Rape culture is a term used to describe the normalization of sexual assault in a society. Wikipedia describes rape culture thus: "... a culture in which rape and other sexual violence (usually against women and gender diverse peoples ) are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage sexualized violence."
It frequently includes objectifying women (cis and trans) or portraying social relations as a "war of the sexes" or portraying social relations in rigid heterenormative terms or discriminating against all gender diverse behaviour all of which lead to dehumanization . Dehumanization, in turn, leads to violence against them being condoned as they are mentally considered "objects" instead of "a fellow human" . In this way, sexism that does not explicitly deal with rape can still contribute to rape culture, especially if the sexism implies that women are primarily or exclusively valued for their desirablility to heterosexual men, or that sexual relationships follow a predator/prey model. Rigid gender roles necessarily go with objectification of the body and therefore any culture that prescribes rigid gender roles is a rape culture.
This same dynamic of the dehumanization of femininity contributes to defensive homophobia and violence by cis-men against cis-men perceived to be insufficiently masculine. By cultural definition, cis-male victims of rape have been feminized, and thus are often erased, ignored or deemed unimportant the same was female victims of rape are (except when brought up in an attempt to derail conversations about rape culture by people who aren't aware that misogyny underlies crimes of sexual dominance against cis-men as well those against women.)
Rape culture is seen in many parts of geek culture.
- Gaming -- violent video games, sexual assault on avatars, A Rape in Cyberspace, etc.
- Incidents of Online harrassment such as the Kathy Sierra incident
- Sexual assault at geek gatherings such as science fiction conventions, most famously eg. Harlan Ellison groping Connie Willis
- Geeky media often portray rape. Examples include:
These examples, and many of the responses to them online and off, are examples of "prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media [which] condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage sexualized violence."
Use to exclude women Edit
Rape culture can also be used to exclude women from communities, by playing on their discomfort, fear, or personal trauma histories. For instance, the FLOSSPOLS survey on gender in Free/Libre/Open Source Software reports the following incident:
- “One IRC channel I used frequently made jokes about rapes. I had a huge growl with somebody about this and I was a long time member in this channel. The joker was a newcomer and I personally think I have contributed a lot more than he had. At one stage he ended up telling me, if I couldn’t “stand the heat I should get out of the kitchen” and then I said, “What would you say for example if I said that I had been raped and I took exception to be used as a subject of humour?” and he said: “that’s too bad but, you need to learn to live with it”.
See also Edit
Further reading Edit
- A woman walks into a rape, uh, bar (Fugitivus)
- Why rape jokes aren't harmless fun (F-Word blog commentary on the above)
- Rape in RPGs (gamegrene.com)
- Rape in role-playing games (i.e. D&D type RPGs, in real-life, not MMORPGs -- this is an archived discussion thread, by the looks of it)Revert vandalism