Do We Really Live in a Rape Culture?

Do We Really Live in a Rape Culture?

“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life,” Dan A. Turner wrote this in a letter arguing that his son should receive probation, not jail time, for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.

“These two young men – who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students — literally watched as they believed their life fell apart,” said CNN anchor Candy Crowle, speaking of two Steubenville football players convicted of raping an unconscious classmate at a party.

“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything,” boasts Donald Trump speaking to Access Hollywood host Billy Bush in 2005. 

We live in a world where society doesn’t want to ruin the lives of rapists by having them pay for the consequences of their behavior.

We live in a world where a man accused by multiple women of sexual assault and harassment – who has been recorded bragging about it – is elected President of the United States.

In all three of these instances, the media focused on how the perpetrator’s behavior should or should not influence their future opportunities for success. Almost no media attention was given to the victims.

How did being assaulted affect their future opportunities for success?

How did these sexual assaults affect their physical and mental health?

Were they able to “move on” and live a normal life?

Victim Blaming

Any attention given to the victims was in the form of victim blaming.

Why was she there? How was she dressed? What time was it? Why was she drinking?

Our society doesn’t ask why the perpetrator committed an assault, it asks why the victim put herself in a position to be assaulted. (Similarly, we don’t train our sons to not be perpetrators, we train our daughters how to not be victims).

That doesn’t happen when crimes are committed against men. If a man is attacked and robbed after leaving a bar, he isn’t asked, “Why were you drunk?”  “What time was it?” “Why did you leave alone?” “Why did you wear that expensive watch and nice clothes?” “Obviously, any thief is going to consider you a target.” (For an example of victim-blaming, watch Tracey Ullman’s take.)

That doesn’t happen because it’s illogical to blame the victim for a crime committed against him. Unless the victim is a woman.

Are rape jokes really a big deal?

Amy Logan, who consults on women’s global issues for the U.S. State Department, writes, “I want a world where rape jokes are equally as unacceptable as rape because that will be a world that is much safer for women and girls.”

She considered how to respond to a rape joke, and suggests, “Do you really think that poorly of men?”

Helping men get it

Some men have already joined the fight. Julius Goat’s twitter chain comparing getting constantly “kicked in the nuts” to sexual assault helped men understand that women don’t “ask for it” or deserve it.

He reframes two of the examples from the beginning of this blog.

“Imagine a girl was caught kicking a boy repeatedly in the nuts while he was passed out drunk. Imagine the judge let her off, because she was worried about the damage to the girl’s future prospects. She was a star swimmer with a scholarship. Imagine this happened all the time.”

“Imagine a woman ran for President. Imagine audio came out of her bragging about making it a regular practice to kick men in the nuts without even introducing herself. Imagine she lost no support for this.”

He acknowledges that men should be able to understand women’s rage about male indifference to sexual assault, “By the way it’s 100% insane that this issue seems to require an analogy to draw a sharper focus on how wrong our society presently is, but here were are.”

Do we live in a “rape culture”?

The definition of Rape Culture is “a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse”. (

According to that definition, there is no room for doubt- the United States definitely has a rape culture.


Be an active bystander

The vast majority of men do not perpetrate violence against women. Research tells us that the small number of men who perpetrate violence do it over and over and over with both the same and different victims.

We need to encourage and empower men to create a culture where degrading women and girls isn’t funny and isn’t acceptable. Men, you can help stop the acceptance of rape culture in your circle of influence.

When someone says something inappropriate, speak up.

Changing a culture requires courage. When a friend criticizes someone for “acting like a girl” because he shows emotion or “playing like a girl” when he makes a mistake in a sports game. . . you can call them out.

You can call out your friends and colleagues when they brag about their sexual conquests.

When a guy brags about getting a girl drunk so he can sexually assault her, you can say, “Man, haven’t you heard of consent?”  A person who is drunk, high, or a sleep can’t give consent. Consent is a strong yes. Anything else is not consent.

It takes strength and courage to stand up and say that to another guy.

When you see an intoxicated girl at a party or at a bar being coaxed to go somewhere with a guy, offer to call her an Uber or a friend to come get her.

It takes strength and courage to intervene.


You can change the culture

Only a small percentage of men commit violence against women.  The rest of the men – the “good guys” must create a culture where those perpetrators’ behaviors are not accepted and normalized . . . a culture where they know the rest of society (including their male peers) recognizes them for the perpetrators of violence that they are.

We must create a culture where men won’t make sexist jokes or comments because they know the good guys—YOU—will call them out.

Men, we need you as allies. We need you to stand up and be counted.


Amy Logan is President of the US National Committee for UN Women San Francisco Bay Area, a speaker on women’s global issues for the US State Department, and Founder & CEO of Gender Innovation. She was a cast member and consulting producer of “The Price of Honor” documentary and author of a novel about the origins of “honor killing”, The Seven Perfumes of Sacrifice. Find her at www.amylogan.comFacebook and @AmyAuthor.

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