Why social conservatives should embrace the term ‘rape culture’
Oct 9, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - For a variety of reasons, conservatives don’t like the term “rape culture.” That’s because traditionally, the term has been used by the radical feminist set to claim that a “patriarchal society” was a “rapey” society, and that all men were one micro-aggression away from being guilty of sexual assault. (Once the term “man” became somewhat ambiguous and the possession of a penis didn’t necessarily disqualify you from using the girl’s bathroom, things became more confused, but they’re working it out.)
Today, the term is used to describe rates of sexual assault on campus, and the argument is getting fierce. In particular, there’s the loud and angry debate about whether or not much of what takes place can be considered sexual assault or not. George Will, for instance, wrote a column calling into question whether the some rape accusations were, in fact, rape. (I disagreed with him. Although to be fair, there have absolutely been false rape accusations—think only of the post-modern word-salad Lena Dunham served up in her repulsive memoirs. And that's why the idea that campus tribunals run by the wilting violet PC police or radical feminists should replace the rule of law is one that should condemned in the strongest language.)
And yet, we are missing an opportunity when we allow the radical feminists to dominate the discussion about how campuses have turned into spaces unsafe for women. That this is true seems clear—binge drinking, hook-up culture, and violent pornography have created a profoundly hostile and broken environment on campuses. And by dismissing the concept of rape culture, we’re also missing an opportunity to demonstrate how the Sexual Revolution, an ugly thing from the start, is now turning dark and violent. For pornography, the Revolution’s most viral manifestation, has now devolved from smut to hate speech—creating what can honestly be called a “rape culture.”
Consider this: Rape culture has a variety of definitions, but all of them include the basic concept that such a culture develops when “prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape.” Examples of this behavior, to continue quoting, are “victim blaming, sexual objectification, and trivializing rape.” Pornography has created a rape culture because it normalizes rape, increases toleration for rape, sexually objectifies women, and undoubtedly trivializes rape.
There is a wealth of research illustrating how pornography literally functions like a drug, rewiring the brains of those who consume it regularly—and this is, obviously, having an impact on how men view women. According to one summary, new research, “has much to say concerning what happens when adults watch or read violent pornographic materials—mainly, that sex and violence present a particularly harmful mix. Viewing such materials can increase mens’ acceptance of sexual and other types of aggression toward women. Men who have viewed violent pornography are also more likely to believe such myths as that women like being sexually overpowered or raped, ‘no’ really means ‘yes,’ rape victims’ injuries are not severe, or wife‐battering is acceptable. Further, pornographers rarely depict sexual aggressors and perpetrators negatively, or show them being punished for their sexual aggression.”
We know that over 80% of men are viewing porn at least monthly. And we know that the majority of mainstream pornography now depicts violence against women, as well as crude verbal assaults against the female and the feminine. A question: If we live in a culture that consumes, for recreation and entertainment, graphic depictions of sexual assault, could that not be called a “rape culture”?
This argument is powerful because it takes one of the most traditionally feminist arguments and makes it ours. They championed the Sexual Revolution, and the chaos that followed because of it. It was the sexual libertines who advocated pornography as a good thing, as a healthy thing. They were the ones who claimed that sex could be extricated from its traditional context and that it would be healthy! They sowed the wind, and now we are all reaping the whirlwind.
When I spoke on the connections between pornography and rape culture at the University of Ottawa, a number of young Marxists attended the presentation. They were confused: “Wait, this guy is anti-abortion, and anti-rape culture?” my colleague overheard them say. And after the presentation, people who had shown up to trash my thesis remained silent. Many admitted to being convinced. That is why this argument is such a powerful one: Because it takes one of their assertions—that rape culture exists—and lays the responsibility for our current sexual chaos at the doorstep of the bloody Revolution they championed.
It is our worldview that believes in a beautiful and wholesome sexuality, and it is our worldview that possesses the moral framework to reject sexual assault not only as a gruesome crime, but a physical heresy. It is our worldview that rejects pornography as objectification resulting in dehumanization, which inevitably leaders to victimization. A rape culture of their own making, and one we should name and fight.