Rape Culture?

Posted: November 17, 2010 in Uncategorized


Sometimes a privilege denying dude can be right. a bit like a stopped watch I guess.

Rape culture does not exist. Rape is an action not a culture. Domestic violence culture? homophobic assault culture? Football violence culture? Child abuse culture? Racist attack culture? These are all acts within our culture and none should be privileged over another.

Feminists want to keep rape special*  They like being victims of patriarchy. And patriarchy doesn’t exist either.

If you can’t explain what something is and tell me how it works then it doesn’t exist.

OK bitches?

*keep rape special coined by Mark Simpson. It’s not my fault.

  1. James says:

    I’m struggling with the second half of this post….err…what does it mean??

  2. that feminists have a special place for rape in their discourse they think it is more important than other forms of inequality/violence. and they make out that patriarchy means men will always feel the need to have power over women. I dont agree with them.

  3. James says:

    Thanks. So, ummm, you’re saying that we don’t live in a patriarchal society?

  4. yes I am! crazy isnt it?

    I know there is gender inequality, but it cuts all ways. ‘Patriarchy’ means nothing to me

  5. NewReader says:


  6. Anonymous says:

    I have read most of your posts and generally agree with your sentiments, however I strongly disagree with you on this topic. You say “rape is an action not a culture,” but is rape really an action? There are many indigenous cultures that don’t have a word for rape, or child abuse, or misogyny. Rape is an act sure, but it is a product of our culture, which IS a patriarchy. I’m not sure how you can be so aware of gender issues and then say that there is no such thing as patriarchy. When you are stopped by a cop, scolded by a parent, corrected by a teacher, raped by a man, you are experiencing patriarchy. To say “If you can’t explain what something is and tell me how it works then it doesn’t exist.” you are being incredibly ignorant–I cant tell you how a computer algorithm works, but I’ve used google and seen them work, so presumably they exist. To say something doesn’t exist because you cant see it (but only because you are ignoring it repeatedly) doesn’t mean that it does not, in fact, exist.

    Furthermore, how can 1 in 6 American women be raped, America have the highest incidence of reported rape in the world, and only 6% of rapists do jail time and say that you dont see a rape culture? It seems to me like you have some sort of rebelliousness feeling towards rape, and also against feminists, which appears to be horizontal hostility.

    Finally, out culture rapes not only women but men, children, animals (think factory farms) and the earth (think mountain top removal and oil/gas drilling). Nobody thinks of themselves as a rapist, they think they are just taking something they want. Our patriarchy is what justifies–in their mind–their abuse of others. They think they are entitled to whatever they want. Patriarchy and a rape culture DO exist and I hope reading this will at least make you reconsider, because understanding patriarchy is the key to understanding why something as contrived as gender is even an issue at all. Non-patriarchal cultures which dont have rape also lack strict gender binaries, and accept everyone as having both masculine and femenine qualities, and many indigenous also RESPECTED HOMOSEXUALS as healers and leaders for their abilities to tune in to both masculine and feminine qualities.

    • but someone can explain how a computer works! I can’t but somebody can. if nobody can explain how patriarchy works then I don’t think it exists. I mean it may do as a ‘metaphysical’ thing but that would be weird.

  7. popupsncockups says:

    with you there, I do see women still subconcious level waiting on mens approval for various things, while he is waiting for her to tell him what they are doing, not sure they even know it’s game of power passing, she’s naturally still passing it to him, he has actively given it up, some while ago. our culture has moved lightning fast to equallity on all levels we can’t keep up. its all western culture to be honest.

  8. Just because you dislike the way some feminist have “privileged” rape over other crimes/shitty actions, etc doesn’t mean that rape culture doesn’t exist. Moreover, most inquires into rape take into account racial/gender/age/and disability issues when looking at “rape culture”. it’s kind of hard and pointless to separate the whole thing.

    Sure, rape is an action and so is punching someone in the face or tackling someone for a freakin’ ball, but all these actions live and breath within their own sub-cultures and institutions.

    Definition of CULTURE: …from Webster dic…

    The act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education.

    The integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.

    The customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time

    The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization

    The set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic

    • I dont think rape has its own ‘sub-culture’ though Olga. I think it happens within ‘culture’ and I also think there is a LOT of rapes of men that have gone un-acknowledged and un-researched.

      3,000 soldiers in the russian army die a year, many are suicides, in a brutal culture. I expect quite a lot of them get raped. I expect quite a lot more get raped who don’t die. There is NO research on this. and yet I am told every single day how many women get raped. I am not listening any more because feminists are presenting rape as a ‘woman’s issue and it isn’t.

  9. hmm says:

    But then rape culture is not general culture. The term has been used to tar ALL culture as hegemonically based on rape culture, not to describe a subset of culture (perhaps the rapists and their culture matrix).

  10. hmm says:

    To explodedsnowflake

    a description of experiencing authority is in no way a proof that such authority is patriarchal.

    Why assume it to be so, why assume authority to be inherently “male”? Teachers are usually women, particularly in their most authoritarian school marm role as bullying babysitters in early years. Police can be women and it is women who can call police too, not just fathers. Both sexes rely upon and submit to authoritarian social structures, sometimes out of necessity and other times out of systematic oppression.
    Your identification of patriarchy with authority, regardless of who wields it, is based on the assumption (hence prejudice) that women are inherently non authoritarian. Along the lines of “if women were in charge there would be no war”. Yeah, right. Aside from the historical precedents of powerful, war-starting women, I’ve never been in a community that didn’t have a mix of eunuch geek males and bitch bully women to match the chest puffing boys and shy girls.

    To argue that women are inherently subversive and free denies the existence of those qualities in males. Well, right now it’s bradley manning, a young, testosterone filled male who gave wikileaks, another male run underground clique, the biggest subversive anti authoritarian leak in US history. What are they then? Safely and gracefully out of touch with their authoritarian masculinity? I don’t think they’d be too flattered to be praised as specifically motherly and anti-patriarchy rather than specifically mentally free and anti authoritarian.

  11. lonely loner says:

    well at least you’re not trying to call yourself a feminist anymore, otherwise this kind of bull shit might seem shocking

  12. Jen says:

    Actually, this is quite a strongly feminist post. I think Feminism *does* try to ‘keep rape special’ in quite a reactionary way. The anonymous commenter above is partly correct that the concept of ‘rape’ is very culturally specific. A lot of stuff goes on during that type of assault, stuff that’s not really implied by the word ‘rape’, which refers more to a violation of boundaries, or even private property, a theft rather than an assault. The word ‘rape’ is an attempt to use a word that is very loud and alarming in a Western capitalist context to blot out what is really going on and absolve yourself from having to examine it too closely (or at all). In fact, it’s all about keeping the crime feminine. The insistence on this concept of ‘rape’ to describe a whole series of things that occur during the process of the crime is basically Feminists wanting the victims of the crime to continue to be treated like ladies, if that makes sense (and in light of what you say about the army – and I’d mention public school shenanigans here too – I think it does).

    It’s a very conservative way of presenting the problem. In a way, it’s just as much of an attempt to blot it out as people who make it into a joke or deny it happens. The use of an expression like ‘rape culture’ is just borrowing alarmist conservative language (gun culture, knife culture, swearing culture…) to show that uncouth elements are making it okay to have certain behaviours, so ‘rape’ becomes less an act, more of a demeanour, almost a social origin. It doesn’t acknowledge what happens to the victim of the crime at all. It acknowledges the stolen femininity and then what the perpetrator walks away with (the ‘off’ status of his ‘rocks’).

    It’s so shocking to say this in a Feminist context and people will generally tell you you ‘don’t care’ or ‘support rape culture’ or are ‘trivialising’ or something similar, when actually, as far as I’m concerned, I’m very angry that the Feminist movement trivialises a crime in this way: it’s a violent assault and several other things, and that’s just taking into account the main event so to speak: don’t try to cloak it in ideology or make it nebulous or feminine.

    I find your way of putting things kind of clumsy occasionally in your haste to piss people off, but I’m putting that down to being about as pissed off about it as I am. I mean, women are being violently assaulted for being women and have trouble actually proving it happened, and here we’ve got a movement that, in what it actually says rather than what it claims to say, is campaigning to restore to them their stolen femininity.

    This really makes any complaints about ‘patriarchy’ pretty laughable: the Feminist movement is all about creating this and keeping it in place, otherwise there would be nothing to define our femininity against. Again, despite claims to the contrary, but then again, I’m looking at what these people actually say and what that implies, not their identities and list of official ‘beliefs’ listed as traits of that identity.

    Hope that makes sense.

  13. that does make sense Jen I agree with nearly all you have to say apart from maybe that feminists ‘trivialise’ rape. I think they ‘sensationalise’ it as they think sex is sacred and so a violation of a woman’s body is a terrible crime. but I know what you mean about taking it out of context of violent assault/trauma. I just think they take it out of context of all other violence as well, not just the act of rape itself.

    as for me being clumsy occasionally its not in my haste to piss anyone off, but rather this post is in response to an internet generated meme, and I don’t think that used any subtlty so I was kind of mirroring the style of the thing I was arguing with…

  14. Jen says:

    Well, then again, sensationalising something *is* trivialising it: distancing yourself from something and making it spectacular.

    Much like with reproductive rights where they need a bad person to burn effigies of (or at least campaign against) before it becomes important. There’s a lot of really important stuff happening every day that’s also very mundane and trivial that they’re not interested in. But ‘one individual celebrity said something bad about abortion’ grabs the attention, especially if she’s also starring on reality TV at the time and making a clod of herself in silly costumes. It’s incredibly difficult to get Feminists interested in anything without that spectacular element. To me, that’s trivialising reproductive rights.

    Of course there’s a very obvious reason for all this which makes me feel disingenuous for posting all of this, which is that the intricacies of both violent assault and insufficient reproductive rights are incredibly traumatic and people want to be shielded from them especially if they’ve suffered from them. It’s when you take into account the capitalist interests and the personal brands and fortunes being made (I don’t mean necessarily in terms of money) going on with media Feminism and women’s studies courses (especially with the UK-US model of higher education) that are basically courses in being a victim of rape (past, present, future) that you realise how exploitative, and how trivialising, it all is.

    Reducing something to its value in terms of capital, that’s pretty trivialising, as is placing it between the cooking and fashion pages of a broadsheet, and just because it’s a broadsheet that gives it intrinsic value of another kind, then. That’s the value it gets from this sensationalising, this spectacular element. It’s not trivialising of the profits to be gained or the careers to be made, certainly. But is it trivialising of the trauma of thousands of women? Definitely. Is it exploitative of this trauma? Also, definitely.

    I mean, it’s quite interesting that if you go into one of these discussions openly condoning the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and be told you’re openly condoning rape when you haven’t even mentioned it yet. Also, in terms of being abusive, I’ve found I can convince people in these discussions that I’ve been horribly abusive and called everyone terrible names when I’ve done nothing of the sort. And you know, I don’t want to upset anyone who doesn’t deserve it. But if someone is exploiting the trauma of thousands of women for fun and profit and a byline in a broadsheet, I reckon they probably *should* be crying with rage, also massively ashamed of themselves. That’s a degree of trivialisation that should prevent them from sleeping at night.

  15. I see what you mean and I agree to an extent. But I think rape is still only worth looking at in the context of other forms of violence, I dont think it is ‘special’ or any worse than any other form of assault, intrinsically.

    • Jen says:

      You’re quite right, of course. The whole idea that it’s special or worse comes from the idea of women being property, of them having a certain amount of capital in the form of their virtue, virginity, ability to marry… and the fact that in the event of a rape, this would be completely destroyed and a woman’s economic situation would be… well, she’d be destitute and basically as good as dead. If you treat rape as something more, something worse than all other kinds of assault, then that’s the logic you’re appealing to.

      Also, if you start looking at rape as ‘just’ another form of assault, it becomes obvious how fucked-up it is that this can happen, does happen particularly among people who know each other, and how hard it is for a woman to prove it happened to her and she didn’t enjoy it. I mean, even disregarding the betrayal of trust / stalking and so on the perpetrator would have to do to be able to carry it out, to even get close; there’s the invasion of privacy, the humiliation, the psychological cruelty and finally the grievous bodily harm. What gets me is, when you mention ‘grievous bodily harm’ folks tend to say ‘hey, he doesn’t need to hit her for it to count as rape!’ – not acknowledging that ramming an erect penis down an unwilling vagina counts as grievous bodily harm. You would not have any trouble proving that someone ramming a pretwel piece down someone’s throat really fucking hard using a boot or something would constitute grievous bodily harm. But with rape somehow… well, while it’s conceptualised as rape. If you put all those other things back to back and prosecuted them as they are always prosecuted the perpetrator would be in jail for a fucking long time.

      But for that you need to accept it happens to people, not unicorns or fairies or any other combination of mythical creature / bargaining chip. You prove women are people, and you’re halfway there. Unfortunately, the current Feminist movement seems to have trouble with ‘the radical idea that women are people’. I mean, in principle they won’t tell you otherwise. On the other hand, they lose their ‘feminine capital’ if this happens and along with that a whole bunch of book contracts and a personal brand and an identity and so on. Even more people lose their identity, in fact. In essence, they’re building their careers on ‘keeping rape special’ (or ‘keeping rape feminine’), which is what I find completely unconscionable.

  16. hmm says:

    Just a note: I came across the term “rape culture” recently in a book published in the 90s (something on psychology of PC or of feminism, in any case it alluded to the “in denial” state of men who believe that rape culture exists not. It didn’t elaborate and I’ve not seen it in another book or looked, don’t recall the title either).

    But it has been around. Might be interesting to know the actual origin of the term, a perfect crystallization of hard line post sixties feminism. Somebody deserves credit, at least from a marketing POV.

    But surely there must be something special about the violence of rape.
    1. from a reproductive concern. Raping a man doesn’t yield a baby, no matter what. Raping a woman does. Which raises the question of motherhood/abortion.
    Although, it’s not as if an aggressive random rapist is thinking “I’m going to make her a baby, against her will, bwahaha” rather than ” I’m going to get her and run”.

    2. Rape violence is about attraction (not always). This can of course be directed at a man or a woman, but always by a man (in the genital sense of rape).
    While fight/attack/theft violence is about repulsion. This can be performed by both sexes. But it’s about crushing somebody’s resistance to anything, not just to sex. Or about pushing that window out of the way so you can take the Tiffany’s jewels in the display.

    I think the largest problem with the term rape culture and the ideology behind it, has been to portray men as constantly raping women and being guilty of rape and women as constantly being victims of rape, whether they’ve ever committed the crime or had it committed upon them. It’s very in line with crime hysteria from conservatives, who alarm you in order to make you submit to the “protection” of police and government to a danger that isn’t there the way they say it is. You MIGHT get raped walking down a dark street. And if you live with a sexual “abuser” it might feel like you’re about to be or have just been raped all the time.
    But they’ve been trying to convince people that when you watch tv alone, when you sit to eat a meal, you are part and parcel of a rape culture, you are being raped and raping right then and there.

    Also interesting is how some men who waft into the humanities and encounter this (or have a feminazi girlfriend, as they say) wind up not only believing it, but insisting upon it.
    I think it’s a way of justifying a hatred of other men (who are assholes, let’s be frank), a hatred which they feel guilty about. Maybe it’s the same way with rape culture feminists. Instead of just admitting they’re naturally independent and introspective and misanthropic towards an evil humanity, they deny it by claiming that if only people didn’t rape all the time, they would be lovable. Well, people don’t rape all the time and they’re still not lovable.
    Or who knows… maybe the feminist girls who push rape culture just wish more men would look at them and by claiming that they’re victims instead of bragging absurdly, the idea that men are always checking them out becomes plausible.
    But this applies most especially to Andrea Dworkin, whose star has long passed beyond the celestial horizon.

    Really what’s most annoying about the term “rape culture” is how simple it is to say, how little intellectual content is behind it, how pretentious and how useless it is. “Go learn to do something real, instead of puffing such hot air,” you’d like to tell them.
    “But this IS real” they’ll say. More real than aerodynamics or love poetry. It’s the MOST real thing.

  17. hmm says:

    BTW, the privileged white dude in that poster looks like SUCH a M***F***N’ Asshole. I just want to punch him in his beady little nose. Even without the slogans.
    You could probably turn people against cabbage and sugar, advertising them with such a posture. I’m sure he’s hung several cats.

  18. ‘Really what’s most annoying about the term “rape culture” is how simple it is to say, how little intellectual content is behind it, how pretentious and how useless it is. “Go learn to do something real, instead of puffing such hot air,” you’d like to tell them.
    “But this IS real” they’ll say. More real than aerodynamics or love poetry. It’s the MOST real thing’

    totally agree, hmm.

  19. Jen says:

    “You are assuming it is women who get raped. I don’t think this is a fair assumption.”

    I’m assuming the concept of ‘rape’ is a gendered concept. I’m certainly not assuming that the type of assult implied by the term only happens to women. On the other hand, I would say the victim of rape is technically ‘a woman’ during the crime and in the aftermath, with the consequences this has when it happens to dudes – which is not something I covered in my comment, it’s true.

    I think that along with your endorsement of the feminist movement you’re in danger of throwing out the idea that women are treated unequally in any way. Remember, ‘woman’ needn’t mean ‘biologically female’, that’s one of the basic principles of feminism.

  20. I know ‘women’ doesnt mean biologically female. But I dont think being raped makes one a ‘woman’ even during the rape. I dont even like using the word rape much anyway as it is so loaded. some countries have laws that dont use the term at all eg Canada. also as rape of men is so under-researched, acknowledged going round calling people who get raped ‘women’ seems counter-productive.

    I know gender inequality exists. It exists in such a way that women suffer inequalities in some areas and some cultural contexts, and men in others, and those who identify as neither men or women, in others.

  21. lonely loner says:

    i said nothing about rape culture i just said i’m glad you’re not deluding yourself into think that you’re a feminist anymore

    look at the statistics and i think you’ll find that the overwhelming majority of rape survivors are women (that being, biologically female) btw

  22. I’m glad I dont identify as feminist anymore too but it doesnt mean I can no longer speak about gender.

    I know what Jen means that it may look like I am rejecting womens experiences altogether in rejecting feminism but I am not. the problem is ‘feminism’ is all about prioriitising women’s experiences and I am not doing that anymore as a matter of course. I look at things with fresh eyes.

    I think gender violence in relationships is a masive problem and women suffer the worst excesses of this. but it isn’t rape thats crucial to understanding that violence but rather gendered power within society and (often but by no means always hetero)sexual relationships.

  23. hmm says:

    Do you no longer identify as a feminist because it’s been so totally coopted by feminazism that it seems lost to them forever, like an archaic curse word?
    Because today, there’s no longer any monolithic feminism in the public eye except second wave feminazism in the mind of the right wing (“those bad liberals and their feminazism” sort of thing). While in the academy it’s just ignorance and mild improvements in women’s studies, etc.
    But for the public at large, feminism is now just something like a mix between equality rights and minor opinion pieces and little culture books that nobody reads.
    Is feminism still a bad word?

    Think of the boring question of whether “sarah palin is a feminist” and you can see how much less demonized the term is.
    I mean, it takes an angry group of ladies on tv, vociferously proclaiming that they are feminists and spouting PC, to remind people to hate feminism. Whenever that isn’t on tv, feminism isn’t at the forefront of anybody’s mind as an oppressive force these days.
    Far more damaging to gender relations remains a weird repression among women and the security state. Which is all we think about anymore. And maybe that’s what allows abuses in the army to exist where they couldn’t elsewhere.

  24. hmm says:

    I mean to list two separate factors: first, repression among women.
    secondly, the security state, which is anything but repressed.

  25. hmm says:

    And quite frankly, it seems to be quite damaging to social relations among all groups. Some people just use feminism as an easy target to blame for our problems.
    Not that you do anything like that.

  26. I think feminism is more powerful than you give it credit for hmm but I am a bit tired of feminism I will try and explain later! One way in which feminism is powerful is that e.g. nobody thinks men get raped, not really. and if they do they think it is probably because they are really gay, or prisoners. this myth is in feminists’ interests to keep presenting women as ‘victims’. I think it is still working.

  27. hmm says:

    But is it feminism that is presenting women as victims, anymore? For awhile, 2nd wave feminism was the number one propagandist of the woman as victim paradigm. But for centuries before that it was chivalry and protection as a mask for control by men. What if that is the dominant human/civilized/ordered societal norm? Not for “patriarchy” alone but for just EVERYBODY to want to protect and hence control women? And why do women, who can almost be said to be unaware of feminism (both its earlier history, except for “once women couldn’t vote and now they can”, and its later excesses), why are they so easily self adopted into the paradigm of the “weaker sex”.

    Just to make the point. If somebody raped me, I’d probably plot to kill them (however unsuccessfully), “some day”, rather than ever admit to it, even it were to my advantage in seeking revenge, to have the police on my side.
    AND I would consider it not only honorable for any man to do so but a little bit necessary. If anything I’d admire the courage of a man who could make public his victimhood, even in the narrow confines of a legal system.
    While I would be and am surprised by women who say they don’t report rape but rather carry a knife or a gun. I don’t say they’re “wrong”, just surprised.

    And my attitude is counter posed against a very conscious critique of feminism. So I haven’t been brainwashed by feminazis into thinking this way.

    What if feminism just took up the mantle for controlling women by calling them victims, for the short lull when the rest of society (parents, suitors, educators, authorities) wasn’t. Isn’t it interesting that the most victim centered feminism arose out of the 1960s/70/80s, during the very period when women were more shockingly free and then careerist than ever ? Somebody had to pat them on the shoulder and remind them of how weak they actually were…
    Now that we’re ALL weak in the face of those scary terrorists, feminism can relax a bit?

  28. I think the opposite has happened, now we are all weak feminism needs to reassert womens victimhood even more aggressively than ever and is doing so.

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