March 20, 2011 / Safety

Rape Culture and How it Betrays Women


The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.

In 1972, Adrienne Rich, a revolutionary poet and feminist of her time, wrote a poem called “Rape,” originally published in a collection of poems titled Diving into the Wreck (1971-72). “Rape” sets the scene of a young girl sitting before a cop and reporting her rape:

the maniac’s sperm still greasing your thighs,
your mind whirling like crazy. You have to confess
to him, you are guilty of the crime
of having been forced. (12-15)

Rich draws on the fact that because the girl had to share the most horrific moment of her existence, this cop now thinks he knows her — she wanted it, she asked for it, she provoked the rapist’s advances, and now wants to make it go away. There is a part in him that revels in the “hysteria” in her voice as she outlines the details of her rape — she deserved it somehow. The last stanza of the poem focuses on the fear that the girl experiences, not because she was raped, but because she could be found guilty of someone else’s crime. Because she is a woman in a patriarchal machine, the victim becomes the “confessor,” and her fear of the rapist is superseded by her fear of the machine: the cops, the courts that will undoubtedly place her on trial for being victimized, and the news that will paint tawdry portraits of how she somehow dressed a certain way or acted older than her age or put herself in the wrong place.

Although this was written in 1972 in order to create awareness of rape and the unconscious attitude people had towards rape victims, this can still be applied today, which is quite appalling. In light of this, the past few weeks have brought to our attention the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Texas by 18 males, their ages ranging from 14-18, who recorded the assault on their cell phones and published them to the public. What is interesting about the news coverage of this story is that the girl’s experience is silenced. The New York Times reported on the community’s response to the girl’s dress and appearance, implying that she asked for it. The Daily Beast focused on how this crime has divided the town of Cleveland, TX and has affected the reputation of this nice and hospitable place. A Fox News piece is centered on the difficult defense of the suspects and on the fact that they all knew the girl was 11. Another article from Fox News Houston brings to light the perspective of Quanell X, the new Black Panther Leader, who stands up for the suspects, all black males. The central points posited on the case are framed around the topics of the way the girl was dressed and why she was hanging out in that part of town, racial profiling, absentee parenting, and how this is an “alleged” rape, because she stuck around to be gang raped by all these guys.

The only one who wrote about this case with honesty and with repulsion at what is really happening here, is Akiba Solomon in Colorlines:

“In this framework, girls of color are the predators, the fast-asses, the hot-asses, the hooker-hos, the groupie bitches, the trick-ass bitches, the bust-it-babies and the lil’ freaks who are willing to let dudes “run a train” on them. Too often let translates into, “she was rolling with a bunch of dudes” or “she showed poor judgement” or “she appropriated male-identified sexual bravado to fit in,” or “she’s a child who has been sexually exploited or abused.

This double standard also renders black men and boys as victims of their own sexuality. They’re big-dick goon and goblin niggas just doing what niggas do when a smiling, or at least not-protesting young girl comes around. She’s 11? OK, but I didn’t know she was 11, so I didn’t do anything wrong, or violent, or exploitative or dangerous. My responsibility begins and ends with a request for ID.”

But where is the girl? Where is her voice? Where is the empathy for a young child, a 6th grader, who had to experience physical assault countless times in a few hours, by different men, one after the other, as they took turns climbing on top of her and filling her slight body with rage, power, and the kind of knowledge no woman, let alone a small girl, should ever experience?”

In the eyes of the world, the news coverage of our country, members of her own community, and perhaps even her friends all believe that she is “guilty of the crime/of having being forced (Rich 14-15). Not much has changed since Adrienne Rich wrote “Rape.” People continue to blame the victim, while finding reasons to excuse the suspects of their crime. They didn’t know she was 11. She said she was 17. She was willing to go “for a ride” with two of the suspects. She was always hanging out in the Quarter, dressing like she was 20. She didn’t fight. Didn’t fight back. Didn’t scratch, and scream, and try to flee the attack. No, she wouldn’t. She is a 6th grader. She found herself in the company of 18 males who warned her that if she didn’t take her clothes off, they would have her beaten. She is a 6th grader who found herself surrounded by male libido, machismo, violence, and their belief that they had a right to take her, rape her, use her little body up, pass it around, and then toss it aside as if it didn’t belong to a face, to a soul, to a human being who felt pain, fear, and panic. And above all that has been said about this case, this is what is most distressing, disheartening: that these high school boys and young men felt they had a right to do what they did, and that there would be no consequences. Their conceit, their sense of power is evident in the fact that they whipped our their cell phones and recorded themselves sexually assaulting a minor. No fear.

What does this all mean? How do we inhabit this kind of world where boys as young as fourteen feel they can rape a young girl and not feel anything — guilt, repulsion, empathy? How do we get to the point that when we learn about the sexual assault of a minor, we consider her dress, her appearance, her behavior, and immediately question what she has done to get herself in this situation? How do we focus on race and class and how to excuse the suspects of their violence? And why do we silence and stigmatize the victim by accusing her of seduction, ignorance, passivity, and complicity? If we should stand on anyone’s side, it should be the victim’s — the girl’s. No one deserves to be raped, let alone gang raped. No one asks for such a thing — such a vile, invasive, and violent attack on one’s body and mind. How is all of this possible in our day and time?

In an impassioned piece called On Rape, The Media and The New York Times, Stephanie Rogers, a writer who analyzes the roles of women in film, discusses the rape culture that we live in and how news coverage, movies, television shows, and advertising all contribute to the sexual violence against women because they bombard the public with incessant images and storylines in which girls and women are abused, beaten, raped, and/or murdered. She states,

“It contributes to rape because it normalizes violence against women. Men rape to control, to overpower, to humiliate, to reinforce the patriarchal structure. And the media, which is vastly controlled by men, participates in reproducing already existing prejudices and inequalities, rather than seeking to transform them.”

Under Helium’s Feminism and Women’s Rights, Rape culture is defined as a “culture in which rape is common, and can be condoned through cultural attitudes and behaviors, including the way its victims are portrayed in the media, and the objectification of certain people (usually women) that seems to make their bodies open to violation.” The author of this piece goes on to make some very interesting points in regard to rape and culture:

“Rape is an expression of power and control. It is used as a weapon of war: in Africa, Kosovo, Iraq, and countless other places affected by war, women are routinely raped by the invading forces. Metaphorically, rape is a good scale down of the act of war, whereby we invade and control. To rape is to seize power.”

This is interesting because it goes against the oft believed notion that what women wear, how much make-up they use on their faces, and how short their skirts are has something to do with inviting sexual assaults by men. Rape is not about lust or desire — it is about control, arrogance, and conceit — and it is all about the perpetrator, the rapist, the attacker — the one who needs to assert his physical prowess and reign over another human being, usually a small and helpless one who looks at him with fear in her eyes and who knows better than to fight back.

The University of California – Davis has produced an insightful and convincing document called Defining Rape Culture, which posits that the burden of prevention is laid upon women. They have to be careful where they go, at what time of the evening, who to associate with, how to pick up signals of impending violence from another person, and really, how to control their movements and behaviors so that they do not put themselves in a situation that may result with an attack against them. According to the findings of this piece,  “The high incidence of rape in this country is a result of the power imbalance between men and women. Women are expected to assume a subordinate relationship to men” (2). In other words, women cannot control being victims of sexual assaults by men because the problem rests in the culture: the way women are taught to be passive and reliant on men, and the way men are taught to be aggressive and more powerful than women. To change this, we must alter the way the culture reacts to the roles of women and men; their perceptions of women and men; shake off the imbalance that exists in female and male power; and make it a political problem that affects everyone — not just women — not just victims. Governments, politicians, neighbors, schools, and everyone who makes up a community must become involved in order for this rape culture to be expunged from our constant reality. Here are some suggestions the UC-Davis article suggests for making this happen:

“A few awareness strategies that can be employed in neighborhoods are:

1. Organizing meetings and educational programs

2. Block  organizing  (small  groups  to  meet  to  discuss  safety  and  planning  to  organizeneighborhood)

3. Neighborhood lobbying (i.e. letter writing)

4. Whistle alert (Whistle sounded for help)

5. Shelter houses (women in neighborhood make their homes available for temporary refuge)

6. Watch programs (patrol programs, with assistance of experienced community organizers)

7. Lobbying for preventive education to be included in the public school curriculum

8. Take Back The Night March (symbolically supporting women’s right to walk at night.

In essence, attention must be drawn to the focus of rape. Rape must be viewed as a political issue, not just another crime or mental health problem. It must be seen as an issue which affects all women. However, rape is not just a women’s problem–it is a community problem.”


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  • Amy Siskind

    Marina- just to update this atrocious crime, looks like there may have been up to 28 (not 18) men involved in this rape and the ages for into the 20s. This is sick beyond sick. Are we raising human beings or animals?

  • Bes

    “make it a political problem that affects everyone — not just women — not just victims”

    And that is the answer to the problem right there. It is a waste of time to try to explain this situation to men or their institutions, many can’t understand because of their self centeredness (the male view is the only view), other men have the capacity to understand but find it inconvienient, they like the status quo. To make progress on this problem you must think of ways to make men suffer for rape and suffer hard, because the only thing they care about is themselves. I would suggest violent vigilante action. Violence is abhorrent to most women but men use it as a form of communication or even entertainment. So violence needs to be carried out against rapists, media that fosters the culture of rape, political parties that ignore or excuse rape. Media, men and political parties will change their behavior when they no longer find it rewarding. They don’t care about you and they aren’t going to start caring if you can just talk to them long enough.

  • Bes

    “Are we raising human beings or animals”

    These males are animals. To me merely possessing human DNA does not make a human being, it just represents the potential for a human. To become human one must have a soul.

    Also this is the best article I have read on this issue and I have read a lot of the articles.

  • HelenMcCombs

    So the New Black Panther Party thinks its OK for black men to rape a black girl of 11.
    First of all I don’t know why the Press even cares about what a racist organization like The New Black Panthers think because they are NO Different then the Klan and should be ignored.
    Not only is he standing up for those “men” he is perpetrating the myth that black women/girls are nothing but Hos and bitches out to seduce men.
    Its also disturbing that they still blame the victim.
    This girl is being threatened and being labeled a Snitch This could either get this child murdered or injured for life.
    I walked in her shoes at the same age. I know how the courts treat young victims.

  • Nell

    For those of you who may not have read or heard, the victim in this case is Latina, not black.

    The New Black Panther Party, in the person of Quannell X, is exploiting this horrific crime against an 11-year-old child to foster a race war, and the media, by giving his rape apologia air and print time, lends credence to it. Of course, the great irony is that by furthering the old stereotype that black men can’t control their sexual urges, Mr. X and his party fan the flames of racism and hatred against their own black brothers. But then, that may very well be their raison d’etre – if racism were truly a thing of the past, Mr. X would be out of a job.

    While the UC-Davis document is correct in its assertion that the burden of rape prevention has historically been foisted upon the victims, I note that several of their suggestions for remedies would continue to place that onus on women/victims. Why, for example, should it be incumbent upon only women to open their homes as refuges?

  • Kathleen Wynne


    You insights are right on! Men care only about themselves. Women have yet to come to terms with that reality. Far too many still think we can persuade men to view women with the same respect and concern they always show to each other.

    Men are members of an exclusive club — patriarchy — and they have no intention of changing the status quo which gives them every advantage, without ever having to earn it or be held accountable, for just being born with a penis.

  • Amy Siskind

    Kathleen – I don’t agree with the men bashing. Nor does this organization. The men who engaged in this rape (and any other sexual assaults) are animals and they deserve to rot in prison for clearly they cannot operate in society. But this is not the majority of men or boys. Nor are men or boys the enemy.

    To be productive, we need to start with our media and its portrayal of these events. and end our culture of victim blaming through education. But the anti all men rhetoric is not helpful nor a solution.

  • marille

    Amy I agree that most men would not behave like the Texas 28 nor condone it. But in my experience most men will not want to hear about it, do anything or be reminded that such situation is unresolved business for women.
    most men act like the three monkeys don’t see, don’t hear, don’t know. even more it is dirty business people (men and women) don’t want to get involved. you lose a lot of friends acquaintances over pulling such crime from under the carpet. I volunteer with a group of people on the local victim services board, and that is the only place where people want to hear about your thoughts. I think we need to eventually restart this women clubs movement (term from Ida Wells) or the self help groups, to keep the conversation going. there is such strong opposition to speak out.

  • Amy Siskind

    Those are your opinions, which of course, you are entitled to. To group all men and boys into a rapist enablers accomplishes nothing. Not a thing. You are entitled to hate men of course.

    This organization looks to change our culture and do our part to keep women and girls safe. Men read this blog and are welcome here, and many are involved in trying to end violence against women. Just as women, for example Naomi Wolf’s writing can conversely work to enable rapists and discourage victims from reporting crimes through this writings.

    Clearly a new approach is needed. That’s what we’re trying to do here. And this story is getting thousands of viewers – many first time readers – to who I want to make clear on behalf of TNA that we are not anti-male.

  • Amy Siskind

    I want to further add that a Facebook friend has told me an organization named Mujeres Unidas is helping the girl. A description of the org: Women and Men Working Together for a Future Free of Violence!

  • Bes

    I am glad to hear that there is an organization of men and women who is helping the young girl who was victimized in this gang rape.

    I think the idea of changing Corporate Media is idealistic. First of all Corporate Media does not reflect or represent our American culture, it can’t because the only people who have input into what gets made and what gets shown and which channels are force fed into our homes are old white men. It would be accurate to say Corporate Media reflects old white male culture and values.

    It is important to realize that the men who run Corporate Media and Advertising are quite happy with the world they have created. They do not want to change. They spend more time and energy resisting change than creating content people would actually pay to consume if there were a free media market. They don’t care what you think and they don’t care if they harm you or your children. They don’t care that their brain dead, distorted, sexist schlock is exported around the world. It isn’t like they are ignorant of the fact that they are sexist and all you need to do is inform them and they will then see the light and change. In my opinion it is a waste of time to attempt to change Corporate Media, these old men are dug in. THEY DON’T CARE AND THEY AREN’T GOING TO START CARING. The better choice would be to start and foster an entire new media. The first step would be to educate women to cut the TV cable and to view only the content they choose, for free, on the internet.

  • Amy Siskind

    I agree Bes. Our media has created a culture of victim blaming. As we have successfully started to do with sexism, we need to bring victim blaming into the spotlight so people can identify it and see it’s destructive side effects. I think the activism around the NYT piece was a good step in that direction.

    Nell – then you’ll need to explain to me why the rate of domestic abuse in lesbian couples is 30%
    – actually higher than the assumed national average of 1 in 4 victims. Again, it’s your POV. You are welcome to it. It is not what The New Agenda stands for.

  • Barbara Di Bari Visconti

    Here’s what I find confusing – we report on a horrific rape of a child which takes place in a rape culture in which rape jokes are laughed at, the victim blamed and care and concern reserved for the perps and this is common and includes most male instiutions, the news media and the police. Then someone turns around and says most men and boys are nothing like that and to say otherwise is “bashing” them. What I don’t understand is: if rapists and rapist enablers are such a small, atypical minority, then why is the rape culture so pervasive throughout society? Very confusing.

  • marina delvecchio

    Thank you all for commenting on this piece. I am dismayed by the events and the treatment of this girl and other girls out there who continue to remain silent about their experiences with rape and gang rape. I’m beginning to think that education regarding the treatment of young girls and women needs to start in schools. There need to be clubs that foster enlightenment and empowerment for both boys and girls, how to deal with emotions productively and how to resolve issues constructively. Boys need to be taught that girls are not there for their taking, but girls need to learn to stand up for themselves, to value themselves. There should be in-school clubs on empowerment, and I think that women’s studies should be added to the curriculum in middle school. Girls need to have a sense of strong self and power at a young age, not just when they get into college. Martin Luther King, when discussing racism, commented on the fact that people are generally complacent. And we are. We don’t move and attempt to change ourselves, let alone society, unless it personally affects us. But if we focus on the kids and teach them while they are young — while they are forming their social consciousness, then maybe we have a chance of raising honorable boys and strong-willed girls.

  • naboo

    Excellent read.

  • juliette

    I just want to note that The New black Panther Party was enboldened by our Attorney General Eric Holder when he refused to prosecute them for the blatant voter intimidation at a polling center in Philadelphia. Holder’s reason was that he thought that voter intimidation laws where created to “protect his people.” I wonder if Holder is proud of his people in The New Black Panther Party. Are women and girls included in that exclusive group of his own people. Perhaps we should call his office and ask him to explain, or if he in any way regrets protecting a disgracful and violent, misogynic organization like The New Black Panther Party, which doesn’t have the courage to defend women of the race they claim to be so superior, but would excuse the inexcusable behavior of their black brothers..

  • Kathleen Wynne


    I don’t think I’m male bashing, I’m merely pointing out the reality that even though most men would not engage in the horrid behavior that those young men did by gang raping this 11 year old girl, I refuse to excuse nor enable the breathtaking silence exhibited by the majority of men, who still refuse to publicly acknowledge sexism, much less publicly admonish male violence agaiinst women and girls in any significant numbers necessary to stop this behavior. The frustration I feel is shared by other women that visit this site too.

    In fact, others who have posted on this issue have also pointed out that they, like me, can’t understand how a “rape culture” can exist if the majority of men are willing to acknowledge it exists and call it out.

    Instead of reprimanding me for expressing my honest frustration against the lack of male involvement in stopping this rape culture, why not explain “why” those men who are so against this kind of behavior aren’t acting more prevalent and using their immense power to stop this kind of male behavior? Am I really out of line in my assessement that the majority of males do enable this kind of behavior by remaining silent?

    Yes, I’ve heard of the men’s group “MAVAW” (men against violence against women) but they are the exception, not the rule. If they weren’t, this rape culture could not exist; along with the escalating sex trafficing of girls and women; domestic violence being on the rise; women in the military being raped by their male counterparts and it being covered up by the male officers; the ongoing, seemingly, never ending vitrolic sexism raised against women running for public office and on and on the list goes.

    Instead of reprimanding me for expressing understandable frustration at the lack of male involvement in publicly denouncing the growing violence against women, why not reprimand the majority of men who still remain silent and refuse to deal with this horrific behavior?

    As Dante said, “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in the face of a great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”

  • Henrietta


    I agree, rape culture is pervasive. And there are “good people” out there who are rape enablers. There is a culture of hatred of women out there in our world and in the Unites States. Men buy into it. Most of them don’t rape but I would agree that I good number of them enable rape culture. The crazy thing is, rape culture is so pervasive and the culture of misogyny so powerful that women buy into this, too. Women do not rape but they do enable rape. They laugh at rape jokes. They continue friendships with their male college buddies who date raped and excuse what they did as not rape. They call each other bitches and whores and they speak violently about women they do not like. And it takes a tremendous amount of dialogue, which is sometimes impossible to have, to convince even these women that misogyny hurts and rape culture exists.

    Marina, this was such a great article that I could not stop thinking about it yesterday. The Rich quotes are powerful and the idea of the victim becoming the “confessor” is accurate and speaks for why rape is such a silent epidemic. It also got me thinking about rape culture and how to stop it. The suggestions by the U Davis article are good, but it would be hard for me to walk into my community right now and find any sort of real interest in proactively stopping rape. I think it’s hard for many to consider this topic because rape culture is so pervasive. Rape culture is often not simply exhibited by someone else, as we like to think about racism. It is supported by so many of us so it is a tough thing to look at because it would take honest and painful self-reflection.

  • Amy Siskind

    For all those of you reading this article who are upset by this issue, I do hope you will support the work of The New Agenda Foundation, our org whose main focus is protecting our teenage girls. We are shining a bright light on the role our pop culture plays in the ever increasingly problem of teen dating violence (at the extreme, rape). And this org has been promoting that parents and schools educate “our children”. That and calling out the media for their reporting of rape – victim blaming, etc. is our way of starting to raise public awareness and therefore help with this problem. We are focused here!

  • yttik

    There are plenty of individual decent men and there are even men working against sexual assault. The problem is there is also this huge rape culture supported by so many other men. Some of those rapists were still children themselves and they weren’t born that way, they learned it in our culture. Somehow in their short lives they were taught that this kind of behavior is acceptable and that they should be able to get away with it.

    I don’t think it’s necessary to “soothe men’s ruffled feathers,” because men who actually work on these issues understand full well how bad it is. They don’t need women to tell them “it’s okay, not all men are like this,” because they’re already living it, they know that. But they also know that the patriarchy creates a whole lot of men who are.

  • Bes

    The way Corporate Media is a bastion of Patriarchy enables the rapist culture. Authentic woman do not have a voice in Corporate Media. Whenever women or girls are portrayed they conform to narrowly drawn stereotypes. Women aren’t allowed to participate in media so they can’t fight back outright or with alternate perspectives. Anything a Corporate Media woman says is written, edited, filmed, costumed, casting couch approved and otherwise controlled by men.

    The males who organized and participated in this brutal gang rape of a child are more highly valued as customers by Corporate Media than any women and girls even though women are the majority and make 80% of all purchasing decisions.

    Corporate Media has made the misogynist definition of sex and women (pornography) available in every home attached to the TV cable. So Pornographers are given a loud and very valued voice by Corporate Media. In corporate Media world men’s entertainment is pornography derived and women’s entertainment consists of “helpful” hints on how you can better conform to your pornography dictated role in life punctuated every five minutes by advertisements for products you can buy to correct your porn ready deficiencies.

    Studies have been done showing sex doesn’t sell. Women don’t watch “women’s content” channels because they aren’t interested in misogynist reality crap. Girls feel worse after reading “women’s magazines”. There are few women in childrens shows. There are few women in the production side of Media. Men own all media outlets. The fashion industry is linked to eating disorders in girls. Corporate Media is sexualizing girls at younger and younger ages etc, etc, etc. The Powers That BE know this and they don’t care. The way Corporate Media does business and their corporate culture are their considered deliberate choices and they are happy with them. Corporate Media isn’t going to change. Women need to give up on Corporate Media and start our own parallel media.

  • Barbara Di Bari Visconti

    I don’t think it’s necessary to “soothe men’s ruffled feathers,” because men who actually work on these issues understand full well how bad it is. They don’t need women to tell them “it’s okay, not all men are like this,”

    I didn’t say they need women to tell them it’s ok not all men are like that in order to soothe their ruffled feathers. I think they require that any woman who dares to make an unflattering generalization about their sex be rebuked in order to soothe their ruffled feathers.

  • yttik

    “I think they require that any woman who dares to make an unflattering generalization about their sex be rebuked…”

    Perhaps, but as usual there are no actual men around here, right now, demanding any such thing. It’s usually women who feel the need to rush in and defend the entire male gender.

    I’ve never worked with an actual man who said defensively, “all men are not like that.” In fact, those men who do work against sexual assault tend to say the same things we do. I’ve never heard a father send his daughter out on a date giving some guy the benefit of the doubt so he doesn’t have his feelings ruffled. In general men have a pretty good idea about what the patriarchy trains men to be like.

  • Barbara Di Bari Visconti

    It’s usually women who feel the need to rush in and defend the entire male gender.

    You’ve got that right. After a while women learn exactly what men require and do it without being told. If you notice, men don’t object. No, they just put their feet up and relax, knowing the “little women” will come to their defense. Women are not born with a tendency to “rush in and defend the entire male gender.”

    I’ve never worked with an actual man who said defensively, “all men are not like that.”

    I have. I’ve heard that numerous times from men.

    In fact, those men who do work against sexual assault tend to say the same things we do.

    Well, then, what’s the problem when we do?

    I’ve never heard a father send his daughter out on a date giving some guy the benefit of the doubt so he doesn’t have his feelings ruffled.

    Of course, she is *his* property, not the date’s. That’s what rape was originally (and still is?) defined as, a property crime by one man against another man’s property. One man doesn’t hesitate to ruffle another’s feathers in his own male behalf. At least not until he “gives her away” at the altar.

    In general men have a pretty good idea about what the patriarchy trains men to be like.

    Agreed. But that has nothing to do with what I was talking about.

  • Henrietta

    “Of course, she is *his* property, not the date’s. That’s what rape was originally (and still is?) defined as, a property crime by one man against another man’s property. One man doesn’t hesitate to ruffle another’s feathers in his own male behalf. At least not until he “gives her away” at the altar.”

    I don’t think this is fair. It’s not about property, not for most American families. It’s about love. Mothers and fathers love their daughters. Parents no longer treat their boy or girl children like property in this country. And if a daughter goes off to marry a bad husband, you can bet that all the families that I know would care a great deal!

    Last, I just want to add with all of this talk about men we are not addressing the larger picture which includes women. Women support rape culture too. If women did not support rape culture we could end rape culture with some level of ease. When I think of sexist treatment I have received in my life, a great deal of it came from women. When I was a young cute girl in NYC in the job market, I remember always hoping that my boss would be a man because the most sexist, most horrendous bosses I have ever had were women. When I have sought the understanding and advice of women friends, colleagues and acquaintances, too often I have been poo pooed when I talk of issues of sexism.

    Yes, men are the rapists and many men are actively or passively engaged in rape culture. But so are women engaged in rape culture and sexism. The problem is the system, not the gender.

  • Amy Siskind

    This piece is now cross-posted at The Huffington Post.

    Interesting comment there:

    I was told a story by one of my instructor­s about a police officer who was raped while on duty. His fellow police officers teased and harassed him about it until one day he killed himself. I could see how it affected the instructor as it was someone he knew. One of the students in my class asked “If the police know how bad rape is, why would they say those things to him?”. The instructor paused for a second, one of the few times I’ve seen him stop and think to have to answer a question, and he said “I..dont know”.

  • Bes

    “But so are women engaged in rape culture and sexism. The problem is the system, not the gender.”

    That is true but another big problem is women’s reluctance or inability to build their own female centric system. For some reason women want to appeal to men to let them have a different position in the Corporate Media culture, which men have designed and built, because women haven’t been treated fairly by this system. Women cling to the idea that this is an unintentional slight and if you just point out the unfairness to men they will change the system. It is not unintentional. Men designed and built Corporate Media, they are happy with the way it runs, they don’t want your idea of “improvements” and they are so extremely, fantastically wealthy that they don’t care if they are undeserving the majority of the population. Most women in media have adapted to the casting couch vetting and head wagging submissive body language expected of them and they are completely invested in the system too.

    If we want a different media culture we will have to create it our selves. Men have built the only thing they are capable of building and they are happy with their creation.

  • Kali

    Yes, men are the rapists and many men are actively or passively engaged in rape culture. But so are women engaged in rape culture and sexism. The problem is the system, not the gender.

    The rapists are almost exclusively men/boys and the people fighting against rape are almost exclusively women/girls. So gender does have something to do with it. The system was not created by aliens – it came about as a response to male domination.

  • Kathleen Wynne


    I totally agree. Gender has everything to do with it because it’s all about who has the power and women clearly don’t and men know that they do. Rape is a twisted offshoot of the exercise of that power to keep women in line and men maintaining control. I think men fear not being in control more than anything.

    IMO, those women who enable this kind of male behavior have been conditioned to do so by their mothers and fathers, just like young boys are conditioned to believe they are superior to girls and that this brutish behavior is acceptable. Just look around. It’s everywhere and so much a part of everyday life, that men cannot or will not acknowledge it because they define and measure themselves by this behavior.