Who Puts The Rape In Rape Culture?
March 29, 2016 1 Comment
Rape culture, according to second-wave feminist theory, is a shared social understanding with pervasive, normalized rape events based on gender and sexuality attitudes. But what does it mean in the world view of third-wave feminism? What does it mean to call a culture a “rape culture” today?
Adjectives, as any year five student knows, are words which modify or describe a noun. They are used to bring attention to an important aspect of a thing – or at least an aspect that is considered important to the person describing the thing. The same rock could be described as “a red rock” by one person, “a large rock” by another, and “a sharp rock” by a third.
In other words, adjectives are chosen subjectively according to what the speaker wants to emphasize. If it’s not important to the speaker, he or she won’t use an adjective to describe it. If the speaker does use an adjective, it’s because that aspect is important to the speaker.
Culture vs. Rape Culture
Why describe a culture with an adjective? Because the speaker wants to draw attention to that feature of a culture. Why draw attention to that feature? Two reasons spring to this opiner’s mind. The first is that it’s a good feature, and the speaker wants to praise it. The other is that it’s a bad feature, and the speaker wants to shame it.
In the case of the adjective “rape” in “rape culture”, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that it’s included because rape is a bad thing to be shamed. But there are a few curious facts about this description that belie that conclusion.
The first is that rape statistics are gleefully overblown to the point of absurdity. This is best shown by the “one in four (or five) women are raped in college” statistic that third-wave feminists are fond of quoting. This is fractally wrong. The most obvious point of error is the equivalence made between sexual assault (anything from a stolen kiss or accidental boob touch) to full-on penetrative rape. Feminists like to quote the National Sexual Violence Resource Center as if its study was definitive, but this report is where the confusion originates. It says both “one in five women are raped in their lives” and “one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college”. It makes a far better impact to misremember the two and instead say “one in five women are raped in college.” Other examples of overblown statistics are just as absurd, but there are very few sources who are willing to stand up to them.
The second is that the worst case scenario is treated as the perpetual, unchangeable, norm. The first study that mentioned the one-in-four measure happened in 1982, and despite all efforts made in the last 34 years to combat rape, if you ask the third-wave feminists, that rate hasn’t gone down at all, when in fact it has, and precipitously so.
The third is the saddest: that being a rape survivor is considered a badge of merit. Untold hundreds of Twitter and Tumblr users describe themselves as rape survivors even when it’s irrelevant to the discussion. Some, like @rapesurvivor22, @Survivorof_Rape, and @squarrell, go so far as to put it in their profile or handle, along with all their other third-wave feminist badges of merit.
Desirable Rape Culture?
It’s clear that, for some rape survivors, being in a culture that glorifies and elevates rape survivors qua rape survivors is socially beneficial. And just as clearly, to have rape survivors, a society must have rapists. A society without rape would have no understanding of the trauma a rape survivor had gone through, and would therefore not treat them as special. They would lose that badge of merit.
It therefore benefits these social status seeking snowflakes – not the moderate feminists, and certainly not the vast majority of people who are neither rapists or rape victims – to perpetuate rape culture.