From Delhi to Steubenville (and Beyond): Rape Culture Is Still Firmly Entrenched

Jessica Valenti:

We live in a country where politicians call rape a “gift from God” and suggest that women regularly lie about being raped. Where a group of young men in high school think so little of sexual assault that they thought it was fine—hilarious, even—to post pictures online of a passed out rape victim, and to live-tweet the rape, joking about the victim being urinated on. We live in a country where media as revered as The New York Times finds it necessary to describe an 11-year-old gang rape victim as “wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s.” Where a woman can be fired because her boss finds her “irresistable” and a woman’s rape case falls flat because she isn’t married.

It’s time to acknowledge that the rape epidemic in the United States is not just about the crimes themselves, but our own cultural and political willful ignorance. Rape is as American as apple pie—until we own that, nothing will change.

h/t Zerlina Maxwell

More from Greg Mitchell, Alexander Abad-Santos, and Amanda Marcotte.

PreviouslyWhen Is A Rape Not a Rape? In California…

9 comments to From Delhi to Steubenville (and Beyond): Rape Culture Is Still Firmly Entrenched

  • adrena

    This article in The American Prospect hits the nail on the head.

    Purity Culture is Rape Culture

    The shocking assault in India reveals that rape isn’t about sex—it’s about controlling women’s lives.

    E.J. Graff writes:

    “Rape culture,” as young feminists now call this, isn’t limited to India. It lives anywhere that has a “traditional” vision of women’s sexuality. A culture in which women are expected to remain virgins until marriage is a rape culture. In that vision, women’s bodies are for use primarily for procreation or male pleasure. They must be kept pure. While cultural conservatives would disagree, this attitude gives men license to patrol—in some cases with violence—women’s hopes for controlling their lives and bodies. In October, responding to Richard Mourdock’s incredible comment about rape, I mentioned an absolutely essential piece by The Nation’s Jessica Valenti in a way I want to reprise here, if you’ll excuse the self-quotation:

    As Tennessee Senator Douglas Henry said in 2008, “Rape, ladies and gentlemen, is not today what rape was. Rape, when I was learning these things, was the violation of a chaste woman, against her will, by some party not her spouse.”

    In other words, only virgins can be raped—sweetly white-gloved, white-skinned virgins. Any woman who ever wanted sex—yes, that includes married women who unconditionally give permission when they put on that ring—deserves what she gets. Valenti’s piece is a brilliant and absolutely essential manifesto on what still has to change to get from “What about ‘no’ don’t you understand?” to the more advanced concept that women have a right to enjoy and control our own bodies. In this “traditional” vision of sexuality, it’s not rape if you’ve already had sex, ever—except if you’re married and another man violates his property. Your only role is to protect your purity for its future owner. If you don’t do, you’re fair game.

    More at the link

  • adrena

    In progressive land, if a woman steps out of line, sexist images are thrown at her to remind her of her ‘proper’ place.

  • KayseJ

    Rape is anger; it is about control over another. The act, itself, is secondary to the power the rapist feels.

    I’ve followed these, and other stories, but it’s difficult to find words. I’ve been there, and at first, thought I could just shake it off – that I dealt with it. Now, years later, I’ve relived each and every moment as I read the news.

    First, you feel violated (you are). If you tell parents, doctor or police, you find yourself questioning what you did to entice. Then, self-esteem spirals downward. Some of it doesn’t happen at first. It may show up years later, either in how you perceive yourself, or how you behave with a man. Either you are frigid, or overcompensate and pretend to be a sexual, sensuous woman. You also get good at faking because part of you has been shut down.

    On the other hand, I’ve watched young women invite this bizarre attention, and my heart bleeds. They are so desperate for affection, love, and for just a moment, to believe that they are ok. Sadly, rape or sport sex have nothing in common with love,

    As to the brutality in India, nothing one says is enough.

    • adrena

      Thank you for sharing this.

      The minor sexual assault I experienced two years ago made me want to puke and left me with a feeling of pure repulsion.

  • adrena

    Now those fighting for a just world get blamed for a woman being raped? Incredible!

    Idle No More not Responsible for Violence in Thunder Bay

    THUNDER BAY – Op-Ed – As soon as the men’s voices lifted up to the the sky to carry our prayers for the women I completely lost it and started to cry, and I could not stop. Our elder Sam looked over at me and asked me what was wrong and I told him ‘my eyes are broken’ and I gave him a watery smile and he smiled back at me knowing I wasn’t ready to speak about what was bothering me and he let it go.

    The truth is: I was asked by two reporters who showed up and one that I had talked to on the phone if I, as an Idle No More organizer, felt somehow responsible for this act of violence that was committed against this woman. And that question invaded my mind like a seedy and angry stranger trying to cast blame and it bothered me.

    [...]

    One of the men, a drummer, stood because he felt a need to say his piece and he said something that really struck me. He said, what happened to this woman can be compared to Mother Earth. She is being pillaged and assaulted and we have to protect them.

    More here

  • KayseJ

    I get a lot on “Idle No More,” but hadn’t seen this. Thanks for posting.

  • adrena

    A Theory of Violence: In Honor of Kasandra, CeCe, Victoria, Savita and Anonymous

    Conclusion:

    As I’ve said, violence, here in the US and abroad, is functional. Violence against women, is rooted in colonialism and patriarchy, in their varied and sundry iterations. We’d do well to keep our eyes on that, and work like hell to dismantle the belief systems, social structures, and institutional practices that support it.

    More at the link

  • adrena

    Female vigilantes take matters into their own hands in India

    They’re not taking crap from anyone. Women in India have had their fill of rape and abuse, and they’re fighting violence with violence.

    The women of the Gulabi Gang (or Pink Gang) wear rose-colored saris and carry big, menacing sticks. They’re your average kick-ass, female crime fighters, but you won’t find them in a comic book. No, the Pink Gang, founded in 2006, takes to the streets of India, dealing out their own version of justice to rapists and corrupt politicians – and the sentiment is catching on.

    More here

    The beginning of Gender Wars?

    Gender War

  • Raja

    Occupy Steubenville Protesters Descend On Ohio Town To Demonstrate For Rape Victims, Call For Football Coach’s Job

    IBT, BY Jeff Stone, January 5

    Protestors descended on Steubenville, Ohio, on Saturday to demonstrate their opposition to the possible cover-up of the alleged rape of a 16-year-old high school student by members of the Steubenville High School football team.

    The alleged cover-up is attributed to school administrators and law enforcement authorities in the small town of Steubenville, where high school football is a mainstay with many residents.

    Occupy Steubenville, as the rally came to be called throughout social media, was the second such protest in as many weeks, and it was organized by the hacker collective known as Anonymous and an offshoot group known as KnightSec.

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