5 Rape Culture Mentalities

Rape culture is bullshit, am I right? So, let’s break this shit down logically: how can we dismantle rape culture? One way is erasing ideologies and values that perpetuate rape culture, so below are 5 mentalities that perpetuate rape culture because awareness is key.

5. She’s a Slut

Clutch Phrases:
“Sluts deserve to be raped.”
“It’s not like she was a virgin.”
“Who knows if it was even rape; she’s slept with so many guys.”
“You can’t believe a slut.”

Slut shaming is the foundation for many of the mentalities that uphold rape culture, including She Was Asking For It and Victim Blaming. Bringing a person’s sexual history into question validates the actions of rapists, because, really, any woman can be classified as a slut just by doing, well, nearly anything.Out alone at night? Slut. Drunk? Slut. Dressed up? Slut. Pre-teen wearing make up? Slut. You don’t have to fuck a lot of people to be a slut. Calling someone a slut is often justified when someone dresses a certain way or is of a certain class/race/sexual orientation/body size. Anything and everything can make you a slut, because slut shaming isn’t about what’s “right” and “wrong;” it’s about controlling women’s sexuality and their bodies; it’s about telling them they are worth their vaginas; it’s about making them fearful of sex, their bodies, their own sexualities, and pretty much the world at large. And if you don’t think slut shaming plays a role in rape cases that see trial or are reported, I am not sorry; you are wrong.

4. She Should Learn to Protect Herself

Clutch Phrases:
“If more women protected themselves, there would be less rape.”
“Give women guns and see how the rape rate drops.”
“Do these things/follow these rules to protect yourself and you’ll be rape proof!”

So, okay: maybe that last phrase isn’t word for word, but you’ve all heard the precautions rape culture teaches: don’t wear your hair in a pony tail; walk with your keys out; don’t go out alone at night; don’t live alone; don’t wear tight/revealing clothes; beware of men pretending to be police officers, etc. etc. etc. Doesn’t this all sound like the responsibility for rape is being put on the victim? As if you could follow all these strategies and make yourself rape proof. Or as Wanda Sykes joked, leave your pussy at home.

Since you can’t leave your pussy at home, there’s always a lot of talk about how women can carry guns or learn self defense to prevent rape, but as the articulate Zerlina Maxwell so eloquently stated on Fox News this past week:

“I don’t think that we should be telling women anything. I think we should be telling men not to rape women and start the conversation there…You’re talking about this as if it’s some faceless, nameless criminal, when a lot of times it’s someone you know and trust…If you train men not to grow up to become rapists, you prevent rape.”

Enough said.

3. She Was Asking For It

Clutch Phrases:
“She was asking for it.”
“Women secretly want to be raped.”
“She was wearing/doing X so she wanted it.”
“She was drinking/doing drugs/out late/without a man/alone.”

The absolute absurdity that anyone asks to get raped is completely stunning. There is literally nothing a person can do to ask for a heinous act of violence: not dress a certain way, not identify a certain way, not act a certain way, etc. It should be clear by now that these mentalities don’t serve to protect women; they create boundaries in which we are to live policed by the threat of sexual violence. By telling us we cannot go out late or drink or have any sort of life outside of our homes without the threat of rape, you have effectively removed our humanity. There is no autonomy in following a strict set of standards, lest we risk violence and the label of “asking for it.” The myth that some women asked to be raped means that those “some women” behave/look a certain way, and to avoid being raped, a woman should operate inside the boundaries set out by society. Of course, that does not work. Women are raped regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, or marital status because rape is not an act of desire/sex; rape is an act of violence.

2. Boys Will be Boys

Clutch Phrases:
“Boys will be boys.”
“Rape is biological.”
“That’s just the way men are/the world is.”

When the phrase “boys will be boys” is used in regards to sexual violence, it is normalized. That is, it is assumed that every male identifying person is a rapist. Boys will be boys = that’s the way boys are: they rape. I don’t know about you, but I expect a lot more out of humanity than the innate, biological need to rape. Telling me that men cannot control their “desire” for someone, or must expel the fruit of their loins, or have some “point of no return” removes their capacity for logical thought: dick gets hard; brain shuts off. What’s really going on is that a lot of men don’t see women as people. Yes, you read that right. Objectification leads to dehumanization.(And you can’t commit a crime against an object, can you?) The rationale that “men are that way” or “that’s the way the world is” suggests that women are fish in water: that the threat of violence is an immovable, unchangeable part of society, and that women should learn to deal with it (re: protect themselves/follow the rules) instead of trying to change it. I, for one, I am not buying it. Instead, let’s follow the 5 Ways We Can Teach Men Not to Rape by Zerlina Maxwell.

1. Victim Blaming

Clutch Phrases:
“She didn’t fight/say anything/say no/yell.”
“What was she doing there/with that man?”
“Why didn’t she try to run?”
“What was she wearing/doing?”
“Where was she/who was she with?”

How can a rapist ever be at fault if there are always reasons why the victim is to blame? The entirety of this list all adds up to blaming the person who was raped for being the target of a violent crime. One of the most common arguments (behind, of course, the sexy clothing excuse) is that women do not struggle enough, do not say no, or cannot say no. Listen: silence is not a yes; no is not a yes; only yes is a yes. This bullshit about women “saying no when they mean yes” only perpetuates the mentality that some women are asking for it. Sadly, victim blaming is deeply embedded into society; so far, in fact, that it is often used in the most subtle ways and the most disgusting ways. In turn, rapes are under reported and under prosecuted. And when rapes are reported women undergo an invasive examination of their entire lives while their story is speculated on and their experience discredited.

So, if you find yourself or someone you know falling into one of these mentalities about rape and rape survivors, think about the consequences of perpetuating those ideas, and whether they are really creating the kind of world you want to live in.