Posts Tagged ‘Rape culture’

I first wrote critiquing the concept of ‘rape culture’ back in 2010 when I still identified as a feminist, of sorts. Below is a version of one of my posts on the topic, published by  Arts and Opinion and  A Voice For Men in 2012. My thoughts on ‘rape culture’ have evolved since, but I stand by my main arguments. I will revisit the subject in the coming weeks, in the light of recent coverage of rape and ‘rape culture’ in the more mainstream media.


I didn’t enjoy being stalked by my ex-boyfriend, and then having him break into my house, threaten to kill me and then assault me. I didn’t enjoy it at all. Sometimes I call that night, over ten years ago now, as ‘the day I became a feminist.’

I was already a feminist. My Mum and her Mum were feminists. I was born into it. So I never really had to think too much until he stood over me, his hands round my neck, squeezing, telling me what a bitch I was. I never had to think what ‘being a woman’ or ‘being a feminist’ means. I will give him that. He and his violence really got me thinking.

After my assault, and my lonely journey through the legal procedure that followed, I naively thought I might be able to share some sisterhood and solidarity with other women who’d suffered violent attacks, including domestic violence and rape. But when I have tried to connect with women who campaign on violence against women, I repeatedly get told that because I have not been raped, I have no right to talk on this issue or to try and empathize with women who have. Rape seems to hold a special symbolic position in the minds of these feminists and is treated as worse — but also somehow better — than all other violent crimes.

The term used to demonstrate the privileged position rape holds in feminist discourse is ‘rape culture.’ According to Melissa McEwan:

‘Rape culture is the myriad ways in which rape is tacitly and overtly abetted and encouraged having saturated every corner of our culture so thoroughly that people can’t easily wrap their heads around what the rape culture actually is.’

Far more important than my own feeling of exclusion from feminist campaigns and groupings around gender violence is the countless number of other people who get attacked and killed in our society, who are not acknowledged by the concept of rape culture. Have you ever heard a feminist say that we live in transphobic assault culture? Or murder of young black men culture? Or homophobia culture? Or even domestic violence culture? I haven’t. Incidentally domestic violence is far more common than rape, and can also include rape. But it just doesn’t seem to impress the feminists who believe in rape culture. They are welcome to their victim top trumps, but I am not playing anymore.

When I say rape is privileged in feminist discourse, I don’t mean that it benefits anybody. I believe that by focusing on the centrality of rape in our culture, feminists are actually making it more difficult for all of us to campaign against all forms of gendered violence in society.

Trying to work out why these feminists do this is difficult. My instinct is that holding onto special victim status has some pay offs for feminists. They can continue to present gender politics as a binary opposition between men (potential rapists) and women (perpetual potential victims of rape). Basically, the concept of rape culture is misandrist, and it does not allow for the fact that women are sometimes perpetrators of sexual assault, and men are sometimes on the receiving end.

I’d like to quote somebody who left a comment on a previous essay of mine about this topic. This woman is a survivor of rape, so the rad-fems won’t be able to dismiss her critique of rape culture the way they do mine:

‘This mythologizing of rape is still rooted in the whole “pedestal” complex, IMHO, and thus rapists are EVIL and women who get raped are spiritually/psychologically disfigured for LIFE and blah blah blah. The “rape culture” paradigm, while clearly meant as helpful critique and containing valuable cultural insight, seems to carry on that tradition.’

The term rapist is one I am not comfortable with using at all, if I can help it. I know I am in a tiny minority, as I see the word splashed across the newspapers on a regular basis, and I hear it being used widely in conversations about rape. The reason I don’t like the word rapist is that I think it serves to undermine our attempts to tackle rape and sexual violence. This is because it pathologizes people who commit rape, portraying them in our culture as monsters and hate figures’ This leads to a situation where we place rapists pretty near the top of a hierarchy of evil characters (maybe just behind pedophiles), so that in fact, it is actually very difficult to prosecute for rape. If rapists are these inhuman monstrous characters, it is not surprising that courts up and down the country are reluctant to convict the thousands of people who commit rape each year.

I have received criticism for my view, particularly from feminists who argue that survivors of sexual violence need the term rapist to enable them to name their attacker, proceed with seeking justice and ultimately to get over their ordeal. But I believe that just as we have changed our terminology from talking about victims to survivors of rape, we also need to change how we label perpetrators. When I hear the word rapist I think of a man, and not a man who is capable of change, of reflection. We have to speak about and talk to men who commit sexual assault as if they are able to change, and we also must acknowledge men are not the only perpetrators, if we want to reduce sexual and intimate partner violence in society.

‘Rape Culture’ is a myth. I reject it outright.


Earlier this week I watched (for the first time) American TV Show Justified, about a cop working in small town Kentucky, amidst gangsters, drug dealers and evangelical Christians. The episode I watched featured a great guest performance from well known American comic Patton Oswalt. He and his co-star played a lovely Stan and Olly routine as they bungled their way through some dodgy moonlighting police work, destined to go wrong.

The next thing I knew Oswalt was the subject of a Salon article by Molly Knefel chastising him for failing to speak out against rape and violence against women. Oswalt had previously defended Daniel Tosh against a feminist blogger who slammed him for making rape jokes. Feminists are angry with him for showing empathy for the victims of the Boston bombings, but not for women who are raped or assaulted (- by men. I don’t think this row is about lesbian rape). Knefel wrote in Salon:

‘What is challenging, though, is speaking out against the normalization of sexual violence, the degradation of women, and the role and responsibility that men have in either perpetuating or combating rape culture.’

Then over on twitter Oswalt got more stick for what? Not getting down on his knees and confessing his sins to the Good Lady of Feminism?

I am annoyed about how the feminists have picked on an individual man in the public eye, and seem to be taking him to task for a complex socio-cultural set of issues in society. He’s just a guy who makes jokes. He’s not Obama or Bono – he hasn’t set himself up as a spokesman or a moral crusader. But more so I am annoyed that feminist writers are peddling a narrative – again- about men, those dirty dogs, and women those poor innocent damsels. It’s very Mills and Boon in a funny kind of way. As I said in what became a rather ‘controversial’ article –  Rape Culture and Other Feminist Myths:

‘My instinct is that holding onto special victim status has some pay offs for feminists. They can continue to present gender politics as a binary opposition between men (potential rapists) and women (perpetual potential victims of rape). Basically, the concept of rape culture is misandrist, and it does not allow for the fact that women are sometimes perpetrators of sexual assault, and men are sometimes on the receiving end.’

I am glad Patton Oswalt stood up for himself to a degree, and didn’t let the feminist mob walk all over him. But I hope that one day, a high profile man (or indeed woman, or anyone who identifies however) actually takes on the myth of ‘rape culture’ and challenges the nasty misandry that underpins it. Women rape too. Men can be victims of rape. Violence in our culture has more men victims as a whole than women. More men commit suicide and suffer injuries at work than women. The ‘rape culture’ schtick is WRONG.

I of course say this often. But when I speak out against feminist rape culture fantasies people attempt to ‘silence’ me. I had my Rape culture myths piece taken down from The Good Men Project, and when I questioned feminist versions of rape culture over at cyborgology blog, my comments were deleted and I was chastised for being ‘unscholarly’. But its the dodgy statistics, misandry and – yes – hysterical premises of feminism’s precious ‘rape culture’ that is unscholarly.

Yes Patton Oswalt has a ‘platform’. But so does feminism. And when it comes to gender issues any man is at risk of being sent to the wolves if he speaks out of line. I believe any subject should be fair game for comedy. And I’ll be taking suggestions for jokes about feminists at the usual address. We could start with this lovely lady as inspiration:

h/t Henry for the Red video.

I had the beginnings of a twitter argument last night, on a subject that is dear to my heart: Objectification.

@BigdaddyKeltik who is a trans man and a feminist said:


‘Objectifying women = rape culture’.



I find this view offensive, as a WOMAN! And Keltik is big on ‘calling out’ when someone says something offensive. Here I am. Calling him out.

First – if objectifying women is equal to and part of ‘rape culture’ how does objectifying men fit in?

Keltik has a lot of objectified images on his blogs. So his opposition to ‘objectification’ seems weak. Here are two, one of a woman one of a man:

Mark Simpson has written recently in The Guardian, in defence of men’s objectification, and throughout his metrosexual theorist career.

So men’s objectification is as important as women’s but feminists never mention it!


Second: Imposing the concept of ‘rape culture’ on me and all other people serves to ‘objectify’ us in a very bad way. Women are reduced to poor, helpless victims and men become nasty predators. I have written against the idea of rape culture at the good men project and other places.

Third: How does objectification prove ‘rape culture’ exists? As another person from twitter commented by email:

‘He [Keltik] is confusing causal links. In so-called rape culture, women would be objects, but if women are objects it doesn’t mean that we have/it leads to so-called rape culture. If it has been raining, the floor will be wet but if the floor is wet it doesn’t mean it has been raining – someone could’ve thrown a bucket of water out’.


Maybe as a trans man Keltik feels able to disassociate himself from those nasty predatory ‘men’. And also from those poor helpless victims ‘women’. But I can’t. And I feel upset and judged by his words.


If Keltik respects Mark Simpson then I hope he at least reads Simpson’s Guardian article before he rushes to accuse men of ‘objectifying’ women alone. Some men are homos for a start! And, as Simpson writes, metrosexuality is all about men objectifying themselves and each other


I sent the above comments in an email to Simpson, Keltik and others. Following my email Mark responded to a comment on his blog, from regular QRG reader, Tim, about David Beckham’s now infamous superbowl ad. Mark said:

‘Amer­i­can fem­i­nists have sci­en­tif­i­cally proven that male objec­ti­fi­ca­tion doesn’t exist. Or if it does it is in no way com­pa­ra­ble to female objec­ti­fi­ca­tion because, er, it’s not about women. Even if it’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine how a human being could be more (will­ingly) objec­ti­fied and com­mod­i­fied than David Beckham.’


Here are some posts by  me on men, women and objectification:


‘Rape Culture and Other Feminist Myths’ is the title of my latest post arguing with feminist dogma, which you can read here at the  Good Men Project.

In the piece I write:

‘Have you ever heard a feminist say that we live in ‘transphobic assault’ culture? Or ‘murder of young black men’ culture? Or ‘homophobia’ culture? Or even ‘domestic violence’ culture?  I haven’t. Incidentally domestic violence is far more common than rape, and can also include rape. But it just doesn’t seem to impress the feminists who believe in rape culture. They are welcome to their victim top trumps, but I am not playing anymore.

When I say rape is ‘privileged’ in feminist discourse, I don’t mean that it benefits anybody. I believe that by focusing on the centrality of rape in our culture, feminists are actually making it more difficult for all of us to campaign against all forms of gendered violence in society.’

The discussion and comments are quite interesting, with a few feminist attack dogs trying to see me off their patch, but I held my ground! Thanks to Elissa, a regular QRG commenter for wading into the fray.

This is the actress Charlize Theron doing a video for an anti-rape campaign. Here is a transcript of her words:

‘People often ask me what the men are like in South Africa.

If we consider that more women are raped in South Africa than in any other country in the world.

That one in three women are raped in their lifetime, in South Africa.

That every 26 seconds a woman is raped in South Africa.

And perhaps worst of all, that the rest of the men in South Africa seem to think rape isn’t their problem.

It’s not that easy to say what the MEN in South Africa are like, because there seem to be so few of them out there.’

– The end credits – REAL MEN DON’T RAPE

I have written before about ‘real men don’t rape’ campaigns. And I have taken part in discussions on Mark Simpson’s blog about how the idea of ‘real men’ is used in our (and especially American) culture to present a macho, manly version of masculinity, that really is quite ‘camp’ if you look at it closely enough. It is laughable, and we have laughed at it mercilessly, but it is also a way that men are reminded to maintain a presentation of their masculinity that denies whole aspects of themselves. And that demonises anything feminine, anything ‘faggy’, anything ‘sissy’.

But this ad featuring Charlize Theron takes the concept of ‘real men’ one step further.

Theron is a white woman of South African origin. An attractive woman. The typical ‘victim’, the most acceptable ‘victim’ of unwanted attention by predatory men is the attractive, young, white female. And in South Africa, even years after apartheid was officially disbanded, the aggressor that would immediately come to our minds when we think of an attractive white woman, would be a black man.

‘It’s not that easy to say what the MEN in South Africa are like, because there seem to be so few of them out there’ says Charlize.

The men in South Africa who rape women are not ‘real men’. The men who do not challenge the men who rape women in South Africa are not ‘real men’. And so, in South Africa, where the majority of men are black, incidentally, there are ‘so few’ real men ‘out there’.

If a man is not a ‘real man’ what is he? A pussy? A faggot? A wimp? A sissy?

When I was beaten by an ex partner, many of my friends commented on how cowardly it was for a man to hit a woman. How pathetic. How only the lowest of the low in masculinity would do such a thing. I hated that. Because non-consensual violence isn’t exactly ‘cool’ in any situation as far as I am concerned. And I was already excruciatingly aware of my ‘weakness’ in that relationship. To have it hammered home to me by ‘concerned’ bystanders just made it worse. They were commenting on my ex not as a person, but as a ‘man’. And if they were saying ‘what kind of man would do that to a woman?’ it followed, in this woman’s mind at least, that they were also saying ‘what sort of woman would go with a man that would do that?”

So in this grim picture of South Africa that Theron paints, it is not just the men that sound pathetic, ‘unmanly’ and cowardly. The women don’t come out of it too well either. What sort of women would let men do that to them? Helpless, oppressed women?

I can’t quite believe this ‘advert’ exists.  I know that South Africa is riddled with socio-economic problems. But they are not caused by the characters of individual ‘men’. The ‘men’ in South Africa are not worse than the men anywhere else in the world. They suffer along with the women in that country. Those of them that suffer. Because some men in South Africa live rather nice, opulent lives and so do some women. A woman such as Charlize Theron, for example, should she return to her homeland, would be among the richest in the country I expect. She would be in much less danger of violence than other women anyway.

Real Men don’t exist it seems in South Africa.

But that is no surprise to me. Because I believe that ‘real men’ don’t exist anywhere.

Rafael Nadal has got into some shallow water over at Armani. I think he has been kidnapped by the Italian fashion house and is being slowly, sensually tortured for our viewing pleasure. First there was the poster campaign:

and now a video advertisement that leaves the Spanish tennis ace swallowing fluid and spluttering for breath. As Mark Simpson (Yes him again), the ‘spawner of sporno’ has observed:

‘As if the tarty Armani poster of Rafael Nadal offering his arse to the world wasn’t slutty enough. Along comes the video.

The tennis ace is being shoved up against the (unplastered) wall and then thrown down and hammered on the builder’s bench. Twice.

By the camera. Which chops up his body into sexy, slippery bits and pieces. Tits and ass and abs. Total, rampant, ruthless objectification. Which Mr Nadal – like many young men today – appears to relish.

And that liquid he’s half-drowning in. Is it bodily fluids? Or is he being water boarded by our gaze?

Could this video in fact be any sluttier, without actual penetration? Then again, wouldn’t your actual, standard-issue penetration diminish the sluttiness by making it both ‘hard’ and banal?  Instead of the grainy non-specific sluttiness that drips off everything in our mediated, metrosexy world’.

Finally don’t we have enough evidence now that men are objectified in our visual culture as much as women are? That men’s bodies are cut up and packaged for our delectation, with very little thought for their status and feelings as human beings?

When women are given this treatment the feminists are up in arms:

And yet I expect this latest metrosexual display of  physical  ‘excess’ will go unremarked by feminists, who cling onto the idea that it is women’s objectification that is dominant in culture, and that is a key aspect of contemporary women’s  ‘oppression’. I would happily ignore them except that their perspectives are affecting how women see themselves, and men, and how even governments make policy around gender and sex. The recent government research and report on Sexualisation for example, included consultation with feminists including feminist academics. The result was it focussed on the way girls and young women are ‘sexualised’ not boys and young men. And when it talked about that hateful term ‘pornification’ it referred to pornography primarily as that which is viewed by boys/men and that objectifies girls/women, turning them into nothing but  pieces of meat.

I keep returning to the work of Mr Simpson because it is the only example I can find of a critique of the ‘pornification’ of culture that takes note of how boys and men figure in this picture, not merely as consumers/voyeurs and potential sexual ‘predators’, but also as objects. For the feminist discourse on this subject is used to emphasise how a ‘sexualised culture’ is a ‘rape culture’. It is a discourse which leads to sentences like this being uttered, (and left unchallenged) by influential feminists:

‘Rape culture is the objectification of women, which is part of a dehumanizing process that renders consent irrelevant.’

Which renders consent irrelevant .

It’s a chilling phrase, isn’t it? We are already raped it says. It is irrelevant whether or not we want to have sex or not. It is almost irrelevant whether or not we do have sex. Women, according to this discourse, are raped by (male) culture.

The Armani ad can be looked at as just another way of selling jeans. Or it can be used as a way of fighting back against the lies told by those who wish to keep women as victims of the ‘patriarchy’.

I sometimes wish Mr Sporno Daddy himself would go even further in taking on the feminist dogma. I sometimes wish he would discuss this issue of how objectification is not just a feminist issue, beyond showing us how bodies like Nadal’s are becoming the bodies – rather than women’s- we see draped all over billboards, oozing with sweat and water and…

But I know he has done his bit.

Maybe I am here to bridge the gap, between analysing metrosexuality and challenging  feminism, between looking and looking and looking at male bodies, and talking about why women’s are just not that special anymore. And why feminists want us to think they are.

But sometimes I too feel like I am drowning, in all this shiny pumped up preening (metro) male sexuality. And however much I may enjoy that feeling, I think it is a dangerous distraction.

It is a distraction from the pernicious, misandrist approaches to objectification that lead to ‘macho’ campaigns like this:

Someone called me Mark Simpson’s ‘sock puppet’ the other day. I was actually very flattered. But if I was his sock puppet, I think my writing and pictures would look a little sexier than they do, a little more metro, if you see what I mean? I think I would have finished this post a long way up the page and left you with the image of Nadal’s pert ass and his fine shoulders, and the thought of his chest, rubbing against that wall until his skin chafed and…

But I am nobody’s sock puppet. I have my own ‘agenda’ to pursue. I still want to know how men’s and women’s objectification fits together, and how feminist discourse on ‘pornification’ and ‘rape culture’ is allowed to co-exist with the blatant spornographic homoerotics of campaigns such as Armani’s. I want to know how we  can actually do something to stop the tide of misandry the waves of  ‘women as victims’ culture that keep crashing against our rocks.

Any ideas folks?

Sady Doyle also seems to hate Eminem (see previous post: In Defence of…Katy Perry).

Here’s why:

‘My first solo, Tori-and-a-piano show was in 2001. Which was the year when she started playing “Me and a Gun,” at every show, again, specifically as a reaction to the popularity of pro-rape, known-lady-abuser Eminem. And opened every show with a terrifying, domestic-abuse-focused version of his “‘97 Bonnie and Clyde.”’

So what is this- pop music as a gender war? I like Tori Amos’ music, but not if she uses it to make slurs about other artists, who have nothing to do with her.

Sure, everyone has written the occasional outrageous break up song. That is the privilege of being a musician. Nick Cave wrote a whole album after his split with PJ Harvey, that didn’t make her sound like the nicest person in the world. I write grim poems about my exes. BUT doing cover versions of an artist who she doesn’t know personally, with a view to showing them up as what? A rapist? An abuser? Not so cool.

And then Doyle is using both Eminem and Tori Amos, in some personal mission against the world. She is more than a douchebag. She’s a piece of work.

I wouldn’t care except she is occupying the moral highground on abortion laws in America at the moment, and making out anyone who doesn’t support her is a bastard. A misogynist. An apologist for rape and neglect of women:

Eminem will be no stranger to this kind of thing.

But that’s all the more reason to draw attention to it.

FUCK THIS SHIT as Emi might say himself.