… he was 25 years older than me and I certainly wasn’t asking for it. I was 21, it was my first time drinking at a bar alone. It was also my last. I was drugged, videotaped… and when I told the sheriff (a woman) that she should try to procure the tape, she replied, “He doesn’t even have a VCR at his house… why would he videotape it?!”

    It’s not rape culture that’s the problem. It’s the mindset of gender roles in this country. Sure, the ladies burned their bras in the 60s but where has it gotten us? Glass ceilings, two-income families, and portrayal by the media as little more than vaginas with arms and legs… men think of women as a dime a dozen, plain and simple. We’re not humans. We don’t have feelings, we don’t have opinions, we don’t have brains. We have breasts and booties. We’re crazy and emotional. We were put on this earth to be anorexic and nipped and tucked and augmented and to wear a string bikini while we wash our husband’s car.

    I know it’s not all men or all women… but in this country it’s overly prevalent. If we don’t want to be raped, and don’t want the men to get away with it, then we need to stop plastering our half-naked bodies all over billboards and tv commercials and music videos. We need to demand respect. We need to demand equality.

    “…What we have is a culture of capita-patriarchy where rape is one of the side-effects.” I agree wholeheartedly. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the phrase, “Well, why were you drinking alone at a bar?? What did you expect??”

    I expected that the sacrifices made by my grandmother and my mother and every other woman who pushed for gender equality in the 60s would have made a difference. I expected to be able to go anywhere I wanted, to be able to enjoy everything life has to offer, to be bold and daring and adventurous in this world. I expected to be able to walk into a bar and have a few drinks without being slipped a date-rape drug and dragged off to some trailer in the woods. I expected to be able to walk down the street at night without being preyed upon just because I happened to be born with a vagina. I expected to be treated like a human being.

    I have a 4-year-old son. I’m so glad I had a boy. I’d hate to have to explain to a daughter that she’s really not much more than a piece of meat hanging in a butcher shop, just waiting to be filleted.

    1. Wow, I appreciate hearing from someone who has been through this here. It definitely lends perspective. I completely agree with you and actually just wrote a comment above coming to the same conclusion. I hope that the fact that you have a little boy gives you some solace that you can raise a man to think and feel differently than so much of our mainstream society dictates.

      Also, for the record, I agree that you should be able to go to a bar alone and have been lucky enough to have done so many times without repercussion. I’m so sorry that you had that experience.

    2. Truth! I think the way we portray and enforce gender roles plays a monumental part in the ways we learn to interact wit each other.

      Being taught that every single person is worthy of respect, as being viewed as an entire person rather than some parts (or the sum of their parts). The way we enforce norms of gender, sexuality, race, etc. in this society, with a patriarchal system that favors some people over others, is definitely a large problem. This system that privileges some people over others (men over women, white over black, straight over LGBT, etc.), humanizing some and dehumanizing the rest, and overall just setting up absurd hierarchies lends itself to perpetuating inequalities and injustice. While patriarchy values “masculine” traits and undermines “Feminine” traits, it serves to devalue anyone associated with the broad, completely arbitrary, idea of femininity. When we don’t value people, we can dehumanize them, seeing them as a pair of tits or a great ass, rather than a full person with full human emotional and intellectual capacities.

      Relevant to rape culture: this leaves us with a culture of people who see nothing wrong with rape, because rape victims are not humans with feelings, but a great ass or pair of tits. Some stupid piece of ass who drank too much and no one would care anyway. Why should anyone care that this less-valuable person suffered, when all of these valuable people benefit from it? Valuable people, like these football players at Steubenville, can’t possibly risk losing their football scholarships because of some invaluable girl like the girl they humiliated. Ugh. Disgusting. I want to vomit on everyone and everything.

    3. I’m very saddened to hear your story and my heart goes out to you. I commend you for your bravery in sharing your experience despite the persecution you suffered for speaking and giving voice enough to cry foul. While I was lucky enough to have never been raped (and I thank God for that) I can identify with some of your story. When I was around the same age, I came dangerously close to being a rape victim. He was a co-worker and twice my age. Being rather naive and idealistic, I never dreamed that just being nice to someone and helping someone by merely listening would put me in harm’s way. Growing up, my parents shielded me very well from the dangers of the world. Looking back now through the eyes of experience and maturity, I recognize the signs I failed to see and how mistaken and trusting I was. He touched me inappropriately one night in the parking lot. I was so shocked and terrified and I couldn’t find my voice or unlock my muscles to even say “No! Stop!” for some time. When I finally found it, he did stop and disappeared into the night with a weak apology. I don’t know how I managed to drive home and I couldn’t tell you how I got there. Once the shock wore off, the reality of what had just happened was incapacitating and I had a breakdown that I tried to keep very quiet. Somehow, I FELT ASHAMED!!!!!! Fortunately for me, my parents were always in tune with me and knew something was wrong immediately. They forced it out of me and literally (I do mean literally) dragged me into my employer’s office to report it. It poured out of me while my entire body quaked and my stomach voided itself into the trash can. The outcome was that there was nothing they could do because the parking lot was not part of company property and it was my responsibility to report it to the authorities. But I should feel secure that I had started “a paper trail so that of he ever does something like this again on company property, they can act.” So I was taken to the Sherriff’s office and reported it to a middle-aged MALE deputy. I was told that in the eyes of the law, I had invited him and it was my fault. He stopped and there was nothing they could to. To add insult to injury, I still had to see him at work. Why not quit you ask? Frankly, I needed the money, having just lost my home and living with other family. Now here’s the kicker: years after I left that job, that paper trail stayed. He offended again at the same place and that time he escalated. That girl wasn’t as lucky. I reported. I spoke. I was ignored. He was allowed to offend again AND take something that was never his to take. I was made to feel like I brought it on myself and I was the criminal. The laws that govern women’s rights are painfully flawed and laughable. Since then, I have vowed that it will never be me. I will not be silenced and I will share this experience with anyone who will listen in hoping they will never be in that situation and not be so lucky. Thank you for keeping your voice. Thank you for your strength.

    4. Yes gender roles play a very large part in this discussion, and the fact we are pressured to follow them. The problem behind this as I have always seen, is how much we obsses with the differences of our genders when we have so many similarities and how many of our percieved differences are simply false and made up, psycologically that is. We aretrained from young age to seperate divide us by this feature of gender to the piont that we are some times regarded as vastly different beings, almost as we are different species, when the overwhelming fact that we are all human beings and are fundamentally similar in many respects is not an enforced concept. It doesn’t really matter what the shape of your genetalia is, we are all human beings. The reason why men can get breast cancer is a supreme example of this. The reason why is beacause men have the same cells women do in a much lower countity because the breasts begin to form before the fetus reads which gender the individual is. We all started from the same basic template. This is also why men can train their nipples so that they can breast feed a child. The prostate only enlargens in men due to there being more of a demand for sexual fluid by male ejaculate, and the less demanded prostate remains small in women, leading to the myth that women do not have a prostate, or that it is somehow not used. We obsses on how we are different and ignore our similarities. That is probably a huge part of this equation.

  15. Excuse my language below, but it drives me to it.

    It’s fucking horrible that this shit happens, it’s similar to catholic priest pedophilia and other cover-ups that protect a group or a reputation that is more “powerful”. Victims are then left utterly powerless and then to make it worse our society allows it all to happen.

    Power corrupts and whether you want to call that rape culture or not, it doesn’t really matter… it’s fucking wrong!

  16. I spent 13 years as an athlete, and I can tell you that at no point in that time was I ever encouraged to rape. I was never led to believe I could get away with it. I was never led to believe my friends or coaches or family or town would let me get away with it. And most of all, I have no instinct, as an athlete, to rape. I like you find it horrific, and work to fight against. So when you say “rape culture is when a group of athletes…” what you mean is “rape culture is when a group of people.” Because when you look up convicted racists and their occupations, you’re going to find very few athletes. You’ll find doctors, teachers, lawyers, etc. You’ll find people (men) who have no connection between their occupation/activity and their proclivity towards rape. Just because the athletes make the news doesn’t mean it’s pervasive in athletic culture. Please don’t associate me or my friends, teams, or coaches in that group. We want nothing to do with them.

    1. As I’ve indicated in comments above, the only time I use the phrase “When a group of athletes” is in reference to the Steubenville case, which is an accurate description and salient to understanding what happened in that situation. I’m with you. Not all athletes are evil, not all athletic programs promote a rape culture.

    2. sure, because the athletes are good at escaping conviction. not a compelling argument there. kobe bryant? roethlisberger? any of these names ringing a bell?

    3. You’re right that most athletes are not rapists. You’re correct that rapists can be found across all professions, all demographics.

      However, when discussing rape culture, discussing sports culture is very important. Studies have shown that college athletes are 3.3% of student populations, but 19% of sexual assault perpetrators.

  17. RE: The opportunity to have sex with a girl with no consent needed, no effort required, and no foreseeable consequences is a temptation some boys can’t resist.

    This is a crucial point to me: “opportunity to have sex with a girl with no consent needed”.
    In my mind, consent is ALWAYS needed. This goes hand-in-hand with “teaching [people] not to rape” – step one is to teach them consent is ALWAYS needed. “She didn’t say ‘no,'” should NEVER be considered a valid excuse. It is one of the reasons that we are starting to talk about the idea of affirmative consent, and why some places are incorporating ‘lack of affirmative consent’ into their definition of rape.

    If the young men in the Steubenville case – and all of their peers, parents, role models, and acquaintances – had grown up with the idea that they should not have sex with someone who hasn’t specifically said ‘Yes,’ would the young lady have been seen as less of a target?

    1. EXACTLY! If someone says,”No” it means NO. If the signals are unclear, that is NO. If there is no response at all…that is NO. If the other person is asleep (or even pretending to be asleep, like I did at age 9 when I was molested; it was the only action I could think of to take…) unconscious, underage, or below certain cognitive levels…NO.

      Consent to me is when an adult over whom I have no power or influence gives an enthusiastic “YES!!”

      1. I agree with what you’re saying, but not the specific wording. That is, I expect to have influence over someone who is in love with me. And as I am the breadwinner while my dh is the SAHD at the moment, I arguably have economic power over him. And since we have 3 young children, which is exhausting, his ‘yes’ is not always enthusiastic, at least at first. I don’t think that any of these *necessarily* preclude true consent ;). The important point is that we both know that we will both accept ‘no’ again and again, should that happen, and a ‘yes’ is allowed to turn into a ‘no’ at any point for any reason, and there will be no punishment or coercion.

  18. You and your readers might be interested in this petition from that was started today because of the Stuebenville case. It only has about 20 signatures right now, but there is no reason it shouldn’t meet the threshold for a statement or action from the White House with a little bit of publicity.

  19. You seem to be of the opinion that only men rape women, and there’s never any women who rape men, which is the one reason I have to disagree with what you say. You seem to gloss over the fact that women rape men, and women DO cry rape when they feel they made a mistake.

    Please, don’t just start spouting “rape culture” unless you’re willing to have a balanced view. Yes, men rape women, but women rape men too.

    1. 1. You’re correct. Women rape men. The reason you don’t find a great deal of examples of this as rape culture (read: demonstrated tolerance and acceptance of the idea/trivialization) is because no one talks about it – which is exemplary of rape culture itself. I’ll be posting more on that later, but I wanted to make myself clear as to why examples were not listed above. The point was to provide very specific instances for context.

      2. I’m not going to stand for “women cry wolf” as reason to not discuss rape culture. The statistical frequency of this occurrence is nearly non-existent, but the argument has been used as a red herring in this very conversation for years. In fact, this red herring was used in the Steubenville case explicitly, with town leaders and complete strangers commenting that Jane Doe was making “excuses” for a “decision” (she was unconscious – what exactly did she decide?!) she regretted. Including that perspective in this piece would not have resulted in balance; it would have furthered an element of rape culture itself.

    2. rape culture is: troll coming in to dismiss the pervasive culture in favor of rare situations (false charges) and make sure to bring our attention back to men. i’d be more charitable if you weren’t parroting the talking points of hundreds of trolls on the internet.

    3. Alexi, like the author has commented, this article was just one specific example to talk about rape culture.

      I totally agree that not all rape comes from men towards women. It’s shocking to learn how men being violated can be so trivialised or even seen as a ‘right of passage.’ I’ve read about a court case involving an underage boy and his teacher. He was under the legal age of consent, and they had intimate relations. So, him not being able to properly consent means rape right?? Can you believe that the underage boy was ordered to pay child support for the pregnancy caused by his rape!?

      Horrific isn’t it?

      Rape is wrong, regardless of gender, age, race or religion. I’m pretty sure that anyone with a level head on their shoulders can agree.

    4. Exactly how does that happen? And what’s the ratio? 1000000 to 1? A balanced view of something that occurs daily to one group and rarely to another focuses on the former group.

  20. I wondered whether I wanted to watch the video or not… I decided to. Horrible what they are saying knowing actually happened. Can I say good job to the guy in the background you keeps saying “what if that was your sister or your daughter?”. Such a shame though that he didn’t have the balls to stop it.

  21. Per the video of the boys having the “she’s dead” discussion…even more than the parts you mention, I find horrifying how they actually talk about if it had happened to their own daughter and they laugh about the idea. I realize that they are children themselves…but that is the most disturbing portion of the video, personally.

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  23. Back in 2002 there was a pretty horrific rape that happened in Chico. It was sickening to see articles like this posted:
    They shamed the poor girl to the point that she moved out of state. They never mentioned the individuals who attempted to try to help the girl, or the accounts against what individuals accused her of. The only person in this article who didn’t shame her was the individual who was charged with rape ” …I would appreciate it if you refrained from attacking the girl as much as you can. We were both in the wrong place at the wrong time, and we both made mistakes…”

  24. I don’t speak so well, so forgive me, but I wanted to just add a little something.

    I’ve always made a point of speaking about my rape, not just because of what happened but what happened afterwards.
    After a night out – not drunk, dressed in jeans and a tshirt – I was raped by my taxi driver, after he pushed his way into my home.
    The next day, my (male) boss gently got out of me what had happened and persuaded me to talk to the police and I spoke to a policewoman that day.
    When – a few WEEKS later – I got a visit from two CID types…well they hooked onto the fact that I was gay, and after I freely confessed that I had never before had sex with a man, well that was it. I was “curious”, cos I was drunk (after all my 2 drinks that night) and had consented, then regretted it later.
    They bullied me with this scenario until I gave them what they wanted and booted them out.

    That? That’s not just a culture of rape, but of rape apology, and I was forcefully reminded of it with this case. It wasn’t the same thing, by any means, but the reactions to it felt so familiar: anything in order to make this problem go away, including trying to shame the victim into silence.

    Rape culture seems to often be almost a subsection of something else: macho sports, drinking, chauvinism, etc. By which I mean: it often seems to manifest as a part of something else. Not always, by any means, but in cases like this, it’s like it was a part of the culture those boys – and the girl – were a part of.

    The institutionalised view of women as sex objects is a part of the fabric of certain sections of culture, and it’s horrific.
    Want to stop hearing about it? Then we need to start doing something about it. As a society – en masse – not just a few brave voices in the crowd of people covering their ears because it’s uncomfortable to talk about.
    But before we can teach a younger generation, we need to teach ourselves what we want them to know. Because they are learning by our example, and no amount of words will ever teach them better than that.

    1. Thank you – and so many of the others on this thread – for sharing your story. I admire your courage and strength, and truly hope that we, as a society, can grow to condemn these travesties with the vitriol they deserve. You are an inspiration.

  25. So disturbing. In every way. The folks that committed the crime. And took videos or photos. And covered up. Or supported the drug pushing rapists. The media that doesn’t have a minute for the victim. The comments of very sick individuals that you pasted on the post that somehow the boys lives were being ruined because of a bit o’ fun. The totally forgetting about the fact that there was a YOUNG VICTIM. I wonder if they gave her drugs and killed her would they still be yucking it up on a video about how they assaulted a dead girl ??? Thank you for writing this. And keep on writing about this. I am sick of the media and of this male dominated, power hungry world.

  26. I didn’t read all posts, but I wanted to make sure that the Military was also brought into this conversation. The armed forces would make ALL athletic programs that have had rape allegations and convictions look like they were non-existent. I don’t believe Athletics is a symptom, or illness, it is the men involved. Education is the key. EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE.

    1. Yes! So many people, women and men, do not know enough about all of this. We all need to be educated on it and prevent this from happening. As parents, teachers, guardians, etc… it’s our job to teach our children.

  27. I hope this also brings awareness and instills the consequences that people face when women falsely accuse men of rape as well. These woman face no consequences and its almost like a slap in the face to women who have been raped. I feel like it also leads people and courts to take honest women less seriously who come forward. I know two men who were falsely accused, both went through severe depression and one committed suicide.

    1. While I feel for your friends, I’ll echo what I said above – the argument that false reporting is a major problem does not have the statistical significance to back it up. I want to be clear- IT SHOULD NOT HAPPEN, but the weight of its impact is dwarfed by the consequences of a far-reaching rape culture.

      1. I wasn’t so much saying that false reporting is a major problem as much as the idea that “a few bad people ruin it for others.” I think that the impact is substantial. Without “evidence” many women are just assumed to be liars because of a small group of people. Also, we shouldn’t ignore bringing awareness just because the impact isn’t deemed “significant enough”.

      2. I don’t understand your evidence? How can you say that it does not happen when cases where men were wrongly convicted wouldn’t show up in statistical data? Because they are/still wrongly found guilty. Now if new evidence came forward to reverse someone’s guilt, that would show up but I think you are suggesting that is rare. Don’t be so biased and disregard counter arguments, do your homework and pull up some statistics.

      3. For both of you, read this:

        And then read this:

        And then do your own research instead of regurgitating inaccurate assertions. And then do some comparative statistical analysis of your own, keeping in mind the percentage of attacks that will never be reported at all. And then consider that rape is the only crime for which we automatially doubt the accusation because “women lie.” And consider that this discourages women from coming forward, facilitating a culture of silence on sexual violence. And consider that this is part of rape culture. And then, kindly, refrain from commenting on my blog again.

        You are welcome to your opinions, however poorly formed. But I will not enable you to further the problem.

  28. Thank you for posting this. I’ll be sharing. This is why myself, and so many have not reported our own instances. It’s saddening to read people’s ignorant commentary about how “loose” or “slutty” the girl was. I feel for that girl. Her life is already forever changed and now she must face this new life under public scrutiny. Our culture needs some definite reformation, or this behavior/mindset can only continue.

  29. As a male, this entire thread makes me uncomfortable, because it is all so true and it is hard to live up to. Men commit rape and it being so brushed under the rug so often is an atrocity that cannot continue. The entire social networking community, schools, community centers, politicians and role models should be making this an issue that needs to be confronted. Stopping advertisements from using spousal assault, preventing programs from protecting athletes, and other disgusting acts that society so often deems as “acceptable”.

    However, in order to spread this message the biggest target you need to get at and educate is men. That outreach means educating men/boys on recognizing when someone is being pressured at a bar, or providing them with self confidence to stand up to ass holes who are harassing another. Therefore, you cannot attack men, and make them out to be the bad guys: it doesn’t help. Most men react negatively cause they feel as though they are being accused and no one wants to be bundled up with people committing such atrocities. And the fact is, women do falsely accuse men of rape! The moment you hear of any sort of charge of sexual assault or rape the first reaction is to jump to the conclusion they are guilty! Which is total bullshit. Women (and men) falsely accusing someone of rape is the biggest deterrent to this whole movement, because it delegitimizes everything you are trying to achieve. If this movement is to take on real success, every case should be scrutinized and examined carefully, and those who are found guilty should be publicly labelled as deviant and criminal by society. But those who are found innocent should be shown to be so, and the wrongful accuser should be labelled and publicized as an equal atrocity as the sexual assault would have been itself!

    Women and men working together are the solution to this problem, not women fighting men nor men fighting women.

    1. I agree with so much of what you said, but I fear that a lot of women also need to be educated. I think that it is, as you said, pushed under the rug by both and it needs to stop.

  30. I was raped for years by my husband without knowing it was considered rape. I will never be the same, but I got out.

    1. Firstly, thank you for being brave and sharing.
      You bring up a very important point – the lack of knowledge about consent and healthy sexual practices.

      It also took me a few years to understand how, as a person, I can expect to be treated by the men in my life. It took a healthy relationship with a loving guy for me to realise that being afraid of being alone with a ‘friend’, because I didn’t want to be overpowered and bent over a couch again – was wrong. How did I not know that was wrong?? Because I’d never been taught it, and in fact, society had told me that that’s my place. To think, I used to believe that if a male was horny and didn’t have any ‘release’ it actually causes them physical pain!

      Anyway, the point I’m heading towards is this: people need education about consent and to trust that if they feel uncomfortable, that they can say no.

      I’m in the last year of my bachelor to become a high-school teacher, and I fully intend to use what opportunities I can to educate my students about what ‘consent’ means. It sickens me to know that so many of my students will be sexually assaulted. All I can do is try to educate them as best I can in the hopes that some of them will be the ‘lucky ones’ that get away, instead of totally being taken advantage of.

  31. Rape culture is when thousands of women falsely accuse men of rape, and then fuck up their lives and it goes unreported…then claiming most men are rapists or potential rapists

    1. For starters, it does not go unreported. False reports leave a data trail. Your statement and its implications are demonstrably false. Second, no where in this post or in the comments is anyone saying “most men are rapists.” Third, if you can’t constructively contribute to the conversation and insist on revictimizing those who have suffered from sexual violence, further comments will be promptly marked as spam. Ya dig?

      1. Well you can sit there all day and say it does go unreported, and I can sit here and say the opposite. But until either of us produce peer reviewed statistics neither our claims our valid. Ya dig?

      2. Thank you, these red herrings have to stop and the perpetrators relegated back to the hole they crawled out of.

    2. It happens both ways with both men and women. There is no doubt that women can be just as bad as men or vice versa. They do not go unreported.

  32. Thank you for posting this. I read this all the way through with a sick, oily feeling in my stomach, but I don’t regret it. I totally agree with what you have to say, but I am worried that you will be misquoted. All of the boys on my father’s side of the family are on some sort of sports team, and while I know that they wouldn’t commit rape or cover it up, it scares me that they may be around people who would. It also scares me that this trial made national news, but a recent string of what is believed to be a series of serial rapes in my area has not. In fact, I haven’t heard a word about the case since last Monday. There are tons of publicity, both productive and counterproductive, for all of the cases you’ve mentioned, but what scares me the most is that no one wants to air the cases that won’t increase ratings or aren’t ‘interesting enough’. An I’m enraged that I’m not seeing any news coverage regarding ways MEN can prevent rape. This needs to change.

    1. Seriously! There seems to be a lack of respect in the world today. Both self respect and respect to others. Things like this need to be nipped in the butt. Personally I feel like that’s the parents job so it is partially their fault, and then it’s that persons fault. When did things like this become okay? Seriously it makes me sick!

  33. Thank you for posting this. You posted so many things that I was thinking when heard about what was going on, and I was disgusted by all of the crap the girl is getting. First off, who actually knows the whole entire story. I certainly do not think it is any of us. Who are we to be cruel to this girl. While there are many cases of the “victim” lying who are we to decide that. Especially if there was some sort of proof that something went down. Regardless of if there was consent, any person who is drunk can be considered not to be making a rational decision. So if either party calls rape it will most likely go to court. Honestly I believe that you should be careful and keep a level head, but things happen. We don’t know how she got drunk, if she was forced, if she chose to do it, or anything. We don’t know for certain. We don’t even know who she is so who are we to judge her. Also in any case, not just this one, making the perpetrator into the victim is just disgusting. If they are saying that it is the girls (or boys in some cases) chose to get drunk than it’s their fault, then the other party should be given the same treatment. I don’t believe any of the people who are insulting and threatening her even understand what she or any other victim are going through. I bet they never once put their own selves in that position. The “what if that happened to me” thought. People are sad and despicable. I have no hope for a great number of people in this world.

  34. Rape culture is the tolerance of situations of brutal (shall we say, stereotypical) rape, where the man overpowers the woman, where she is saying no, or she is incapacitated to the point where she can’t give consent.

    But what about the more ambiguous situations? Date rape, rape between friends, between boyfriends and girlfriends, even between married couples, in which neither party was incapacitated and each was perfectly capable of saying no, but didn’t? And then the next day one claims rape because they were uncomfortable, but couldn’t bring themselves to say so, because women are raised “too polite” and “silence is not consent”? What is it called when every claim of rape is considered the man’s fault, even though the woman never actually said no? I’ve heard that a lot of times women don’t say no to their partners, even though they are uncomfortable, because they were raised “not to make a fuss.” They rely on signals which the man might not pick up on because not everyone is good at reading signals. And then they claim rape the next day because the man didn’t read their signals correctly, and didn’t check. “Silence is not consent” is a very problematic standard for this reason; it suggests that women (or either partner) need not speak up when they are uncomfortable with a sexual situation, that men should either be able to read their minds or constantly be checking with them to make sure this is really something they want to do (does consent come with an expiration? Do you have to ask only once per sexual act, or every five minutes, or every ten?). I don’t think that’s fair. I think that sounds like a male witch hunt. I think that if a person is uncomfortable with a sexual situation, they should open their mouth and say so. Make yourself clear. If women really are raised with this idea to “not make a fuss” and that’s why they can’t bring themselves to speak up when they are uncomfortable, then they need to unlearn that lesson. Fast.

    Yes it’s important for each partner to check to make sure the other is comfortable and consenting. But I think it is equally important for people (men or women) to speak up when they AREN’T comfortable, regardless of what attitudes you were raised with about being polite. To suggest otherwise is to imply that both partners don’t share equal responsibility for a sexual act. If you’re uncomfortable, why are you not responsible for saying so? Why are you able to claim that someone raped you (and potentially ruin the rest of their lives with a sexual assault charge) because you were stone cold sober but couldn’t bring yourself to say “I’m not comfortable with this”?

    1. Please see my response to Question Gal and Anon. Statements like this are why women don’t come forward – because people, without the data to back it up, assume that they are lying about it.

    2. If someone has forced themselves on you many people do not know how they may react in this situation and too often the reaction is to become paralyzed with fear. Particularly for a child or someone NOT naturally in a position of power.

    3. “Silence is not consent” actually means the exact opposite of what you are trying to say – that is, EVEN if someone isnt ‘speaking up’, if they are not actively enjoying it, or responding positively to your sexual advances; if they are lying there like a starfish with a look of discomfort on their face then STOP. Maybe they are intimidated, frightened, maybe there is a huge power imbalance that stops them saying NO explicitly but what kind of freak tries to have sex with someone who is not responding positively in any way? It makes it seem like those people only view women as vessels for their penises and not active partakers in sex and frankly, if they take silence as consent from a frightened partner then, when they are accused of rape, it is because they are RAPISTS.

    4. What you are writing here is indeed at the core of the rape culture. “Silence is not consent” is a very problematic standard for this reason; it suggests that men should (…) constantly be checking with them to make sure this is really something they want to do”.

      Why in the world is this more problematic than to ask women to unlearn live long social conditioning FAST, and under emotionally difficult and sometimes vary dangerous situations.

      And about that “constant” checking and that expiration of consent. Only if you have the wired vision of complete passivity and silence as normal female sexual behavior, does that come a practical problem.

  35. This is terrific. Thank you so much for writing it. I grew up in suburban New Jersey and watched the Glen Ridge rape case unfold. When the Steubenville story broke I was appalled that 24 years later the only real change was that the kids had better technology to document the assaults. In January I wrote a post called “Steubenville, Bullying and a Culture of Rape” about my theory that bullying and rape culture go hand in hand and as long as we allow any of our children to be treated like they are above others (and as long as we treat each other that way) these problems will persist.

    1. You are correct: bullying is a warning sign for rape–see the research I linked to below. That’s another good reason that bullying should not be tolerated.

  36. Rape culture is also not only about men being the rapists, and women being the victims. Rape can go the other way: there are women who rape men too, more than the stats show, because men feel like they are inferior if they admit to having been raped, and by a woman. Men are supposed to be seen as the top of the ladder, so reporting rape as a male victim makes them feel insecure. Even some police officers might need to suppress a laugh when they hear about this.

    Rape culture is when the victim feels so insecure about themselves that they feel even more unsafe to report to a trusted authority. Rape culture is when laughing at the victim is OK, and as long as the perp looks good and has social capital, he/she’s let off the hook.

    Rape culture…

    is ugly.

  37. Men should be offended when someone claims that women should prevent rape by not wearing certain things or not going certain places or not acting in a certain way. That line of thinking presumes that you are incapable of control. That you are so base and uncivilized that it takes extraordinary effort for you to walk down the street without raping someone. That you require a certain dress code be maintained, that certain behaviors be employed so that maybe today, just maybe, you won’t rape someone.

    It presumes that your natural state is rapist.

    1. So here’s a problem I have with all of this.

      The human body and our own naturally developed instincts, as well as our entire societal construct and culture is based around the idea that propagation of the species as driven by sexual intercourse is necessary and important for many reasons.

      While “rape” isn’t mindful of consent for the individuals involved or the circumstances surrounding it, it IS a natural part of our genes. Essentially, “It presumes that your natural state is rapist” is just about correct.

      That doesn’t make it right though, were not animals – well, mostly not – anymore. And it certainly isn’t. We’ve evolved into higher thinking, formed a system of governance and law, developed a moral code, and by all these things “rape” is an objectionable, intolerable act in an age where personal well being is sacrosanct and protected.

      But it’s still an urge, lurking in our psyche. I’m a Care Counselor at a drug and alcohol abuse facility. I work with many convicted criminal addicts, from alcohol and drugs, to sexual addicts… and yes, rapists.

      As a recovering addict, it is part of your responsibility to stay away from any kind of triggers that would lead to relapse. An alcoholic shouldn’t work in a bar, for an easy example – though most triggers have nothing to do with the actual problem and vary by person.

      Essentially, these people need to learn or relearn what most of us know – it’s important to understand the urge to have sex, to drink, do drugs, commit crimes, and even to rape. But it’s equally important to control your impulses, and not act on every whim that pops into your head, whether positive or negative or anything in-between.

      What relevance does this have to anything? Well, two points.

      1. I don’t agree with how all-forgiving some of you seem towards certain cases. I do agree that wearing something revealing, drinking to excess and blacking out resulting in rape is certainly not the victims fault – but she also bears responsibility. She never decided to be raped – she did decide to drink until she passed out and took any “choice” away from her. If I drank to excess as the only male in a party with a bunch of women, and I passed out and got raped, I would blame myself equally – because I put myself there. I chose to commit those actions that lead to that moment, even though I didn’t choose the consequences. That choice was taken away from me by myself. No human should ever rape another – but in cases like Steubenville, the only person who put her, unconscious, in that room with a bunch of people of the opposite sex, was her. Don’t get me wrong, the guys there never should have touched her! And the “rape” was only their own decision. But the responsibility of allowing them to do it so easily, relies on her. If I leave my wallet on a table in a public place and walk away, forgetting it on accident, and a thief steals all the money out of it, it’s my responsibility for leaving it in a compromising position just as much as the thieves for stealing it. Not all events in your life are controlled or chosen by you, but any events leading up to such things are entirely your own decision. She never should have been there.

      2. There are many circumstances in which I do agree that assigning ANY blame to the victim is wrong. Several stories shared in these comments (the cab driver pushing his way into a home) is entirely a series of events not caused by anything other then the cabbies mental unbalances and deplorable, disgusting actions. If your doing as much as you possibly can to protect yourself from such events, to remove yourself from dangerous situations and stay safe, and have such a thing is forced upon you regardless, then clearly you share no responsibility. Reckless behavior (such as the Steubenville rape victim displayed) such as drinking to excess and blacking out in a place with strangers, is definitely not trying to stay safe.

      And it’s stated that in a few places that stopping rape should not be a womans responsibility, that’s not necessarily true. It’s all nice and great to think our society has evolved to a point where violent crime like assault and rape and such are rare, and not something we ever need to protect ourselves from, that’s not true.

      In all things, whether it be protection from violent crime or advancement in a career, it’s your own responsibility to care for yourself and protect yourself as best you can in every way possible. If I don’t want to get shot, I won’t spend time with gang bangers.

      In short, from either sex, violent or sexual crimes are terrible and should never happen. But it does, and in some cases of reckless behavior on our own behalf part of the responsibility lies on us. It’s important for everyone to care and protect themselves as much as possible, until society actually evolves to the point where we’d like it to be – where we don’t have to anymore.

      But that’s not the reality of it, not yet.

      I’d also like to point out that it’s not just rape that is ignored and trivialized in our society. Mental illness (an epidemic that probably also contributes a lot to rape cases) is an issue pretty much forgotten about in modern society. I don’t know why problems like mental illness and rape, war crimes and other problems are ignored, whether it’s part wishful thinking on behalf of our society or pacification of the populace by information control, or just simply people avoiding things that make them uncomfortable, but there’s an extreme level of negligence concerning many matters that really needs to be changed, as a society and as a race.

      I don’t mean to cause contention, and I’m not attacking anybody or your opinions – just stating my own. Rational discourse is the most important tool we have.

      1. I apologize for the time it took to set your comment public, but when a comment needs response, I tend to wait to approve it until I’ve figured out what I want to say. You make two main points that need to be address.

        First, you explain the various ways in which women must take responsibility for their own protection. You highlight the Steubenville case as an example of this.

        1) Steubenville is an awful example of this. She was among people she thought were her friends. She shouldn’t have been drinking to excess because she shouldn’t have been drinking to excess, but in no way is she AT ALL – NOT EVEN .00001% – NOT IN THE LEAST – responsible for what happened to her. The decision was made by the young men who raped her. They did not HAVE to rape her. They made that choice. They are 100% culpable.

        2) To argue that women should take responsibility for rape by “not putting themselves in dangerous situations” doesn’t work in a world where the vast majority of rape occurs at the hands of someone the victim knows. Your wallet analogy doesn’t work; the perspective provided is more akin to saying, “The pedestrian crossing the road in the crosswalk had it coming when the drunk driver hit him.” We’d never say that. We shouldn’t say it here, either.

        3) This argument, like many other caveats in the broader rape culture conversation, is a part of rape culture itself. It perpetuates the idea that the victim could or should have done something to prevent it. We wouldn’t say that to someone who was mugged while waiting for the bus. We wouldn’t say that to someone who was attacked by a loose dog on the street. We wouldn’t say that to someone whose life savings was stolen by some investment banker. We wouldn’t say that to someone whose home was targeted by an arsonist. And we certainly shouldn’t say it here, where victims already face inference of culpability by a culture that trivializes rape at every turn, and we KNOW that. It discourages others from coming forward, which means they don’t get the help they (as you so well know) need, they don’t get justice, and a rapist walks free. With studies indicating rapists who go uncaught are more likely than not to rape again, it is not worth it to try to advance this argument for the sake of argument. There are consequences to our language.

        Second, (well, first in the post, but second here), you state, “While “rape” isn’t mindful of consent for the individuals involved or the circumstances surrounding it, it IS a natural part of our genes. Essentially, “It presumes that your natural state is rapist” is just about correct.”

        You follow this up by discussing how we have evolved into a society of choices. Precisely. Do not excuse rape by saying it’s “in our nature.” It may be in our nature to urinate when our bladder is full, but for the most part, we don’t walk around peeing our pants at random intervals. We are capable of discerning right from wrong. We are capable of making choices based on that criteria. That’s what matters.

        While I appreciate your experience in the mental health field (my sister works in a crisis center – I know how draining the work can be), and I do agree that individuals with mental health issues should receive treatment without the threat of stigma, I would say that the arguments presented here fail to take into account the well-documented impacts of rape culture on a rape victim’s psyche.

  38. I just heard about this case today and I have read a lot about it recently. (I don’t watch TV, so that is probably why). I am a man and tend to agree with Anon that the key here is to educate both men and women starting when they are still boys and girls, that concrete consent is a necessary precondition for any kind of sex – as in “Is it okay if I touch you” to “I would like to have sex with you – would you like that too?” As awkward as this seems at first, it is the only way to KNOW that the person you are engaged with wants this to be happening to him/her. I was sickened by the rape itself, but it is easier to push the particulars aside as an uncommon instance. The boys are deviant, aggressive assholes, etc. It is far more difficult for me to handle the comments you gathered in your post, which show exactly how this sort of thing is allowed to happen.

    I also agree with Anon that we men, as a group, get defensive when we hear that “all men are rapists”. (I am not saying you do that here, but some do). I have immense compassion for women who have been the victims of sexual assault, rape, or unwanted and aggressive advances. This may sound odd, but I also have compassion for boys and men who grow up in an environment where they haven’t been taught that no means NO, let alone that “not yes” also means no.

    Clearly, these boys committed an atrocity. It takes a special kind of deviance and ass-holery to hurt and humiliate any person like that and be proud of it. But since we are talking about rape culture, I wanted to point at that it can be very hard for boys and young men to navigate the very confusing world of sex and hormones when they are surrounded by messages that tell them “conquest is manly”, or that “women deserve it” or that sometimes no does indeed mean please. I can count several experiences in which a woman told me she didn’t want to have sex with me, didn’t want to sleep over, or whatever, only to later ask me why I didn’t push harder. One called me a “pussy” because I didn’t “take what I wanted.” That bothered me a lot when I was younger. Now that I am older, I am proud of erring on the side of caution, but at the time it felt emasculating. This can be incredibly confusing for young men, who then mistakenly think that some women WANT to be coerced-and unfortunately, some women do-or that they are “pussies” if they don’t “take what they want”. (As an aside, I think this stems from the fact that many girls are taught that it is not okay to desire sex).

    My point is not to blame the victim or suggest that rape is a woman’s fault. It is just to point out that many of these messages get into the heads of men AND women, boys AND girls. Until we, as a parents, friends, teachers, politicians, reporters, etc. model how to communicate about sex, I fear we will continue to see these kinds of cases. I also think we need more voices to step up and say: “responsible sex is healthy and natural, and it should be talked about openly.” My $1.25.

    1. Keh: Thank you. I’m sure I speak for other commenters as well when I say that I really appreciate such an objectively articulated perspective. This is an example of the kind of earnest, insightful discussion that we need between men and women on this uncomfortable but completely urgent topic.

      You clearly understand that rape culture hurts everyone, not just women. What I would like to point out along those lines is that the “all men are rapists” attitude that you referenced does not stem from the whistle-blowing dialogue that attempts to deconstruct rape and rape culture, but on the very assumptions that propagate rape culture itself.

      As one easy example of why this is true, the notion that rapes would occur less frequently if women only dressed more modestly *should* evoke the same defensive reaction as “all men are rapists.” It implies that the desire to rape, or the inability to distinguish rape from sex, is some sort of inevitable lowest common denominator among men. In other words, all men are potential rapists.

  39. I completely agree with you. Thank you for stepping up and speaking about this sickening issue.
    I honestly don’t even understand why “rape culture” even exists. Rape is rape. Pop culture can be labeled as “culture,” but do we call murder “murder culture”?
    No, but apparently rape is something that can be brushed off? Especially if the offenders are good students with “promising futures”?
    It’s disgusting.
    I just signed this petition, which you might be interested in:

    Again, thank you for speaking up about this. People like you are the ones who make a difference!

  40. I agree with 99% of your post, but the way you characterize the “group of athletes” in the first 15 definitions of rape culture kinda stuck with me. This may just be nitpicking, but you start each of those lines with “Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl,” but the athletes were the same age as her. The way you write it, calling her a young girl, I infer you to be saying that some of the power in their ability to rape is being drawn from an age difference (like Jerry Sandusky raping boys, his age lends to his power over them). I think that characterization of her as a young girl detracts from the real sources of their power that we want to challenge in discussing their case, i.e. their (a) status as athletes (b) male gender.

    Again, I’m not saying that age isn’t a source of power in cases of rape, just that it’s not a source of power in that case. Other than that, a well-written piece!

  41. Rape culture is the fact that I got raped, and the damed pig who cam e to my apartment made ajoke about it, then he refuse to investigate it

  42. I just wanted to thank you for posting this. I am a police officer (female one too) and have investigated several sexual assaults. I am still at the beginning of my career and not as jayded as my coworkers and try to always ensure the victim’s safety first and try to build the best case to present to the crown for prosecution. However, it can be very frustrating when someone reports a sexual assault that didn’t happen, usually because they cheated on their boyfriend and then say they were raped when they are caught. It doesn’t happen a lot, but enough that it makes it difficult to have a open mind when starting an investigation for a legitimate sexual assault allegation.
    I try to read posts like the one you put up to remember that there can be some sort of systemic discrimination against victims and try to put my best effort into gathering all the evidence and supporting the victim as much as I can during my investigation.

    I think that one of the reasons people tend to blame the victim is because they could never see themselves as a victim. I am guilty of that! I am a strong minded female and have been in male dominated fields for pretty much my entire life. While I have known some discrimination, it usually doesn’t stop me from getting what I want and need to be satisfied in my job. I am young and have that ‘I am invincible’ approach to everything. So… When I talk to victims from any crime, I can’t help to think, why didn’t you protect yourself better? Why did the sex assault victim go to the bar alone and drink too much? Why, when the suspect started grabbing at her earlier in the night, didn’t she leave? Why didn’t she go with her friends? Why did she allow herself to be vulnerable?

    But I remind myself that in the end it’s not the victim’s fault. I know that even though I wouldn’t do these things myself, I know it’s because I’m afraid that I could get hurt too. Sure, I would like to go out by myself and meet new people and have a good time. But I know I won’t because I know what the consequences could be. And that’s really what this rape culture thing is all about.

    In the end I know that without consent, sexual assault is just that and I will do my best to help investigate every case that us presented to me in the best way I can. Whenever I read about other cops not doing the same thing, or trying to make it go away it toughens my resolve to not let myself do the same thing and allow sexuall assaults go unpunished or at least uninvestigated, which is really all thst my role in this is.

  43. Reading through many of the comments, I find it interesting that, though they often have valid and valuable information to share, it is the men who begin their comments with some form of rejection, dissatisfaction with the content of the post.
    Although many, many boys and young men are victims of rape, there are many, many more girls and women who suffer. Suffer and suffer. Why don’t we humbly listen? This is my call to all my brothers: Listen. Every women deserves our utter and utmost respect. Let us hear what they have to say, let us invite them in safety, to share and express. Not immediately defend our threatened selves by rejecting and belittling them.

    1. Why not just say PEOPLE deserve respect? It is NOT just women who deserve respect. Though not the issue of this blog, both men and women deserve respect. It is not just a women’s issue. However, you must also make yourself a respectable person; earn other people’s respect. If you cant make yourself respectable, it is much easier to sweep things under the rug or be ignored.

      1. I’m all about the idea of saying people deserve some basic respect. But in terms of how rape culture manifests itself, the bulk of the instances come in the form of disrespect towards women. The point where I take issue with your comment is when you say, “If you cant make yourself respectable, it is much easier to sweep things under the rug or be ignored.” Men can be raped. Women can be rapists. No scenario involving rape is ok.

        I don’t care if you’re a compulsive liar who shoplifts regularly, steals from the Church, and sleeps with your best friend’s husband – you don’t deserve to be raped. Period. Our right to be treated as human beings is not dependent on another’s perception of respectability.

  44. This needs to stop rape culture is when we are all too brainwashed by men are the oppressors and rapists and women are the victims. What about male rape? Imagine beng raped by someone with a different sexuality than you, with no self lubricating hole. Imgine that theres less help for you and more of a social stigma because of your gender. Imagine if you couldn’t speak to your friendsin fear of being ridiculed.and imagine if male rape is nearly as common as straight rape (which in some places and countries it is). Again the feminazis are at it again, making rape just a women’s problem

    1. Matt, you clearly didn’t read the post, nor the (far-more respectfully and eloquently articulated) similar concerns in the comment section above. No one is saying that men cannot be victims of rape. No one is saying that men cannot feel the detrimental impacts of the rape culture elements discussed here. To acknowledge one form of suffering is not to deny the existence of others.

    2. Rape is rape, brutal, uninvited, abusive. It’s not about pitting one rape against the other, we’re not competing for the worst rape, that’s our capita-patriarchal conditioning to keep us divided. Men and women need to speak out against rape. Thank you for speaking out.

  45. Men are tired of hearing about rape culture because it assigns blames not just to the perpetrators of rape, but to everyone in society. If I’ve never encouraged anyone to rape, committed a rape, or helped cover up a rape, it doesn’t seem right I should be grouped in with a bunch of rapists irrespective of my non-rapey behaviour. The notion that everyone somehow tacitly endorses sexual assault because they don’t flip out over rape jokes in advertisements doesn’t sit well with me or many others I imagine.

    The other thing I’d say is that if pushing the notion of rape culture is pissing off as many people as you say it is, you might want to reconsider your tactics rather than sticking to your guns on this one. A theory’s only good if people accept it. If it’s generating a backlash, swap it for another that still furthers your agenda but doesn’t fuel the anti-feminist movements you’ve mentioned above. It’s too condemnatory, you need an approach that appeals to men in terms of their own interests, not just yours.

    1. You may not have ever explicitly encouraged anyone to rape, and you may never have raped anyone yourself, but that does no mean you have not be a culpable participant in rape culture. Your isolation of not calling someone out for a rape joke as an example – and the fact that you don’t think there’s anything wrong with that – is exemplary of rape culture. You’ve been desensitized to the point that the violent attack against another human being is material for comedy. So were the kids seen in this post’s video. They thought it was hilarious. Perhaps if someone at he party had possessed the integrity and courage to stand up to them, we wouldn’t be talking about Steubenville today.

      Why does it matter? For context, let’s discuss the evolution of civil rights. Today, if an individual started cracking jokes about black people, throwing around the N-word or making light of someone beating them because of the color of their skin, most people would say something. It’s recognized as wrong. Really, most people wouldn’t make that joke to begin with, because they’d be concerned about just such a backlash. The fact that this sentiment does not also emerge when we discuss rape jokes is, frankly, disgusting. Language shapes our reality, so if we want to change the world, we’ve got to start with changing the way we construct it.

      I’m ok with pissing people off. I’m ok with making people uncomfortable. Out of discomfort comes the compulsion for change.

      And frankly, this is not just about men or women, as has been commented frequently on this thread. Men can be victims. Women can rape. Women can be (and, sadly, all too frequently are) some of the biggest perpetrators of rape culture. This is everyone’s problem, and ignoring it because it makes you uncomfortable will not make it go away.

      1. My point about pissing people off is that if you’re pissing people off, you’re generally not convincing them of your point nor winning them over to your side. In fact, you do the exact opposite. Being a firebrand might be enjoyable, but if you care about making headway into combating rape culture, you might try appealing to its unwitting adherents rather than condemning them. All that stuff about “having the courage to stand up to rapists” that’s the sort of thing you need more of, men lap that shit up.

        I do think you’re right that people including myself are desensitised to violence against women, though I disagree that racism is much further along in terms of what people are and aren’t willing to tolerate. As an outsider, the US appears to me an incredibly racist sort of place, much moreso than over hyah. But I digress.

        If I was to summarise my concern, it’s that you’re assigning blame too widely and unwisely. It turns people off and may put them into opposition. Just let me know what opposing rape culture does for me. That’ll get your farther than moral outrage ever will.

      2. We will have to agree to disagree. Given the reaction I’ve had to this piece from both men and women who reached out to say I changed their mind or opened their eyes to something, I’m not all that worried. Will it be a slow and gradual fight to win? Absolutely. Am I willing to fight it? You bet. Hearts and minds, one at a time. If we’re not uncomfortable, we’re not growing.

  46. So……rape culture only occurs when a woman is the victim. Is that right? So when a man is raped and people tell him that men can’t be raped, that’s not rape culture as well?

      1. Your article seemed to be very much focused on women being victims of rape culture. The fact is, rape culture against men is far more prevalent and far more overlooked by society. That’s not to say we should stop trying to stop rape culture against women but it annoys me that whenever there is discussion about it, it’s always how women victims are treated. You’d be hard press to find articles that discuss rape culture against male victims.

      2. I think the problem is the form of proof. We can point to tangible instances of rape culture that explicitly targets women, but the proof for explicit impacts for men is in their absence. This post was never intended to be a in-depth, academic take on rape culture; there are those out there better suited to provide such analysis. It was meant to try to open people’s eyes to the very common elements of rape culture that they see every day as a means of helping them understand – again, generally speaking – what rape culture looks like. It’s a starting point – not the end.

  47. As a man and as a member of the clergy, I offer you my full support for your posting. And I call on all men and all religious leaders to end the silent acceptance of rape culture. It is long overdue for all religious communities to speak up against historic oppression of all people, and to particularly denounce our reverence of violence in America. Your posting and your ideas are powerful and i hope will help people to better appreciate the need for us to act.

  48. Excellent. Sharing, totally agree.
    One tiny niggle – I think it is fair for men to be irritated by the ‘All men are rapists’ phrase which is reactionary, false and extraordinarily unhelpful in preventing rape culture.

      1. That just makes me wonder what issue you took with the AVfM flier, since that is exactly (and only) what it is trying to say. As a male victim of sexual assault by a female. Yes, I AM really tired of hearing the “teach men not to rape” line over-and over- and over again. Because “teaching men not to rape” would have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to stoop my assault. And in fact has only made it worse because, thanks to such things in part, there are many people who assume women *can’t* rape men.

      2. “Yes, I AM really tired of hearing the “teach men not to rape” line over-and over- and over again. Because “teaching men not to rape” would have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to stoop my assault.”

        I think one of the things that would help, would be to teach women that men do not always want sex. That they are not horny sex machines that will screw anything with two legs. They are capable of being selective and rational about sex and it does not mean they are gay if they don’t want to have sex with you in particular.

        I do not know the particulars in your case Jax, but in the cases I’ve heard – this would have helped. Women are raised to expect men to want sex and when they don’t it’s considered insulting to our pride. Some women react very badly to this. Some women just can’t grasp the concept of a guy not wanting to have sex because we’ve been raised to believe that they always do.

        This isn’t an exhaustive list of reasons why women rape, but it is one I’ve heard of – so I thought I’d offer my two cents about it.

      3. And yet you name two groups that “contribute to rape culture” who dare to say they have a problem with such sexist, ignorant views as “all men are rapists”.

        Your SPECIFIC problem was that they dared to make such a complaint against sexism against men.

        Community for the Wrongfully Accused is on par the ACLU as a legal advice society that caters to peoples legal rights regardless of guilt or innocence.

        You are just as disgusting as those conservatives that claim the ACLU supports Nazis just because it protects their legal right not to be beaten in the street or prosecuted without evidence.

        The CWA exists to provide people wrongfully accused with help and legal protection. It’s stated very little about the Steubenville case and defended only baseless lies against them or attempts to deny them the legal right to justice and a fair trial.

      4. My SPECIFIC problem was that they dismissed the reality of rape culture and trivialized important subjects. My SECONDARY problem is that they knowingly distribute inflated “false accusation” numbers which further rape culture. My FINAL problem is that you haven’t been reading along, because if you had, this comment would never have been submitted.

  49. The “chemically altered” culture is a huge factor here. I don’t dink or do drugs and neither does my wife because we do not want our children to grow up thinking that beer in the fridge and booze in the cupboard is the default normality. Raise your boys to be sober and respectful of women. Raise your girls with the knowledge they need to stay safe and strong. Preaching to those who are already lost causes is likely also a lost cause.

    1. Nope, not posting these comments anymore either (and this one is being published as warning for others). Alcohol is not consent. Yes is the only form of consent. The absence of a no is not consent. Any other position on the matter is an apology for rape. Most rape takes place at the hand of someone the victim knows, not because they’re “drunken whores”. And there will be no more implying any such thing here.

      1. So you are really going with putting words in my mouth? I was talking about drunk guys, not “drunken whores”, those are YOUR words. If you want to get away from alcohol, fine, lets talk about the second group of men, the ones that rape sober. These men are so badly broken that they do not have the ability to see past their own selfish desires and do not give a damn about anything you or I have to say. Again, preaching to them is a lost cause. Stopping rape starts with how we bring up our children. Telling an adult who has no issue with committing a rape that he is a part of a “rape culture” is at best amusing them him.

      2. Or they are the product of a privileged society which has instructed them to take what they want – by force if necessary. To simply write them off as “broken” again deflects blame. They are people who made choices. Those choices were heinous.

        I completely agree that we need better educational programs, but it’s not as simple as going to talk to kids. That adult that fights me when I say rape culture exists? That’s the person standing in the doorway of the school. And that’s why I write posts like these. I will not reach everyone all of the time, but the responses I’ve gotten indicate that this approach can and does work in changing hearts and minds. Sometimes, it really is people not knowing. Sometimes, we need a shock to the system to get back on track.

      3. This reminds me, sadly, of the conversation around domestic violence where alcohol is used as a defense. “He was just so drunk,” the defense goes. People who study domestic abusers point out that the abuser is always in control. They give themselves permission to abuse. Alcohol may be their excuse for giving themselves permission, but it is not actually taking away from their choice.

  50. If people complain that they’re tired of hearing about “rape culture”, then call it what it is — multiple criminal sexual assaults, aiding and abetting, and misprision of felony. The rapists are criminals, but so is every person who helps to conceal the crime, or protect the criminals, or fails to report the crime.

  51. I thought it was a couple of kids that fingered a drunk girl…. I know it’s bad but they shouldn’t be in the same category as someone that forces themselves on another. If we start using rape to mean everything unwanted sexual the term loses all power.

    1. First off, I’ll say that I only have basic knowledge about what happened in Steubenville, because cursory knowledge of the details is about all I can handle without wanting to lose my lunch. I will say, though, that from what I do know, what these guys did was reprehensible, sickening, disgusting, and wrong, and anyone who disagrees with this is at best confused, and at worst seriously and frighteningly deluded. “Fingering a drunk girl” would be bad enough, but they videotaped it too, and apparently the tape showed that their attitudes toward her were downright sociopathic. And this, my friends, is scary. Someone above mentioned the utter lack of regard for another person’s pain; I think it’s pretty clear that these boys never gave one thought or ounce of empathy toward how she would feel until after everything was over, if at all. Steve’s comment did make me think, though, about how we define rape and what it means. Maybe a big part of the problem is that we’re not clear enough about its definition when we teach our children about it. I’d say “everything unwanted sexually” is a good place to start, but I think we need to define it in much clearer and more specific terms. Obviously, forced sexual intercourse, either vaginal, oral or anal, is rape, but we often define inappropriate touching as “molestation”, not rape. The word “molestation” doesn’t sound quite as bad to some people as the word “rape” – should we include inappropriate touching in the definition of rape? What about an unwanted kiss? I’ve made the mistake before of making a move and kissing a woman who didn’t really want me to (as I’m sure other guys have, as well)… am I a rapist? I sure hope not. I’m not trying to be flippant or sarcastic, I’m just wondering what people think. Because while Steve’s post seems to be grossly oversimplifying the issue, it did make me think: Maybe part of the problem is that a lot of people don’t have a clear idea of what rape actually is, even though they really should. The boys in Steubenville obviously didn’t.

      1. UncleJohn – I had the same thought. As a straight male living in a new age of feminism, exactly what constitutes rape is important. I’ve read posts earlier that say “not saying no does not mean consent”. With the reprehensible actions against this poor girl in the Stuebenville case, I get that – she’s passed out – she doesn’t even have the ability to consent or not But, like you said – say I’m on the 3rd date with someone and I go in for the kiss, and they don’t push me away or tell me they are uncomfortable, etc..then am I responsible for rape? Now, I have a general rule that I ask a woman if I can kiss her first. But an interesting thing about that – I did an informal poll from my female friends and asked them if they liked to be asked to be kissed first – 90% of them said No – it would ruin the moment. They want a man to be “confident” and to just kiss them – to be “taken” – their words. be “taken”..does that mean that 90% of my female friends “want” to be raped, if it is indeed so? Living in this age is confusing. I think it’s easy to figure out what rape is when some guy jumps a girl in a dark alley – but date rape is more confusing. To be honest, since I am single, I think I’m best off staying that way – and skip the dating process altogether. I think maybe it’s best, especially being a white male, that I should live like the narrator from “Invisible Man” – in a basement somewhere hidden away from the world, making sure I don’t do or say anything that isn’t right.

      2. Ignatius Reilly – I’m not sure if you’re being facetious or not in the last part of your post, but I’ll just say that staying single for fear of doing anything wrong isn’t really a good way to live your life. Obviously mistakes are going to be made, because the world we live in isn’t a perfect one. Having said that, I think there is a difference between an unwanted kiss and rape; I was being a little facetious myself when I mentioned that. In my case, when I moved in for the kiss and she didn’t respond, I simply stopped and backed away and didn’t pursue it any further. Traditional male roles dictate that men should be assertive and make the first move, and I still believe that things work best when that’s the case (I think this is what your female friends were talking about when they said it would “kill the moment”), but as far as rape is concerned, you’re right, the lines have become a tad fuzzier. I do think that there are several ways in which a woman can say no, and she doesn’t have to explicitly say the word “no” in order to get that message across. It goes without saying that a man should certainly respect her if she say that and back off. My general rule has always been to keep moving forward slowly, and if she wants me to stop, she’ll let me know, and then I stop. I think the difference is whether the guy feels entitled to sex with the woman he’s with, or if he just wants to have sex but is willing to back off if she isn’t ready. The latter shows respect for her wishes, the former does not. And honestly, I think that makes all the difference.

  52. I enjoyed j your article in that it made your perspective clear and alerted mine. Few articles do.

    I would have enjoyed it more had you not sensationalized but stuck with facts. That picture doesn’t show rape in progress,.for example.

  53. Reblogged this on Hope for Survivors of Abuse and commented:
    A big “Thank you!” to Lauren for this post. This is why we cannot be silent about the dangers and disillusions of rape culture. I agree – I’m tired of talking about it, too. But until I’m not seeing it or hearing about it, I’ll continue to talk about it.

  54. Reblogged this on Titlesnake and commented:
    This made me physically sick… I don’t want to live in a world where this happens. I dont want my children to grow up in a world where this happens. How did everything go so wrong? and more importantly; how can it be stopped, NOW?

  55. And when the word “consent” never arises in the conversation, and they boys defense is based on the argument that they did not understand what they did was “rape” as it was not “forceful” and people sympathize with that. CONSENT. people. consent.

  56. So this lil nasty, giggly bastid thought it was cute and funny and even admitted on camera more than once that this girl was raped and unaware that she was even being raped or urinated on. And had the nerve to be farting like a damn donkey all over the tape. I hope he can still fart like that without shyttin on himself after they buss his azzhole wide open in prison. They should make him giggle afterwards about it too since they can’t film it for all of us to watch.

    1. So in an article about rape culture you flippantly talk about rape in prison. While (adult) men are free from the fear of rape in society, the same cannot be said for those vulnerable in prison. How you can be vehamently oppossed to rape cultre and yet not care about those raped in prison by those who hold power over them?

  57. Reblogged this on Tammy Salyer and commented:
    A nearly definitive guide on the realities of rape culture. It’s pretty amazing when a woman can be raped and then suffer death threats from complete strangers for having been raped and spoken out about it. That, as much as everything else in this article, is rape culture. A culture that permits, promotes, and protects the abuse of women. Thanks muchly to Lauren Nelson for writing this post.

  58. And to the 1 or 2 in the background who said, “What if she was your daughter or your little sister,” too little too damn late. You should have never let that go down on your watch whether he was your boy or not. You FAILED miserably! PERIOD!

    1. The willful ignorance is not reading the entire post nor the entire comment thread. No one has said that all men are rapists. No one says that.

  59. Thank you so much for having the guts to post this. Most people “go with the flow” even if the flow is going in the wrong direction. Of course, I believe everyone, male and female, should take precautions to protect themselves in any situation, but that doesn’t mean if someone lets their guard down for a fun evening, they should then be blamed for being violated. I shared this on my Facebook. Hopefully your bravery can fuel more meaningful discussion about this issue. Thank you!!!

  60. As someone who works in criminal defense, I think it is important to distinguish between legitimate “defenses” to an accusation of rape, and the type of defenses that substantiate “rape culture.” There are three and only three defenses to a criminal charge of rape: “it never happened,” “it wasn’t me,” or “she/he consented.” These are legitimate defenses that would establish that the accused is innocent of the crime. On the other hand, victim-blaming (such as claiming the victim was drunk, dressed a certain way, etc) is not a defense and inappropriately places the blame of the rape onto the victim.

    The point is this: advocates of rape culture need to be careful not to mix in the legitimate criminal defenses to rape and the “excuses” our society provides rapists for their inappropriate behavior. The latter fits into your definition of rape culture but the prior does not. Someone who is accused of rape who argues that the accuser consented is merely attempting to establish his/ her innocence of the crime and is NOT blaming the victim for causing a rape, because if consent occurred, there was no rape. Sure, the accused could be wrong about what establishes consent, and that mistake could be a symptom of rape culture, but the broad defense of consent is not.

    As a side note, I am not saying that rape victims are making false accusations. Instead, I mean to say that there are various errors that can be made (by the police, the accuser, the accused) that could lead to a false conviction. Identifying these errors and arguing them in defense of a criminal prosecution of rape is NOT rape culture. It is criminal defense.

    1. True dat. Even rapists must be considered innocent until proven guilty. Some of comments here make me feel people are trying gather lynch mobs. Sorry for not quite addressing your post, by stating something indirectly related, but w/e. People need to be allowed to defend themselves for a trial to even function.

      1. Correct. That is true when it comes to any trial in fact, that’s why we disallow that in court. This is no different, and why victim blaming is not only logically flawed, but any such “evidence” is completely irrelevant to the case and would be dismissed out of hand by any decent judge. But attempting to refute an accusation of a crime through any of the three stated means is simply providing a criminal defense. Smearing is the exact opposite of what is being talked about. That isn’t even viable as an option for defense.

    1. Read the entire piece. Read the comments. Everyone agrees that athletes are not the only rapists, and everyone agrees that all men don’t rape. But as Lauren noted, this event is in the news, and it involves athletes. And it isn’t the only example.

      But refuting something that was not argued is called a “straw man” argument. It is a logical fallacy and should be avoided.

  61. This is overall an excellent, well-sourced post that I hope gets widely read.

    I wanted to say that upfront because I’m about to disagree on one particular point, and I want to make it clear that the reason I’m singling it out is because I find it to be a weak moment in an otherwise strong post.

    It’s the sampling of five advertisements. The first, for Belvedere, is plainly disgusting. The second, for a bowling alley, is a tone-deaf offensive joke. The third is just disturbing in its imagery.

    But the last two…those aren’t illustrations of rape culture. And putting them alongside those other ads dilutes the point that’s trying to be made.

    The rum ad is trying to sell its product to young men who want to be perceived as desirable to women, as opposed to just (as it puts it) in the “Friend Zone.” The couple pictured at the bottom are smiling and seemingly enjoying each other’s company. There’s nothing in the ad that suggests that the man is taking advantage of the woman, or that he’s going to drug or subdue her. (Contrast this with the first three ads.) I’m not sure if the rape implication is supposed to come from the “real drink” phrase, a misinterpretation of “Friend Zone,” or something else.

    The Domino’s ad is even more mundane, though it requires some background. In 2010, Domino’s Pizza launched a new ad campaign where they promoted how much they’d changed their pizza in response to complaints. The name of the ad campaign? “Oh Yes We Did.”

    The “No is the New Yes” Artisan ad is playing off this previous Domino’s campaign. (You can even see “Oh Yes We Did” in the bottom right corner of the ad.) Whereas the initial campaign was about promoting how much Domino’s was willing to change its pizza to suit customer demands, the Artisan campaign emphasized that Domino’s WASN’T going to change this pizza. (Playing off the pop culture phrase of “X is the new Y”, and the obvious rhetorical opposites of “Yes” and “No”.)

    The text of the ad even makes it plain that it’s *Domino’s* that’s saying “No,” and that’s final. To interpret this as a *promotion* of rape culture requires an very odd reading of the ad.

    1. Thank you for the thoughtful comment. I truly do appreciate it. I’ll respond to both of your objections.

      First, in relation to the alcohol ad, I disagree. It encourages the use of alcohol as a means of achieving a sexual end, subverting the desires of the woman (in this instance – yes, I know, men can be victims as well). I’ve known too many women and men who were spoon fed liquor by people they trusted and cared for, only to be taken advantage of against a chorus of inebriated nos. When we see a similar situation displayed in a glossy advertisement, we become desensitized to the idea, which complicates our drive to stand up to it when we see it happening in person. The ad attempted to generate buzz via a racy ad. In this case, I’d argue the controversy is outweighed by the actions it appears to justify.

      Second, in relation to the Dominos ad, I had encountered this argument on various social media platforms, and considered removing it. When put in context, the advertisement isn’t necessarily offensive. The problem is that few people research the name of an ad campaign. “No is the New Yes” was the largest part of the design in this instance. When I saw first saw it, I did not even glance at the rest of the ad. Why?

      Because “No is the New Yes” juxtaposes violently with perhaps one of the most widely used comments when discussing rape and consent – “No means no.” In a culture plagued by “jokes” about saying no when we mean yes, the syntax was enough to make me sick to my stomach.

      Do I believe, in either instance, that the advertisers intended to promote rape? No – at least, I’d certainly hope not, because they’d have to be pretty despicable human beings. Does that mean that their choices are without consequence? I’d say no. It’s not always about obvious and direct endorsement of ideas; inference can be just as damaging.

      So while I agree that the last two examples are not as strong as those that preceded them, I do believe they provide an opportunity to discuss how covert and unintended rape culture can be, and the importance of being aware of rape culture as we make decisions.

      1. I’m sorry, but you’re flatly wrong about the two ads highlighted here. This commenter is right in both cases, and you should have removed them both. This is designed for mass consumption, viral sharing, and in light of that you need to put your absolute best foot forward. Having an ad playing off the idiom “no is the new yes”, or having a rum ad that is clearly trying to say “demonstrate your value to a freely-choosing woman by buying our quality product” could be fodder for an interesting (separate) post saying “are these instances of rape culture? Discuss.” Presented as they are, it makes you seem unhinged. Remember that your opponents already see you as tilting at windmills, don’t give them ammunition.

        The comment “Rape culture is when a speaker at a political convention makes a rape joke about a sexual violence victim advocate, and he brings the house down with laughter” is also a terrible misstep. One only has to watch the video to see the audience moan rather than laugh, to see an aid RUN OUT ONSTAGE MID PERFORMANCE to chastise the speaker (unheard of!!) and see him clearly acknowledge to the audience that he’s now not doing very well (“so how YOU doin?”) The joke, as they say, bombed. You could have said “Rape culture is when a speaker at a political convention makes a rape joke about a sexual violence victim advocate” — full stop. You’d have been absolutely right. Getting greedy, going for the knockout blow “and brings the house down with laughter” (a flat out lie) costs you credibility and ground. Your cause deserves better, both should have been removed before posting.

        Remember that in the war you’re fighting, you’re already at a steep disadvantage. You sincerely can’t afford to be sloppy.

      2. Re: the joke issue. I’m not talking about the audience there. I’m talking about the portion of the wider American audience that thought it was so hilarious.

        Re: the ads. You disagree with my analysis. That’s perfectly fine; I certainly disagree with your characterization. But you do not address the points made in comments above. Further, this piece (as mentioned about 100 times now) was never meant to be exhaustive. It was meant to start the sprawling conversation you see below it.

        I will say this: if it makes me unhinged to question all of this, I’m good with it.

      3. Although it sounds like you are using those last two ads with sound reasoning, I recommend that using them dilutes the power of the rest of the article, simply because my own reaction was very much “those aren’t clear illustrations of rape culture”.

        Whether or not they are indeed good examples of how the culture manifests in our daily lives, their inclusion in the article is likely to leave readers not empowered with a sense of trust that what you’re pointing out is trustworthy and true, but with a sense of confusion as to whether or not they can spend more of their time following your line of inquiry and investigation.

        In saying that, you have no obligation or responsibility to decide how readers should be influenced by the article, so I would support leaving it how you want it to be just as much as I would support changing it 🙂

      4. Sorry, responded to your other comment before I saw this one. I think the fact that there is disagreement over whether those images should qualify as instances of rape culture is a worthy conversation to have, so I’ll leave them there, and hope that someone sees our exchange 🙂

      5. Just to add to my previous reply, the impression I can foresee many people being left with about the author is “she’s looking for rape culture everywhere, and sees it where it doesn’t exist.”

        This one thought has the power to wipe out the obvious clarity and understanding displayed by the rest of the article in people’s minds.

      6. I would also add that the phrase “friend zone” is an aspect of rape culture. It generally refers to men who think they deserve sex from a woman by being her friend, but instead, the woman sticks the man in the “friend zone.”

        Thus the indication that a man giving a woman a certain type of alcohol will lead to her being with him is even more insidious.

      7. Good article and comments. I wanted to say that I agree with you about the alcohol ad talking about the friend zone (and the other ads), but I disagree with you about the pizza ad, even without considering the previous poster’s explanation that it’s a play on their previous ad campaign. There are enough solid examples of rape culture that there is no need to seek out offensive interpretations of otherwise harmless phrases.

        I would even go so far as to say it’s actually harmful, because as the Adria Richards/PyCon fiasco shows us, it is *very* easy to (cause others to) overreact to this stuff. Not that overreaction is worse than no reaction at all, but there is a proper rational and measured response to strive for. I can easily imagine some people boycotting Domino’s if they see that ad deliberately shared in this context, which in my opinion is overreacting. Raising awareness of rape culture should not mean scrutinizing any phrase comparing no’s to yes’s, any more than insisting my toddler is still hungry even when he says no (because I know he wants dessert, not dinner) is indicative of it.

      8. Hi Luke, thanks for commenting. The reason the phrase was so inflammatory was context. One of the most repeated comments among sexual violence advocates has been, “No means not.” The syntax of the ad flew in the face of this traditional syntax. If you search the campaign, you’ll find I wasn’t alone in my gut reaction; if anything, I’m behind the curve. Why does it matter? Peruse the narratives of survivors on this thread describing how their attacker ignored them when they said, “No.”

    2. A quick note on the Belvedere ad: The image was taken from a comedy sketch. The two characters involved were playing brother and sister, and it was not a sexual situation. It was one sibling not wanting to be in a reenactment of a photo at the behest of the parents in the sketch. Belvedere then took this image out of context for its repulsive ad. So while YES, even the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the image (without permission) are even more ironic considering the context in which it was used. I just wanted to shed some light on that.

      1. Yes, I had read conflicting reports, but included it because it be came a meme with legs. The fact that people thought it was “funny” enough to pass around made it representative of the idea. Thanks!

  62. Hi! I got linked to this and read some of your others too. Awesome stuff, keep it up.

    My 2 cents:

    Here’s just one tiny way of attacking this I’ve come up with: Replace the word “rape” as often as possible with “sexual violence”. The word rape at some point meant “plunder or despoil” in a generic sense and grew to be a catch all term for sexual assault. When I was younger, of course I knew rape = bad, but it wasn’t until I was slightly older and first heard the act itself being equated to violence that it struck me as awful on new levels. The word “violence” doesn’t turn stomachs (or roll eyes unfortunately) as much as the word “rape” but it evokes a more visceral reaction. Adding “sexual” in front of it as a qualifier drives home that yes, it is physically sexual, but then the V-word hits like a head on a windshield.

    One could argue I’m wasting my time with semantics, but I don’t think so. I think words have impact and can easily alter someone’s perception of something like this. Replacing “rape” with “sexual violence” as often as possible might drive the point home to the uninitiated that this isn’t just “sex without consent”, this isn’t just “despoiling”, it’s absolutely “violence”.

    1. I agree with you, actually, and I try to be aware of that as I write so as not to discount sexual violations which fall outside the parameters of our traditional understanding of rape, and the experience of its victims – particularly in the context of rape culture. I will use the word rape when I am explicitly referring to an action that would be charged as rape, primarily for the purpose of shared understanding, but your comment serves as a good reminder to be even more vigilant on this note. Thanks for commenting!

  63. I can’t comprehend why there are even two sides to this…. how can you be on side with a rapist? And joke about their actions? And even defend them? A Rapist?? Someone who sexually abuses someone else?? What is happening to humanity?????

  64. I can’t articulate what I want to say because this post is like a punch to the gut. A necessary punch, but a punch nonetheless. All I can say is “thank you.” We need more of this. So much more. A million times more.

  65. I teach US History and this entire event reminds me of how entrenched this is in our culture and our historical psyche. In the 50s, women were often directed toward therapy if they complained of domestic abuse. Young girls were taught that boys would naturally want to have sex with them–boys will be boys–but girls had the responsibility to stop them. In my lifetime, I have heard people excuse domestic abuse and suggest that “she did something to cause it.” Our recent political cycle (as Lauren pointed out) revealed that a great many conservatives dislike any woman who has sex outside marriage and want to deny her dignity, healthcare, contraceptives, etc.

    As a white male, I am always a little struck by the defensiveness on this issue (often from women as well–as Lauren points out–who often participate in rape culture as much as men) in the same way I find the defensiveness on race issues odd. I suspect there is a connection there between a sense of white privilege and the privilege of patriarchy.

  66. The alcohol ads are saying that if she’s drinking alcohol, her no now can later be a yes.

    Thanks for having this discussion, it seems more often than not that we are victims of, or know close friends/family that were victims of rape in any number of environments. This catholic church scandal isn’t surprising, an age-old organization of men, who apparently cannot help but to rape. In Every situation, the responsible parties know, look the other way, or joke. It’s sick, stupid, and . It also gives a bad name to the good men out there, and promotes a growing trend. I also see many of these issues are huge political issues that we let pass by. It is absolutely inhuman that a woman should have, at the hands of our government, a trans-vaginal ultrasound after being raped. It’s also not continental that f’in Fox would make fun of Zerlina Maxwell, who makes the obvious connection that many of us do not want guns, in our hands, in our neighborhoods, let alone as the only guaranteed way to prevent rape.

    I live in the Pacific Northwest and we have a horrible history of high incidences of missing women. A recent one to come to trial is this “green river killer” who murderd At Least 51 … the most number of any mass murderer in US history … all women, many under 18, most were prostitutes. But his name is not the most notorious, Ted Bundy’s is.

    This shit is frustrating and needs to end. Peace and power for women is better for all.

  67. The problem comes when people say “all men are rapists” that categorically wrong. You can understand why men would go on the defensive. And i feel that the pictures of pizza boxes with slogans on is a little far fetched… it’s pizza. I agree with you though, especially about the adults in authority not dealing with the situation properly. How are these two kids supposed to learn anything when they have them as role models? There seems to be sinister rape culture, i’m from the UK, and have heard shocking stories of drugging and the like at frat parties, so there is no denying rape culture exists. But what we do need to remember that although the girl is the victim, and quite rightly, there is nothing wrong with showing sympathy towards these two boys, these two children! They have a criminal record because they made a stupid, drunken, spur of the moment mistake which they probably knew was wrong in hindsight before they even got caught. Do not label them as criminal as no one has anything to gain from that. They will come out of juvenile detention knowing that they’ve served their time and learnt their lesson, unfortunately this ordeal will never be over for the young girl or these two boys. Yes the women and the girls are the victims but so are the children who have grown up in a rape culture, with coaches who make covering up events like this seem right and just. Yes they are responsible for their actions and have to be held accountable but anyone who doesn’t feel pity or sadness for them needs to reflect on their character and ask themselves what if that were my brother or son because i can assure you that the parents and siblings of these two boys all thought their family would never do something like this.

    1. Sir, I have many issues with your comment, but the minute you said we should have sympathy for the attackers, you lost me. They made a decision. It was theirs and theirs alone. Their punishment is minuscule in comparison to what they inflicted on Jane Doe.

      There is an important nuance to discussing rape culture. It is perfectly acceptable to identify rape culture as something that trivializes sexual violence, perpetuating horrible views of the crime as “excusable” or “acceptable”, and that this culture discourages victims from coming forward to get the treatment and justice they need and deserve. It is perfectly acceptable to say that rape culture creates a broader perception problem that may render potential assailants less averse to forcibly taking what they want. It is not, however, acceptable to apply the argument that rape culture to specific cases- in this instance, your assertion that the boys made a “mistake.” They committed a crime. They made a decision. Diminishing the consequences of that decision via sympathy for said consequences is rape apologism.


      1. May I add? The notion that “all men are rapists” is a manufactured caricature of feminism. HOWEVER, I have found it true that RAPISTS believe that all men are rapists. Here’s what I mean: rapists (with the exception of the Anger Excitation type) tend to believe that they’ve merely done what any other guy would do in that situation, that it’s what men do every day, that it’s just normal sexual conduct, that it’s defensible, and that they simply got unfairly “caught” by a system that’s somehow “against them.”

        Where do they get that idea? I have a hunch they might get it from defenders who describe athletically-powerful, physically-mature, choice-making young men as “children” in order to pardon their abusiveness. They might get it from defenders who are willing to overlook intentional, manipulated, cruel, strategic sexual violence, suggesting that they simply slipped up (oops! Rape!). Or by defenders who think rape is merely a spur-of-the-moment goof (in reality, opportunities don’t create rapists; rapists create opportunities). Or by defenders who treat rapists as just misunderstood good kids–but certainly not “criminals!” Gosh no!

        The irony in Tom’s comments is that he tries to make the case that coaches who defend guys like these are victimizing the boys, too, by wrongly confusing them with messages that what they’re done is “right and just.” Which comes at the end of Tom’s efforts to do the very same thing.

        May I also say that a parent’s assumption that “My boy would NEVER do something like this” is perhaps the reason so many parents fail to ever, ever, even ONCE, discuss issues like consent and coercion with their sons?

  68. in a society that glorifies alcohol and sex, it’s still amazing to me the measures that people go through to justify something like this. it’s sad and disgusting that a 12 minute video can be posted and yet the conviction is in question. and if this girl’s life was ruined enough, she’s become a public spectacle for everyone to tear her down for being drunk. the need for getting drunk by people of all ages is never looked on as a problem. dui’s are a silly inconvenience and violence and rape are consequences of the victim’s actions, not ever the fault of the person who did it. my guess is the next news story will be how this girl killed herself and the media will blame her further for selfishness and mental illness. maybe if we took the time to empathize with our victims in news stories instead of obsessing over the killer, raper, thief, or other type of criminal. a rape is heartbreaking enough without the world’s ignorance to fuel a debate. so sad… i wish more people cared.

  69. It is a fair assessment that athletes run in larger groups together and do at times exhibit an extreme amount of testosterone together, but that does not mean these people will go to the lengths of rape. As an athlete myself in school it was us that got the dirty look when a female willingly took place in a sexual and in fact started the act herself, is that fair? I was not a part of this but still got part of the blame.

    Is it part of “rape culture” for some close friends that have grown up together around the block and have no sexual feelings between them if the guys hold down the girls and do things they don’t want like tickling?

    There is no way to define this “culture” in a normal way because this is not a normal act. This in fact goes against the norms of ALL societies. Furthermore, while including schools and instances please feel free to do your own research on the Notre Dame sex scandal of 2010-it caused a girl to commit suicide and was swept under the rug. People didn’t want to hear that and made excuses such as “she had mental health issues and was crazy” and the University of Wisconsin band multiple times. If we want to change this thought process we cannot demonize high school kids and some college kids but give others the free pass that ND and Wisconsin got from the public.

    1. I appreciate you sharing your experience. Again, I’m not saying all athletes or athletics are bad. Just pointing to trends and saying they deserve heightened awareness if we’re going to address the problems.

      1. Thanks so much for writing this. I shared it on two Columbia University Facebook pages. I’m a student in the M.A. program at the J-School. It’d be great if you could come and give a talk there in the future, as I feel that journalists often (consciously or not) perpetuate elements of rape culture. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    2. Hello, great article, thanks.
      Just been reading all the comments and thought I might as well add some thoughts.
      I really believe that the key to it all is education.(Disclaimer.. men are also the victims and their trauma as a result needs to be considered and understood just as much as womens. However, I do feel that gender disparity is somewhat, although not entirely, at fault, and due to my own experience as a woman I will be concentrating on women in this post)
      Women are free to do whatever they want and it will never be their fault if they end up the victim of a sexual experience that they do not want, violent or otherwise. I’ve been raped, and I feel myself overcompensating by forcing myself to go to places alone, travel alone, walk around at night alone, and drink the amount of alcohol I want to drink, because my rape was not my fault and I try every day to not let it control me. It also needs to be understood, that no matter how strong the women may feel, if a sudden, unexpected and threatening situation occurs, where you feel overpowered, it is surprisingly easy to clam up and not react as fiercely as you would have imagined yourself to. It is NOT a sign of weakness for the woman. It is NORMAL, and any indication of otherwise ends up with with the victim dealing with feelings of denial that it was rape, and guilt, as if she/he didn’t have enough to deal with anyway.
      It took years to be able to talk about what happened to me, yet 1 in 5 women are the victims of sexual abuse once in their lifetime. If somebody is the victim of a none ‘sexual’ crime, they should never feel the need to keep it to themselves, but people DO because talking about it makes people feel uncomfortable, and also it is incredibly difficult to talk about.

      I feel very strongly that as well as tackling the causes of rape in our society, (and cannot help feel that it is quite simple.. people own their own bodies.. noone has the right to touch them without very OBVIOUS consent.. noone should be that unable to control their actions), that the consequences of rape for the victim (or survivor as a more common term in the online community) should be understood. If it is so common, why do so few people know about the 3 stages of Rape Trauma Syndrome? I didn’t know myself until 10 years later.

      Everybody needs to be educated. Nobody should be sick about hearing about rape until the concept of rape is similar to murder. Relatively rare, and completely unforgiveable with no debate necessary concerning why people may feel motivated to kill somebody. It is just wrong.

  70. Reblogged this on Dispatches from the Swamp and commented:
    I have been reading all the outrage this morning about the media’s coverage of the Steubenville case. Is this the first time people have noticed that rape is not about the victim and how it will affect her but about the alleged/convicted attackers and how it will ruin their lives? This is a direct result of how our society views women. Women are disposable, we are here to serve men and if we are not serving men we have no value.

    Be outraged, by all means. But please remember the next time the high school football team rapes a woman the rape culture will step in to defend their honour again. No surprise here.

  71. Shared. Thank you so much for this. Aside from the disturbingly large number of people who actively perpetuate rape culture by regarding women as anything but fellow human beings, there are far too many people who are also perpetuating it by remaining silent about it because it’s an uncomfortable topic or they just want everybody to get along. Well, it should be an uncomfortable topic because we’re talking about some of the basest, darkest, most disturbing human behaviour being displayed and accepted throughout our society. Thank you for insisting on keeping the conversation going.

  72. What a totally excellent entry, timely (in the most tragic sense, since the timeliness of a diagnosis of rape culture can only mean tragedy) and commendably unapologetic. Thank you.

    1. I should also add that you deserve several medals for moderating and responding to these messages, half of which are inane, sexist nonsense at times not even in dialogue with the content of your piece, and with solid responses. Bravo.

  73. They’re not calling Maxwell an idiot because she doesn’t think it should be put on the women to stop rape. They’re calling her an idiot because she is arguing against *allowing* women to have a gun, which might stop a rape. I think she’s right that we need to combat attitudes about rape from the ground up, but there will always be rapists, and there are men, *right now*, who are rapists, and they are not going to stop just because we tell them to. That’s reality. In that reality—no, it’s not a woman’s responsibility to stop a rape, because it shouldn’t be happening in the first place. But it does happen. So I’d damn well like the legal right to shoot somebody who’s attempting it. So the people who are calling her an idiot…rude, perhaps. But not part of the rape culture. At ALL. And I think you damage the validity of the rest of your article by including it as an example. They’re angry about rape, too—they just disagree with you about how to prevent it.
    (And furthermore…if a few more rapists got shot attempting it, *maybe* that would make them a little more wary of trying in the first place, meaning that the women who don’t carry guns might be just that little bit safer.)

    1. You’re misconstruing her argument. She was responding to a widespread campaign by the NRA to bolster female opposition to gun control propositions. In the interview, she’s arguing that the perspective offered by the NRA – that guns are the solution to rape – is a part of rape culture and should be rejected. The image shared truncated the statements and called her an idiot for suggesting we not put the burden of stopping sexual violence on victims. That’s a pretty clear example of rape culture.

  74. Sensationalist crap. I’m 46 and have never seen/heard/witnessed any men discussing rape in any fashion. This isn’t a general topic amongst anyone I have ever encountered. Sorry whacko blogger, you should be discussing “struck by lightning” culture instead.

    1. I’m 24 and I have to say I can’t imagine a man somehow makes it to 14 without hearing something awful about rape, let alone 46. You’re looking for men saying “Oh man I want to rape her”, or at least something extremely explicit. That is never going to happen. It’s jokes about rape, it’s talking about hoping liquor or drugs will get a woman to sleep with you, ect.

  75. Really enjoying the thoughtful discussion . I have always considered rape and sexual harassment political acts. They are very effective methods for keeping women “in their place” … And it’s not about sex. To be blunt, everyone has hands and can find release when no partner is available. It’s about women as objects, as property, and if they’re not under male “protection” they are fair game. Islam and Christianity both push this perspective. I am encouraged and heartened by the male posters here who reject this. You rock, guys!
    That said, the Steubenville tragedy is confusing on a number of counts. Hopefully we will know if the mess was orchestrated by the girl’s former boyfriend, and if she was roofied, which seems likely considering her lack of memory of events. Also the adults who bought or sold the liquor and provided space for these events need to come to reckoning.
    Since the human brain is not fully mature until 25 or so, and lacks critical judgement and doesn’t consider consequences (particularly when drunk…think Lord of the Flies), a little compassion for the perps is in order. Not excuses, not lack of consequences, just compassion. Their lives are not ruined, just forever changed, which is not a bad thing considering where they were going.

    1. Thank you for pointing out that compassion is not the same as an excuse or lack of consequences. Having compassion for these boys isn’t saying that what they did is OK, nor is it feeling sorry for them. I think people often confuse the two. Too many people seem eager to make examples of these boys, and I can understand the feeling, but to anyone who feels this way, I say: Don’t worry, they’ll pay the price for what they did. Explaining their motivations isn’t condoning what they did; in fact, I think it’s necessary to explain their actions so we can understand, as well as we can, why they did what they did, because it might lend some insight into how to stop similar things from happening in the future.

  76. I just wanted to comment on one part of this article that bothers me: The journalist saying “I think that the entire conversation is wrong. I don’t want anybody to be telling women anything. I don’t want men to be telling me what to wear and how to act, not to drink. And I don’t, honestly, want you to tell me that I needed a gun in order to prevent my rape. In my case, don’t tell me if I’d only had a gun, I wouldn’t have been raped. Don’t put it on me to prevent the rape.” And the “just tell men not to rape” movement/campaign/whatever.

    In a perfect, ideal world telling someone not to do a terrible thing would work but we don’t live in a perfect, ideal world so that doesn’t work. No amount of saying “But it really should work!” is going to make it work. Your instruction and correction falls on deaf ears and pretending otherwise and saying that there shouldn’t be a discussion on things that victims can do to prevent rape is sticking your head in the sand.

    The fact of the matter is that while it shouldn’t be the victim’s responsibility to prevent the rape the victim is the only one with the power to prevent it. This isn’t a just responsibility. It is a practical one. You have no control over other people’s actions. Only your own. And, as your article points out, you certainly can’t count on the people around you to intervene.

    To be clear: The rapist is the one to blame. The rapist is guilty no matter how many “risky” behaviors the victim engaged in. The rapist has free will and chooses whether or not to take advantage of someone in a vulnerable situation. Nothing absolves that.

    However, if our goal is to reduce the number of rapes and not simply assign blame after one happens, we’ll have greater success teaching people that they are responsible for their own safety, teaching them that they are stronger than they think, and equipping them with the skills necessary to protect themselves. The first step is learning to identify risky situations and then avoiding them.

    1. I’ll point you to my comments above, but let’s try another metaphor here, too. Think about it as a medical treatment plan. Rape frequency is the symptom of the cause – rape culture. Telling women to protect themselves treats the symptoms, but aggravates the underlying condition. No doctor would recommend continuing that treatment. We shouldn’t be recommending it here.

      1. It isn’t a binary choice. We don’t have to choose between addressing rape culture OR teaching women how to protect themselves. Nor would I say that rape culture is the sole cause which means that even if rape culture was completely eliminated neglecting self-protection leaves people vulnerable. There are people out there who know rape is wrong and do it anyways.

        To use your metaphor: Doctors treat symptoms all of the time. Most of the medicines on the market are for treating symptoms so that people can live their lives with some semblance of normalcy. No doctor would say “I know you have debilitating pain but I’m not giving you anything for that because that’s just a symptom.”

        (Though I am happy to report that rape and sexual violence frequency has declined over 50% since 1995 so something is working: )

      2. In the context of discussion of rape culture, when the protection trope furthers the harms being isolated, it is a binary. You’re right that doctors treat symptoms all the time. What you’re missing in the analogy is that if the treatment of symptoms makes their overall health worse, the treatment is stopped. The data in your report struggles when we see that reporting for the same period is back down to 1995 lows… meaning that decline is suspect at best.

  77. I have to admit that I don’t know much about this case. I think I saw that video before. But, there seemed to be a surprising lack of a rape in the “rape video”. It was also lacking any woman at all. I saw a bunch of drunk boys. Did it occur somewhere else and they were talking about it?

    1. I would never post a video of an actual rape. The video serves as an example of rape culture – a culture in which these young men felt it appropriate to joke about the sexual assault in terms that make the soul ache.

  78. Actually, I think it’s a good idea to provide a real definition instead of examples. Because it becomes a buzzword that people DON’T understand. And people sometimes don’t see it BECAUSE it’s part of the culture.

    “Rape culture” is the expectation that men are privileged and ENTITLED to sex and that’s what women are there for. And that expectation is, indeed, endemic in American culture.

    1. I’m going to disagree with you on your broad definition, because it excludes a wide variety of rape culture elements outside of the traditional schema. I prefer, “Rape culture refers to a set of socially tolerated practices and beliefs which trivialize the experience of sexual violence victims, and further propagate the individual and social harms of the crimes.”

      1. Unequivocal definition, as Rape culture is more than an expectation. I greatly appreciate your writing, and look forward to future articles.

  79. I’m a father and husband, and would like to enthusiastically applaud the points in this article. I’d like to add my support to it by commenting from my point of view as a male (since sexual violence is often seen as a gender issue–or perhaps I should say, is often LIMITED to being a gender issue).

    I find that one of the manifestations of rape culture is the immediate tendency of men to become defensive and hostile when the topic of rape is discussed. To be fair, some of that is because of the anti-male bias of some bygone anti-rape curricula, but a lot more of it is the defense of male privilege. Here’s what I notice among my male peers in that case:

    1) Someone denigrates the entire topic as “crap” or “propaganda” simply because it hasn’t been HIS experience. Which is supreme narcissism, and may actually be a clue why the women in his life haven’t chosen him to personally divulge her experiences.
    2) Someone tries to deflect the topic into the “what about women who abuse men?” smokescreen. This is tricky because there are women who DO abuse men, and some of my male peers are survivors of sexual abuse and violence by female perpetrators. The reason I call this a smokescreen isn’t to devalue the topic itself–which is WHOLLY worthy of parsing–but because usually the person who brings it up usually has no intention of continuing through a meaningful examination of it. They brought it up purely as a tactic to turn the tables. Thus, male survivors are their props in defensive rhetoric, just like female survivors are.
    3) The “false accusation” obsession. Already addressed skillfully by the author in her rebuttal piece.
    4) The denial that there is any such thing as a rape culture at all. I disagree; I think rape is not only NOT socially deviant, I think it’s socially conditioned. I see how my sons are presented every day with cultural and media messages that link their strength and masculinity to power, control, dominance, and violence. I see how rape victims are jeered and disbelieved, while rapists are seen as guys who “got a bad rap” from “the system.” I see how abusive celebrities not only don’t lose their fans, but gain defenders. I see how the sexual depersonalization of women is used as an advertising gimmick.

    Here’s the hope: I find that most men want to be on the right side of this issue. We want the women in our lives to trust us, and to feel able to depend on us for help. A lot of the women we know are survivors, and we want to feel competent as their allies. I find that men who are presented with education about how to help a survivor not only feel less defensive about listening, but their acceptance of rape myths drops too. Just learning what survivors go through and what they want from allies seems to do wonders for us as men, as far as improving our own mindset toward rape culture, vicitm-blaming, and feminism.

  80. Thank you so much for writing this. The saddest part of all of this is that we all have not done anything to collectively change rape culture. And yet the opportunity that with enough “being tired” of this and taking real action, we can change it.

    I encourage you and others who write about these things to continue getting out there and being part of an intelligent discussion/call to action. I support you in your efforts to keep reminding people about what it is about rape culture that we need to change and helping to champion the others out there who are also trying to have intelligent conversations about this topic when so many want to twist and miss the point.

  81. Some of those advertisements have little to nothing to do with rape (and one appears to be merely a satirical Internet meme).

  82. While I do believe that owning a gun is not, and should not be the ‘answer-all’ to rape culture I still feel a lot safer in this crazy society carrying one. As the amazing Susan B. Anthony once said “Women must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself.”

    1. If you want a gun, I’m fine with it (not without restriction – I’ve discussed it previously on this blog). What I’m not fine with is when a discussion of the role of weapons in sexual violence ends in mockery of the idea that women should not feel the need to carry that gun to begin with.

  83. Fantastic post, well researched and great use of a current (horrible) event to back up your assertions. Rape culture must end, and the first step is making people aware of what it is and how rampant it has become.

  84. I want to say that it is truly refreshing to see someone stand up against the cultural norms and views on rape. Women are able to have greater equality under the law today because people were willing to face the discomfort of campaigning to change an unfair social code of conduct in the past.

    Thank you for posting this.

  85. I hate rape. My wife was raped in a similar scenario as this Stuebenville case as well as sexually assaulted several other times in different scenario’s. I agree with your assessment of “rape culture”. As a man I also find fault in the definition of rape and when a female can claim “rape”.

    So….Riddle me this: A drunk female and a drunk male, both attracted to the other and turned on (possibly making out), stumble in to an empty bedroom at a college party. They have sex.

    The next morning neither of them remember how they got there and neither remember ever consenting to sex – both experience a high sense of regret.

    The new definition of rape you cited in your other article is only an FBI definition for “forcible rape”. Other women’s rights groups have their own definitions with much lower requirements than vaginal/anal penetration. Some call for that label if someone has intercourse without their consent or when they are in a state where they are unable to give consent (drunk) – more like a definition for date rape…..thus my scenario. If a person is a victim merely because they were drunk and had sex, which one was really the victim?

    Was there a rape in this case in your opinion? We hear a lot about scenario’s where the female is drunk (Stuebenville) and is penetrated in some way, but if the male is also drunk (and therefore unable to give consent) how can we say (without being in the room) who was the aggressor or who was consenting and if anyone wasn’t consenting and at what point?

    Consent is a slippery slope – it need not be gauged by expression or by lack of verbal objection. We say that some are too young to give consent – even if they are well educated and have experienced “the yourning” for several years – because they are under a certain age.

    What if the female in this story was the hot senior cheerleader and the guy was a lowly nerd freshman – would that make a difference? What if the guy is the football team quarterback and the girl is a 14 yr old freshman at her first party? Does it matter if one person was “more drunk” than the other or is it like DUI….drunk (.08) is drunk?

    Just because the male in this scenario didn’t go to the police and the female did, why does he get in trouble and she doesn’t? The fact is that the male in this case is screwed….the female can go to the police, have a rape test (where they will collect his semen as evidence), and begin criminal proceedings against the male.

    What would happen if the male went to the police the next morning? He wasn’t penetrated in the anus (as far as he knows lol), has no way of collecting her vaginal fluids, and would never be taken seriously in my opinion.

    Because of the “slipperyness” of these slopes my feeling is that “date rape” should not be called rape at all…..that word should be saved for cases the FBI would call “forcible rape”. So called date rape should be called sexual assault and be evaluated on a case by case basis and investigated with NO BIAS as to who was the victim and who was the assailant (if there even was one) until it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that either one person wasn’t drunk or that one person was forcibly raped.

    Trying to legislate and litigate drunk sex is an exercise in futility – how many times each day do drunk people have sex in this country? The new FBI definition that switches from “against her will” to “without consent” is only helpful in that it eliminates gender….but it is anti-men in the sense that favors drunk women over drunk men and allows the slippery consent word in to the mix – which will let the government try to sort out what happened at college drinking parties….not good.

    1. So if a guy gets in a car drunk and kills someone who was also drunk walking on the street, do we not press charges because both were drunk? This is apologia at is finest. Marital rape, date rape, acquaintance rape – hell, every form of rape is wrong. Pretending otherwise, or coming up with excuses for the behavior, only makes the problem worse.

      1. I have been reading your article and following along with your points, agreeing most of the time and finding you to be fair until this point.

        This to me shows that you have a clear bias towards female victims as you reduced Russ’ fair point to the absurd. He brings a valid point. If two drunk individuals are in a room and engage in intercourse, it is a he said she sad situation, especially if there is no evidence of force or struggle.

        As to answer your question about the drunk driver killing a drunk in the street, its a magnitude of the crime. Drunk driving is a felony in the United States and if he killed the drunk on the street, he would be charged with vehicular man slaughter. As for the drunk on the street, if he lived, he would be cited with jay walking and possibly public drunkenness.

        The magnitudes of the crimes here are different while drunk, while in the case of our drunk couple in the bedroom, they are participating in a symbiotic act, where both parties are involved.

        I want to reiterate that you have made very fair points about rape cultures in your article, so for you to minimize this point and not address how to handle the idea of drunk sex surprised me.

        I would like to ask this question purely on how you would define it. If a drunk man and drunk woman engage in sex and the next morning, the man claims to have no recollection of the last night, and finding himself in bed with a woman when he did not remember giving consent. He feels violated and scared. Is he considered a victim of date rape?

        If he is, I would contend that Russ made a very good point. Is it which ever party approaches the authorities first after a drunken encounter that is considered the victim?

    2. The girl was passed out and barely able to do anything. She wasn’t actively consenting to what was going on.

    3. The situation you’re talking about is sex that the party or parties regret the next day. Considering most rape goes unreported, I highly doubt there are very many women in this scenario that have filed criminal reports. It would be rape if the man was conscious and the woman was not. Simple. And yes these types of cases are very hard to prove, hence why there is no resulting conviction the vast majority of the time. Also, a woman’s vaginal fluids / cells can be found on a man’s genitalia if no condom was used and if he doesn’t shower so there is a way to collect evidence.

  86. Wow you go girl in all your opinionation!!! It takes a lot of courage to speak out like this against rape culture because so many have either bought into it or don’t realize how pervasive the brainwashing goes. There’s not much more for me to say as so many have brought up excellent points, including the original article! Keep going! 🙂

  87. Reblogged this on a mile high and then some… and commented:
    You’ve no doubt heard about the rape of a sixteen-year old girl and the subsequent media circus (and trial) of two of the young men who were involved. I’ve been following this story for a while, and while I’m pleased to hear about the verdict, I’m sickened by some of the responses on the internet (of course I’m also sickened by the media coverage and their sympathy for the young men convicted). My hope is that we can teach our young people not to rape rather than trying to put the blame back on the victims. Here’s a post I stumbled across, and thought worth sharing:

  88. I can’t forgive myself for not caring more about rape until I escaped a rape attack about three months ago in college. I said to myself if attempted rape is this ugly, I cannot fathom what the completed act must be like. The morning after I seriously thought it was all a dream but as I tried to get out of bed and felt the pain in my body from fighting him off, I remembered that it did happen. Security advised to keep my mouth shut on the matter for my own personal safety saying the guy was a known troublemaker. The psychologist told me that technically he did not do anything to me. Universities and colleges perpetuate rape culture, they will do anything to maintain the illusion of a safe campus while damaging many in the process. I’ve seen him twice since I have returned for semester II. I am so grateful that I study in a foreign country and that this guy will remain in Jamaica. I can’t wait to finish my degree but it is only my first year.

  89. My opinion on calling the current social climate “rape culture”:
    I agree that things need to change, but using this term only incenses both sides of the debate, and cheapens the consequences of being raped. Giving a phenomenon a name which immediately makes people angry doesn’t help us deal with the underlying issues, and taking the name away from the act of rape and putting it in a social context only confuses the issue.

    Yes, it is unacceptable that our culture complacently accepts the torture of women in advertising. Yes, it is unacceptable to place the blame of rape or the onus to avoid the rape on the victim. Yes, it is unacceptable to sympathize with the perpetrator of a violent crime.

    However, this term does not empower people to talk about what happened to them. It doesn’t give people a way to address the issues which have led to this climate. It only gives people a way to sensationalize those who speak out against those of us who speak out against the status quo.

    1. I certainly understand the sentiment, but is the very offensive nature of the term which causes people to pay attention. By calling it something else, not only do we minimize the scope of the issue, but we water down the issue attraction in such a way that we no longer have the same urgency to the call. It is not enough to discuss rape; we have to address the environment that facilitates it. Is it complicated? Yes. Does that mean we shouldn’t talk about it? No. It means we need to work on clarity. Myself included. Finally, it’s a matter of fostering centralized understanding. The issues isolated are interrelated and part of a larger trend. Viewing them separately makes it more difficult to understand that trend, and subsequently, more difficult to fight it. Again, we can do a better job of clarity here, but I have to respectfully disagree with your position.

  90. Thank you for adding the picture of the comments where people are very viciously blaming the girl for drinking too much. It is a sad truth, but I do see why people are quick to blame her–it is because they have ACCEPTED the fact that men, in all of their “instinctual” chauvinism, are very likely to rape an unconscious girl. This is a very CLEAR indication that we live in a society where women, then, have to shoulder this burden MORESO instead of us advocating for a culture where men are discouraged to violate other human beings.

  91. I shared it on 2 websites – till now. This just can’t be true.
    And no guns nore the ‘just tell men not to rape women’ is just ridicullous. If she has a gun and needs it, no one will believe it was self-defense, if they don’t even take rape seriously.
    And ‘just tell men not to rape women’. *eyeroll* yeah, that’ll help. Sure.
    (i’m sharing this site in Germany… )

  92. Great post. I am shocked by the media coverage I’ve seen so far in America. Both newsreader and reporter at CNN (CNN!!) were devastated on behalf of the “poor boys” who had had their futures ruined. As if they forgot what the boys had actually done – raped an unconscious girl! – to deserve their sentence.
    I find this absolutely disgusting! And it makes me wonder: How has this case been received by the general public in America? What has the reactions been on these journalists’ odd angle of this case?

  93. Reblogged this on VanCityArt and commented:
    This author has taken the time to compile a multitude of resources around the Steubenville rape case and the “rape culture” that pervades much of contemporary society – from advertising to sports.

  94. so rape culture is not something that is it is something that ocures when something you disagree with and to be frank great most disagrees with – shows on tv or in coment section. The rape culture brand tries to paint the whole culture as rape enthusiasts. It is uterly FALSE when relating to entire culture it is a USELESS term in relation to a part of it as it is default that within every culture there will be a fev idiots who are a minority.

    The term was coined by feminists to blame entire culture of rape support which is OUTRAGEOUS and hidious tactic. I get that people like the ones who made the coments sympatetic to the rapists are bad for the interests of women first and prettymuch annyone else who has a wife or a girlfriend or a daughter but dont come up with blanket terms that ofend the entire culture in which you and me both are because its an idiotic and evil tactic. I am not a rape legitimizer and i am not in a culture that can be called by anny means a rape culture. and this culture is the culture of all civilised world.

    1. Hmm. Rape culture paints which culture as being pro-rape? I would read that as criticizing the “rape” part of the culture, rather than the entire culture. Defensive, much?

    2. In some ways you and I agree. By the literal and technical definition of Rape Culture, our culture is not a Rape Culture. A prime example of a culture that fits that definition would be ancient Roman culture where if a young man would decide to seduce and attempt to convince your female slave to elope with him, it was a common, and a socially acceptable response, to as a punishment, teach that boy a lesson by getting a gang of your strong men to rape that boy in response. Their entire culture was focused on the concept of conquest. To the Romans rape was simply an acceptable expression of dominance.

      All of this however is very nit-picky as this takes the definition very literally. This is simply an argument on semantics at this point. You let your irritation at the term used distract you from the message. I simply ask you and encourage you to not get as caught up in technical details as to miss the intent in the future.

  95. I reblogged this on my tumblr. You are an amazing woman for posting this. And you were right, that picture did make me sick. I couldn’t even read some of them because I was so disgusted. Thank you, thank you so much for posting this.

  96. I agree with almost this entire article, except for the statement “Rape culture is when politicians don’t understand how requiring a transvaginal ultrasound of a rape victim seeking an abortion is like raping her all over again.” Only ignorance is shown when you think it’s cruelty to not inform women (especially on such a serious matter as abortion) about exactly what they’re doing. An abortion will never help a girl feel better, it will only worsen everything. And if you think abortion is not killing, look it up. The scientific community has concluded it’s a human being in its very biology. Pro abortion activists assume women know this, and the only question for them is when that life begins to matter. So if it doesn’t to you, then there’s really nothing more to say here.

    1. I’m only approving your comment to let other people respond to it. I have never been a victim of rape, but I’d imagine there are a few who have read this post that would have something to say about this.

    2. When a person is raped, ALL control is stripped away from them.The most basic being control over their own body.The control over whether or not something is inserted into the most private and intimate portions of our body.

      Forcing a woman who just had that control taken away to have a vaginal probe inserted into her is nothing short of AGAIN taking away that woman’s control over whether or not something is inserted into the most private and intimate portion of her body.

      It could be argued that she is in control because she could choose to not have the abortion, but that is just another way of taking away her control over her body, all based on someone else’s opinion on abortion.

    3. Have you had an abortion? Then you have no idea that while abortion does not “feel” good it can make your whole life better. It does not “worsen everything.” I now have a chance to start a family at the right time in my life and am doing just fine.

    4. As no other person is required to lend their body to the life support of another person, you are doubtless aware that the life support a woman offers is in her gift and she has the right to discontinue it. Research shows that the primary feeling after an abortion is relief and that girls who have abortions so that they continue school are less likely to drop out than girls who have never been pregnant. Laws were enacted against abortion because it was very dangerous, more dangerous than childbirth. That is no longer the case: forcing a woman to give birth is now requiring her to risk her life. And life is sacred, no? So you must allow her to preserve her own.

    5. Sigh. When does the brain develop? Now look at when LEGALLY it is to late to get an abortion. Look at the development of the fetus before that point and tell if and when you describe that as a dependent being, but it’s own individual. After that, let some one explain why they’d want to give up a child that was spawned from that act of hate. Let some one explain their fear of misplaced agression. I have heard the explanation, and I know it is hard to give that explanation to someone who is not supportive understanding and acceptant of your choice, but I for one pledge to any survivor who has went through such an ordeal, that I will accept and support you, as I’m sure many others here will, and I would wish you to do so so we might educate this person, so he might learn and understand himself exactly what he just tripped over. Please be brave. We will be here to help you.

  97. First off, fantastic article!
    As an athlete, I initially took offense to athletes being used to describe rape culture, as I read on however, I realized you are calling attention to the events of Steubenville and countless other examples of rape and rape cover-up in sports. Therefore, me taking offense to that would be as invalid as troops taking offense to the documentary “The Invincible War”.
    The only point of contention (or I guess question), I had however was in regards to jokes about rape. While the jokes displayed in the article (especially the first 3) are undoubtedly disgusting promotions of rape culture, what about jokes when the whole premise is what a horrendous injustice it is? and does it make any difference if many of these kinds of jokes are made my female comedians? As neither a female, or a victim; I realize I will come off as an ignorant promoter of rape culture but that is not my intention, I just want to gain better understanding of whether this kind of humour does indeed promote rape culture or can it actually work to “expose injustice and not perpetuate it”.

    1. I was watching a similar debate on Twitter yesterday, and to be frank, have not made up my mind. I’ve seen humor be used as an effective rhetorical tool for criticism (and, in fact, use sarcasm to call people out on this blog all the time). I think it depends on context, but I would be interested in hearing from others on the subject, as well.

  98. aside from the fact that I’m horrified by the ads at the end, in what world do people sit through an advertising meeting without anyone pointing out that these images may not convey an appropriate message?

    I’m so disturbed.

  99. So I created two petitions. One here and one through Care2, calling on the commissioners of pro-sports teams to adopt a Zero-Tolerance policy on sexual assault in the pre-pro leagues, with the hopes of creating and effective top-down system to teach our young people that rape is unacceptable, and these attitudes are not going to get them anywhere in life.

    The current proposal is this: If you are a player and you are involved in a sex crime, you are banned from the pro leagues for life. If you are a player,a coach, a school offiicial etc. that knowingly cover ups, makes light of, or even assists in a sex crime, you lose your job, and your team/school/district pays monetary fines. Perhaps this will motivate these communities to work on prevention and proper punishment when these crimes happen.

    This obviously doesn’t address all the sources of rape or sexual assault, but if you read my petitions, my reasoning explains why I start here.

    Please sign and share. Thank you very much.

  100. I wish I could assure that girl that it’s the rest of the country that’s fucked up and not her–those little brat bastards are away– even if only for a year, I hope they get what’s coming to them and hard.

    Fuck America and all the douchebag scum that think this shit is okay.

  101. Reblogged this on sarahjanelives and commented:
    Excellently put. So am I tired of hearing about it? Sure I am, and so is everyone else. You know what I am even MORE tired of? Living in it, and having sons growing up in it. Having a grown daughter living in it. Ignoring it and staying silent about isn’t going to fix it or make it go away. As long as the problem exists, we SHOULD be talking about it.

  102. While I think the use of the term “rape culture” is fair, I wish there was a better one. I think of the problem as a morally and sexually corrupt societal issue. Clearly rape is wrong, but the issue isn’t about raping people. The issue is WHY people are violating others in this way.

    Let’s take the Steubenville case for example. The problem is so much larger than rape. It’s about entitlement, coverups, the valuing of one’s life over another, poor parenting, and these children’s inability to understand that what is happening is wrong. I have no doubt that if a kid was bullied and committed suicide, or got into a fist fight and died as a result, the outcome would be the same. The “Steubenville Story” would play out exactly the same way only using a different set of variables.

    When I was younger, if someone had done what these boys did, I would be disgusted and afraid of them, not taking to Twitter to bash the victim. I, of course, am in my right mind. And that’s the point. We’ve gotten so far away from the “rightness and wrongness” of certain black and white issues, and that signals a much more distressing problem than that of rape. Our society is being morally crushed by itself.

  103. Thank your for writing this, for posting this, for TALKING about this. Thanks for making sure rape culture won’t get swept under the rug like it’s not an important issue.

  104. You had me up until Daniel Tosh. Everything you say is completely valid, and I couldn’t agree more, except in this regard. I won’t bore you with the reasons why you can’t limit the freedom of comedians (in fact, I’d argue it’s somewhat hypocritical), but it falls into the same category as blaming video games for violence. There are a number of issues when it comes to someone heckling a professional comedian at a paid gig, so while all your concerns and arguments are valid, you’re grasping at straws when you call into play jokes by comedians.

    1. I’ve read a lot on what you’re talking about. The problem is that rape isn’t funny, and wishing rape on someone isn’t funny. Presenting the idea in a forum as though it should be funny is rape culture to a tee – it doesn’t matter what spurred the “joke.”

      1. It’s not about whether or not you think rape is funny; it’s about accepting that comedy is purely that, and many of these comedians are utilizing something called satire. It’s especially ironic considering the heckler in question chose to forcibly add her opinion on something in a forum where it wasn’t relevant, and in a manner which is always unacceptable at a comedy club. As the greats like Pryor, Carlin, Hicks, and even Lenny Bruce himself have proven over the years, there’s nothing you can’t joke about. The context is key. None of these comedians actually think this way or believe these things they joke about. That is a big difference. People who don’t like the subject matter at a paid comedy gig (presumably to see a comedian they knew little about) are welcome to leave the room silently.

        Tosh’s response was not actually wishing rape on her. I know you mean well, but when you get to this level of infringing on other people’s rights in order to protect your own, you’re missing the point. Advertisements, online groups, news coverage… these are things that fall outside of the realm of comedy because, though of questionable quality, they are real and actually mean to say something. Jokes are just jokes, pure and simple. It’s a matter of preference at this point.

      2. It’s not about what they believe. It’s about the fact that they believe they are entitled to trivialize the very traumatic experiences of hundreds of thousands of victims for laughs and profit. It’s about the fact that irony in a policy issue is only effective when the intended audience perceives the ironic function, where Tosh’s audience (as demonstrated along social media lines) did not. So while he may not have intended to perpetuate rape culture, he did.

        I’m not infringing on his rights. He CAN say whatever he wants. That doesn’t mean he SHOULD, and it doesn’t mean he is free from being criticized for his rhetoric.

  105. Calling this “rape culture” is like calling a compound fracture “an issue with a tear in the skin.” Something in our society is broken, deep down, and your “rape culture” is just one part of the scum coming to the surface.

    Some will say it is a degradation of family values; others will say it is due to imagery in music videos and movies; still others will reach to blame capitalism or maybe corporations. I won’t pretend to have an answer except that for some reason humans – not Americans, or westerners – have spawned a subculture of people who care only about what they want and not a damn about what is good for others. Maybe it is just greed at the heart of all that ails society. The point is, look deeper.

    1. Rape is not a new phenomena Matt and from talking with women nothing about rape culture has changed except the advent of social media since the 1930’s (as far back as I can go with women folk to talk with) We live in a world where rape is used as a political tool – things like laws allowing English nobels to rape Scots and Irish women on their wedding night. Its about power, it always has been. The stranger raping you in an alley is actually the psychopathic/sociopathic anomaly and society has tacitly agreed that’s wrong – unless you’re a prostitute or homeless but the majority of sexual violence is done by people we know well or by aquaintence, trust, or have in positions of power over us – and those power structures need to change….and it isn’t just the west.

  106. This is a great post. It is truly astounding how our culture treats women right now. And I think that is just a tiny fraction of the whole picture. Our culture comes packaged with the implicit assumption that we Need (capital N) certain things in order to be satisfied with our lives: we need lots of expensive shit, we need lots of money with with to buy said expensive shit, we need social status to be of any worth, we need lots of sex (and many sexual partners) in order to gain that status and worth. And it’s destroying a lot of human potential, and gutting the Earth for all of its precious resources. And lately it’s been manifesting in really nasty ways across our modern media sources. (Which I honestly think is 2/3 of rape culture: giving undue attention to rape stories that garner a national media frenzy to sensationalize the subject and make people feel scared, alone, and powerless in its wake.)

    I see rape culture as just one of myriad symptoms of our extraordinarily materialistic tendency as a culture to see the world in terms of what we can “get” from it in order to quell the unconscious insecurities about our low self-worth that we are taught to believe our entire lives. We try to objectify everything because we are under the impression that if we can own it, it’s ours, and we’ll be okay. And rape culture is an extension of this supremely harmful belief. We see it everywhere: popular music, fashion, movies, television, as well as the news: get this, get that and you’ll be ‘better’ than everyone else. Get lots of sex, and you’ll somehow be ‘better’ than people who choose to abstain or have trouble getting their desires met. It’s all about getting and having, and totally disregards being exactly who we are and finding satisfaction from life itself rather than its impermanent manifestations, the shiny things in the world that have become our idols and our jailers.

    So yes, I agree with you that there is a lot of bullshit ingrained deep within our society, and outwardly it appears despicable and inhuman. But I wanted to offer to you, in the spirit of goodwill, my perspective on how as individuals we can choose to see our societal troubles in a new light that allows more room for acceptance and love than what you have presented here.

    This may seem paradoxical, but in order to truly combat the crass and hollow materialism in our culture (which includes rape culture), we must not combat it. What I mean by that is: we cannot solve the problem of materialism when our hearts are full of anger against other human beings. For that anger targeted against them is just another form of materialism, another “thing” that somebody “did to you,” another piece of evidence that life is treating you unfairly, and however justified it may feel at the time, those emotional reactions actually serve to give more power and influence to the very problem that they are addressing. Posts like this will garner a lot of comments of assent, of people who probably already agreed with you and feel just as disgusted as you do. It will also garner a lot of dissenting comments of people you view as “part of the problem.” But that’s just giving people what they want, isn’t it? Another reason to blame someone else, to shift responsibility to the “others” who are totally 100% at fault for this entire situation. In order to truly change the hearts and minds of the people, we must first be at peace within ourselves, where we are right now, without judging where we are right now. It’s very easy to say, “I give up, the world is disgusting, I hate humanity, I hate where I am right now, and here’s a bunch of stuff that PROVES it.” How often has that attitude ever helped anything of real value take place? In order to live in this world fully, we must accept it as it is, fully, without complaint. Then, we can take action.

    We must approach the challenges that we see in our lives without blaming ourselves, and also without blaming the world we see. If we truly want to end sexual violence, how can we do that if we have not accepted, fully, that it is here? “Well, it shouldn’t ever happen.” That is true. It shouldn’t, and it would be wonderful if it didn’t happen ever again. But it’s happening, every day, right now, this very moment it is happening. And we have a tendency as a society to use our disgust or revulsion of a situation in order to feel more superior to it, as if it doesn’t actually exist, as if we had a choice in the matter. I’m not saying rape should exist, I’m just saying that it’s part of our experience now. It’s a reflection of the human condition as it is appearing in this moment. That doesn’t mean it has to be here, and I’m not saying we have resign ourselves to the fact that it’s here and should just roll over and allow it to continue. But I’m pointing to the fact that in order to fully address this challenge, we must see it as it is, without the lens of victimhood or anger to cloud our vision, and respond to it with openness and clarity.

    We can choose to see sexual violence, or indeed all violence, as something that is happening. Simply, it’s happening. That’s it. Or we can make it personal and see it as something that “others” are “doing to us.” The former approach allows room for clear thought and action. The latter consumes your mind and body with anger and disgust. Anger and disgust may be justified, but they never solve any problems. If all rape on this planet magically ended tomorrow, we would still be a deeply divided and depressed race. I’m not saying that rape isn’t a big issue. Of course it is. Like all forms of violence, It’s a reflection of the division of humanity against humanity, and is a vivid example of human beings treating each other extremely poorly on a massive scale as a result of how they feel. More than ever, the choice facing humanity is laid bare: unite as one, or continue dividing, plunging even deeper into confusion, despair, and fear.

    This is not a war. We are not combatants. It may feel like a war, but it is not a war. This is not men vs. women. This is not rape apologists vs. feminists. This is not intelligent people vs. idiots. This is human beings in unnecessary conflict, human beings doing damage to other human beings because they don’t know any better. When situations like this, situations that seem so utterly senseless and alien, arise in the public consciousness, we as a society usually impulsively scramble to place blame on someone, ultimately someone who is not “us.” It’s always the “monsters,” those other despicable people who are completely and totally responsible for what happens. It’s always someone else. No one is completely and totally responsible for what happens in their lives, but everyone is totally, absolutely responsible for the attitude they take towards the way that they feel right now. This is not to say that people who have been raped should “suck it up, get over it, no big deal.” But it is pointing to the simple truth that we are much more than the sum of our experiences, that they do not ultimately define us. I’m also not saying that I would be fine with being raped. That would obviously be awful, and I’m not wishing it upon myself. But I am saying that we often choose to see ourselves as the victim of circumstances, which totally undermines our deeper value as living beings.

    There is often an assumption taking place that says that if only we were could somehow convince everybody to focus on shifting the blame to the perpetrators rather than the victims that we can solve the problem of sexual violence. That is a very superficial solution. That’s an easy answer, and it doesn’t work. We need to go deeper than that. We owe it to ourselves, and to everyone whose life has been affected in any way by sexual violence, or violence of any kind. We need to do our very best to take responsibility for what is already here, let others see the insanity of it, and then let it pass without blaming ANYONE for what happened. We need to come to a place where as a society we choose to see everyone as blameless. When I say blameless, I’m not using it in the sense that we should give people who do bad things to other people a free ride: people who commit sexual crimes belong in jail, plain and simple. We are free to judge their actions. But we give them power by giving them a label, by seeing them as an “other” whom with we have nothing in common, by giving them our sustained attention. We can harbor hatred against them, but ultimately that will only increase the amount of hatred in the world., and will increase suffering. Violence of any kind, be it sexual violence against innocent people or emotional violence against convicted rapists, may feel justified to certain people in certain situations, but it will never, ever, ever be a final solution.

    So I guess all I’m really getting at here is: We have the ability in our hearts to love everyone, even those people who we feel great animosity towards, people who we despise, who we think have absolutely nothing in common with. And if we cannot do that, if we cannot love, then at least we can do our best to do no harm. We as individuals all have the power to make an extraordinary choice: to stop perpetuating the cycle of attack and defense that we are taught is “the way things get done” by choosing not to participate in it. I’m not saying that we should resign ourselves to being embroiled in such a deeply divided society. Far from it. Rather, I’m saying that in order for true change to take place, it is absolutely essential that we are fully aware, fully awake to the present situation, which means not using it as a justification for attacking our so-called enemies. Even our enemies are human beings, and we share our mortality with them. The victim is not superior to the rapist, in a wider sense. They are both human beings with limited lifespans. We approach this issue with equanimity for all, or we run away from it with hatred for the other and live out our precious lives with vile, ugly hatred in our hearts and minds, wondering why the universe is so cruel and out to get us.

    You’re doing good work, you’re doing what you believe to be right, and that’s really cool. You’re speaking your mind about something that is wrong with society. Thank you for sharing your voice with us. I hope you can take away from this that merely showing us your ire, your impatience, the facts and figures, statistics, studies and examples of “rape culture,” does not address the root of the problem. It’s okay to be disgusted. Being disgusted has its place, and is easily justifiable. But we need to move past disgust, past hurt, past anger, fear, and negativity. We can address these issues with compassion for all, and introduce more love into this world, which ultimately is all we can really do with our time here.

    I’m sorry that this post turned out so long, and I hope that I wrote in a way that fosters connection rather than more conflict. I wish you well!

    Please educate yourselves in the term at least to the point of correct use in grammatical sense before ranting about it on the internet, let alone in ideological or sociological sense. Rape Culture is not an action, therefore it is not something anyone can ‘do’ nor is it a thing, so it cannot ‘do’ anything at all, nor is it an event so it cannot ‘happen’ anywhere.

    Rape culture is an idea, a concept that exists in our minds. It is only an attribute of a society that is present, or is not present, and has many diverse ideas of effects and causes. By definition(yes I know not the one posted, but for specificity’s sake it is easily inferred from it) A rape culture is a culture or society in which the majority of individuals who comprise that culture have an attitude of approval or tolerance of rape and sexual violence.

    Therefore our country, the United States cannot be a rape culture, because as you pointed out yourself in the comments, the general consensus of our society is disapproving of rape, and finds such acts unacceptable, hence these actions being illegal in the first place.

    Your thesis is flawed only because you have chosen too broad of a frame of reference. In micro cultures such as the aforementioned athletics programs or prisons there is more than enough evidence for that assertion. The broad sweeping claim that our nation as whole and indeed our global society as a whole, promotes and tolerates rape, however is simply ridiculous.

    In regards to your understanding of why and how rape occurs, you seem to be short a few steps but seem to be making a concerted effort in the right direction. The problem of why you don’t truly understand the relation of power in the equation of why someone would rape comes from your basic assumption that there must be something wrong with an individual that would willingly commit rape. That unfortunately is the exact opposite assumption to make when understanding any behavior. Assume the rapist or rather potential rapist is normal rational human being, therefore like yourself and try to find out a person would or would not do this action. Put yourself in their shoes, and think about it a while. You should treat it like everything else, just as the way you ask why the murderer murders, why the thief steals, and why the liar lies. The answer you should find is that it is part of ourselves, part of our animalistic nature, stemmed from our instinct to our individual wants or needs over other individuals, for our survival, but distorted due to our higher complexity. try the exercise and see the darker parts of yourself and human nature. That is the reason rape cannot, will not, ever be able to completely go away, unless something could fundamentally change human nature. but it may still be reduced and managed much like an allergy, immune disorder or mental illness. And also why some kind of sub-culture which can be qualified as a “Rape Culture” will always exist as well in some form in any given society, because there will always be individuals in any given group which do not follow the norm.

    Now despite all that I said; you are completely right, or rather on the right track. The only way to reduce rape and to manage our rape increasing sub-cultures is to speak out and proclaim that rape is unacceptable in our culture, and for the courts to give harsh sentences and to be willing to protect the rape victims from harassment and abuse from unenlightened members of the public. So keep speaking out and blogging things like this, and keep conversation growing so that there is what may even described as an oppressive message pervading in our society that rape is unacceptable and shall have dire consequences. Then we may very well see some positive change.

  108. I am tired of hearing about how those boys are losing college scholarships because of the fact they raped an innocent girl. It was rape and there is NO EXCUSE about it. That whole town needs to get their priorities straight. They think that those boys should walk free? I think those boys should get the maximum sentencing for rape, without parole and without bail. I think that the whole football team should be punished for what those boys did. Those boys knew exactly what they were doing and what they were saying. They weren’t little boys, they were close enough to adulthood to know what they were doing was wrong. I am a man and I am not making excuses for those boys and I use the term boys loosely because I think they are more like animals then they are humans. You don’t rape a person, if you are drunk or they are drunk or both. That is not an excuse. Rape is a felony no matter what. ape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, or below the legal age of consent. I think those boys are guilty and anyone who defends them is an idiot who needs to get their heads examined.

  109. Would you say that sexism in general is part of rape culture? Or are they two slightly different things?

    1. I think sexism is part of a much larger social trend that can be equally difficult to explain, if not more so. But I also tend to believe that the root of all oppression stems from the construction of artificial hierarchies of worth- be that according to gender, race, faith, age or a number of other identifying qualities. Elements of sexism are, of course, present in rape culture, but to say it is what drives rape culture ignores the different types of rape which may occur, so I hesitate to go that far.

  110. I’m glad you’re still taking comments on this. I would have thought the “protectors” of the Steubenvile boys would have dissuaded you from allowing people to speak.
    Those who say this girl was too young to be drinking around boys, or that she was asking for it, have neither the ability to comprehend the situation, nor the awareness of self to critically think of putting themselves in these shoes.

    From 2004-2011, I was in a long-term, devoted relationship. I loved my girlfriend with all my heart. We got engaged, and moved in together January of 2011, our wedding was May 2012. I knew she was bi-curious, and I knew she enjoyed her kink, and I tried to give her what she wanted. She had had 2 simultaneous relationships with women in the past, that I wasn’t all-too-happy about, but we had always been inseparable, and loved each other, or So I thought.

    She took a nursing position away from our home, and lived there for weeks at a time, only about to visit home a few days each month, but it was only a summer gig, I thought our lives would resume after. She began to have a relationship with a woman at her job, and managed to get herself in trouble, long story short, and had 2 leaves about 2 weeks short of the job ending. Something was wrong, and I was losing touch of her; all she did was obsess about her “new love”

    One night, she complained I had never gotten drunk with her. Being a lightweight, and always a DD, I never thought about drinking. We down a few bottles with mixed drinks, but something was amiss. She kept checking her phone, and at one point, I glanced over to see the text “No, wait until he’s out.” She hid her phone when she saw I was looking, gave me a smirk and continued watching our film. after several drinks, I went to get up, but lost my balance and fell. I came to bound at the mouth, arms behind my back, and legs bound together. I’ll spare the details, but it was painful. I used my strength to loosen the ropes and break out, slapped her across the face, and sat there in a drunken stupor. Sure I was still drunk, and tried to have sex, but looking back, I wasn’t in my right mind. We broke up that night, and it still horrifies me from time to time. I SHOULD have told more people, I SHOULD have done something about it.

    But I didn’t. Because men don’t get raped, and being raped while drunk is apparently your own fault. Society needs to change.

  111. This is well written, and I would be sharing this article, if you hadn’t taken the step of including the rape photo and video. Spreading the humiliating images across the internet further violates the rape victim. It’s a pity, because this is one of the best articles on rape culture that I’ve read.

    1. I will respond to you with the text of an email I just sent addressing this very issue:

      To be honest, I seriously struggled with their inclusion, but ultimately decided to use them for a few reasons.

      To begin with, she is unidentifiable in the media. While this does not necessarily diminish her anguish, it was a critical component of the decision for me. I would never, in a million years, consider posting content which depicted the rape or revealed her identity. Second, i used links on content that could not be visualized. Part of the reason the piece was constructed this way was to provide inescapable and visceral proof of the behavior. Discussing the bad behavior is one thing; it is another to see it. Nothing can prepare you for those images. The amount of emails I’ve received from people saying that those two pieces, in particular, completely changed their mind has been completely overwhelming.

      Again, does this address the suffering of the victim? No, admittedly, it does not. But then, the media is already so widely circulated that not including it in a positive context is also cause for pause. If the only time the media is shown is in rape culture-ridden mainstream media reports and sensationalist content that does little to foster productive dialogue, is the suffering all for naught? Part of the reason I fight the way I do is because I feel like we all owe it to each other to keep the balance. There’s a lot of bad in the world, and if we won’t shine a light into the dark, we’re all sort of screwed. If including the media here as a means of shaming the perpetrators over the victim works to counteract some of the vitriol out there, I have to think it matters. It’s a form of reclamation of narrative. I’m still not entirely comfortable with it – it’s not really my narrative to reclaim – but in world where the narrative has become the driving force of public discourse, I guess this is my way of trying to defend her.

      I am not closed minded though, and this is clearly a complex issue. I have reservations, and am open to further discussion, if you’re interested.

  112. That kind of just sounds like being an asshole or just indulging deliberate avoidance of issues in accordance to classist, capitalistic (social and material) distinctive and patriarchal priorities and values…but I guess “rape culture” is a short and convenient (albeit vague) way to encapsulate that. I’m only “guessing”… However, I do understand what you’re saying and can see the relevance to the construct of rape and an insidious insistence…. I’d just call it the misogyny of the mass media or just being ignorant though.

  113. I personally dislike the idea that “a victim is a victim, a rapist is a rapist.” Oftentimes rape isn’t so cut-and-dry. When I was in high school, I really wanted to have sex with my girlfriend. She didn’t, so we just continued foreplay. But as we were getting more into it, I kept asking her if we could have sex until finally she said yes. The sex wasn’t enjoyable for either of us, yet we continued. When it was over, I felt absolutely horrible, and she did, too. I felt I had raped her, though to this day she will say I didn’t.

    In college, my girlfriend would often force me to have sex when I didn’t want to, claiming that if I didn’t want to have sex it was because I didn’t love her anymore.

    A friend and I were having sex at a beach late one night, when a man walking his bike came by and stared at us. We stopped and stared back at him till he left. A few minutes later he came up behind me and began licking my anus. When I kicked and screamed out of shock, he jumped back and ran away. He was clearly drunk and in his mind, our public display was an invitation for him to join.

    In all three cases, I have trouble saying that any of us are “rapists,” which suggests that all three of us like to force people to have sex against their wills. There are a lot of factors involved, a lot of gray area, and to simply say, “that was rape, so they’re rapists,” is to withhold a great deal of compassion and understanding from us in those situations.

    Rape culture affects all of us. It affects the way we perceive ourselves, our sexuality, others, and their sexuality. Over the years, the rule I have made is to always remind myself that the people around me are complex individuals with their own wants and desires. If their wants and desires aren’t being communicated, I have to take another step to ask. When this happens, I can have understanding with another, and we can be sure not to cross each other’s boundaries. In this way, the best weapon against rape culture is compassion, and to practice it constantly. But to simply declare someone “a rapist” and withdraw all empathy from them, that only seems to perpetuate a habit of not looking deeply at the person across from you, not trying to understand their experience.

    1. All this is to mainly say, though, that this issue is very complicated to me. There are a lot of different voices making a lot of conflicting claims about rape and rape culture. My experiences have led me to believe that we need to have more complex conversations about what is rape and what isn’t, and what the appropriate ways to respond are. If you decide you’ve been raped, is it always right to go to the authorities and report it?

      I still have a lot of confusion and uncertainty about this, and especially about the way we talk about rape culture.

  114. Thank you for this article. You have put the information together in a way that makes the existence of rape culture undeniable.

    However, I was reading through the comments on the piece and have to say I am somewhat disappointed by the way you handled the “what about the menz?” commentators. Basically, I think you are letting them derail and distract from what is really an important point that needs to be made about rape culture: that it is largely created and perpetuated by the actions of men.

    The fact that men are the predominant perpetrators of rape culture is an important characteristic of the problem and it cannot be ignored if one wants to actually get serious about finding a solution.

    To illustrate my point further, it’s also true, for example, that SOME men get breast cancer. ( So do we then declare breast cancer a gender neutral disease because SOME men get it? Do we ignore the reality that it is mostly women who suffer from breast cancer when we conduct research that looks into prevention and finding a cure? The logical answer to the above two questions is “no”. Because to ignore the fact that breast cancer mostly affects women is to ignore a really important characteristic of that disease . This doesn’t mean we ignore and don’t treat the men who get breast cancer also, but obviously, our efforts should mostly concentrate on how it affects women because women are the majority of those who are affected.

    So then, the same logic should be applied to rape culture. A quick perusing of statistics on sexual violence should reveal that men are the dominant perpetrators. According to the National Violence Against Women Survey, for example,

    *Women are more likely to be victims of sexual violence than men: 78% of the victims of rape and sexual assault are women and 22% are men.

    * MOST PERPETRATORS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE ARE MEN. Among acts of sexual violence committed against women since the age of 18, 100% of rapes, 92% of physical assaults, and 97% of stalking acts were perpetrated by men. Sexual violence against men is also mainly male violence: 70% of rapes, 86% of physical assaults, and 65% of stalking acts were perpetrated by men.

    Again, these statistics cannot be ignored as it is important to know what group (answer: men) need to be targeted in order to understand the CAUSES of this violence.

    If the “what about the menz?” commentators are so concerned about women’s violence against men, no one is stopping them from helping these man. But these commentators should be stopped from coming onto sites that are dedicated to ending violence against women and creating the false impression that women’s violence against men is comparable in scope to men’s violence against women.

    1. I am a man and stand up for men’s rights as well as women’s rights. I agree that most sexual assaults are perpetrated by men and that very few men are raped compared to women. Rape is terrible and serial rapists should be castrated and/or locked away forever.

      My problem is this: If the man is drunk and the woman is drunk and they are in a closed room by themselves who is to say who is the perp and who is the victim? Is it not possible that the female forced herself on the male? What if the male is all for it at first but then changes his mind? Women’s rights advocates would call that rape in a second…..would the same rights be afforded to a male?

      The new FBI definition of rape is basically penetration without consent. According to women’s rights advocates being drunk automatically means a person can’t give consent. So according to them any drunk (.08) female who is penetrated by a male sex organ or object has been raped! That is just wrong.

      This new definition also means men can only be raped if the perp is another male or a female who anally penetrates a man with an object. If that is true, the female teacher who gives oral sex to her drunk 18 year old student IS NOT guilty of rape! That is just wrong.

      What if I was drunk and my girlfriend sticks her finger in my ass? By definition that should be rape – and she should be prosecuted and get a year in jail! That is just wrong.

      If two people are drunk and alone in a room where sexual intercourse takes place, is there a rape? Who was the perpetrator? Isn’t it possible that the male was raped and the female should be charged? Did they rape each other? I guess everyone that has drunk sex is a criminal!

      The point is that there is too much grey area here…he government shouldn’t be in the business of playing referee at college drinking parties where everyone is drunk! Equal rights means equal rights….that means that males should have the same definition of rape as females and that females should be prosecuted with equal vigor!

      1. Repeat offendors being castrated symbolises “taking his power away” but also means that the power and will to rape reside in the penis. This implies that all tose and only this with a penis have the power to rape. Very Roman I might say. This intern glorifies the penis and indeed glorifies rape. This is Rape Culture my friend. If you looked at sexuality over the span of human history, perception of power, and rape, this should be all too clear.

    2. Ms Nelson, I am SO sorry. I waited, slept on it, almost didn’t post this. But I just couldn’t let Elle Fury’s post pass. And thank you for what you’re trying to do, to accomplish. Personally, I will continue to fight for everyone, of both sexes – and I think, honestly, there’s too much of what Elle is saying in this debate. This needs to be a partnership, of everyone, and as long as women (and there are far too many) are chasing away male allies in this fight, it’s going to perpetuate the separation, the idea that this is women against men, rather than decent respectful women AND men against the neanderthals of either sex. I hope you approve and post this comment, if only because it was the hardest thing I’ve written, and I think it’ll bring a lot of that to light.

      @ Elle Fury:
      I wonder if you realize just how many logical fallacies you have in this comment. Leaving aside the glaringly obvious one, where at the end you basically say “men, help yourselves” despite the fact that the complete focus of the entire movement is to have _everyone_ working to address the problem in its entirety, let me address a few of the others:

      First, you seem to be conflating “rape” and “rape culture.” That’s confusing, and not helpful.

      Second, the cancer analogy isn’t very apt, for this reason: when women get breast cancer, they’re not shamed for it. They’re not attacked, blamed, dismissed. They aren’t threatened, made to be afraid to speak up about it. They aren’t stigmatized by society. And neither are men. And you’re right… we don’t ignore men who get breast cancer. We address the problem – EVEN THOUGH it’s a small fraction of the overall population of breast cancer victims. So it’s a completely different situation. But if you do want to continue the analogy…then shouldn’t we, indeed, treat both, and address ALL instances of rape and sexual assault, not just the ones that affect women? Nor just the ones men commit? And do it without stigma?

      Next, you seem to have missed that most of the posts from men asking about male victims come _from_ male victims, and of those, they’re almost exclusively male victims of women. Including myself. So whatever the statistics may be (and I’ll get to those in a moment), you’re basically telling those men, here, that they don’t matter. That their experiences don’t matter. Their RAPES don’t matter. You’re telling them to shut up, be silent, accept being ignored. Belittling them via dismissal, if nothing else. Sounds remarkably like “shaming the victim” to me. Congratulations… you’re an active part of exactly what’s being decried.

      Now, if I still have you: those statistics. Some 1 in 5 women – 20% – will be a victim of rape or sexual assault in their lifetimes. And you yourself have noted that 22% of all rapes/ sexual assaults happen to males. So you’re suggesting that the same percentage of sexual assaults overall – in fact, a small fraction more – should be largely ignored or at least set aside, not given significant attention – as the percentage of women overall who suffer the same. And this is ignoring under-reporting – which, given that by percentages, rape of men is the most under-reported crime in America, is probably huge. Again, congratulations… you’re an active part of what’s being decried.

      And last… and WARNING, folks. THERE ARE GOING TO BE TRIGGERS ALL OVER THIS. I’m shaking already. I’ve never said this before, not like this. But at this point I think I should.

      You mention women’s violence against men not being remotely in scope to men’s against women. In numbers? No. But… I should mention I’m a small guy. I was 21? 22? More than half my life ago. My then-girlfriend was breaking up with me. Just had, in fact. We were alone at her sister’s place. I was distraught (I loved this woman a great deal), and sitting on the floor crying to the point of exhausted sobbing. Her solution, to stop my crying, stop me being so upset? You know where this is going… she laid me out on the floor, put me under her. Me shaking my head in denial, crying so much I couldn’t speak, and she got my pants off and, I think the phrase is “had her way with me.” Vaginally and anally. And when it was over and I was silent, tearless and exhausted, she smiled and told me “I knew what you needed was a good fuck.”

      And she wasn’t the worst. That would be who I dated before her, who was sexually coercive, manipulative, forceful, teasing, abusive. Who was mentally and emotionally abusive as well: mocking, belittling, insulting, including not just me, my decision to change majors, other decisions in my life; but also my father’s profession, things about how I grew up. Physically as well: kicks, hitting, punching, sometimes just because she didn’t like how I phrased something. She, interestingly enough, was an athlete – a basketball player. And from a pretty wealthy, privileged background. And when I finally had the courage and the strength to end that relationship, after 3 years… she used her key (day after I broke up with her, and I hadn’t changed the locks yet), came into my apartment, and attempted suicide by swallowing a whole bottle of codeine and getting into my bed. I found it. Found her. Called the ambulance. Followed it – by bus, because I couldn’t legally ride in the ambulance – and waited while she was tended. Saw her safely home. Helped arrange counseling. And paid the hospital bill. And the whole time, felt guilty because I’d been so completely awful for breaking up with her when she loved me so much…

      More detail? Or is that enough for scope? One more time: congratulations… you’re part of the problem.

      Okay. I’m very glad most here seem committed to this cause, for everyone. I am too. But I’m done here. For now, I need to be.

      1. I am truly very sorry for what happened to you. No one deserves to be treated in this way.

        That being said, your status as a male victim of female rape does not give you the license to misrepresent what I have said.

        And I think what I said was very logical and very clear.

        I did not say the experiences of male rape victims “don’t matter.” I did not tell them “to shut up, be silent, accept being ignored.” You are saying I wrote things that I didn’t.

        I said, while backing myself up with statistical support, that “MOST PERPETRATORS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE ARE MEN”. I also said that the fact that most perpetrators of sexual violence are men is an important characteristic of the problem. This fact needs to be acknowledged if we hope to find a solution.

        The cancer analogy was meant to demonstrate that we as a society usually don’t have problems recognizing the PATTERNS of a physical disease- i.e. what demographic of people is mostly affected, what dietary and lifestyle choices affect the likelihood that someone will get the disease, etc. So why are we having trouble recognizing the PATTERNS of a SOCIAL disease? The fact that males are overwhelming the perpetrators of sexual violence is a PATTERN of the “disease” of rape. This characteristic would be foolish to ignore. This is why the analogy works.

        As for your comment about my usage of rape culture vs. rape:
        A quick recap of the most important lesson in Feminism 101: Patriarchy exists. Patriarchy = Mostly men controlling politics, the media, religion sports, etc. Therefore, rape culture, a culture in which “people are surrounded with images, language, laws, and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate rape” (, is also largely perpetuated by men as they hold most of the power to disseminate these images, language, laws, etc. that surround us.
        Rape culture leads to actual rape. Actual rape is supported by rape culture. As already stated above, the majority of rapists are men.*

        Thus, as a feminist, I get upset when I see comments like “Yes please, talk about [rape culture] from a gender neutral stance…” or “Gender bias makes it harder for men to report rape – so we really don’t know if the VAST majority of rape is male against female.” (See comments above.)

        And as I said before, these commentators are (perhaps deliberately) trying to create the false impression that rape is a gender neutral problem. THESE are the people who are the problem- NOT ME. If you are a feminist, if you are interested in the facts, if you recognize that individual exceptions should not keep us from seeing the bigger picture, you should know that rape IS NOT a gender neutral problem. THIS DOES NOT MEAN I AM DENYING THAT MALE VICTIMS OF FEMALE SEXUAL VIOLENCE EXIST OR THAT THEIR SUFFERING SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. But it is me saying I do not think their examples should be used to distract from the reality that the majority of victims are female, ESPECIALLY on a feminist blog.

        *Lest I get accused of “hating all men” or promoting the belief that they are “naturally violent”, let me clarify that I do not believe men are INHERENTLY more violent than women; rather, I believe (as most feminists do) that they are socialized to be this way.

      2. Elle Fury,

        I think there’s got to be a way to acknowledge male victims in discourse about rape culture. You are correct that, statistically speaking, male victims are far fewer, and male perpetrators are plentiful, but does that truly discount the experience of the victim? Is it not possible to acknowledge that women are disproportionately (to a gross extent) victims of sexual violence in comparison to men, but still acknowledge that rape – in any context, of anyone – is wrong?

        I think you’re both making valid points. Jonathon, you’re right – it doesn’t make sense for a group that has been persistently marginalized to attempt to find a solution through marginalization of another (and arguably similar) group. Elle Fury, you’re right, too – when discussions of male victimization are used in a detracting manner (ex. “I am sorry for your suffering, BUT-” v. “I am sorry for your suffering, AND-“), they seem dismissive and distracting.

        Let me put it this way – would it be possible to agree that:

        – Rape is never a good thing.
        – Individual suffering should not be blanketly dismissed.
        – Expression of individual suffering is an important part of building understanding of a very complex issue.
        – Expression of individual suffering should not be used to intentionally call away attention from the suffering of another.
        – Both men and women are capable of raping and being raped.
        – Women are statistically more likely to be victims of sexual violence, and a plurality of assailants are male.
        – These statistics do not mean that all victims are female or that all assailants are male.
        – These statistics should still guide the solution development process, as they may contribute to the design of an effective, segmented approach to combatting rape culture.
        – None of us in this particular conversation are actively attempting to engage in rape culture; we’re trying to figure out a way to fight it together.

        I genuinely am not attempting to discount either of your perspectives, nor those of others who have weighed in on this topic. This is an important conversation, and I am grateful that you have chosen to engage in it. Your voices matter.

  115. I can understand why people are tired of the term “rape culture”.
    The term infers that everyone within that culture is complicit for the crimes of a few.

    When advice is given to women on how to avoid being raped it is not an acceptance
    of rape, it is an acknowledgement that rape happens and we want to prevent as many
    of them as possible. It is not “blaming” the victim, its an attempt to make sure that she is
    not a victim. If you are aware that part of a frozen lake has thin ice it is appropriate to let people know that the ice is thin because we don’t want them to fall through the ice.
    Yes, I know its an imperfect analogy.

    And the statement “Just tell men not to rape” IS idiotic. We ALREADY tell them that
    and it still happens! Rape is not just immoral, its against the law. We build jails to keep
    them away from people so they will not be able to victimize them more. So in ADDITION
    to telling men that it is wrong, we jail those who commit that crime and we do our bests
    to not allow other women to be raped.

    In a perfect world we would not have crime. This is not a perfect world. I agree that it is
    wrong that there are men that rape women and women should be able to drink and dress
    however they please, etc. Sadly, there will always be those that use a woman’s choice
    to become inebriated as an excuse to take advantage of that state. You may not want to
    hear the fact that certain activities make you vulnerable, but its like the emperor getting
    mad when he’s told he is not wearing clothes.

      1. Lauren – thanks for the blog post. More conversations like this need to happen. And you’ve done a stellar job of answering comments, so take a break while I give this one a go…

        Dear Richard,

        By advising potential victims on how to avoid being raped, we as a community accept that rape is part of our culture. Please stop.

        Everyone in a rape culture is complicit in its pervasiveness if we choose to do nothing about it, skirt around it, dress it up, excuse it, and generally accept that it’s expected because it’s just magically part of life. It’s not. We allow it – like we allow many other things I won’t take on here.

        We’re rely on the culture we create to help set boundaries. This is an ongoing process, but I believe in good people. (okay, so maybe I’m an optimistic realist)

        It’s less about “a right to wear whatever we want” and more about our collective obligation to create a culture where we don’t need the right in the first place.


        another person who had something bad happen to her but who’s kinda tired of explaining it – and who refuses to let it follow her into another decade of life

      2. It’s not that rape is a part of our culture. Violence is a part of our culture. Rape is just one form of violence. It makes no sense to not encourage women to reduce their risk of rape simply because you have a notion of this ideal world where rape