18 signs we live in a rape culture


Following the news that a British teenager has been charged with falsely accusing a group of Israeli men of raping her, there's been a lot of discussion abour rape culture online.

The 19 year-old British woman claims that she was coerced by male police officers into saying she wasn't raped by the men. The alleged perpetrators deny all charges and the Cypriot authorities strongly refute her allegations. The story has made headlines across the world, with many viewing the treatment of the young woman as a classic example of the "rape culture" that discourages women from reporting allegations of abuse.

Rape culture has been in the headlines many times over the last few years, with Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, James Franco, filmmaker Paul Haggis and Broadway legend Ben Bereen among the Hollywood heavyweights to have had sexual misconduct allegations levelled at them as part of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements.

Ever since the closing months of last year, as stories and allegations have continued to hit the headlines, it's become more and more apparent that we live in a rape culture: by which we mean, a culture in which sexual violence is the norm, and everyday practices normalise, trivialise and even excuse rape and sexual assault.

It's a culture where instead of teaching people not to rape, we teach people not to get raped.

Here are 18 signs we live in one. And for the first, we need look only towards the White House...

1. 'You can do anything.'

An audio recording emerged in October 2016 of former reality TV star Donald Trump bragging about using his fame to try and "f**k" women and groping them without waiting for their consent.

On the tape, which was obtained by the Washington Post and released in the run-up to the US presidential election, Trump can be heard saying:

I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it.

You can do anything... grab them by the pussy.

Although Trump apologised, he deflected by saying it was "locker room banter".

The man is now the President of the US and one of the most powerful people in the world.

Picture:THOMAS PETER/AFP/Getty Images

2. When footballer Adam Johnson said "society conditioned him" into grooming a 15-year-old for sex.


Using the argument we live in a rape culture to diminish your responsibility as an abuser. Clever.

3. Ditto Dapper Laughs

In a lengthy, self-pitying interview Dapper (real name Daniel O'Reilly) said that his objectifying jokes about women were actually aimed at mens' insecurities, rather than the fact that, you know, sexual violence is funny or something.

I’m taking the piss out of insecurities of men – that’s the basis for the comedy. Women hold all the power.

Yes, Dapper, women hold all the power. That must be why only six per cent of rape cases where a woman is the victim end in conviction and thousands of rapes go unreported every year.

4. When more than 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped, and 400,000 women sexually assaulted, every single year.

but apparently we have a 'victim' culture rather than a rape culture.

5. When we still think rape is only committed by violent strangers in dark alleyways.

Ninety per cent of attacks are carried out by people known to the victim.

6. When The Sun calls an attempted rape a ‘romp’.

7. When we give false rape accusation reports overblown significance, as in the case of the embellished Rolling Stone campus assault story

Only between 2-8 percent of rape accusations are found to be false – but the outcry stops many victims from coming forward.

8. When talking about male rape is still taboo.

Prison soap jokes, stigma and shame are all ways we don't deal with rape's impact on masculinity.

Survivors UK, the UK’s biggest male-only victim support group, had its funding completely cut in 2015 despite a 120 percent rise in reported male rape cases.

9. When we are encouraged to see women's bodies as objects All. The. Time.

10. When reporting on rape trials focuses on the perpetrators' ruined futures or previous promise rather than the victims' trauma.

11. When women get targeted with gendered abuse and rape and death threats online every day.

There are deeply scarring psychological effects, and in some sad cases, real ones.

12. And entire Internet threads are dedicated to men inflicting pain on women during sex, or creating Grand Theft Auto rape scenes:

Thanks to an unofficial mod, you can now virtually rape fellow players as part of the game in Grand Theft Auto, with several videos of the attacks being put on YouTube.

13. When abuse was reported to police and authorities in Rotherham, but they failed to investigate because the complainants didn't fit 'innocent victim' profiles.

Authorities ignored the abuse and sexual exploitation of 1,400 children between 1997-2013 in Rotherham despite of years of warnings, according to the official report.

Professor Alexis Jay said social workers were nervous about being accused of racism by flagging up the abuse, as the majority of the perpetrators were Asian men. There's a term for when concerns about accusations of racism are more important than protecting children from sexual predators: rape culture.

14. When we're so determined that rape culture doesn't exist we call it a 'war on boys' instead:

15. When safety campaigns and ads still put the onus on women not to get raped

The black and white awareness image first ran between 2005-2007 as part of the NHS and Home Office’s anti-alcohol Know Your Limits campaign and is still on display in several hospitals, GP surgeries and universities.

It claims that “one in three reported rapes happens when the victim has been drinking” but has been criticised for blaming the victims rather than the perpetrators.

Likewise, this ad for a minicab company:

16. When judges don't consider guilty men to be 'classic rapists'.

Lee Setford was found guilty of rape in 2014. When sentencing him to five years in prison, Judge Michael Mettyear said he did not consider him a "classic rapist" and described him as a man who "simply could not resist" a "pretty girl".

"I do not regard you as a classic rapist. I do not think you are a general danger to strangers. You are not the type who goes searching for a woman to rape", he said.

She was a pretty girl who you fancied. You simply could not resist. You had sex with her.

17. And say women need to stop getting so drunk

Retired judge Mary Jane Mowat said in 2014 that rape conviction rates will not improve until women "stop getting so drunk". Rather than the onus to convict criminals being on the police, or the Crown Prosecution Service – or rapists not to rape – Judge Mowat said it was women who need to change: “It is an inevitable fact of it being one person’s word against another, and the burden of proof being that you have to be sure before you convict”, she said.

I will also say, and I will be pilloried for saying so, but the rape conviction statistics will not improve until women stop getting so drunk. I’m not saying it’s right to rape a drunken woman, I’m not saying for a moment that it’s allowable to take advantage of a drunken woman.

18. When men think it's acceptable to walk down the street shouting this: “rape, rape, rape”, “she’s too young” and “15 years”.

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