Rape Culture

Last month, one of my favorite authors – Shannon Hale – brought up the sensitive but pertinent topic of rape culture in our country. She says ” Rape culture is an environment that is conducive to rape.” She talks about how if  an upstanding woman gets ambushed and raped, there’s no question that is rape. But things like date rape turns the definition into a gray area. The victim often has to fight just as hard (or harder) to prove herself innocent and the perpetrator. If the woman was drinking, well then she was obviously asking for it. And if she’s married to him, than it’s her duty – not rape. It all stems from the attitude that women are objects there to please men.

Her next post goes into detail on the difference between sex and rape. It boils down to consent. Shannon says “Consent isn’t the absence of a “no;” consent is an unequivocal and enthusiastic YES.” Rape is about power and control, consent is optional. Sex is about an intimate connection. There is a huge difference between the two!

In her third post she goes into more depth about consent. She had some comments debating an enthusiastic yes was needed for consensual sex. If everyone followed her definition, maybe we wouldn’t have the term date rape. I love her point about when a husband wants sex but his wife isn’t in the mood. If he disregards her desire, her voice, because he wants her body – that’s unhealthy. That’s abuse. What does it say about a person who is OK having sex with someone who doesn’t want to have sex with them?

This is an important discussion we should be having with our children, both our sons and daughters. Education is the key to changing behavior and our culture.


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One Response to Rape Culture

  1. [Content Note: This thread will contain lots of discussion about stalking, hostility to consent, NiceGuyism, hostility to consent, and other facets of rape culture. Please assess your spoons carefully and proceed accordingly.] I was talking to a friend recently about the 1982 Scott Baio film Zapped!, in which Baio’s character acquires telekinetic powers during an experiment and uses them to, I s*** you not, blow girls’ clothes off. It put me in mind of this old post and the associated thread, in which we discussed how there’s a rape in Sixteen Candles, just tucked in there at the end, like another hilarious twist in a teen rom-com, and the threads we’ve had about how the immensely popular Superbad is a film about two guys trying to get girls drunk enough to “have sex with” them, and this thread , and dozens of others like it, where we’ve talked about how crimes like stalking are frequently portrayed as romantic and/or a normal part of courtship. So, here is a thread to compile all the many ways rape culture plays out in romantic comedies and serves to normalize hostility to consent and healthy relationship dynamics, even in films we may like and enjoy. I, for example, have an intractable fondness for Love, Actually, even though it is super problematic in so many ways specific to this thread. What films can you think of that include stalking, spying, snooping, coercion, sexual assault, rape, etc. are played out as a totally noncontroversial part of courtship?