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What is Rape Culture and How Do We Change It?

By Rosanne Roy
Do you believe that ‘sex is something that men get and something women give’?

There is so much innuendo in that comment. Is this the thinking behind the comments that blame women and girls for sexual violence? Is it the thinking behind the #MeToo incidents? Is it the belief that underlies the term RAPE CULTURE?

What is a Rape Culture?
It is a term that dates back to the feminists of the 1970’s and is described by author Emilie Buchwald, Transforming a Rape Culture, “ as a complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In a rape culture women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against woman as the norm.”

It is encapsulated by: how we prepare women and girls to prevent being sexually assaulted; how we don’t believe victims who come forward; the language that permeates our music, our videogames, magazines, our jokes, books, social media, and news; how victims are treated in our courtrooms and in the political sphere. Rape culture is something we can hear, feel, see, and breathe. It is part of our daily lives. (Melissa McEwan, blog

In a 2013 TED talk Jackson Katz, (PhD, educator and cultural theorist) states simply that, “Violence against women – it’s a men’s issue.” He illustrates this when presenting by drawing a simple diagram in a chalkboard and asks the question: ‘ What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourself from being sexually assaulted?’
The results speak for themselves:

I believe most of us can agree that it is time to stop living in a community and society where rape culture is prevalent.

The question for us, is how do we change culture?

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