Dredging Up The Rape Culture Conversation Part 4Billion

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tomokun
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Dredging Up The Rape Culture Conversation Part 4Billion

Postby tomokun » Wed Jan 4, 17:36 2017

So, my apologies for bringing this up, but I'm trying to process this topic/conundrum and honestly - this forum is the best bunch of feminists I've ever encountered.

Like, anywhere.

You've managed to build a great community where people can discuss and debate, and yet people can still feel like they are in a safe space. Which is fucking magical.

I've learned a lot, and while I don't identify as a Feminist, I DO identify as Feminist Friendly and a Feminist ally (depending on the specific wave of feminism a topic or person endorses).

I say all this to frame what is going to be very contentious here, I think.

Is it possible for someone like me to honestly criticize the idea of "rape culture" because I feel it is not useful for solving the very real problem of rape and sexual assault? I think the whole concept improperly frames the problem, putting a greater emphasis on things that require decades to engineer change rather than the short-term solutions that could be enacted today. I say it packages the problem poorly for mass consumption and does little to emphasize the nuances that concepts like Kyriarchy bring to the table.

This doesn't strike me as an "unfeminist" or "anti-feminist" stance. Maybe I'm uninformed or wrong, but maybe I'm not. It's not like I'm going to find that out by not talking about it. It's not like self-identified Feminists on occasion don't agree, they do. All of the available evidence and arguments I've encountered on this specific issue have done little to shift my perspective.

But... and this is the kicker... those conversations where disagreement doesn't turn into making me out to be a misogynist puppet for the patriarchy are few and far between. I think it's like 1 in 10 feminists acknowledge I'm making a reasonable argument, and the other 9/10 want to burn me in effigy.

The 1 out of 10, they ask lots of questions.

The 9 out of 10, they don't.

Thanks to my schooling here, and some very firm boundary setting by the mods, I should point out that I've never violated a safe space since. I bring up the topic ONLY when I feel I am in a conversation where it's ok to bring up controversy. But every time I bring that point out... I'm either reviled or give a kudos. No middle ground whatsoever.

Man, I was hoping I'd be able to process this before I had to hit the submit button... but I guess not. Would love the feedback.

For context, what brought this up was a conversation about whether rape jokes could be funny. It's controversial, sure, but it wasn't MY topic, and my response was about the subjectivity of humor and why it's important to let artists play in the murkier areas of morality. Then someone brought up rape culture and how could I belittle it... and yeah.

Also, for what its worth, I offered and asked multiple times if I needed to bring that conversation elsewhere... which no one took me up on. So yes. I did my best to respect a safe space if there was one... and even that effort was turned into me being "pedantic". *sigh*

Fuck it. Even if this thread gets deleted, thanks for the opportunity to talk about this. My fiancee HATES conversations like these, and it's good to know that even if/when this is taken the worst possible way, that at least I felt I had somewhere to go. Seriously, as ridiculous as it sounds right now I am tearing up at the fact that as contentious as I can be, I still feel safer here than anywhere else online.

It's really good to feel like you have somewhere to go when you can't make heads or tails of things. It's why I hesitated to even bring this up here... but it's also why I feel like I could. Because if I was wrong to, it'll be handled fairly.

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Re: Dredging Up The Rape Culture Conversation Part 4Billion

Postby Pikachu » Wed Jan 4, 19:08 2017

I've yet to see any evidence to show that modern feminism reduces rape.

Sweden and Iceland are commonly agreed as the two most feminist countries in the world, yet:

http://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2009/0 ... n-iceland/

Sexual violence seems to be somewhat of an epidemic in Iceland. The fact of the matter is that, aside from Greenland, Iceland holds the record for sex crimes in the Nordic countries. Sad, kind of scary, but true nonetheless. Let’s take a look at some hard facts: an average of ten rapes get reported per 100,000 inhabitants in Denmark, Finland and Norway per year. In Iceland, this number reaches 24. Also, a notably higher percentage of Icelandic children experience sexual violence before the age of 16 compared to the other Nordic countries.


http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/top-5-countrie ... pe-1434355

Sweden has the highest rate of rape in Europe, with the UN reporting 69 rape cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 2011, according to author and advocate of power feminism Naomi Wolf on opinion website Project Syndicate.

In 2010, Swedish police recorded the highest number of offences - about 63 per 100,000 inhabitants - of any force in Europe. That was the second highest in the world after Lesotho.

"According to rape crisis advocates in Sweden, one-third of Swedish women have been sexually assaulted by the time they leave their teens. According to a study published in 2003, and other later studies through 2009, Sweden has the highest sexual assault rate in Europe, and among the lowest conviction rates," Wolf wrote.

A 2010 Amnesty report said: "In Sweden, according to official crime statistics, the number of reported rapes has quadrupled during the past 20 years. In 2008, there were just over 4,000 rapes of people over 15, the great majority of them girls and women."

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Re: Dredging Up The Rape Culture Conversation Part 4Billion

Postby Taurwen » Thu Jan 5, 12:08 2017

I've never personally researched the Nordic rape epidemic. But when I've asked some Swedish people I know they all kinda shrug it off with the reasoning of "We consider a wider variety of things sexual assault, and women here are more comfortable reporting incidents." which kinda sounds like feminism is helping with rape culture since it makes it less acceptable.

As for the original post, I think you should be able to bring up those points, however it is a hard subject and it's easy to just push it away in disgust. Unfortunate but on a day to day basis I think it's understandable.

(And to what brought it on I think most rape jokes are just incredibly unfunny. Very unoriginal and often not jokes just something said for shock value and I reserve the right to criticize any comedians bad jokes.)

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Re: Dredging Up The Rape Culture Conversation Part 4Billion

Postby Meperidine » Thu Jan 5, 12:52 2017

Our culture is our shared belief system, our mythology, our normal. "The rape culture conversation" starts with noticing elements of culture that normalize and accept rape, sympathize with rapists, and put victims on trial. It's easier not to notice those elements the less they affect you; when you do notice them, they start to jump out at you. After noticing they're everywhere, you start criticizing and opposing them, and when you meet someone who says "that's not really a thing though, is it?" you want to convince them otherwise, and the rape culture conversation continues.

If you are looking for information, I'd like to recommend a couple works that opened my eyes on this subject: Real Rape by Susan Estrich, and Jean Kilbourne's "Killing Us Softly" documentary series.
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Re: Dredging Up The Rape Culture Conversation Part 4Billion

Postby Sonic# » Thu Jan 5, 16:20 2017

Is it possible for someone like me to honestly criticize the idea of "rape culture" because I feel it is not useful for solving the very real problem of rape and sexual assault? I think the whole concept improperly frames the problem, putting a greater emphasis on things that require decades to engineer change rather than the short-term solutions that could be enacted today. I say it packages the problem poorly for mass consumption and does little to emphasize the nuances that concepts like Kyriarchy bring to the table.


It's possible. I just disagree with the assessment.

I think speaking about rape culture has tangible short-term benefits, as Meppi explains:
"The rape culture conversation" starts with noticing elements of culture that normalize and accept rape, sympathize with rapists, and put victims on trial. It's easier not to notice those elements the less they affect you; when you do notice them, they start to jump out at you. After noticing they're everywhere, you start criticizing and opposing them, and when you meet someone who says "that's not really a thing though, is it?" you want to convince them otherwise, and the rape culture conversation continues


We can't even talk about what to do about rape when so many people are either convinced it isn't a problem or they accept it as an intractable problem. I'd argue it's because of conversations about rape culture that you, tomokun, can even ask "So what do we do?"

I also don't see any conflict between theorizing the many ways rape is normalized, developing a conversation that pays attention to these elements, and offering whatever short term measures may be envisioned. Each action has its moment and audience. Outreach is good. At the same time I think efforts to collapse all of this into short-term efficacy denies the ground for further inquiry and understanding. If you don't like rape culture, but wish to shut down the spaces where that talk flourishes, then better theories of rape culture can't be made.

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Re: Dredging Up The Rape Culture Conversation Part 4Billion

Postby tomokun » Thu Jan 5, 19:06 2017

Thank you everyone for your responses so far.

I half-considered just taking the whole post down last night, but figured if I was being an ass I'm better off owning it and apologizing. My own bad day notwithstanding, I considered how this post might hurt others... questioned if I was being overly emotional because of the holidays and.... stuff.... and here we are.

And yes, I agree there are far more unfunny rape jokes than funny rape jokes. Being shocking to be shocking gets you the artistic performances of "Jack Ass" and "Jerry Springer". But I think folks like Louis C.K. do an amazing job of navigating those arenas.

Mep, thank you for those works, I will look into them. :) *sigh* Just a note - when looking for the book by Susan Estrich, don't just Google the title. I found this out the hard way, and I'm just grateful no one was able to look over my shoulder when I did.

Also, thank you for your explanation as to why I get such push-back from Feminists when something that touches on Rape Culture comes up. Makes perfect sense.

But to be clear - my problem with the concept of Rape Culture isn't how it references these elements of culture, but rather the magnitude of the impact these elements have. That is one of the reasons I reference kyriarchy because I think that does a better job of framing the problems of Rape Culture than the actual concept of rape culture.

One of the analogies I use is murder - how much of an impact does the normalization of murder have on the murder rate in our society?

Enough to justify removing murder from our movies, video games, legal system, and the dozen or so different ways we reference legal and justifiable murder? Would framing the problem of murder in our society as a cultural issue help to substantively decrease the murder rate?

I just don't see clear answers arriving from that process.

Point being, it would be fair to call this a "nit-pick", but it would also be fair to say that it's a great point so long as there is something positive being offered up in its place, which I have also thought about.

Sonic, you never fail to provide excellent insights. I DO credit the concept as one which has been excellent for galvanizing conversation. That is a fair and excellent point that shouldn't be missed. My concern with the concept is one that you point out, "they accept it as an intractable problem". I believe that a large part of the reason they accept it as intractable is because the concept of Rape Culture itself makes shifting the culture the only real solution, which is something I couldn't possibly disagree with more.

I'd really like you to expand on this here, because I feel like you might be speaking a bit over my head: "At the same time I think efforts to collapse all of this into short-term efficacy denies the ground for further inquiry and understanding. If you don't like rape culture, but wish to shut down the spaces where that talk flourishes, then better theories of rape culture can't be made."

To be clear, I don't wish to shut down the spaces where that talk flourishes. Hell, at this point I think it would be impractical to "rebrand" the concept. I actually think maybe defining the limits of what that term refers to, corralling it by making it more nuanced might help? I honestly don't know how to deal with it, which is why I mostly try to focus my conversation around the positive action that I think should be talked about instead of Rape Culture... but when it does come up.... the conversation just implodes. And because it frames the wider conversation, it's hard to tip-toe around it. But maybe some of my confusion is because I didn't understand that part I quoted. :p

Oh, and Pika.... that is also something I think about. I wouldn't mind drilling into that a bit deeper, in different areas... but... that's a big field to be mining and the data isn't is as nice and neat as I'd like it to be. Part of me wonders if the numbers are far more skewed than we realize because we our ability to collect data has gotten more precise, which is changing attitudes and mindsets and perceptions, which is not being included as part of the "trend" we are tracking.

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Re: Dredging Up The Rape Culture Conversation Part 4Billion

Postby Enigma » Thu Jan 5, 21:35 2017

Pikachu - rape numbers are often very dependent on how easy and effective reporting rape is in a country. My understanding is that in Sweden each rape is counted individually. So for example in a case of domestic violence someone could be charged 100 times when in another country that would be 1 charge. This skews the numbers. Also when was there a meeting to decide most feminist country? I missed that memo.

Tomokun - you say you have concerns about the concept but you don't expand on what they are. I find rape culture to be a useful term to describe certain truths about the way our society handles things so I disagree. But I would be interested in your reasoning. I personally hate (bad - read: most) rape jokes but I agree that some people like Louis ck do okay with them. Mind you I'm not into a lot of tasteless cruel comedy. Sounds like we agree there.
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Re: Dredging Up The Rape Culture Conversation Part 4Billion

Postby kitkatkar » Fri Jan 6, 0:14 2017

Meperidine wrote:It's easier not to notice those elements the less they affect you; when you do notice them, they start to jump out at you. After noticing they're everywhere, you start criticizing and opposing them, and when you meet someone who says "that's not really a thing though, is it?" you want to convince them otherwise, and the rape culture conversation continues.


When I first heard of rape culture, I was like how is that even possible? Are there cults out there planning to rape women?

Then I later realized rape culture basically means sexual violence is normalized and the victim is blamed for it. No surprise I didn't see it initially.

People know rape is bad but do they know what rape is?
For example if you ask an individual: Had you been raped before? vs. Were you ever forced to have sex?
The answer may vary.

Which is why sex and consent education is crucial in teaching people how to identify these different types of scenarios and in preventing it. It must start at a very young age and not during college orientation when people are strongly embedded to societal norms. You still have rapists saying consent was given when it was not. And you still have victims of sexual assault who thought it was just a "bad hookup" when it was actually rape.

- If you force someone into saying "yes"(coercion) into having sex with you. This is rape.
- If you are in the middle of sex, you decide to revoke and the person continues. This is rape.
- If two individuals agree to have sex with protection, and the person secretly removes their condom and penetrates. This is rape.

And there are still people who do not believe in marital rape. Rape is a power play no matter what kind of relationship an individual is in.

Just look at those shitty laws and our fucked up culture.
- In North Carolina, there is no way a man can be raped since the law says rape is only vaginal penetration. And if a female was to be anally/orally raped, it will not count either. Check out this site https://apps.rainn.org/policy/ for different rape laws and consent definitions from each state
- Statue of limitations on rape kits? Since when did justice have to be set on deadlines?
- Hundreds of thousands of untested, backlogged, and destroyed rape kits nationally.
- Rape victims may be charged up to $2,000 for completing a rape kit. Since when is it their responsibility to pay for evidence for the crime committed towards them? So essentially, they have to pay in order to get justice served..but then again rape kit might be pointless if the rapist said consent was given during court therefore the judge has to decide on who's lying. Sadly it sometimes become this 50/50 issue.
- Brock Turner aka "Stanford Swimmer" used as media headlines. Using personal accomplishments/status is somehow related to being a rapist..?

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Re: Dredging Up The Rape Culture Conversation Part 4Billion

Postby tomokun » Fri Jan 6, 15:25 2017

Enigma wrote:Tomokun - you say you have concerns about the concept but you don't expand on what they are. I find rape culture to be a useful term to describe certain truths about the way our society handles things so I disagree. But I would be interested in your reasoning. I personally hate (bad - read: most) rape jokes but I agree that some people like Louis CK do okay with them. Mind you I'm not into a lot of tasteless cruel comedy. Sounds like we agree there.


I'm happy to unpack it a bit more. But for starters - yes, I'm not a fan of comedians who attack their audiences no matter how cleverly they do it... unless it's a heckler. Anything can be funny, but not everything IS funny, and if the intention is to harm, then it's not funny, it's harmful. Maybe "funny harmful", but the more important category is that it's harmful, and if you recognize and are aware of that, I think the context makes it "not funny". Call it Tomo's Theory of Relative Hilarity if you like. :p

So... within the Feminist community and conversations between feminists, I think Rape Culture is a useful short-hand for ways in which society "normalizes" rape, and the systemic way in which rape is considered an acceptable consequence of being alive.

But the very argument that society "normalizes" rape is one of the problems I have with the concept. I think this is a miscategorization of what is actually happening. The problem is actually even more complex than that, and I think Feminism without Rape Culture more accurately describes the problem.

Let me try to break it down by defining these terms according to how I use them. I may be using them wrong, or differently, and maybe that's part of the problem, but I should break it down this way so at least we're clear on what I'm INTENDING to communicate. :p

Sexual Assault is when someone is touched in a flirtatious or sexual manner without their consent.

Rape is when you engage in sexual activity with someone without their legitimate consent. Not perceived consent, but actual desire and interest in agreeing to engage in any sort of sexual activity.

Consent may have some "gray areas", where the individual may give reluctant approval, but as far as I'm concerned if the approval is reluctant, then they are being coerced in some way to provide consent, so the "consent" is not actually legitimate. Consent can be enthusiastic, or tacit, verbal or non-verbal, and as far as I have been able to determine (except maybe in cases of Aspergers or the like) people are aware when consent has been withheld. Bottom line, for most of what we are talking about, consent isn't mysterious, it's straightforward, and regardless of the circumstances rapists are aware that consent has not been given, ignoring the statistically insignificant exceptions to the rule.

So, when I look at the circumstances surrounding rape and sexual assault, I don't see "normalization". What I see is a combination of normal human behavior reacting to inhumane behavior.

Sexual assault can be considered "flirtatious" in certain contexts because young people are often "rebellious" and "rebelliousness" is considered "fun" and "sexy" if two people are attracted to each other. E.G. if a cute girl grabs my rear-end, I'm shocked and likely pleasantly surprised. If a cute guy grabs my rear-end, I'm shocked and not at all pleasantly surprised, because one situation I want, and the other situation I don't want.

In many of these situations, I'd be willing to bet that some sort of non-verbal, tacit approval was given. It escalates gradually on a personal level, regardless of how sudden it seems from the outside, because this is happening as these people are getting to know each other. It's a bit mysterious, and exciting, and confusing, especially the less familiar you are because of your age and relative experience.

However, there are also rapists, and people who commit sexual assault who take advantage of this "normal" social exchange, and have no concern for what the other person may be communicating, because they are taking advantage of the cognitive dissonance that occurs. Of course a HUGE part of it is also the fact that there is an unequal balance of power socially between men and women. Acting aggressively is a tactic of predatory creatures to make others submit. This is one of the ways that systemic oppression of women comes into play outside of the normal and arguably healthy human mating behaviors.

But, to be clear, there is nothing about what these rapists and sexual assaulters are doing that is "normal" or "acceptable" in society. In our tv shows and movies, the fastest way to mark someone as evil is if they are a rapist. Yes, even a date rapist can only be a villain (for example Biff from Back to the Future). Hell, even Demi Moore in Disclosure was framed as a villain. In prison, rapists are reviled only slightly less than rapists of a different stripe (pedophiles). In fact, the only way to excuse rape or sexual assault socially is to imply that consent was given, or would have been given or was implied by the context of the situation (marriage, and other forms of blaming the victim). Any behavior which breaks or bends societal rules, I just don't see how it can be categorized as "normal" or "acceptable".

They are bending the "rules", manipulating them so that they can do what they want. They are hiding in the "uncertainty" of what is acceptable and not acceptable because pushing boundaries are fairly normal human behavior at any age. The problem isn't that they are pushing boundaries, the problem is the boundaries they are pushing, and their intentions and how much empathy they have for the people whose boundaries they are pushing.

That's also what makes the behavior criminal, but it's a type of crime that is, because of its nature, is difficult to prosecute.

The closest example I have would be "scammers" or "con artists".

The mechanics behind scamming and rape and sexual assault are very similar.

You have victims that are ashamed to come forward because they feel like they will be belittled or found to have "deserved" what happened to them.

Police will "blame the victim" as a normal part of the investigatory process (Why did you give them that much money? Didn't you check up on them? Weren't you suspicious? Why didn't you report this sooner?)

Typically, these crimes are one person's word against another.

Most victimizers are repeat offenders and have more than 1 victim.

If you want to talk about how the media glorifies this behavior, that's easy too. Ocean's 11-10K, and other such movies where con artists are held up as "experts", etc. Victims are portrayed as rubes. Gullibility is seen as a failing, rather than as a sign of virtue.

This ties a bit into what KitKat Kar was saying as well -
People know rape is bad but do they know what rape is?
For example, if you ask an individual: Had you been raped before? vs. Were you ever forced to have sex?
The answer may vary.


Likewise, people know scamming is bad, but do they necessarily know they've been scammed? They might feel buyer's remorse for buying that snake oil, but they might not believe they've been scammed. They might know they'll never buy anything from so and so again, but they'll blame themselves for falling for the dishonest pitch.

Of course, it is a completely different type of crime, and I'm not trying to equivocate the two, but rather I'm drawing these parallels to the mechanics, because I think the mechanics are what is most important to consider when trying to STOP criminals from getting away with these crimes.

The concept of Rape Culture instead shifts the focus off of the mechanics, and onto our culture itself. As if rule-breaking criminals will stop being rule-breaking criminals because we've made the rules between the genders more equitable? Unlikely. Predators adapt, and one such adaptation could be the "soft boy" (a term I just recently came across on this blog. The article simply describes the behavior of a "soft boy" versus a "fuck boy"): https://byrslf.co/have-you-encountered- ... .3p95d2y89

To be clear, I think changing our social rules is a great thing. Focusing more on the individual, and less on gender is not an argument I would ever want to refute if I could.

But that's mainly what we are talking about when we talk about Rape Culture. We are talking about how our media contributes to sexism, and how sexism contributes to objectification, and how objectification leads to the depersonalization of women which in turn leads to women being victimized. That is the long chain that Rape Culture lays out... but without ever acknowledging the fact that it is not necessarily Rape Culture which creates rapists. It just implies it.

Which is the other problem.

Because we don't REALLY know what will cause someone to rape someone else. There are trends and a Reddit thread about why rapists raped: (Trigger warninghttp://jezebel.com/5929544/rapis ... uld-listen

But even that disturbing jaunt doesn't really answer "Why" in a way that we can take advantage of.

The fact is, I think we need to catch more rapists, study them, and figure out how to rehabilitate them before we'll really be able to answer "why". Rape is predatory behavior. But until we can identify who is a predator, or where these predators come from, I worry that anything which takes the focus off of setting up rules and regulations focused on trapping them is just giving them more places to hide.

Which leaves us with the problem of catching them, and that means focusing on the mechanics of the crime, rather than the motive.

Whew! That took a lot to unpack. I hope I didn't accidentally include anything offensive or leave anything triggering unlabeled. I reread it all, but I'm still painfully human. :p

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Re: Dredging Up The Rape Culture Conversation Part 4Billion

Postby Sonic# » Fri Jan 6, 16:55 2017

Trying to think through the long reply, so there'll be a few short shots and then I'll sum up:
So, when I look at the circumstances surrounding rape and sexual assault, I don't see "normalization". What I see is a combination of normal human behavior reacting to inhumane behavior.


Once a behavior is normalized, it will appear to be a "normal" behavior. That doesn't mean that it should be normal.

In many of these [ass-grabbing] situations, I'd be willing to bet that some sort of non-verbal, tacit approval was given.


That's one of the ways that violating people's consent is normalized. There are lots of accounts of people who feel like they've been violated but nonetheless wonder whether they gave some cue that led the assailant on. And there are lots of people willing to comment on given rape cases to say, "some sort of non-verbal, tacit approval" must have been given. Or, in other words, "she must've wanted it, or she wouldn't have put herself in that situation."

In our tv shows and movies, the fastest way to mark someone as evil is if they are a rapist.


Rapists are bad, yes, and there should be some focus on rapists. What I resist in these paragraphs is the suggestion that, when rapists gain cover due to the current conventions and norms in our culture, only the rapists are blamed. Is there really nothing we can do to make those dating conventions better, so that (for example) when someone is being abused, they are able to more quickly recognize it as abuse and seek help?

What happens when you don't adjust those cultural conventions? Well, yes, a certain kind of rape is judged as bad (forceful exertions on an unwilling victim), rapists in stories are written a certain way to be bad, but lots of instances of rape go unrecognized or underreported. If Lorraine had eventually complied out of fear, or if Andy Dufresne hadn't resisted Bogs and the sisters to the point of being beaten within an inch of his life - both events are narratively unthinkable. "Rape" is evil, but rape seldom happens, and when it does, it's usually of one type.

In taking "rape culture" out of this conversation, I find it no coincidence that you reinforce rape as a normal action that inevitably occurs. The goalposts change from either preventing rape or preventing the casual acceptance of rape to first accepting that rape is "normal" and then seeking to stop rapist/criminals. Without talking about rape culture, it's hard to challenge overly-narrow views of who is a rapist. You say rape is a crime "difficult to prosecute" because of its nature. Rape's nature? Not, say, the nature of the court system? That normalizes the sorts of court systems that make rape difficult to prosecute. And then terms like "predator" come out, and "scammer." You disavow the equivocation, but it's still there. The implied pair? Prey. Gullible. You may indeed take steps to prosecute rapists, but only by adding some shame to survivors. I'm not saying you meant any of this, but these are the sorts of traps this kind of thinking lays, when we try to set aside the ability to analyze the vast cultural baggage that we sum up in the term "rape culture."

I can't be sure that I haven't normalized it a bit myself.

I'd really like you to expand on this here, because I feel like you might be speaking a bit over my head: "At the same time I think efforts to collapse all of this into short-term efficacy denies the ground for further inquiry and understanding. If you don't like rape culture, but wish to shut down the spaces where that talk flourishes, then better theories of rape culture can't be made."


I see the focus on "mechanics" as overly narrow. Simply, I don't think we can understand the various mechanisms enabling rapists and obscuring the incidence of rape without understanding just how much we think of rape in terms of a "normal," "natural," or "human" (however inhumane) performance. I don't see "mechanics" and "theory" as opposites, but as addressing different parts of the same problem. Experience helps us describe what's going on. Theory helps us ask more questions about these experiences.

If you're still confused, maybe it's because I still don't understand what your beef with rape culture is.

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Re: Dredging Up The Rape Culture Conversation Part 4Billion

Postby kitkatkar » Fri Jan 6, 18:55 2017

So, when I look at the circumstances surrounding rape and sexual assault, I don't see "normalization". What I see is a combination of normal human behavior reacting to inhumane behavior.


Personally I believe there isn’t anything normal seeing disproportional numbers of women being more affected by rape compared to men unless there is some sort of proof that being a rapist is ingrained in their genes. This is a cultural issue and learned behavior. People learn from rape culture which is embedded into our society and seen as "normal" which gives them the incentive to perform such crude acts like sexual assault.

Likewise, people know scamming is bad, but do they necessarily know they've been scammed?


People know scamming is bad just like how people know rape is bad. A victim of sexual assault is misinformed because they mislabeled their situation as a “bad hookup” instead of “rape.” Which raises the question, is it possible to mislabel a scam after knowing what had happened?

That is the long chain that Rape Culture lays out... but without ever acknowledging the fact that it is not necessarily Rape Culture which creates rapists. It just implies it.


These implications in rape culture act as drivers, influencers, and motivators for potential perpetrators to pursue sexual misconduct.

Which leaves us with the problem of catching them, and that means focusing on the mechanics of the crime, rather than the motive.


I believe we both agree that laws can only do so much in preventing a sexual violence from happening. I strongly believe that proper education about these topics will definitely have a dramatic effect and cultural shift in our decision making, interactions and performances. Do not teach gender bias, gender roles, and do not superficially separate people into categories which will lead to power play.

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Re: Dredging Up The Rape Culture Conversation Part 4Billion

Postby Enigma » Sat Jan 7, 12:44 2017

tomokun wrote:Sexual Assault is when someone is touched in a flirtatious or sexual manner without their consent.

Rape is when you engage in sexual activity with someone without their legitimate consent. Not perceived consent, but actual desire and interest in agreeing to engage in any sort of sexual activity.

Consent may have some "gray areas", where the individual may give reluctant approval, but as far as I'm concerned if the approval is reluctant, then they are being coerced in some way to provide consent, so the "consent" is not actually legitimate. Consent can be enthusiastic, or tacit, verbal or non-verbal, and as far as I have been able to determine (except maybe in cases of Aspergers or the like) people are aware when consent has been withheld. Bottom line, for most of what we are talking about, consent isn't mysterious, it's straightforward, and regardless of the circumstances rapists are aware that consent has not been given, ignoring the statistically insignificant exceptions to the rule.

So, when I look at the circumstances surrounding rape and sexual assault, I don't see "normalization". What I see is a combination of normal human behavior reacting to inhumane behavior.

Hmm okay. I disagree with this. You're describing a concept of rape where there is always someone (the rapist) who has made a conscious decision to disregard the lack of consent (or the lukewarm consent) and that society would always be horrified if they knew. While that may be sometimes true studies show that an alarming percentage of the population actually don't understand consent.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/11362194/Why-students-dont-understand-what-counts-as-rape.html

That to me is a very important piece of rape culture. The odd way our society is suddenly cool with a lot of illegal things the second the word rape disappears and if he's "a nice guy".

But, to be clear, there is nothing about what these rapists and sexual assaulters are doing that is "normal" or "acceptable" in society. In our tv shows and movies, the fastest way to mark someone as evil is if they are a rapist. Yes, even a date rapist can only be a villain (for example Biff from Back to the Future). Hell, even Demi Moore in Disclosure was framed as a villain. In prison, rapists are reviled only slightly less than rapists of a different stripe (pedophiles). In fact, the only way to excuse rape or sexual assault socially is to imply that consent was given, or would have been given or was implied by the context of the situation (marriage, and other forms of blaming the victim). Any behavior which breaks or bends societal rules, I just don't see how it can be categorized as "normal" or "acceptable".

They are bending the "rules", manipulating them so that they can do what they want. They are hiding in the "uncertainty" of what is acceptable and not acceptable because pushing boundaries are fairly normal human behavior at any age. The problem isn't that they are pushing boundaries, the problem is the boundaries they are pushing, and their intentions and how much empathy they have for the people whose boundaries they are pushing.

Yes in media people clearly doing things everyone understands as rape are often (but not always, bro comedies cross this line on the regular)portrayed as bad. The things that are most normal are getting women drunk to have sex with them, lying to women to get them to have sex, women on tv/movies weirdly loving creepy stalker behaviours, women in movies pushing away a sexually aggressive man but eventually relenting and loving it (this one is weirdly common but I cannot imagine it ever happening in real life), threatening a woman to get her to date them, being horrified the second a woman displays sexual agency, writing female characters as walking vaginas with their personalities only existing as an obstacle to sex, and other consent dubious tropes which are ubiquitous in our culture.


That's also what makes the behavior criminal, but it's a type of crime that is, because of its nature, is difficult to prosecute.

See I don't get this. How is rape any trickier to prosecute then any crime with no other witnesses? But yet it is so rare to get convictions. If you say to a cop I got scammed they'd believe you. They'd investigate of course but they would believe you. The thing I don't like about the scam parallel though is that when scammed you make a bad decision based on bad information. Later you are rightly upset that you were tricked. Rape by definition is a violation of consent, if you regret a scam later you regret your own actions in a bad situation. When you regret a rape you are regretting someone else's actions. Those mechanics are not alike.

But that's mainly what we are talking about when we talk about Rape Culture. We are talking about how our media contributes to sexism, and how sexism contributes to objectification, and how objectification leads to the depersonalization of women which in turn leads to women being victimized. That is the long chain that Rape Culture lays out... but without ever acknowledging the fact that it is not necessarily Rape Culture which creates rapists. It just implies it.

The truth of the matter is that ever bad thing is at least partially caused by the way we run our society. It's not helpful to say that bad things happen because people are bad. Because nature and nurture are both important in creating human beings. It is helpful to look at our society with a critical eye and think about addressing the stuff we do which is messed up.

Because we don't REALLY know what will cause someone to rape someone else. There are trends and a Reddit thread about why rapists raped: (Trigger warninghttp://jezebel.com/5929544/rapis ... uld-listen

The thing that strikes me reading these is how many of them call mixed messages what seems to actually be the difference between their dicks and the girls opinion. And how few of them thought to look away from their dicks to check to be sure she was into it. That sure sounds like rape culture to me.
"Human beings are amazing... we might be horrible, horrible, but we're wonderful too. Otherwise, why go on?"

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Re: Dredging Up The Rape Culture Conversation Part 4Billion

Postby tomokun » Mon Jan 9, 11:42 2017

Thanks again everyone for the responses. I read through everything and let it sit with me a bit before responding.

So, when I look at the circumstances surrounding rape and sexual assault, I don't see "normalization". What I see is a combination of normal human behavior reacting to inhumane behavior.



Once a behavior is normalized, it will appear to be a "normal" behavior. That doesn't mean that it should be normal.


Agreed, but teenagers and college age kids being flirtatious and rebellious is "normal". Not all of their behavior SHOULD be normal, but the sort of behavior you would expect from teenagers is pretty straight-forward. Rape is not normal behavior for a developing human being. When a person is healthy and normal, they understand that consent is important in every part of their life. When they are not healthy and normal, they still recognize consent, they just don't care, and this can be increasingly dependent on the circumstances.

In many of these [ass-grabbing] situations, I'd be willing to bet that some sort of non-verbal, tacit approval was given.

That's one of the ways that violating people's consent is normalized. There are lots of accounts of people who feel like they've been violated but nonetheless wonder whether they gave some cue that led the assailant on. And there are lots of people willing to comment on given rape cases to say, "some sort of non-verbal, tacit approval" must have been given. Or, in other words, "she must've wanted it, or she wouldn't have put herself in that situation."


Yes, this is actually my point. It's not very clear cut. You've got systemic sexism in play here. You've got normal human flirting with tacit approval at play. You've got normal human flirting with one person being disinterested, and their lack of consent being recognized. You've got instances where that lack of consent is GENUINELY not recognized. And then you've got people who recognize that consent is not being given, and they don't care... they rationalize it to be sure, but the fact is they just don't care.

To be clear, this is one of the reasons why I think educating kids on how to build healthy relationships, demystifying the differences between genders, letting them know that they are going to risk "addicts" until about their late-twenties are things which would help reduce rape. This is anecdotal, but my girlfriend works as a counselor for kids that have been removed from their homes, and these girls are targetted by predatory people and they even pursue these types of relationships because they have nothing else to compare it to. That's not cultural, that's just ignorance, and it's not their fault that they are ignorant about what a healthy relationship looks like. It's not society that is saying it's ok, it's these experiences without comparison and a whole lot of rationalization. And that's just a part of it.

What I resist in these paragraphs is the suggestion that, when rapists gain cover due to the current conventions and norms in our culture, only the rapists are blamed. Is there really nothing we can do to make those dating conventions better, so that (for example) when someone is being abused, they are able to more quickly recognize it as abuse and seek help?


So, just like when someone chooses to focus on Cancer, it doesn't mean that they don't think AIDS research shouldn't also be done, I do think that there are cultural changes that we can work to make. I'm not sure I suggested otherwise. I did fail to mention that I think kids should get classes on relationship building and empathy just like they do with STEM fields, but that's also something I think needs to be done. But rather than "consent" being the focus, I think the focus should be on humanizing people different from "us" as early as possible. Building the habit for people to recognize common ground. From the studies I've seen, and from the stuff I've read, recognizing consent, even non-verbal consent, is something we are hard-wired to do. But depersonalizing those "outside of our tribe" is ALSO something we are hard-wired to do.

In taking "rape culture" out of this conversation, I find it no coincidence that you reinforce rape as a normal action that inevitably occurs.


Far from it. Crime is not "normal". However, crime WILL occur unless you know how to prevent its occurance. Being a sociopath isn't normal, but people will be born as sociopaths until we figure out how to prevent this from occurring. Acknowledging the fact that something will exist until we can remove its existence isn't the reinforcement of its normalcy.

Without talking about rape culture, it's hard to challenge overly-narrow views of who is a rapist. You say rape is a crime "difficult to prosecute" because of its nature. Rape's nature? Not, say, the nature of the court system? That normalizes the sorts of court systems that make rape difficult to prosecute.


I'm not sure what you mean? You are a rapist if you engage in sexual activity with someone without their consent. Full stop. Is that overly narrow?

Rape is difficult to prosecute for a number of factors:

1. The court system is one factor - we have a standard in the US that says someone is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This makes it difficult to prosecute ANY crime that relies on the credibility of the victim. If some ahole were to push me down a flight of stairs, that's battery. If there are no cameras, and no witnesses, the cops will be able to do nothing, even though 911 may have been called and I would have sustained a ton of injuries. The injuries themselves are not sufficient to overcome reasonable doubt.

2. Rape is typically one person's word against another, with all other evidence being circumstantial. Person A claims rape. Person B says consent was given. So, evidence that sexual activity occurred does little to prove that the sexual activity was forced. Without other evidence, it is "reasonable" to consider that Person A or Person B was lying (by legal standards).

3. Cops are just not trained properly to deal with rape victims. This is a very real problem, and its a policy problem that in part has to do with standards of evidence and in part has to do with the fact that rapes should be investigated by the equivalent of "homicide detectives". Because they aren't, this contributes to rapes being underreported, and there is a rush to prosecute the offender right away, typically with insufficient evidence. Detectives would be invested in establishing patterns of behavior, which as we can see with folks like Bill Cosby, is invaluable at securing convictions. Establishing patterns of behavior and multiple victims makes reasonable doubt seem that much less reasonable.

4. In our court system, putting the victim on trial is a reasonable tactic, regardless of the crime. That's what claiming "self-defense" does, and making a victim seem like they are dishonest is a way of establishing reasonable doubt. If this only happened with rape, I would have to agree that it's cultural, but people will say a traffic light was broken to get out of a ticket, they'll slander a dead person to get away with murder, and the lawyers think this is fine and good. I'd be happier if we had independent reputation vetting organizations that provided their ruling to the court rather than letting lawyers go ham on victims, but I don't know if even THAT is a better option. After all, sometimes to protect an innocent person, this IS the right tactic to use.

So, I'm not willing to relax the standard of "innocent until proven guilty" - especially not under a Trump Presidency. Maybe I'm wrong, but I am fairly Libertarian (I still believe in Universal Health Care and minimum wages, etc., I just also believe in maximizing individual freedom), and while we let criminals go free, we also aren't locking up too many innocent people. I'd be thrilled with a Norway style prison system too, but I wouldn't change our legal standard.

And then terms like "predator" come out, and "scammer." You disavow the equivocation, but it's still there. The implied pair? Prey. Gullible. You may indeed take steps to prosecute rapists, but only by adding some shame to survivors. I'm not saying you meant any of this, but these are the sorts of traps this kind of thinking lays, when we try to set aside the ability to analyze the vast cultural baggage that we sum up in the term "rape culture."

I can't be sure that I haven't normalized it a bit myself.


I think I get what you are saying here, and I don't necessarily disagree. It's... a very difficult subject to navigate. Heck, just my own personal problem of saying one thing and hoping that it "chunks" together the 16 other things that I think hold it together adds to that, let alone the fact that I just might be wrong.

But to be clear, I don't want to set aside the vast cultural baggage that is summed up with "rape culture" - I just disagree that the cultural stuff is the ONLY problem, and I think that some of the cultural stuff isn't cultural at all. Like I said, I'm not even sure we CAN eliminate the term at this point, but if that's the case then there should be more care when categorizing something as "rape culture". For example, innocent until proven guilty isn't rape culture, that's a perfectly noble, right, and appropriate legal standard. Same with reasonable doubt - these things protect us from demagogues and corrupt political leaders.

I see the focus on "mechanics" as overly narrow. Simply, I don't think we can understand the various mechanisms enabling rapists and obscuring the incidence of rape without understanding just how much we think of rape in terms of a "normal," "natural," or "human" (however inhumane) performance. I don't see "mechanics" and "theory" as opposites, but as addressing different parts of the same problem. Experience helps us describe what's going on. Theory helps us ask more questions about these experiences.

If you're still confused, maybe it's because I still don't understand what your beef with rape culture is.


I'm not, this makes tons of sense.

Essentially, it really explains the difference in perspective in a very excellent way! :)

I see the cultural stuff as overly narrow, and you see the mechanic focus as overly narrow.

I agree that mechanics and theory simply address different parts of the same problem, so I suppose my frustration with talking about culture versus the mechanics is that I'm simply biased in thinking mechanics are more important. Which is something I really need to think about. :p

Personally I believe there isn’t anything normal seeing disproportional numbers of women being more affected by rape compared to men unless there is some sort of proof that being a rapist is ingrained in their genes. This is a cultural issue and learned behavior. People learn from rape culture which is embedded into our society and seen as "normal" which gives them the incentive to perform such crude acts like sexual assault.


Boy, I really should have reworded my sentence. :p

So, no, there is nothing normal about rape. Is the behavior learned? In some cases, yes. Is it cultural, in some cases yes. Is it genetic, in some cases, maybe. Is there some other factor at play that we haven't considered? Maybe. I don't think we actually know enough about rapists to say that we know why they rape. For example, we know from experiments regarding good people being willing to torture, that men and women are equally aggressive, and women are more prone to submit to authority. But we don't know if these findings would change if our culture was decidedly different. Let's say that men and women manage to finally form the egalitarian society of our dreams - does rape go away or do victimizers stop being mostly men? We don't know the answer to this because we don't know the mechanics behind what creates a rapist - even though we're fairly confident in saying what rape is, and what rape isn't.

Which raises the question, is it possible to mislabel a scam after knowing what had happened?


For years my mother paid thousands of dollars to a doctor that gave her "chelation therapy", which replaced her need for a faulty valve in her heart. At that time she was bed-ridden, and she did this for almost a decade. Then, when she was brought to the emergency room because she had caught pneumonia, the doctor told her either she got heart surgery or she would have to die at home. So she got the surgery.

That year, I watched my mother dance all night, like I hadn't seen in a decade. She is approaching 70, and when the music gets playing, she won't stop, and even now my dad jokes that she gets "7 malls to the gallon".

She insists that the surgery made her health worse, and that the doctors don't have her best interests at heart. She credits the "chelation" doctor with saving her life.

So yes, I think it is very possible to mislabel a scam after knowing what happened. Perception is a crazy facet of the human experience.

I believe we both agree that laws can only do so much in preventing a sexual violence from happening. I strongly believe that proper education about these topics will definitely have a dramatic effect and cultural shift in our decision making, interactions and performances. Do not teach gender bias, gender roles, and do not superficially separate people into categories which will lead to power play.


I DO agree with this. See my response to Sonic above - I had left out a bit regarding the role I think education needs to play.

Hmm okay. I disagree with this. You're describing a concept of rape where there is always someone (the rapist) who has made a conscious decision to disregard the lack of consent (or the lukewarm consent) and that society would always be horrified if they knew. While that may be sometimes true studies show that an alarming percentage of the population actually don't understand consent.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking ... -rape.html

That to me is a very important piece of rape culture. The odd way our society is suddenly cool with a lot of illegal things the second the word rape disappears and if he's "a nice guy".


Yes, that is what I am saying, and I think even your article confirms it, especially when you look at it next to some other data. For example, roughly 30-something percent (if you need me to I can find the study/article) would admit to rapey behavior without using the word rape, but rapists also justify their actions as not rape.

Now, we can interpret this as incompetence, or we can interpret this as guilty behavior being rationalized away. Both are human, both are reasonable. However, and I have been having a hard time finding the study, but I was actually shown it here, which looked at consent, and it demonstrated that rapists are aware that consent wasn't given (in roughly the same proportions that we are talking about here).

I don't find anything particularly surprising about rapists not wanting to be identified as rapists, especially because I'm not sure that rape is intrinsically tied to sociopathy. In fact, I think this sort of behavior confirms what I'm saying, that rapists are aware of how abnormal and unacceptable their behavior is, so THEY try to normalize it, THEY try to excuse it, and THEY do so by pointing to the murkier areas of our social exchanges.

Going back to con artists - do con artists call themselves con artists? Of course not. They are business men, they do business, its perfectly legitimate. They obey all the laws, just ask anyone. They are good guys giving people what they want. If some schmuck wants to pay 5K to have some fluid injected into them, that's on the consumer to do their due diligence. It's not like they are holding a gun to anyone's head.

Because behavior that is unacceptable to society will be rationalized when exposed.

The thing I don't like about the scam parallel though is that when scammed you make a bad decision based on bad information. Later you are rightly upset that you were tricked. Rape by definition is a violation of consent, if you regret a scam later you regret your own actions in a bad situation. When you regret a rape you are regretting someone else's actions. Those mechanics are not alike.


No such thing as a perfect analogy of course, but what is the same is that the victimizers acted against the victims interests because they didn't care about their interests. And the victims were treated in such a way that they feel guilt and shame about being victimized, even though the blame lays on the victimizers shoulders.

A comedian once talked about the phrase, "Wrong place at the wrong time", and how ludicrous it would be to flip that around and call an armed gunman "Mr. Johnny on the Spot". Fact is, victims second guess their actions, regardless of how they have been victimized. Heck, survivor's guilt is a thing, (I'm about to get philosophical here) because when our illusions of control are shattered, there is a pervasive need to pick up the pieces. Believing "I should have done something different" is comforting, because it creates the illusion that what happened was within our power to change, but we simply mishandled those opportunities. This is "better" than the alternative - that a predator was looking for an opportunity to prey on someone with a certain set of circumstances and there you were. No control because there was nothing you should have done differently because you were doing nothing wrong. Therefore, there was nothing to "control", except that beautiful, wonderful human trait of trusting other people to be as decent as you are.

The truth of the matter is that ever bad thing is at least partially caused by the way we run our society. It's not helpful to say that bad things happen because people are bad. Because nature and nurture are both important in creating human beings. It is helpful to look at our society with a critical eye and think about addressing the stuff we do which is messed up.


So when I referenced kyriarchy, that was exactly what I was trying to point out. It's not any one thing, and culture has its part to play too. It seems to me that when we talk about Rape Culture, because we don't talk about any other crime in that same way, we are so focused on what we can do to change culture and see those results 20 years from now that we don't bother talking about what we can do about what is happening say... tomorrow.

But yes, I DO think the cultural conversation is ALSO important - if not equally important. As I noted to Sonic above, I think I recognized that in the absence of knowing which in fact DOES have the greater impact, I have a mechanical bias.

The thing that strikes me reading these is how many of them call mixed messages what seems to actually be the difference between their dicks and the girls opinion. And how few of them thought to look away from their dicks to check to be sure she was into it. That sure sounds like rape culture to me.


Yeah... basically every instance I read confirmed to me that it was really important for them to imply that consent wasn't clear-cut because of "reasons". If the idea of "Rape Culture" was framed as the culture of rapists, rather than how society as a whole normalizes rape, I would not have any objections to the concept at all. I guess one of the other things that bothers me is this idea that as people living and working together, we've created an environment that teaches people that it's "normal" to treat other people as if their feelings didn't matter. Nothing about that seems true.

People who believe that other people's feelings don't matter have a personality disorder regarding the ability to empathize. Same with people who ACT that way. By definition, this is anti-social behavior.

It's like saying because I play Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty that I'm contributing to a culture where people can murder each other. Rather than the fact that I'm simply an adult that can enjoy the challenges of fantasy settings with no consequences without conflating them with reality, and the importance of healthy human interactions. That behavior isn't the problem, the problem is the actual people actually killing people. To say its cultural is almost to say that I would consider murdering someone if I could legally get away with it as something "normal". For some reason this makes me think of "The Purge".



At any rate, I went through all the responses, lots for me to think about, and I hope I clarified some things that I had stated poorly or not at all.


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