Within the last couple of months, anti-rape advocates and organizations have had to address a ludicrous and harmful declaration: that Rape Culture does not exist. RAINN rejected the fact that our society has created a culture that validates and justifies sexual violence while marginalizing and sometimes vilifying survivors for speaking out. Another so-called victim advocacy organization posted a blog entry that compared “PC Feminists” usage of the term Rape Culture to Hitler’s hate propaganda that targeted Jewish people in his awful Mein Kampf book that helped stoke racial flames that eventually (and quickly) started the ethnic-cleansing-and-genocide fire we’re all familiar with. Yes, someone actually compared feminists and Rape Culture to Hitler and anti-Semitism. Rape Culture exists, it is a reality that we all have experienced and/or have been oppressed by in some way. Unfortunately within the current movement and anti-rape activism “Rape Culture” has become synonymous with strict-gender-and-class based ideals. Rape culture is typically invoked when talking about sexual assault on college campuses and with women as survivors and men in privileged positions (who are rarely punished) as the attackers. Certainly, this is prevalent, but there is more to Rape Culture and sexual violence than what mainstream media, anti-rape advocates and deniers of Rape Culture frequently discuss.
Rape Culture is more than simply misogyny; it is racism, heterosexism, nationalism, anti-Trans* hatred, and classism that oppress all individuals in society, survivors, victims, and everyone else. This country was built on violence, and a majority of that violence was directed at racial groups-specifically Native populations and Black slaves-that were tormented with sexual violence as a means of colonization and control. This specific sexual assault and rape still occurs to this day-Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be targeted for sexual violence, and practically with impunity with the current laws-and communities of Color are still experience rape and sexual assault disproportionately. The LGBTQ community also experiences high instances of rape and sexual violence, and are subsequently either further victimized by our heterosexist society or just ignored. Rape Culture trivializes the experiences of male survivors. Rape Culture permits a major news article to call an 11-year old gang-rape survivor “promiscuous.” Rape Culture is when a chemical magnate who confesses to molesting and sexually assaulting his toddler daughter and infant son is given no jail time because he wouldn’t “fare well” in prison. Rape Culture mourns the loss of “promising” futures of sex offenders while demonizing survivors. Rape Culture looks the other way when prisoners of both sexes are sexually assaulted or raped. Rape Culture is when a Trans* survivor is afraid to report the attack to police for fear of retaliation for their identity. Rape Culture is when we speak of survivors and perpetrators using sex-binary pronouns. Rape Culture is when we use the word “rape” as an everyday verb or don’t speak out against rape jokes or harmful language.
We perpetuate rape when we do nothing as bystanders. We are oppressed by Rape Culture when we have to defend ourselves as survivors and advocates. Rape Culture exists and we as a community have to contend with it every day of our lives, at every step. It is not a witch hunt against men concocted by PC feminists to persecute innocent men and gain funding from the government. It is an oppressing and violent force that created the need for rape crisis centers and the anti-violence movement in the first place. We anti-rape activists are not out to imprison innocent men or spread lies about sexual assault and rape culture for personal or monetary gain. We are social justice advocates working to eradicate the social inequities and oppressions that are inherent in Rape Culture, and work towards a future free of sexual violence.
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