Rape Culture

This week’s word/term is rape culture.

Rape culture refers to the set of widespread beliefs and behaviours which promote rape and sexual violence in society.

There are many common myths about rape which contribute to rape culture.

tw: examples of rape culture, victim blaming

These include: the myth that rape cannot occur between married people or people in relationships, the myth that rape cannot be perpetrated by someone of the same gender as the victim, the myth that women cannot be rapists and the myth that men cannot be raped.

Rape culture is not only myths. Rape culture is also based in the fact that people who speak out about being raped are seldom believed (eg: those who have accused Bill Cosby of rape). Rape culture is based in a society that promotes the idea that certain rape is worse than others, i.e. violent rape is worse than rape by a spouse or partner. Rape culture is also rooted in victim-blaming, which is a societal trend that asserts that if the victim was ‘promiscuous’, a sex worker, transgender or queer, wearing revealing clothes, etc., their rape is their own fault.

Rape culture also manifests through rape jokes, which make light of a serious issue and can be profoundly hurtful to those who have been sexually assaulted.

Rape culture is also epitomised through the mistreatment of rape victims by the police, health care officials, and the rest of the community.

When we believe these rape myths, we make it difficult for many rape victims to speak out about their experiences. We also make it easier for rapists to continue assaulting people. For this reason, it is crucial that we recognize and challenge rape culture when we see it.

Image by Michelle Avenant

Image by Michelle Avenant

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