So, I thought, let's have a real talk about rape culture and our media. Because it exists. And if you're a rape culture denier or a rape culture celebrator, you better read this and get the fuck off your high horse and stop being a mindless drone of all the damaging parts of your culture that affect you, your mothers, your sisters, your daughters, your grandmothers, your fathers, your brothers, and every person in this society. It's time to rethink things, to interrogate our media with the hard questions, and to make a change. If questioning the praise for Twin Peaks makes me a "sexist bitch", then I'd really hate to think what that makes you.
And you know, actually, let's throw out all these words. Let's throw out bitch, let's throw out cunt and ho and dick and homo. Let's throw out fag and slut and pansy. Because not only does that make everyone sound like uneducated two year olds, but it also reinforces rape culture and the gender and sexuality bashing that goes with it. There's nothing wrong with being a girl, or a boy, or gay, or straight, or asexual, or pansexual, or between genders, or whatever you want to be. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it, so let's start off by stopping the hate. Stop putting other people down for these things. Calling someone a "sexist bitch" doesn't make you sound so educated, open minded, or progressive yourself. It makes you sound close minded, stuck in the past, and full of hate. Let's all have some credibility and be thoughtful with words, instead of perpetuating the rape culture that we should all be fighting against...because you know, it really does affect each and every one of us.
Women in India protesting certain ideologies of rape culture after the brutal rape and death of a university student last winter
The 2011 National Crime Victimization Survey reported 243,800 cases of rape or sexual assault in that year. That's almost 668 rapes a day, or nearly 28 every hour. The NCVS also suggests low numbers of reporting with only 54% of rapes or sexual assaults being reported to the authorities.
The National Violence Against Women Survey from 2000 found that women who were raped before the age of eighteen were twice as likely to report being raped as adults. Approximately one million women are stalked every year in the U.S. and 64% of women who reported being raped, assaulted, or stalked since age 18 were victimized by an intimate partner.
According to WOAR, one in three women will be sexually abused during their lifetime, and one in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18.
RAINN reports that someone is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes. And furthermore (possibly most shocking - or not - of all), 97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail.
So now, you may be thinking right now, "Gee, that's so sad and all, but I'm not a rapist." And you know, I'm really sick of hearing this. I'm not a rapist either, but you don't see me defending the media, the institutions, the politics that place rape in our culture. You don't see me doing that. And so, to quote Andrea Dworkin in her 1983 address, "I Want a Twenty-Four Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape":
"The men's movement seems to stay stuck on two points. The first is that men don't really feel very good about themselves. How could you? The second is that men come to me or to other feminists and say: ' What you're saying about men isn't true. It isn't true of me. I don't feel that way. I'm opposed to all of this.' And I say: don't tell me. Tell the pornographers. Tell the pimps. Tells the warmakers. Tell the rape apologists and the rape celebrationists and the prorape idealogues. Tell the novelists who things that rape is wonderful. Tell Larry Flynt. Tell Hugh Hefner. There's no point in telling me. I'm only a woman. There's nothing I can do about it. These men presume to speak for you. They are in the public arena saying that they represent you. If they don't, then you had better let them know.And so, you know, I'm not going to apologise for trying to make a change. I'm not going to say, "Gee, I'm sorry for picking apart our media, and maybe your favourite television show, you know I'm sorry for trying to find the roots of what places rape in our society and to tear them up. Gee, I'm sorry I want to end rape. I'm sorry I don't want little girls and little boys to be raped, or to grow up and do the raping. Gee, I'm real sorry I don't want any of that. I'm real sorry that I'm trying to make change, and in making that change, I'm real sorry that I won't defend your favourite programme."
Then there is the private world of misogyny: what you know about each other; what you say in private life; the exploitation that you see in the private sphere; the relationships called love, based on exploitation. It's not enough to find some traveling feminist on the road and go up to her and say: 'Gee, I hate it.' Say it to your friends who are doing it. And there are streets out there on which you can say these things loud and clear, so as to affect the actual institutions that maintain these abuses. You don't like pornography? I wish I could believe it's true. I will believe it when I see you on the streets. I will believe it when I see an organized political opposition. I will believe it when pimps go out of business because there are no more male consumers. You want to organize men. You don't have to search for issues. The issues are part of the fabric of your everyday life."
If you really think that the reputation of a single television programme is more important than stopping 28 rapes an hour, then you've really got your head on backwards. You must not have a heart. You must not care for your mum, or your sisters and brothers, your neighbours, even your friends. You really must not care about them at all, because I promise you that there is rape in their lives and there is rape in your life, whether you want to admit it or not. And all these people are human and not a single one of them deserve rape, whether they're related to you, whether they live near you, whether they're just a random person you pass on the street - no one deserves to live in this terror and this rape.
And you know, you can say that our media doesn't cause rape. And I won't go as far as to say that it does. But what our media does do is put these ideas in our head of a reality. And sometimes those realities are fun or exciting, and sometimes we want to live in those realities, but what they almost always have in common is misogyny and rape culture. But we don't always catch on to just how damaging that is, and so we replicate these realities that our media put forth.
As Jackson Katz notes, "We're socializing boys to believe that being a man means being powerful and in control, being smarter than women or better than women or our needs get met first in relationships with women. That's not genetically pre-destined. That's learned behaviour."
And that's rape culture. That misogyny. That's telling people how to be, how to perform gender. It's telling people to rape, and others to be raped. And so why shouldn't we find that stuff in our media, and we shouldn't we rip it out and ask the big questions? Why should we let it slide by because maybe the way that it is filmed is surreal and avant-garde, or maybe the script is real witty, or maybe the characters are enjoyable. Why should we let that slide by as being revolutionary or "the best"?
And so, I really hope that everyone thinks about this before posting (anonymously or otherwise) on a 19 year-old's blog that she is a "sexist bitch" because she's trying to make a change. I really hope you think about this before you let yourself fall into the trap that media sets for you. Think about it, become educated about it, make a change about it.
I also highly recommend reading the article, "Why does America pretend it doesn't hate women?" and Shakesville's "Rape Culture 101". If you're further interested, check out Transforming a Rape Culture from your local library.