What is rape culture?

rape culture

noun

  1. The parts of culture (i.e. language, media and cultural ideas) that support the rape, sexual assault, and general symbolic annihilation of - largely - women.

  2. The misrepresentation of why rape and sexual assault occur.

  3. A major factor in why women still struggle to be equal in society today.


Rape culture isn’t really a popular term in our mainstream consciousness.

This makes sense. The mere mention of rape is scary.

But whether you call it rape culture, the #MeToo movement, systemized sexual harassment, sexism, or even ‘the extra stuff that women have to deal with because they’re women’ - you’re talking about rape culture.

I could choose not to use this turn of phrase. That would probably scare less people away, make others less angry. But I really believe in putting our flaws out in the open for clarity's sake.  

People are afraid that when we call something rape culture that we’re saying that we, personally, are responsible for rape. I get it. That’s really scary; no one wants to be associated with that.

But I don’t use the term as an attack. Here, I use it as an invitation to accept that we live in a pretty messed up culture that perpetuates rape, and we all participate in.

Just Her Me Out because it’s a culture, people. But we can talk about it in a (fun?) way that reminds us we do have a say in this.

To start, let’s go back to my definition of rape culture:

The parts of culture (i.e. language, media and cultural ideas) that support the rape and sexual assault of - largely - women or the misrepresentation of why rape and sexual assault occur.

So what are those parts of our culture?

The most well-known include catcalling on the street, rape myths that are often used as defence in rape trials, the acceptance that women owe men their bodies or time, and even the ways in which we encourage the male sexual appetite while discouraging that of women.

But there’s even more things that we do that can be defined as participating in rape culture.

Say, for example, that there’s a heteronormative couple on a date. The female says at the beginning of the night that she plans on going home by herself at the end of the date. She’s not that ‘kind of girl.’ But, as the date goes on, the male feels into her and can tell she likes him too. So he jokingly mentions she should come back with him. Maybe she doesn’t really respond.

A while later, the male, quite charmingly, asks her again. He’s right: she does like him. But she’s not sure she’s ready for that yet.

Cut to later that night when she is home with him. Now, there’s no shame in that; people are allowed to change their minds! But he did convince and coerce her to come back and didn’t take no as an answer the first time. This does not mean that he raped or assaulted her, but it is still a symptom of our rape culture.

There’s a plethora of reasons why he feels this is acceptable behavior (hint: a whole power structure that encourages it) and why she doesn’t point out that it’s not (hint: that same power structure has something to do with it).

If you need a real life example, think back to Aziz Ansari. He didn’t ‘sexually assault’ this woman, but he did become the perfect case study for understanding how either gender tends to experience this situation. (Aziz felt it was fine, the woman didn’t know how to tell him it wasn’t)

Also the phrase ‘not that kind of girl’ is pretty rape culture-y. It could be categorized as slut-shaming. It could also represent how women fear being labeled a sex hungry lady.

So, where’s the fun part again?

Well, that’s what we’re here to do. This blog is a place to talk about rape culture - like the smart badasses we are - but not in a way that breaks us. We can have both things!

If this sounds like a plan to you, explore the blog. Read about 11 rape myths that were used in 2018 alone or why we should be happy that our boyfriends have girl friends. Then reach out and talk to me! There’s nothing that excites me more than receiving an email with a gender conundrum to dissect and discuss.

Let’s talk about the time you felt really weird about a sex thing or when someone said something at work that wasn’t sexist...but also wasn’t great for women.

If you’re looking for a pocket rape culture & gender politics analyst, I’d love to apply.

And let’s get to talking about how our culture has perpeturaped us all!