Shame, Blame, and “Rape Culture”

Whenever feminists talk about “rape culture” and male victims, I am reminded of a theory from the TV series Full Metal Alchemist called “equivalent exchange.” According to the theory, “Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return… To obtain, something of equal value must be lost.” It seems that every time feminists talk about “rape culture,” they must sacrifice something to add credibility to their theory, and that tends to be male victims. In order for their theory to work, feminists must deny, ignore, or downplay sexual violence against men and boys.

It is a curious thing because it makes no logical sense. Just because one group experiences something does not mean another group cannot experience the same thing. Yet that is the argument that Soraya Chemaly makes in her article about “rape culture.” She defines “rape culture” as, “sexual violence—overwhelmingly against girls and women—tolerated, excused and normalized through attitudes, norms, practices, and media,” which is a modified version of the definition given on the Wikipedia page she cites.

Yet Chemaly’s definition is so broad that anything that does not condemn sexual violence against women could be proof of “rape culture.” Indeed, if we follow her logic, we live in a “thug culture”, “mugging culture”, “drunk culture”, “murder culture” and so on. Our society tends to treat violence in an “out of sight, out of mind” way. We look for ways to hold people accountable for things that happen to them partly out of cultural norms, partly to shut those people up, and partly to continue our collective myth that we control what happens to us.

However, Chemaly’s point because she quickly shifts from proving that “rape culture” exists to arguing that feminists have nothing to do with the misandry men and male survivors face. She states:

That does NOT mean that all men are rapists. The only people who think all men are rapists are, well, rapists. However, ninety-nine percent of the perpetrators of single offender sexual assault crimes, according to the Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, are men, including boys being sexually abused. Pointing this out is not a feminist attempt to eradicate and undermine men and masculinity. It’s explaining the degree with which the crime can genuinely be seen as gender-based and why I think it’s important that individual stories be told in the context of rape as part of a larger dynamic of power.

She claims that the only people who think all men are rapists are rapists, but that is easy to disprove. It appears that not only do plenty of feminists think all men are rapists or potential rapists, but they will go to great lengths to defend that sexist argument. Yet even as Chemaly argues that “only rapists think all men are rapists,” she throws out the typical feminist “but only men commit rape” argument. She cites the NCVS, claiming that 99 percent of perpetrators of sexual violence are male, yet neither the page she linked to, the press release, or the NCVS 2010 report lists that number. The report does not even breakdown sexual violence by the perpetrator’s sex.

Feminists simply made the number up.

Specifically, they made it up to support their claim that sexual violence is something only men do to only women. And the only reason feminists frame sexual violence in that manner is because feminists define rape as an extension of men’s oppression of women. Anything challenging those views, such as a high rate of female-on-male rape, causes the “rape culture” theory to collapse.

Chemaly tries to back out of her obvious implication that women never rape, however, she immediately goes on to state:

However, when rape comes up in discussion, there is often a reflexive pointing out that women rape, too, as in this Women Rape, Too post. Saying that sexual violence affects girls and women disproportionately does not mean that boys’ and men’s experiences of assault and rape are in any way less relevant or horrific. In statistical terms, however, right now, while data on female sexual assault is hard to gather and verify for reasons listed below, it’s exactly like pointing out that some men get breast cancer every time the subject of women’s breast cancer fatalities comes up.

My article was in response to the claim that women rarely rape boys. That is factually untrue, and I cited sources proving that. According to several studies, including the CDC report Chemaly mentions, women commit between 40 percent to 70 percent of the sexual violence against males. However, Chemaly missed my point: this is the rate women’s sexual violence against males. She, like many feminists, ignores that men and women may experience different types of sexual violence committed by different people. There is no rule that if a man gets raped, that means no women got raped. Violence does not work like that.

Chemaly’s comparing sexual violence against males to male breast cancer is just sloppy and inaccurate in terms of scope and effect, and insulting to male survivors. Likewise, complaining about the media coverage of high-profile cases is at best petulant. Of course news outlets will cover cases involving dozens or hundreds of boys whose abuse was covered up by a major religious organization. However, the majority of news reports about sexual violence involve female victims.

Chemaly goes on to state:

The CDC study revealed that boys are twice as likely to be raped as children – 28% of male rape victims reported being raped between the ages of 6-10, after which the incidence of assaults drops off, versus 12% of girls, for whom the incidence peaks in their teens through twenties, but virtually never ends.

Yet she misses that the CDC study relies on self-reports conducted by phone with mostly middle-aged people. Many men, particularly those in or over their 40s, do not talk about their abuse or even call what happened to them abuse. The questions the interviewers, however, frame the acts as something a person did not want to happen. It is possible that some men withheld information because they did not want to come across as weak or because they did not think they were forced to do something. The CDC researchers did not factor this in or even mention how social norms could affect the responses they got.

That makes Chemaly’s follow-up comment all the more curious:

No reliable source, including RAINN, The Department of Justice, the Centers for Disease Control, Advocates for Youth among others, has any substantive and quantitatively sound information regarding the incidence of single offender female perpetrators of abuse. This isn’t because of a boy hating, man-bashing feminist conspiracy. It’s because a) our culture doesn’t like admitting male weakness, b) it is rarely reported and/or c) it is actually comparatively rare. Interestingly, the breakdown for multiple offender crimes is different: 59% male, 12.9% female and 22.9% male/female combined.

If you admittedly do not know how often women rape, how can you claim that they rarely do it? The lack of reliable data does potentially come from the first two items Chemaly listed, and it also comes from something else: researchers refusing to study female perpetrators, which  usually occurs because feminists, who often run the departments who conduct such studies, oppose any sexual violence research that is not focused on female victimization. There is no feminist conspiracy, only a clear attempt by feminists to deny, ignore, and downplay male victimization and female rapists.

Ironically, Chemaly counts the very things she does in her article as examples of how male victims are marginalized. She employs the gender stereotype that rape is something that “vastly disproportionately affects women,” which is part of the reason why the Advocates for Youths stated, “Male victimization is particularly hard to estimate due to beliefs that only girls can be abused…” That view is much older than feminism, yet feminists certainly promote promote it. They simply try to wrap in carefully chosen statistics.

Women’s sexual violence against children is underreported because of older social norms, but also because feminists argue that women are the victims, not the rapists. That views makes its way into law enforcement and child services so that no one ever asks if women commit rape, and when they find cases, they accuse the men of making women do it.

And yes, sometimes society does treat male sexuality as violent, but only feminists treat it as inherently violent and treat all men as suspicious. That is what led to the recent kerfuffle on GMP. It even happened during GMP’s week-long discussion about the Penn State case. Feminist writers blamed male sexuality for what Jerry Sandusky allegedly did, as if all men want rape boys.

Yet the tragedy is how Chemaly misses the problems men and boys face. She states:

It’s hard to step back from the horror of rape, particularly the rape of children, to consider the larger context in which it happens, especially in a forum dedicated to the primacy of individual stories and experiences. There is a qualitative difference between saying men rape women and women rape men and that difference gets eliminated when you tell individual stories without context.

That reads strikingly like a feminist denial that boys and men face any threat from rape and that we ought not talk about it because it might make people think it sexual violence against males is just as bad as sexual violence against females.

She continues:

Male-on-female rape is part of a larger system of violence and oppression—this is a fundamental aspect of rape theory. Boys and men don’t have to think about being the victims of rape on a regular basis. […] Rape—the threat of it, the frequency of it, the gendered reality of it—is one of a long list of ways that women are controlled in private and public spaces.

Here is the thing: the reason men do not openly worry about sexual violence, or any violence, is because our culture tells men that they should be able to fend for themselves. They are not allowed to be afraid, and admitting that they worry about being attacked, even if going through a dangerous place, in tantamount to giving up their masculinity. Should anything happen, they may be unwilling to tell anyone because they have to maintain their image.

One would think a person so concerned with gender issues would know how this would impact men’s behavior. But Chemaly, like many feminists, ignores it and treats men as if nothing bad ever happens to them. One cannot get anymore dismissive than that, but Chemaly tries:

A lot of the debate over rape culture theory that I’ve read here hinges on its being filtered through the lens of individual stories instead of the other way round. As a result it ends up being misrepresented as an individual man-bad/perpetrator, woman-good/victim argument.

Of course the debates hinge of individual stories. We are talking about a broad theory that applies to individual people’s lives. To tell someone that this thing is true for them and expect them not to check is inane. The problem is not the individual stories, but dogmatic theories like “rape culture.” When one relies on dogma and doctrine, one loses objectivity. That is how you get powerfully stupid statements like, “Only men can stop rape.”

That kind of utter disrespect for male victims enables abusers and rapists. It empowers them. Nothing pleases a person who wants to get away with a crime more than people saying that what they did either never happened, is not a problem, or that only the victims can stop the crime.

That is true irony the “rape culture” theory. In talking about female victims, feminist marginalize male victims,  and hold them responsible for not only their own assaults but also solely responsible as males for stopping all rape. Feminists do the very thing they are fighting against, and they have the gall to justify it.

There is a reason why I do not discuss my experiences with feminists, and Chemaly’s article shows why.

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38 thoughts on “Shame, Blame, and “Rape Culture”

  1. Another interesting post as always. I appreciate the fact that you can make your point without sounding like you’re about to start foaming at the mouth.
    As to the original article, I’m sure the lady had the best intentions but like an awful lot of these things, manages to demonise all men for the actions of a few and basically tells the inconvenient male victims “Sorry. You aren’t that important”

  2. Well said, I posted a point by point rebuttal on the GMP but yours was more succinct. Why on earth it was published there rather than on radfemhub is beyond me.

  3. “Male-on-female rape is part of a larger system of violence and oppression—this is a fundamental aspect of rape theory. Boys and men don’t have to think about being the victims of rape on a regular basis. […] Rape—the threat of it, the frequency of it, the gendered reality of it—is one of a long list of ways that women are controlled in private and public spaces.”

    “Here is the thing: the reason men do not openly worry about sexual violence, or any violence, is because our culture tells men that they should be able to fend for themselves. They are not allowed to be afraid, and admitting that they worry about being attacked, even if going through a dangerous place, in tantamount to giving up their masculinity. Should anything happen, they may be unwilling to tell anyone because they have to maintain their image.”

    The original comment is absurd and your response to it covers part of the reason. Fear is seen as a lack of masculinity. The other reason that men and boys don’t “fear” rape is that they are expected to be sexually available, expecially to women. An older woman who molests a younger boy is seen as providing him with a valuable service or lesson. She is “making a man out of him.” He may even feel like he must brag or boast about his “conquest” to his friends in order to be seen as a “man” in spite of being a victim and not really feeling very good about what happened. This aspect of rape in which a boy is pressured, coerced, or groomed into having sex is a better fit for the feminist definition of “rape culture” than perhaps any other type of rape or sexual assault because it condones and encourage not only the rapist, but the victim to view it as a positive act.

    TDOM

  4. Peter you made a good post there about how self-contradicting and bad that article is, good job !
    P.S I really liked FMA 🙂

  5. Big D: “As to the original article, I’m sure the lady had the best intentions”

    I highly disagree, Big D. Anyone who dismisses male victims of female abuse as statisically irrelevant has no intentions that are good.

    What’s so good about highlighting only female victims at the exclusion of male victims?

  6. Eagle, I think Chemaly wrote in good faith. The problem is that her comments were wrapped up in ideology, so while she may have had good intentions, she argued from a subjective position and fell into the either or go trap.

  7. For those who may be interested – I have been writing to address the concerns that exist over the term “Rape Culture™”.

    It can be read http://meddlingrationalarchivist.wordpress.com/rape-culture/

    It is amusing that having lodged complaint with Wikipedia over the origins and original citation of the term, I was told off for apparently being ” insulting to those who have written this article”.

    There have been edits!

    I have also been told that the origination of the term ” which is fact seems to be a relative sidenote”. What a most odd attitude for an Editor of a supposed Encyclopedia to have!

    Reality is apparently a Side Note – Wikipedia says so!

    I would commend anyone seeing the Wikipedia being referenced to point out the disputed nature of the page and all contents. It can even be entered as a “Side Note”P^)

  8. If she had good intentions then she would’ve casted the gynocentric ideology aside.

    She didn’t.

  9. I have to say that I have become increasing “infuriated” by recent comments else where – and I have grown overly tired of the “Overwhelming” Trope.

    The Numbers (Quantitative Argument) over Quality (suffering) argument is at times just too abusive to bear.

    I have said that I have a long standing history of AIDS/HIV activism – and in relation to that back at the start in the 1980’s the same arguments got trotted out from governments and businesses. It reminded me of a film called “And The Band Played On” – reference the band on the Titanic who played as the ship sank.

    In the film one of the characters got so angry over the messing about he blew his top during a meeting ( it happened in real life ) and shammed many to stop the messing about. There is a clip of it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5vJa1LnSEY

    I think it’s time to just rebut all future Quantitative Argument with the Phrase – “And The Band Played On” with a link to that clip – then people can explain how it makes them feel to be treated as a Quantitative Number and not a Quality Human Being.

    Dismissal can also be tweeted with a nice hashtag #bandplayedon.

  10. Leta – I don’t play favourites! P^)

    I deal in Equality, Dignity and Respect. More Wiki edits too! It seems that going back to basics and starting points has value!

  11. Its interesting reading the twitter conversation between hugo and author of said column. they have such smugness about their theories yet will not actually engage debating the statistical foundation that they say underpins it. It reminds me of the way some people have pride about not understanding math.

    What annoys me though is they won’t engage in debate with their critics. I have seen people like daran from feminist critics do a 1 man vs 10 feminist “debate” with insults flying at him from everywhere with constant accusations of derailment because he answered a question. And yet no matter how polite you could be to soraya she won’t answer.

  12. Ahh Toysoldier,

    Another slam-dunk on the subject, and yet I can’t help but wonder why your commentary isn’t getting more airplay? Been reading your stuff since at least 2010 and besides an occasional link/feature, it seems your wise words go largely ignored by the huddled masses debating gender issues…

    But anyhoo, thanks for continuing to bring the right mixture of logic & compassion to the vastness of cyberspace, specifically for all of us men out here.

  13. Another slam-dunk on the subject, and yet I can’t help but wonder why your commentary isn’t getting more airplay?

    That is likely because I am not an angry ranter or spew out a ton of ideological nonsense. If I railed against feminists I would probably get more views, but doing that would make people focus on the anger rather than my points.

  14. Wikipedia gets more accurate as tome passes:

    “The exact date and context of the first use of the term ‘rape culture’ are uncertain; however, it is thought that it originated around 1975. Several different theories exist as to its origin:”

    Well Theory is one thing and reality quite another – so Onwards!

  15. “Eagle, I think Chemaly wrote in good faith. The problem is that her comments were wrapped up in ideology, ”

    Her problem is that her faith is evil, so even at its best its not good. She believes a lot of evil, hateful doctrines and she lays a lot of them out in her article. That’s the problem with the article. It’s based on hate. I am quite sure she is completley unaware of her hatred too.

  16. I would stash this link and keep it handy – it is quite useful!

    It goes to the web pages of the supposedly best source for references in social sciences. It’s used by Academics and Researchers and supposed expert bloggers.

    Rape Culture – Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology

    “Extract – Rape culture is a concept of unknown origin and of uncertain definition; yet it has made its way into everyday vocabulary and is assumed to be commonly understood.

    The award-winning documentary film Rape Culture made by Margaret Lazarus in 1975 takes credit for first defining the concept. The film’s narration relies heavily on jargon such as “rapism” and “phallocentric society” and is more illustrative than definitive in dealing with rape as depicted in movies, music, and other forms of entertainment.”

    http://www.blackwellreference.com/public/tocnode?id=g9781405124331_yr2011_chunk_g978140512433124_ss1-19

    “Unknown Origin – except for a film featuring men of color talking about rape in prison – and then supposedly of “uncertain definition”?

    My Equality Blood Is Boiling!

  17. “Jim on January 9, 2012 at 11:20 am said:
    “Eagle, I think Chemaly wrote in good faith. The problem is that her comments were wrapped up in ideology, ”

    As I have confirmed – she did not write in anything near Good Faith – and she even blew herself out of the water. She insisted that Wiki was a valid reference, and then attempted to support her argument by reference to sources at “Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology”, indicating that it was a quality source.

    Blackwell say of Rape Culture – “Rape culture is a concept of unknown origin and of uncertain definition; yet it has made its way into everyday vocabulary and is assumed to be commonly understood.”.

    Chemaly has been asked if she understands a few other references as well such as “Pious Fraud” and “Bad Faith”?
    http://goodmenproject.com/gender-sexuality/rape-culture-men-women-power/comment-page-3/#comment-91550

    I note she has not answered! I fully expect to receive no response as it would have to address the reality of her own Misconduct.

    Deliberately using “Privilege” as an OP to produce abuse by Pious Fraud and in Bad Faith, to further bias and personal ideology, is reprehensible and deserves any and all Opprobrium that is provided in response.

  18. If we are going to be siting wikipedia as a source well its time for Hanlon’s razor.

    “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

  19. @leta…

    That was Napoleon Bonaparte.

    The original quote is…
    “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.”

  20. Leta – you should have raised that as an objection, before I got out my flaming sword of justice and started having bias and errors corrected! P^)

    The Wiki is now going Gender Neutral! as of 22:48, 10 January 2012‎

    Pi.1415926535 (talk | contribs)‎ (18,070 bytes) (remove all gendered language from lede and rewrote body to clarify parallel development)

    It’s been very busy since I placed the Dispute tags – all supported by reason and logic – the page! Hanlon’s razor Or Bonaparte not withstanding.

  21. @ Clarence – it is not over until the Fat Lady Sings – so get over there and join in!

    A chorus of Top “C’s” may be required! P^)

  22. In my ongoing research around Rape Culture and it’s multiplicity of sources, definitions and uses as a “Term” that is divorced from the “Concept” – I came across the following, which some may find useful, and presents a great deal of argument and history in a well structured manner. For example:

    “The backlash argument appears to suggest that gender neutrality in rape
    is inconsistent with feminist principles and, indeed, is an attack on feminist
    analysis of rape. However, the backlash argument is, in reality, an attempt
    at historic revisionism that shows an ignorance of the history of the feminist
    movement.”

    There is well referenced and structured argument which many are likely to find helpful, informative and worth reading. It covers the subject of Gender Neutrality – and has some interesting perspectives that are particular to the USA.

    “In Defence of Gender Neutrality Within Rape” – Philip Rumney – University of the West of England – Seattle Journal of Social Justice, Vol. 6, p. 481, 2007.
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1316252

    So – Back to the depths of the Internet looking for sources – Boy It’s messy down here and very dusty! P^)

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  27. Did she ever acknowledge the CDC report finding that 16% of rapists whom we know the gender for lifetime stats, were actually female?

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