There Is No Such Thing As Rape Culture

Because all culture is rape culture. It is. I am thinking about this because last night someone said sagely, “Rape is now a weapon of war,” and everyone nodded their heads because this is a progressive woman-centered way to express the horrors of war.

Let’s just get this out there. Rape has always been a weapon of war. It has. Women (and probably men)  were raped during the Holocaust. They were raped during the Civil War. Wherever there is conflict, you will find rape. It is part of war. It is part of conquest. The various empires all advanced and enforced colonial rule via rape. Slavery and rape culture go hand in hand, if you will. Wherever there is oppression, you will find rape. Men (and women)  in prison don’t start raping one another because they have suddenly gotten in touch with their inner homosexual, or out of some kind of “love the one you’re with” thing—it is an act of war. Rape is not people expressing their sexuality. It does not happen by accident because someone is drunk. Rape is about power. When women describe their birth experiences as rape, it is not because giving birth is like sex. Rape is not like sex. Rape is someone violating your body.

Why are you hearing about rape so much these days? It’s not because there is more rape than ever before! It’s not because rape is a fad. It’s because rape is being acknowledged–although even here, the cases that come to the fore are the ones involving white, straight, women.

People who want social justice and gender justice don’t talk about rape because it’s a woman’s issue.  We talk about rape because it is something we all have in common. All of us—men, women, transmen, transwomen. EVERYONE.  It is part of our history and part of our culture. Preventing and stopping rape is not a goal because we  think it should be harder for frat guys to have sex. Preventing and stopping rape is is about liberating every gender from “rape culture.” That is the revolution.


Note: I am grateful to Genderbitch for noting my clumsy phrasing about gender and offering a respectful, inclusive way to say what I was trying to.

You can read her whole comment below but for those who don’t read comments she wrote:

“Men, women, transmen, transwomen” should be “cis men and women, trans men and women, and nonbinary/genderqueer folk” or “men and women (cis or trans) and nonbinary/genderqueer folk)”

Someone on Tumblr  (I don’t know who–Tumblr confuses me!) made a different change, writing:

All of us—men, women, (genderqueer people, agendered people, bigendered people, pangendered people)

I think the parens are there because that text was an insertion to correct what I had, I don’t think it should otherwise be in parens.

Thank you for the constructive responses!  (Oct 7)

4 Comments to “There Is No Such Thing As Rape Culture”

  1. All good with one exception. Othering language about trans folk and no mention of nonbinary/genderqueer folks

    “Men, women, transmen, transwomen” should be “cis men and women, trans men and women, and nonbinary/genderqueer folk” or “men and women (cis or trans) and nonbinary/genderqueer folk)”

    You prolly get the idea.

    Basically by not mentioning that the aforementioned men and women are cis but still mentioning that the trans men and women are trans, it sets us up as the other, unnatural and cis people as the default state of man and woman. Also merging the words is kinda iffy too. It’s like saying blackwoman or gayman, instead of black woman or gay man.

    I’m still kinda wonky from being violently ill for the last few days so let me know if any of that is incoherent or whatnot.

  2. Thanks–obviously I was stumbling there, and I appreciate the clarification. Sorry you aren’t feeling well.

  3. PS I would like to add a note with what you said, so people who don’t read comments can see it, if that’s cool with you. I can’t do it right now because I’m using my phone but will do it later, and will wait to hear from you.

  4. Sure, you can add a note with what I said.

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