A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

Rape Culture Sammich 1.0

Nobody asked what my rapist wore.

(Photo credit: Kristen Althoff)

This is one of those sammiches I feel like I have to make for all the people out there who either a) don’t understand what rape culture is or (especially) b) don’t believe rape culture exists. Let’s start with a mini-lesson from a post called Rape Culture 101 over at lifelovelauren:

As children we are told not to talk to strange men who offer us sweets. As teenagers, girls are told ‘you’re not going out looking like that’. As adults, women are told to keep their doors and windows locked, not to walk anywhere alone after dark, not to look at men ‘in the wrong way’, not to open the door to strange men, not to wear short skirts or low cut tops, not to give a guy their number, not to take public transport or a taxi alone, not to sleep with multiple people, not to drink too much, not to live alone, not to be weak, not to get raped. Because if we do any of these things, well, it was our fault wasn’t it? We led him on, we asked for it, we wanted to get raped. That’s rape culture.

I’ll add that “we” above refers to girls and that we as a society do relatively little (when compared to how much time we spend preparing girls not to get raped) to prepare boys not to rape. Something is terribly wrong with this equation.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen stories (related to the one I shared from Mandaray this week) that lit a fire of rage inside me which has smoldered and sparked and grown hotter with each passing day as more and more stories come to light. These are stories of institutionalized rape culture in the United States of America. Stories about how our system makes victims responsible for the crimes committed against them, but only if those crimes are sexual and the victims are women. As someone said recently of racism (which must be considered in any discussion of inequality), this is not something laws will change. WE have to change.

We have to change how we think about rape as it relates to how we think about women. Yes, I know, rape happens to men, too, but everyone agrees that’s a Bad Thing. Men who get raped are not generally subjected to criticisms of their wardrobe choices because no one believes that what a man wears has any bearing on whether he gets raped. Think about that for a moment. Why are women imagined to be responsible for how men react to their state of dress? Do we really think that all men are born rapists with no control over their actions? I know I’m not the first to ask this question. Hell, I’m probably not the first to ask this question today. But it must be asked because it is the very definition of a double standard and this is one that hurts us as a society possibly more than any other.

Judge Jacqueline Hatch (via ThinkProgress)

So, stories. Here’s one you’ve probably heard, because it happened a couple of weeks ago. A judge in Arizona (I know, shocking) let a cop go free after a jury convicted him of sexual assault. Read that sentence again–I’ll wait. Here’s what Judge Jaqueline Hatch had to say to the victim of the (no longer alleged) assault (via ThinkProgress):

Bad things can happen in bars, Hatch told the victim, adding that other people might be more intoxicated than she was.

“If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you,” Hatch said.

Hatch told the victim and the defendant that no one would be happy with the sentence she gave, but that finding an appropriate sentence was her duty.

“I hope you look at what you’ve been through and try to take something positive out of it,” Hatch said to the victim in court. “You learned a lesson about friendship and you learned a lesson about vulnerability.”

Hatch said that the victim was not to blame in the case, but that all women must be vigilant against becoming victims.

“When you blame others, you give up your power to change,” Hatch said that her mother used to say.

The fact that this victim-blaming-shaming bullshit came from the mouth of a woman makes it seem all the more evil to me. Oh, and by the way? While officer Robb Gary Evans was fired due to his conviction, he is not required to register as a sex offender. Neat, huh?

Yeah, that story made me want to punch things. This next one makes me want to punch people.

Richard-Fourtin-Jr.

Richard Fourtin, Jr. (via ThinkProgress)

Today the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned this man’s sexual assault conviction. No one questions that sex took place, but see, this man had sex with a woman who was physically and mentally disabled. She has cerebral palsy, and while this is not always or even usually the case with CP, she is severely mentally retarded. Sinking to a new low in victim-blaming, the court ruled that the victim was capable of communicating her lack of consent, so you know, consent was a given.

The Court held that, because Connecticut statutes define physical incapacity for the purpose of sexual assault as “unconscious or for any other reason. . . physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act,” the defendant could not be convicted if there was any chance that the victim could have communicated her lack of consent. Since the victim in this case was capable of “biting, kicking, scratching, screeching, groaning or gesturing,” the Court ruled that [the] victim could have communicated lack of consent despite her serious mental deficiencies:

When we consider this evidence in the light most favorable to sustaining the verdict, and in a manner that is consistent with the state’s theory of guilt at trial,we, like the Appellate Court, ‘are not persuaded that the state produced any credible evidence that the [victim] was either unconscious or so uncommunicative that she was physically incapable of manifesting to the defendant her lack of consent to sexual intercourse at the time of the alleged sexual assault.’

So, pay attention, ladies: If you don’t say “No,” whether it’s because you’ve got a sock stuffed in your mouth or you’re just paralyzed with fear, your lack of non-consent equals consent. Got it?

Remember the girl in Texas who was told she had to cheer for her rapist at sporting events? What about the one who was court-ordered to write a letter of apology to the man who raped her because the court didn’t convict? The eleven-year-old child who news commentators accused of dressing older than her age? Does no one remember The Accused?

When are we going to put our collective feet down in thunderous unison and say ENOUGH?

Sigh. That’s all I’ve got energy for today. Over to you, readers.

Love ya,
Rosie

13 responses

  1. Pingback: Dear Men, You are Not Rapists « Confessions of a Latte Liberal

  2. Pingback: Motivational Mondays- Success, One Man at a Time « Confessions of a Latte Liberal

  3. Pingback: The United States of Misogyny « Make Me a Sammich

  4. I think that the rape culture in this country is getting worse than ever. I read about the judge in Arizona a month or so ago and was as outraged then as I am now. The woman was totally w/out empathy. Her comment “If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you,” : was unconscionable and just plain stupid, also grammatically incorrect, which was a further indication as to the stupidity of this woman and an extra dollop of salt in the wound. And all of this coming from a woman with education who’d achieved the status of a judge who’s in a position to set a far better example rather than be an enabler to the cop. I’m from CT but hadn’t heard about the case of the mentally retarded woman. That was also outrageous. I feel deep sorrow for the pain she must have suffered, be suffering — because to me, that verdict was like being raped again.

    October 4, 2012 at 2:13 am

  5. Pat MacEwen

    You know, the very same people who carry on the rape culture are fulminating about the evils of Islam and burkhas and such. Why do they not realize that burkhas exist because Islam teaches men that they cannot be expected to control themselves in face of any sexual stimulation, which can be defined as the sight of a naked ankle, or a bare wrist, or a nose. If you’re going to gnash your teeth about Shariah law, then follow through and reject the ideas behind purdah. BE a man. A real man. The kind who doesn’t need to stomp on a woman to prove his manhood.

    October 4, 2012 at 1:55 am

  6. changeforbetterme

    Wow, just wow. You know, I bet that female judge would change her tune really fast if it happened to her or a daughter. I can not believe the stupidity that is going around lately. It is so unbelievable yet it is happening all too often. We women seem to be at fault simply because we ARE women. And if anyone with half a brain would realize rape is NOT sexual. Rape is power! Plain and simple. Nuns get raped, old women get raped, children get raped, babies even get raped. Was it their fault? The nun and baby dressed to tease?? Is that what is was??? And with the disabled woman, that is one of the most shameful rulings I have yet to see. Do they really think this jerk would have stood up and zipped his pants if she grunted? or said no? or groaned??? NO, he would have gotten even more pleasure from it. Because it’s power to them. Pure and simple. And anyone that thinks rape is sexual is even more stupid then I thought.

    October 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    • It’s all pretty outrageous, isn’t it? Or should I say “rage-ous.” Because GRRRR.

      October 3, 2012 at 9:17 pm

      • changeforbetterme

        so right! It amazes me when the politicians or certain people say USA is the most forward country in peoples rights. Only if you’re not a woman. The seem to be on a crusade to dismiss the rights of women, but in a way that is much more sinister then straight forward. We as women had better get together to stop this or it will be worse then the first suffrage movement.

        October 3, 2012 at 9:25 pm

  7. Seriously makes me want to punch someone… I can’t believe these stories and the stupidity of some of these people.

    October 3, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    • Yeah, I hear you. But you know, if I thought it was just a few stupid people, I’d feel better. Unfortunately, I think it’s more deep-seated than that. We live in a society that blames us for rape while teaching men that they have no responsibility or self control. We have got to find a way to change that.

      October 3, 2012 at 8:45 pm

  8. humanufo

    Grrrrrrrrrrr.

    October 3, 2012 at 8:39 pm

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