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Note: This is not the most political diary you will see today. If you look at my diary history, I sometimes write about things in a more abstract way. The danger of not passing a full and relevant Violence Against Women Act fits in with some of what I say. Take what you will.

There’s been a tumblr post circulating among my Facebook friends to support the idea that there exists a “rape culture” in America, and it demands serious action. Rape in our culture is a point of contention between various groups- debates over whether rape jokes are socially acceptable, or if the term is used too casually have happened again and again in the past few years.


The statistics in the post are legitimate, and are collected with citations here. A series of surveys and academic articles, published between 1981 and 1994, found widespread acceptance of rape among middle school and college students. In a disturbing result, many young girls accepted rape as justified in some circumstances- sometimes at a rate equal to young boys.

This data is compelling, but dated. However, an exhaustive survey by the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey has been published recently, thanks to significant support from government agencies. It is stark in its conclusions: if the rate of sexual abuse has gone down, it hasn't gone down much. In the 1988 college survey, about one in four women reported rape or attempted rape. In the 2011 report, it was one in five.

I don't mean to drown this post with statistics; rather, I want a strong grounding to stand on going forward. More below the fold.

At the end of 7th grade, I had almost six weeks of comprehensive sex and drug education. Going to an independent, secular school, there was a lot of openness to discuss the issues in a pragmatic (rather than dogmatic) manner.

When we got to how men and women are viewed sexually, our science teacher drew a two-by-two diagram. It contains a foundation for sexist thinking. For men, if they have little to no sex in adolescence and early adulthood, they're a loser or a fag. If they have a lot, they're a player- something to aspire to. If women have little to no sex, they're stuck up, or a prude. if they have any more than that, they're a slut and deserve what happens to them. For men, there's a large middle ground where society doesn't pass a strong judgement. Women, on the other hand, are most often put in one of the two camps- you don't have to be all that sexually active to be a slut.

How attitudes on rape enmesh in local and global society is complicated, but it can have serious consequences. The indescribable atrocity that occurred in Delhi three weeks ago underlines the listless nature of the judicial system in many countries, buttressed by police officers that often side defend their actions with arguments often used by the assailants themselves. SlutWalks have revitalized (and divided) anti-violence groups in an attempt to start a conversation typically on the edges of law and order discussions. Both the Delhi case and SlutWalks have a common aspect- they have caused developed countries to defend their inaction. Owen Jones, writing for the British newspaper The Independent, agrees that Western nations scolding India have no high ground upon which to stand. Police often don't follow up on reports. Prosecutors decline to press cases. Juries and judges give out insulting sentences or let the guilty walk free out of sheer indifference. It is a global problem that demands structural change in how men and women view and value each other.

I shall finish by returning to the surveys that prompted this. Spending large on a lady does not entitle you to sex. Neither does being in a relationship. Consent is immutable. It does not weaken or disappear in some context. Rape culture is the rejection of the last two sentences. Men need to realize that, like with racism, calling your gender part of the problem does not implicate or insult you personally. When someone is charged with theft, every man is not put on trial. But there does exist responsibility to society- and you cannot run from that responsibility.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." -Albert Einstein

    by Kazmarov on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 05:41:31 AM PST

  •  I misunderstood your title (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, nextstep, greengemini

    to mean "once you have given consent once you can't withhold it at another time" - whereas now I think you mean "the need for current consent never goes away." So I thought the title represented a view you'd be attacking, not defending. Maybe it's just me, but there may be others who find it a bit confusing.

    Babylon system is the vampire... (Bob Marley)

    by sfinx on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 06:09:30 AM PST

  •  The Steubenville rape is a classic example (9+ / 0-)

    of the double standard to which we hold men and women. People are accusing the girl of sleeping around and therefore she is immoral, but the boys who raped her are somehow blameless in all of this. We, as parents, teachers, neighbors, and clergy need to understand that rape will continue as long as we say it's OK for "boys to be boys". These boys don't understand the meaning of humanity because they haven't been taught the meaning.

    A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. - Greek proverb

    by marleycat on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 06:10:13 AM PST

    •  An issue with the law (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marleycat, Wee Mama, greengemini

      versus the justice system. Regressive legislation aside, I feel that the criminal code is being undermined by police, judges, and yes even juries who wish to turn rape into a referendum on public morality.

      I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free" - Eugene V. Debs

      by Kazmarov on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 07:00:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marleycat

        Many of these cases occur in situations where the two people involved were the only two people present, there is no or equivocal physical evidence, and a lot of alcohol was involved on the part of both parties.

        It is very difficult to prosecute to a 'beyond reasonable doubt' standard under such conditions. It ends up as one person's word against a second person.

        Almost no cases are documented as well as the Steubensville case and even that case is proving somewhat difficult to prosecute.

        I would submit that an alternative (or concurrent) hypothesis to the 'culture' idea of why many of these cases are not prosecuted is the hypothesis that the nature of this type of crime makes it more difficult to prosecute compared to other types of violent/property crime.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 09:11:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is certainly true (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BlackSheep1

          the rape culture concept works within that, in that it devalues the testimony of one party and elevates another, based on faulty premises.

          Also, a necessary part of many investigations (a rape kit) are backlogged to the point that by the time you have solid evidence, the suspect has had months to disappear.

          I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free" - Eugene V. Debs

          by Kazmarov on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 09:26:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Re (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            marleycat
            the rape culture concept works within that, in that it devalues the testimony of one party and elevates another, based on faulty premises.
            Well, I mean, you are going to throw someone in prison and ruin their life over the events in question, so to me you had better be pretty sure that you are right. What you might consider to be "rape culture", someone else might consider to be "proving the accusation beyond a reasonable doubt". Our justice system has to be somewhat adversarial in this regard.

            To me, all such accusations should neither be believed nor disbelieved until properly investigated and the facts are ascertained.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 11:18:17 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  marleycat: those "boys" are NOT blameless. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tom Anderson

      Those "boys" are criminal predators, bordering on sociopathy.

      Their adult enablers and co-conspirators are also criminal predators. They're not bordering on sociopathy. They exemplify it.
      For them nothing is as precious as a winning football team, because if they have a winning football team they have money coming in. They should all be hanged by the neck until dead, IMNVHO, and God can decide whether or not to have mercy on their shriveled souls.

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 01:42:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That was my point. But you put it much more (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlackSheep1

        forcefully than I.

        A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. - Greek proverb

        by marleycat on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 02:14:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  not more forcefully than needed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marleycat

          this is one thing I will be proud to fight for, tooth and nail.

          The right of this girl not to be dehumanized in this way trumps these uckers potential sports careers, and their crooked town's fortunes.

          LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

          by BlackSheep1 on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 04:23:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'm the father of a 3 yr old girl. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marleycat

      So I've been thinking about this stuff for at least a few years now. And while I've come to some conclusions for our family and my daughter, understanding what makes other people tick is much more difficult.

      I don't think it's so simple that you can blame this on religion, not entirely.

      And while there are cultural elements, there is enough self-disdain baked into our culture (how I loathe to call it that, though it is) that it's also a fairly weak influence.

      I seriously wonder if this isn't a football thing. There will be those who mindlessly lash out at that statement, apologizing for football and accusing me of all sorts of things before they've even finished reading the sentence. But that reaction alone should tell you something.

      I have a friend who played highschool football, and he's talked about it once or twice. It sounds downright bizarre. The ways in which these kids are coached sounds... well, it sounds so unbelievable I don't think I want to repeat it. But they're told they're going to war and I think they manage to tap into some psychological aspect of the human male that should remain buried.

      Look at the activities these kids do prior to games, or afterwards. Vandalism and sexual assault look an awful lot like raping and pillaging.

      •  You make a good point. I think religion plays a (0+ / 0-)

        role, but by no means the only or even a dominant role. Strangely (or maybe not) sports, and particularly football are akin to religion in many parts of the country and the idolatry of team players leads these guys to think they can do whatever they want as long as they win.

        A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. - Greek proverb

        by marleycat on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 03:34:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I wonder if the low rate of report and prosecution (0+ / 0-)

    is partly due to the high frequency of rape. It would be as impossible to charge and imprison all rapists as it would be to deport all illegal immigrants. What has to change is the culture of consent and the views of human sexuality.



    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 08:20:01 AM PST

    •  What precisely (0+ / 0-)

      do you mean by 'culture of consent'?

      I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free" - Eugene V. Debs

      by Kazmarov on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 09:21:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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