Does belief in the existence of “Rape Culture” victimize women?

“X things don’t cause rape, rapists cause rape.”

Deaf people have Deaf culture, but I don’t really think that rapists get together and have Rapist Culture.
If only rapists cause rape, then only rapists can contribute to rape culture.
Is everyone who contributes to rape culture a rapist, whether they raped someone or not?
What if a woman has created a work that ‘contributes to rape culture’?
Does a work magically not contribute to rape culture if it was created by a woman?
Even if the same work, were it created by a man, could be pointed to as an example of rape culture?
But since women are perpetual victims of rape culture, and victims are allowed no agency in their victimhood, a woman cannot, therefore, create or perpetuate rape culture.
Does the notion of “rape culture” and the perpetuation of the notion that rape culture exists, a notion that therefore removes agency from women, victimize women by reducing them to a state of perpetual victimhood in which they have no part or agency and therefore no control or means of escape?
Does my introspection on the matter create rape culture?

(It should be noted that this post at The Book Wars, which is an absolutely wonderful blog, is what got me down this line of thinking, particularly since most of the books singled out were written by female authors.)

9 responses to “Does belief in the existence of “Rape Culture” victimize women?

  1. I think previous discussion led to at least two different kinds of rape — one that intimidates/dominates/humiliates a person as an end, and another with sexual gratification as an end.

    Since men can also be victims of rape, a good test of related ideas might be to reverse the gender roles and see if it holds true.


    • The branches of feminist thought I’ve come across that tend to expound the most heavily on the concept of rape culture don’t strike me as the kind that would allow for that sort of reversal. A lot of it relies on a binary system of oppressed and oppressor, where the oppressor comes from a unique position of privilege. That privilege acts as leverage in the argument that denies the supposed oppressor from having any sort of true empathy with the oppressed. What fascinates me is that the same ideology that clings rigidly to this binary paradigm of oppressor and oppressed is thoroughly opposed to binary absolutes in regards to almost every other aspect of human culture and biology.

      Do I believe that culture, as it exists, contains things that are damaging or threatening to women? Absolutely. How pervasive is it? Very pervasive. Do I think that it is the result of a monolithic gender-based binary system of oppression by men against women? I strongly doubt it.

  2. I think you may be looking at this a bit too simply. In my opinion, which is not stone cold truth nor will I claim it as such, it is not women or individuals who perpetuate rape culture, it is their actions that do. For example, a woman by herself or a man by himself does just standing there in the corner is (probably) not perpetuating rape culture. However, if the woman or the man writes a book and in the books the relationships portrayed are problematic and does not just maintain the status quo but actively promotes it, then that book perpetuates rape culture. And then you get to the really murky place about the separation of a work from its creator and though I’d like to talk about it, I don’t have the time to. Also, I think you have to give the word “victim” a closer look. I’m not certain it is the correct term in this context. Very interesting thoughts. I enjoyed reading them. Thank you for the link back as well.

    • Of course, and thank you for your thoughts! I agree that actions people take are what makes the difference. I’m only concerned when people are more willing to weigh gender more than actions when assigning or absolving guilt. Given your own statements both here and on your blog, I think we’re on the same page as far as how the product/body of work rather than the gender of the person who creates it is the most important factor on whether or not it creates a hostile or dangerous environment or culture for women. The problem occurs, I think, when people become willing to assign blame solely on male perpetuators based on their gender alone without looking at the bigger picture.

    • And to clarify my thoughts on victims, I’m mostly pondering that if a system of thought says that there is an endemic system in place that victimizes all women, that system of thought is saying that all women, even those who have not seen themselves as victims, are in fact victims whether they believe so or not. Therefore, those individuals who were not victims before are now victims because everyone is a victim, and hence they are ‘victimized’. In the binary version of the rape culture paradigm, males cannot be victims of rape culture because of the male privilege they enjoy.

  3. Technically “rape culture” is not a subculture that rapists participate in. Rape culture is a term used for a culture that holds ideas that take rape lightly, or sees rape as something that “happens” to you if you are not careful. Shortly put, rape culture is a culture that teaches women (people, but in our case, mostly women) how to avoid rape “happening” to them but doesn’t teach men (people in power) NOT to rape. Including telling them what rape exactly is. A surprising number of people (men AND women) don’t know that you can’t consent if you are under the influence, for example. My students are always shocked when I tell them this.
    So, in this regard, yes, female authors can absolutely propagate ideas that contribute to rape culture. It starts with small and almost insignificant notions of consent, or lack thereof. And it also includes warnings like “be careful with drinking if you don’t want to get raped” instead of “make sure your partner is not drunk before you initiate anything.”

    • Thanks for your thoughts on the matter. I suppose the difficulty lies in the figuring out how to teach men not to rape. Sure, one can educate, but I think the problem lies way deeper than simple concepts of consent in context of substance use. Those situations are where some of it happens, but definitely not all of it. Abusive relationships and backwards views on female sexuality can and do exist, along with rape, in the absence of substance abuse and outside of the clubs.

      I don’t know if it can be combated without taking both offensive and defensive steps. Offense to change the culture, defense until the war is won.

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