rape culture

Recent posts

Tips For Men With Good Intentions

Actually, this fabulous blog post by my feminist friend Xenologer is less of a collection of tips and more of a comprehensive guide to understanding how male privilege can negatively affect the interactions of well-intentioned men with women. Using simple language and concrete examples, and packing a ton of links for further reading, Xenologer unpacks how guys who don’t perceive themselves as sexist can have happier and healthier interactions with not just women, but everyone around them who’s impacted by patriarchal power structures – which is to say everyone, really. Here are some of my favorite points from her post (though really, you should just go read the whole thing):

Recognizing your privilege is important – and perhaps more importantly, you don’t have to feel bad about being privileged. When feminists point out instances of male privilege, we’re not trying to shame you for having it: “You are definitely not a bad person for having male privilege, and you don’t need to be a sexist male to have it. It’s not ‘misogynist privilege,’ after all. Continue Reading →

Messages To Teenage Girls (And Boys)

Those of us who spend a lot of time on the internet will have seen this “letter to teenage girls” that has been circulating. The author, a mother, is basically telling teenage girls to stop taking sexy-looking self photos and putting them online, because it’s not good for the innocent eyes of her chaste sons. Or something like that. There’ve been a number of responses, pointing out that this upholds the idea that women are responsible for managing men’s sexuality (which they are most certainly not!), or the notion that girls need to be modest (an idea that varies by time period and culture) while boys do not. Personally, I was struck by how much the letter demonizes sexual self-expression, arousal, and, well, sexual stuff in general. Continue Reading →

The Wallet Metaphor

Humans communicate in metaphors. They’re useful for expressing abstract concepts in concrete terms, even if the metaphor doesn’t 100% map to the concept being expressed (the point is that they’re not supposed to be literal representations). My post on the puzzle box model of sex shows one example of this, and this blog post using a lost wallet metaphor demonstrates another. According to the wallet metaphor, “just because you left your wallet someplace doesn’t make it right that someone took your money” and, similarly, “We set the stage for ‘date’/'acquaintance’ rape when we imply that when a woman’s body is ‘left out in the open’ in some way — because of a short skirt, or too many drinks — it’s in any way acceptable to engage in any type of sexual contact without her explicit consent.” Think about it. Continue Reading →

Reminders About Rape Prevention

Part of the point of openly talking about rape culture is that it is so pervasive that it can blind us to logic, and that needs to change. Take, for instance, this blog post on rape prevention, which notes:

If owning a gun and knowing how to use it worked, the military would be the safest place for a woman. It’s not. If women covering up their bodies worked, Afghanistan would have a lower rate of sexual assault than Polynesia. It doesn’t. If not drinking alcohol worked, children would not be raped. Continue Reading →

Challenging Rape Culture In India (Trigger Warning)

A 23-year old medical student was gang-raped on a public bus in Delhi, India, leading to nation-wide protests. Protesters point out the pervasive rape culture in India, such that rape is horrifyingly common and the legal consequences are few. Many protesters are hopeful about both cultural and legal reforms, using this latest incident as a means of opening a public dialogue about a troubling problem. I’m hopeful on their behalf, too. Continue Reading →

Indonesia: Defining Porn In Order To Ban It, Plus Mini-Skirts Cause Rape

A series of new Indonesian laws would set criteria for defining pornography in order to ban it, as well as outlaw immodest clothing for women based on the belief that women’s attire is what causes them to be targeted by rapists. I hardly know where to begin with this set of erroneous assumptions – and yes, I acknowledge that religion, specifically various sects of Islam, is important in the situation and adds a layer of complexity which I will not be able to fully address here. However, I bring up this news story in order to educate our American readership about global events, and also to point out some parallels in our supposedly-more-enlightened country. So, first: how do we define pornography? We have been there, done that in the US, without much success. Continue Reading →

Rape Culture, Pro-Life, And Anti-Women Rhetorics

There is a connection between various cultural messages about sex that reach us through the media, politics, and everyday life. I’ve seen it helpfully articulated on feminist blogs and in conversations with feminists and other allies, but it wasn’t until I was reading the footnotes of Sex at Dawn (because I am a nerd like that) that it all fell into place for me. First, I’d read Echo Zen’s Slutwalk address, which was awesome and thought-provoking. Speaking from the perspective of a reproductive health advocate, he defines rape culture as a culture that punishes women for trying to be in control of their sexuality, especially when that means choosing to be sexually active. Rape culture normalizes sexual violence and employs victim-blaming and slut-shaming strategies to cow women into complying… Continue Reading →