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Wed Oct 24, 2012, 03:20 PM

Ending Rape Illiteracy

http://www.thenation.com/blog/170767/ending-rape-illiteracy

This week, a DC-based feminist group projected the phrase “rape is rape” onto the US Capitol building. The action was meant to highlight survivors’ stories and bring attention to the way rape is often mischaracterized. The sentiment may seem an obvious one—who doesn’t understand what rape is?—but the message, sadly, is much needed. Tuesday evening at the final Indiana Senate debate, Republican Richard Mourdock explained why he opposes abortion with no exceptions by calling pregnancy from rape "something that God intended"- the latest in a long line of "gaffes" by male politicians about sexual assault. It was only this January that the FBI updated its archaic definition of rape, male politicians’ “gaffes” about rape have become par for the course, and victim-blaming in the culture and courts runs rampant.

Feminists have done a lot to change policies, but not enough to change minds. Despite decades of activism on sexual assault—despite common sense, even—there is still widespread ignorance about what rape is, and this absence of a widely understood and culturally accepted definition of sexual assault is one of the biggest hurdles we have in chipping away at rape culture.

When Todd Akin uttered his now-famous line that women rarely get pregnant from “legitimate rape,” he didn’t misspeak. This was something he thought was true—both the bizarre logic about pregnancy and the idea that there is such a thing as a rape that isn’t legitimate. Last year, Wisconsin state representative Roger Rivard told a newspaper reporter that “some girls rape easy.” Now under fire, Rivard attempted to clarify his comments, claiming they were taken out of context.

What the whole genesis of it was, it was advice to me , telling me, “If you’re going to go down that road, you may have consensual sex that night and then the next morning it may be rape.” So the way he said it was, “Just remember, Roger, some girls, they rape so easy. It may be rape the next morning.”

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Arrow 6 replies Author Time Post
Reply Ending Rape Illiteracy (Original post)
redqueen Oct 2012 OP
MadrasT Oct 2012 #1
redqueen Oct 2012 #2
MadrasT Oct 2012 #3
redqueen Oct 2012 #4
ismnotwasm Oct 2012 #5
MadrasT Oct 2012 #6

Response to redqueen (Original post)

Wed Oct 24, 2012, 03:29 PM

1. Was just coming to post this.

Really great article.

The definition of who is a rape victim has been whittled down by racism, misogyny, classism and the pervasive wink-wink-nudge-nudge belief that all women really want to be forced anyway. The assumption is that women are, by default, desirous of sex unless they explicitly state otherwise. And women don’t just have to prove that we said no, but that we screamed it.


The reason we have qualifiers—legitimate, forcible, date, gray—is because at the end of the day it’s not enough to say ‘rape’. We don’t believe it on its own and we want to know what “kind” of assault it was in order to make a value judgment about what really happened—and to believe that it couldn’t happen to us. It’s not because most people are bad, or want to blame rape victims. Americans are simply too mired in misogyny, and without feminist influence, to think any differently.



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Response to MadrasT (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 24, 2012, 03:48 PM

2. I really liked the observation that feminists have done a lot to change policies,

but not enough to change minds.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #2)

Wed Oct 24, 2012, 03:53 PM

3. Yes. The need to be more proactive about changing our culture.

Mmm-hmm. Good stuff.

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Response to MadrasT (Reply #3)

Wed Oct 24, 2012, 03:57 PM

4. Yes, it was too hard to pick excerpts so I went with the opening paragraphs...

thanks for posting those two. I wish more people understood what this all means.

We are mocked and ridiculed for pointing out the fact that women are the sex class... posts here which spell out the way that we exist in a perpetual state of YES! are hidden and become fodder for jokes elsewhere on this site... but these are serious issues, and the more people speak up about it, the better.

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Response to MadrasT (Reply #3)

Wed Oct 24, 2012, 06:13 PM

5. Was it you that said

Something to the effect that these rape 'redefinitions' came from threatened male sexual privilege? No playing in the rape culture sandbox without a lot of ugly pushback.

It's really good to see this.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #5)

Wed Oct 24, 2012, 07:48 PM

6. Yep. Reckon my words were cruder than

"threatened male sexual privilege" but that was my theory.

I am fed up with hearing men trying to control conversations about rape and abortion. (And I mean "ready to open up a can of whoop ass" fed up.)

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