Rape culture is real. Here’s why you should care

Apparently, only the Centers for Disease Control and the mainstream American media are surprised that there are numbers backing up this thing that we feminists have long called “rape culture.”  I mean, when was the last time that NPR reported on rape when it didn’t involve a male celebrity perp?

I’ll wait.

In the meantime, the tight knot in my right shoulder, the one I call my Angry Muscle, is telling me that I ought to write a blog post on the subject, but I fear that no post will be nearly as straightforward as the one written by a friend who blogs as Minneapolitan Mademoiselle.  The MM is a whip-smart feminist and anti-violence advocate here in my hometown, whom I suspect blogs anonymously as part of her plan to run for public office.  She needn’t worry, though, as she writes with a great deal of common sense, neither cussing wildly nor baiting misogynists like your rad mama here.

The MM kindly allowed me permission to repost an excerpt from her roundup of Life in Rape Culture, which she entitled “And this is why you should care…”

[Yesterday,] the CDC released the results of the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. Some key findings include the following:

  • As many as 1 in 3 women have experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetimes, compared to about 1 in 10 men.
  • 1.3 million women were raped during the year preceding the survey.
  • Approximately 80% of female victims experienced their first rape before the age of 25 and almost half experienced the first rape before age 18.
  • 28% of male victims of rape were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger.
    • Both men and women who had been menaced or attacked in these ways reported more health problems. Female victims, in particular, had significantly higher rates of irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, frequent headaches and difficulty sleeping.


Doesn’t that just inflame the hell out of your Angry Muscle?? But wait, there’s more:


Next up we have an article in the NY Times about how women and men who have been sexually assaulted are often victimized again, by people they know, by the legal system and by the media. Not really big news among we DV/SA advocates, but great that the Times is giving the issue some much needed coverage. It’s a short, good read.

I read it.  I had the same reaction as I did when I listened to NPR this morning.  “This isn’t news to millions of victims, or to people who care.”  And by care, I don’t mean caring about rape and sexual violence in general, as social ills–I mean people who are compassionate and kind enough to be trusted by a survivor with his/her story.  Whenever I encounter someone who claims not to know any victims of domestic and/or sexual violence, I have to break the news that they do.  Actually what I usually say is: “ask yourself why you’re such a fucking jerk that no one trusts you with the truth.”
There I go, cussing again!  Back to MM:


Another example of of systems failing rape victims…According to the WaPo, “A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against former defense secretaries Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates by 28 military members and veterans who said they were victims of sexual assault.” Thankfully, the plaintiffs’ attorney plans an appeal, because we need action taken on this hugely important issue. According to the article, there were “more than 3,000 reports of sexual abuse in the military in fiscal year 2010, but only 529 went to trial.” That is only one of a number of issues that exist with sexual assault in the military.


OUCH.  That really activates the ol’ Angry Muscle.  MM suggests that we all check out the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) to learn about how we can support the health and safety of our sisters in uniform, and I agree.

And finally, a fraternity at the University of Vermont thinks it’s legit to ask new members who they’d like to rape. The University doesn’t think so and has suspended the organization. Here’s a brief write up about that. 


My Angry Muscle clenched up so tightly I think I may have fainted for a second.
Many, many thanks to Minneapolitan Mademoiselle for allowing me to repost from her blog.  Advil, anyone?

5 thoughts on “Rape culture is real. Here’s why you should care

  1. Tmae

    The muscle in my temple has been bulging all week. Mine started with the story our local weekly ran about a women who had been raped while an undergrad at the fancy university in town and had been offered mediation, instead of, you know, some kind of criminal action against her rapist. And you know, how that sort of reaction is systemic in universities. Even though it’s in violation of the law.

    And then this UVM crap. Some days I don’t even want to leave my bed for fear of the rage the universe will give me.

  2. Hayley

    I’m also thinking of the new Pennsylvania ads of women passed out drinking that are more victim focused on how drinking will lead you to get raped, i.e., “She didn’t want to do it, but she couldn’t say no.” There is nothing that throws blame to the men in the situation. She didn’t want to do it… but he made her do it anyway. How ’bout that?

    On a positive note, if you can call it that, Ottowa, Canada has a “Don’t be that guy” campaign which I think will make your muscle relax a bit: “Just because she’s drunk, doesn’t mean she wants to fuck,” is one of their slogans. It’s a brilliant, smart, non-victim blaming, non- slut-shaming campaign that needs to head over to the states, especially our college campuses, like, asap.

  3. Caitlin

    My head was practically twitching when I read the NYT article about the CDC report. They had phrased the study as if the findings were shocking. In my view, the only thing that was shocking was the fact that people were shocked.

  4. Tyler

    In Turin Italy a 16 year old white girl said she was raped by a gypsy man. A large group of sensitive pro feminist Italian men I presume proceeded to get their crowbars and make Molotov cocktails and brutally assault and burn a gypsy campsite to the ground. A few hours later this young lady admitted she wasn’t raped, she just had sex with her boyfriend but was embarrassed about it so she decided to pretend she was raped. Good thing all those nice Italian guys believed that a man from a racial minority known as a bunch of “tramps and thieves” did the right thing here. I hope its obvious I am being sarcastic, I am a Romany my self and this story made me outraged. Also ladies if you get irresponsibly drunk, you may participate in things you will regret later, the guy is probably drunk too why is the woman’s drunkenness an excuse but not the man’s. You have to take responsibility for your own life not blame men for everything. Rape happens its a real problem but I don’t believe there is a rape culture, men do not sit around joking about rape and encouraging each other to commit rape. When rapists go to jail the other prisoners, many of them murderers, beat them mercilessly because even they look down on rapists.

  5. Pingback: Steubenville Media Coverage Is a Case Study in Rape Culture | Gender Focus – A Canadian Feminist Blog

Leave a Reply