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We won so many battles, how the hell could we lose this one?

by Andrew Vachss
Published January 11, 2013, on The Zero

The recent events in Steubenville, Ohio, require us to confront the reality that a "rape culture" exists in this country, as well as in so–called "Muslim" theocracies around the world.

I say "so–called" because I do not believe that the Koran in any way supports the subhuman conduct some bizarrely call "honor rape" any more than I believe that the Bible supports the brutalizing of women. (Of course, a collection of so-called "Christians" would have us believe it demands all manner of perversions, including this creature's claim that the Bible supports the death penalty for children.)

Most underpinnings of rape culture are not so overt. How many juries have decided an accused rapist's guilt or innocence based on the attire or occupation of the victim? Why is virtually all "rape porn" designed to show that "she really wanted it all along"? How many people believe that "a handsome man would never stoop to raping an ugly woman"? How many secretly believe that any underage male student victimized by a female teacher is someone who "got lucky"?

Even attempts to measure the infusion of rape myths into our culture can have the effect of creating those myths. Consider this:

Race and prior victimization did not appear to affect the general acceptance or rejection of rape myths among this sample of college women. It is interesting to note that although most women in the sample rejected the rape myths, one rape myth received an unusual degree of support. This myth is the following:

"One reason that women falsely report a rape is that they frequently have a need to call attention to themselves."
—Carmody and Washington, "Rape Myth Acceptance among College Women," 16 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 424, 432 (2001)

Other rape myths examined in this study were accurately isolated and clearly presented (for example: "Women who dress provocatively are asking to be raped"). But, in the excerpt above, which part of the convoluted statement is the "one rape myth [that] received an unusual degree of support"? Is it that women falsely report rapes? Or that women do so "frequently"? Or, perhaps, that women who "falsely" and "frequently" report a non–existent rape do so out of a "need to call attention to themselves"? The plain reading of that statement is that women falsely report rapes, and that they do so "frequently." The only question presented is whether they do so because they "have a need to call attention to themselves." Unable to ask for clarification, the respondents had only their own interpretation of the statement to react to, making their responses to the statement useless. Worse, the myth that "women falsely report rape frequently" may have been unwittingly propagated to some respondents.

It's time to acknowledge that a rape culture exists, not just in "other places," but here in the USA. We don't have "honor rape," but plenty of American judges believe rape victims "ask for it."

Sadly, we need only look to Congress' refusal to continue funding for the Violence Against Women Act for all the proof any reasonable individual would ever need. So now what, America?

© 2013 Andrew Vachss. All rights reserved.

Update: "Senate renews Violence Against Women Act, sending to House for action," ABC News, February 12, 2013


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