“Women are socialized to protect themselves. We pass dark allies with trepidation, we have our friends watch our drinks, and we walk in pairs.” ~ Andrea Ayres

The following is not an easy read; it’s not meant to be. But if you are still under the mistaken illusion that we are not living in a rape culture, then you need to become better informed.

Photographs by Laurie Anderson

Anderson photographed men who called to her or whistled her on the street.  In her artist statement she writes about one experience,

“As I walked along Houston Street with my fully automated Nikon.  I felt armed, ready. I passed a man who muttered ‘Wanna fuck?’  This was standard technique: the female passes and the male strikes at the last possible moment forcing the woman to backtrack if she should dare to object.  I wheeled around, furious. ‘Did you say that?’ He looked around surprised, then defiant ‘Yeah, so what the fuck if I did?’ I raised my Nikon, took aim began to focus.  His eyes darted back and forth, an undercover cop? CLICK.”

Anderson takes the power from her male pursuers, allowing them nothing more than the momentary fear that their depravity has just been captured in a picture.


For a thorough discussion on our society’s rape culture along with related links, read the following from Policymic:

Steubenville Rape Case: Does America Have an Unadmitted Rape Culture Problem?

by Andrea Ayres

In December, millions of Americans expressed outrage over the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in India. American journalists bristled over the number of Indian lawmakers who themselves, face charges of rape. Articles rightfully, criticized India’s government and rape culture. As this story unfolded so too did another.

The New York Times wrote a piece on a 16-year-old girl in Ohio who was allegedly raped and urinated on by multiple individuals while unconscious at a party back in August of 2012. Since the article was published on December 16th, much has happened. A subgroup of Anonymous —known as KnightSec, worked with the blog Localleaks to disseminate a 12-minute long video of a Steubenville High School baseball player discussing the girl and her assault. KnightSec continues to release information regarding involved parties.

On January 3rd, a California appeals court ruled that the case involving Julio Morales raping a sleeping woman, would have to be retried due to an archaic 1872 law. The law essentially states that the woman had not been raped because she was unmarried and therefore was not protected from rape by imposters.

The list of recent news stories involving American cases of rape goes on. But unlike the story involving the 23-year-old Indian woman, American media has been slow to paint a realistic picture of our own rape culture and institutionalized misogyny.

Instead, what we see are instances like that in the Times piece that focuses the blame on “hero worship” in a small football town. But aside from some feminist bloggers, not once have we heard a mention of rape culture uttered as a contributing factor. When we hear stories of rape in America we focus on the individual or, at best, a group.

When the word rape is used, what do we think of? Do we think of the person we know, the ones who we trust? No. We think of the masked offender, the violent offender. But this is not how the majority of people experience (see below) rape or sexual assault.

In America:

Illinois is the only state that recognizes the right of an individual to rescind consent during the sex.

— Only in 1993 did marital rape become illegal.

— Out of every 100 rapes only 5 lead to felony convictions.

What victims of assault are more likely to experience in terms of reaction to coming forward about their assault is articulated by this account of rape by a former Amherst College student.

I challenge you to ask your friends what they do to “protect” themselves at night. Women are socialized to protect themselves. We pass dark allies with trepidation, we have our friends watch our drinks, and we walk in pairs. Ways to protect ourselves from would-be attackers are virtually everywhere.

In 2011 we saw the GOP introduce anti-abortion legislation that would also redefine rape. We also saw dangerous, misguided statements on rape and abortion at least eight other times by leaders of the Republican Party.

After a 2012 report from the DOD released numbers saying that since 2006 there had been a 64% increase in violent sexual assaults, Fox News analyst Liz Trotta stated that women should “expect” to be raped working in such close proximity.

The expectation of rape.

That is what survivors must deal with our peers/media telling us.” They should have known something like that would happen.” They deal with critique of clothing, character, past sexual history, and forced to relive the trauma.

But it is only “bad men” who rape, right?


Reject that argument and its assertion.

The article “Nice Guys Commit Rape Too”  (link no longer available) posted on the Good Men Project has come under fire in recent weeks. The article readily admits that a friend slept with a woman while she was sleeping, but the article defends him because the woman had been flirting and giving him “mixed signals.”

After a backlash by bloggers, GMP defended their articles and published additional accounts by rapists.

The arguments on GMP that these aren’t “bad men” only men who have made mistakes, learned their lesson, and after all look at what the women did. Shouldn’t she be to blame? Doesn’t she hold at least some accountability? She had flirted with him for weeks…

But these arguments do nothing to help victims/survivors of sexual assault or rape. Instead, it plays into the notion that rape happens to people because they were doing something wrong. We didn’t take enough precautions. But when we do, when we tell the world why we view men with trepidation, we are also criticized.

That is what rape culture does.

It perpetuates a society that asks victims to be accountable for their actions, but offer forgiveness for rapists.

It’s a society that believes rapes are made-up at much higher instances than they actually are.

It’s a society that is so quick to judge an Eastern culture for its egregious laws and treatment of women, but overlooks its own.


The Rapist isn’t a Masked Stranger

Rapist Victim Acquaintance

Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.1
73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.1
38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.1
28% are an intimate.1
7% are a relative.1

He’s not Hiding in the Bushes

More than 50% of all rape/sexual assault incidents were reported by victims to have occured within 1 mile of their home or at their home.2

  • 4 in 10 take place at the victim’s home.
  • 2 in 10 take place at the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative.
  • 1 in 12 take place in a parking garage.43% of rapes occur between 6:00pm and midnight.2
    • 24% occur between midnight and 6:00am.
    • The other 33% take place between 6:00am and 6:00pm.

    The Criminal

    • The average age of a rapist is 31 years old.2
    • 52% are white.2
    • 22% of imprisoned rapists report that they are married.2
    • Juveniles accounted for 16% of forcible rape arrestees in 1995 and 17% of those arrested for other sex offenses.2
    • In 1 in 3 sexual assaults, the perpetrator was intoxicated — 30% with alcohol, 4% with drugs.3
    • In 2001, 11% of rapes involved the use of a weapon — 3% used a gun, 6% used a knife, and 2 % used another form of weapon.2
    • 84% of victims reported the use of physical force only.2
    Rapists are more likely to be a serial criminal than a serial rapist.

    46% of rapists who were released from prison were re-arrested within 3 years of their release for another crime.4

    • 18.6% for a violent offense.
    • 14.8% for a property offense.
    • 11.2% for a drug offense.
    • 20.5% for a public-order offense.

    1. U.S. Department of Justice. 2005 National Crime Victimization Study. 2005.
    2. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics. 1997 Sex Offenses and Offenders Study. 1997.
    3. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics. 1998 Alcohol and Crime Study. 1998.
    4. 2002 Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994 Study. 2002.
Late edition (with thanks to Furious Buddha): Reported sexual assault at Notre Dame campus leaves more questions than answers