In a must-watch video released by Refinery29 in partnership with Planned Parenthood, Rachel Bloom addresses misconceptions around rape culture. In a conversation with the Devil and his advocate (yes, really), she breaks down a list of things to know. All bold quotes are from Rachel in the video, and the italics are from the Devil (or his advocate).
The term rape culture just feels like a trendy phrase to mean that all men are super pro-rape.
Rape culture is a term designed to show the ways that sexual violence is normalized and trivialized in our society.
Hell, yes, Rachel. Rape culture is very real, and not a trendy phrase. It was first coined in the 1970s by second-wave feminists. There’s a 1975 documentary called Rape Culture that looks at the normalization of rape in our society. This is nothing new.
Rape isn’t… normal, it doesn’t happen a lot. And when it does, we label rapists as monsters.
First of all, it does happen a lot. On average, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. And second of all, rape and sexual assault are not just committed by monsters. For years, we did think that… [But] It’s not just insane men who commit sex crimes, it’s all sorts of people.
The first statistic comes from RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), a non-profit dedicated to fighting sexual violence. They also operate the National Sexual Assault Hotline.
And Rachel’s other point — rapists aren’t monsters — rings deeply true. As RAINN points out, perpetrators of sexual violence often know their victim; 7 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim.
Our culture labels rape as bad. I don’t see a lot of people going around saying “yay rape”!
No, but I mean there are so many examples of ways that rape and sexual assault are normalized and trivialized in our society.
Rachel goes on to mention the Robin Thicke song “Blurred Lines,” comedians making jokes about roofies, the infamous “grab her by the pussy” comment from the president of the United States, police asking women what they were wearing when they were raped… By demonstrating examples of rape culture, and the type of language used that perpetuates rape culture in the popular consciousness, she shows “rape culture” doesn’t mean supporting rapists. It means promoting rape culture without realizing it.
But what about the times there are false accusations? Rape culture might encourage a witch hunt.
So false accusations do happen, but really rarely… Accusers are often stigmatized more than the people that [they] are accusing. People try to discredit them, they say they’re lying to get attention or money, and they have to relive their trauma by telling their story over and over and over again.
As Alma contributor Nylah Burton wrote in her piece about the story of Potiphar and Joseph, “the fact is that survivors — women and people of all gender identities — do not frequently lie about rape, with the rate of false reports being as low as 2%.”
False accusations are largely overblown; they are really rare. And, the idea that someone coming forward to accuse someone famous of rape for their moment in the spotlight has also been largely discounted. Can you name any of Bill Cosby’s victims? What about the women who accused Donald Trump of sexual assault? They didn’t come forward to have their 15 minutes of fame; even with the #MeToo movement, it is still so, so difficult for many to share their own stories.
If you blame a culture for rape, then you implicate all men. Doesn’t that take away the blame from actual rapists?
No, no it doesn’t. Rape culture can exist and people can also be held responsible for their actions.
We can still blame the rapists, don’t worry.
In an interview with Refinery29, Bloom explained, “It’s a conversation that’s not resolved in all of these neat and tidy ways. But I’m hoping this video can bridge the divide between people who think rape culture doesn’t exist and people who are like, ‘You’re a fucking moron, of course it exists.'”
The whole video is really worth your time: