Welcome again to another edition of Debunk’d where we take a look at the world as it actually is and destroy popular narratives. This time we’ll be taking a look at something that we are hearing all the time: We live in a rape culture. Before we begin let me make something perfectly clear. Rape is bad. Rape is a terrible crime and if even one rape happens that is one rape too many. That being said, we do not by any means live in a rape culture.
It has been purported that we live in a culture that doesn’t take rape seriously . The problem here is that this is unequivocally false. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2014 there were 150,420 cases of rape in the US which consisted of 0.06% of all violent crime in that year . As I’ve said before, even one rape is unacceptable but there is no way that there is an epidemic of rape sweeping the United States. To put this number into perspective, 92% of all violent crime that year was assaults. To delve even further into the rape culture myth, we must take a look at the way society treats both alleged rapists and alleged victims. In order to do so let’s take a few recent cases that have been highly publicized.
The first such case we will inspect is the recent case involving Stanford student Brock Turner. This is a pretty open and shut case of forceable rape involving a woman who was passed out drunk in an ally. The outrage came after the judge decided to lessen the sentence of the perpetrator. After this was announced there was an explosion of rage across the entire nation, with accusations ranging from racism , to the more popular argument that this is an embodiment of rape culture . The sentencing was indeed not handled properly and the judge should be investigated for his ties to the Stanford community, but this is not an example of rape culture. Not only does this man have to register as a sex offender, but he is going to be ostracized from society for the rest of his life and will likely never be admitted to a major university again. In a true rape culture there would not be the massive outpouring of rage and anger at this result and we would not be allowed to question it.
Turning our attention to another infamous rape case, let’s take a look at Ms. Emma Sulcowitz better known as “Mattress Girl”. This case has a long and sordid story that can be read here for a full understanding of the case. In this instance we can see the evidence that we are definitely NOT living in a rape culture. Any society that will not only allow this travesty of justice to happen, let alone condone the girl and give her an award  does not normalize violence and rape against women in the least.
I would actually contest that we do live in a rape culture. Not in the idea that we see stated all the time, not by any means as can be seen in the above arguments and facts. We live in a culture in which rape is glorified to the ultimate victimhood and anyone who questions a rape victim is to be seen as “victim blaming” . One of the most frequent arguments seen in that vein is people asking, “What was she wearing”. This question is mostly only asked by police when determining the facts of the alleged rape.
This rape culture we live in is also highlighted by the ever broadening definition of sexual violence and harassment. There are quite a few people who say that catcalling is a serious form of sexual harassment . People are even going as far as to say that women can withdraw consent after the act and therefore consensual sex the night before can be counted as rape . As we continue to twist the definition of sexual assault and harassment the boundaries become fuzzier and fuzzier to the point where there is no clear idea of what is rape and what isn’t.
More than anything though, this new rape culture has been brought about by the people who have done all of these things. The new rape culture is a culture in which a man can be assumed guilty before innocent and false statistics such as the 1 in 5 myth are bandied about as if they are gospel truth. The reason that we are skeptics in regards to rape is a symptom of all of this, but it also hearkens back to the idea of justice. The American justice system is based on the idea that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, which is the opposite of the university kangaroo courts and the way that the supporters of the “rape culture” idea would have happen. They want us to “listen and believe”  no matter what the evidence might say. The way that this country is going, all rape will soon be guilty until proven innocent and THAT is something that should be terrifying everyone. This makes it harder for real victims of rape to receive help with the influx of “rape” cases that are tying up resources that could be used to deliver actual justice to actual rapists.
So yes we do live in a rape culture, just not the one the narrative would have you believe.