Yes, I think rape is evil. And no, I do not think it is remotely necessary—except to the purveyors of rape-culture ideology, who find it absolutely indispensable. And no again, I do not mean they need to be raped.
I mean that rape is a central pillar of radical feminist dogma. According to the radfem revelation, we in the Western democracies live in a Stepford-style patriarchy where sexual violence is men’s greatest weapon for subjugating women, crushing our minds by terrorizing our bodies; where rape is normalized and winked at; where boy children are taught to be sexually entitled, where girl children are raised to be fucktoys. In short, we are told we live in a rape culture.
So crucial is rape to the radfems’ schtick, that they would need to invent something like it if it did not already exist. Indeed, as rates of sexual assault fall dramatically in the West, the SJW axis has had to reset the boundaries of rape, almost as if there was not enough of it going around to sustain their model. At the same time, its scope has been narrowed to include only women as victims and men as perpetrators, which is a dishonest simplification of a complex phenomenon. In the process of pushing this ideology, they harm not only men (which they might not regard as a problem, as it would be “punching up”), but also the women they claim to be championing.
We do not live in a rape culture. We live in a culture beset by yet another divisive and fast-spreading religious ideology, complete with revealed truths and sacred mantras, martyrs and demons, moral crusades and moral panics. Like those of any religion, its truths are self-referential and unfalsifiable, and have as much to do with the reality of Western society as Genesis has to do with evolutionary biology. And of course, it has its own version of blasphemy, which I have already committed by being skeptical of rape culture in the first place. But, oh, there are so many other doctrines to blaspheme! Here are just a few:
Sacred Mantra: Don’t teach girls to avoid rape; teach men not to rape.
Blasphemy: The vast majority of men already know perfectly well not to rape, and anyway have been taught from toddlerhood that hurting girls is bad. The vast majority of men take about as dim a view of rape as most women do, regarding the act as abhorrent, and rapists as despicable. Most of the approximately 4-6% of men who do commit sexual assault will not be reached or changed by anti-rape education because they do not give a fuck about what society thinks of them: sociopaths and sexual predators come to mind. It’s like saying I need to train the local poodles not to eat my cats, because there are coyotes in the neighbourhood. What makes more sense is to take precautions against the coyotes. See below.
Sacred Mantra: Teaching women to defend themselves or take precautions against assault amounts to “victim blaming.” “A woman should be able to walk stark naked down Main Street and not be raped.” She should have the right to wear exactly what she feels like, no matter how sexy or revealing, and not be raped. She should have the right to drink herself blotto in a singles bar, and not be raped. She should have the right to go wherever she pleases, even alone down the darkest alley in the dead of night, and not be raped.
Blasphemy: There are no such rights. Everybody, of whatever gender, needs to take some responsibility for their own safety. Sexual predators, indeed, are only one item on a menu of lurking hazards. A burly young man would be an idiot to go down some dark alleys at night, so why should a woman claim it as a right? (In fact, although violence against women holds centre stage, men are the ones who are far more at risk.) The behaviours cited above, to my mind, boil down to a demand for the right to make foolish choices without suffering consequences.
This is absolutely not to say that a woman who is sexually assaulted is at fault—terrible things can happen to anyone, no matter how careful they are; and being raped is a disproportionately high price to pay for doing something stupid or naive. Rather, the point is that exercising common sense can substantially reduce one’s chances of becoming a crime statistic. Why should recognizing that simple truth be considered “victim-blaming?” We should be teaching sensible precautions to both our daughters and our sons, not unrealistic expectations about how the world would treat them in a radfem utopia. Ironically, this sacred mantra disempowers women, removes their agency, and reduces them to objects whose sexual safety is in the hands of others: the men who are “taught not to rape.” See above.
Sacred Mantra: Women live in fear, since every man they encounter is a potential rapist (Schrödinger’s Rapist). No man can understand the burden of fear under which women daily suffer.
Blasphemy: Fear of men is another indispensable tool of rape-culture ideology. At one stroke, it seeks to demonize half of society, and turn the rest into quaking victims, flinching at every male-shaped shadow. While paying lip service to the truth that not all men are rapists, it foments mistrust of all men anyway: our fathers, brothers, sons, lovers, husbands. The truth is, there are times and places where a human of any gender would be wise to be afraid; women do not have a monopoly on either fear or risk. But be honest, sisters: do we really walk around under a burden of fear so crushing and pervasive that no man could possibly imagine it? Are we really that timid and fragile?
Some people do live in genuine fear—of abusers in their lives, of dark shadows in their neighbourhoods. We should not trivialize their experience by equating it with stupid radfem-generated collywobbles.
Sacred Mantra: Believe the victim.
Blasphemy: This is, perhaps, the rape-culture doctrine inscribed in the largest letters on the radfem stone tablets. To question a woman’s claim that she has been sexually assaulted is held to be the deadly sin of rape apology, even a secondary rape. To ask for evidence is rape apology. To consider context is rape apology. Any response except unconditional belief for the accuser and vilification for the accused is rape apology. But it is fallacious in the very way it is framed: it assumes that the accuser is indeed a victim. It is also a clear violation of the presumption of innocence, and a potential life-wrecker for those who are falsely accused. In the rape-culture world, this does not matter. In the real world, it is not only unjust, it is the thin edge of the wedge.
Sacred Truth: Rape is devastation. There is nothing worse than rape that can happen to a woman—it is literally a fate worse than death, a trauma from which one can never fully recover. Survivors—or even “potential survivors” (women who have not been raped, but fear they might be eventually)—require special deference, support, safe spaces, and unconditional belief, and above all must never, ever be triggered.
Blasphemy: Some victims are devastated; others are not. There is a wide range of reactions to rape and sexual assault, from sustaining horrific emotional damage right down to being no more than disgusted or pissed off. Some women whose experience would qualify as rape under the very elastic current radfem definitions do not even consider themselves to have been raped. And by the way, many of us can think of a good many things we would consider to be worse, much worse, than being raped.
However, rape-culture ideology seeks to force all women who experience sexual assault into a uniform mold of victim/survivor – to tell them how damaged they are obliged to feel, to keep the trauma going, even to implant trauma that may not have arisen in the first place. This harms women. What better way is there to damage someone permanently than to tell her she can never recover?
Sacred Mantra: Rape is about power, not sex.
Blasphemy: Sometimes it’s about power—sometimes it’s just about sex. Other times it may be about revenge, mixed signals, or failures in communication, particularly as the definition has expanded to include contacts that were honestly perceived as consensual at the time. Sexual assault is a complex behaviour with a whole range of proximate causes.
Why is this important? Because according to rape-culture doctrine, rape is always a political act that serves to put women in their place. Every rapist, from the serial shit who slips rohypnol into his date’s drink, to the fumbling teenager with screaming hormones in the back seat of his car, is apparently using his penis as a weapon to enforce rape culture and deepen the oppression of women. That is insane. Really—to paraphrase Freud—sometimes a penis is just a penis.
There are societies in the world where sexual assault is normalized, and victims are not so much blamed as beaten half to death. That, if you like, is closer to what a true rape culture might look like. But we in the West—coddled, cosseted, and protected by laws, social norms, and a general repugnance for rapists that is shared by all genders—should recognize “rape culture” for the divisive bullshit it is, and woman up.