Click here to see tips for how media professionals can combat rape culture.
Click here to look at our Feminism in Action page and see how you can help combat rape culture.
- Street harassment is not a compliment. It degrades and objectifies women, stemming from the concept that women exist to please men and that men are entitled to women’s bodies. Click here for an informative graphic on how sexual harassment plays into the big picture.
In what world is it okay to equate women to soft drinks in a vending machine?
Women are people, not furniture!
Really American Apparel?
Gang rape is not a sexy way to sell your brand, Dolce and Gabbana
Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines has been called a “rape anthem,” and rightly so. This song mocks consent and sends a message that “no matter what you say or do, I have decided that you want to have sex with me.”
- These were active Facebook groups all the way up until 2013:
- Excuse me Ford, but kidnapping women is not a fun, sexy pastime.
- There are women-hating lyrics in many songs, but here is a particularly extreme example: Eminem’s “Kill You.” Eminem’s popularity and the lack of public discourse around the misogyny and homophobia in his songs are almost as disturbing as the lyrics themselves.
This disturbing ad speaks for itself.
In May of 2014, Elliot Rogers went on a shooting rampage in Santa Barbara, in an attempt to kill sorority women, killing seven people including himself. Here is an excerpt from his journal:
His viewpoints are a reflection of misogynistic beliefs of many men who are part of the anti-feminist backlash, illustrated on online forums specifically targeting women. His actions cannot be separated from a larger discussion of the implications of rampant sexism in our culture.
Sexism and Gender-Based Violence in Video Games: Grand Theft Auto
- This is a screenshot of a player killing a prostitute in Grand Theft Auto:
- In the car, players tune into a radio station that advises them to crush a woman’s sternum during sex because “most women love that.”
- A large part of the game can be spent in strip clubs and with prostitutes. Having sex with prostitutes increases the player’s stamina points, and many forums encourage running over prostitutes with a car
- When In the strip club, lap dances consist of trying to grope the woman while the guards are not paying attention.
- Sometimes topless women can be seen through the window at a particular mansion and the player can snap pictures of these women.
- Some users have altered the code of the game in order to rape other players.
- If the player follows a woman on the street, she will get uncomfortable and speed up while looking over her shoulder.
- If you are inactive during the game for some time, the character takes control of the camera and starts zooming in on womens’ bodies.
Steubenville Rape Case
In Steubenville, Ohio, in August, 2012, two football players raped an unconscious high school girl, while bystanders took pictures and tweeted about the events. Here are some of the bystanders’ disturbing, misogynistic comments:
Instead of focusing on the perpetrator (and the many bystanders), the media response was to blame the victim:
In 2009 Chris Brown beat Rihanna and pictures surfaced of her bloodied face. After this information became public, society did not focus on Chris Brown’s horrifying actions, but instead blamed Rihanna, the victim. The media and general public blamed her for the abuse. Here are some examples of from comments on MTV.com:
Not only are the above examples strangely empathetic towards the person who perpetrated the violence, but we know that someone cannot provoke their partner into being abusive.
Even after the horrific facts of the case were made public, the victim blaming went on. People continued to victim-blame her by focusing on “why she went back” instead of asking “why did Chris Brown do this?” or “why does our society continue to accept domestic violence?” It is important to remember that the perceived “choice” to stay with Brown (or others we see in the media) is often based on the fear of retaliation by a very powerful public figure. The reality is that the most dangerous time for a survivor/victim is when she leaves the abusive partner; 75% of domestic violence related homicides occur upon separation. See Barriers to Leaving an Abusive Relationship for more information on why it is difficult to leave an abusive partner and why we shouldn’t focus on that.
The case of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has elicited a national outcry and one of the largest discussions about domestic violence, the implications of victim blaming and the presence of rampant desensitization towards violence against women in sports and elsewhere. When a video surfaced of Rice dragging Janay Palmer’s unconscious body after punching her out in an elevator, the response from all directions was to blame Janay Palmer and excuse Ray Rice. Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, called the abuse “a terrible mistake.” John Harbaugh, Ravens coach, said that the assault was due to “couples issues” and said publicly that he hadn’t seen anything to suggest that Rice wouldn’t be back on the field next season. In an unbelievable example of victim blaming, the Baltimore Ravens tweeted:
Sports commentator Stephen A. Smith, on national television, responded to the video by accusing women of provoking and causing the abuse perpetrated against them.
It was not until a second video surfaced which shows Rice dealing Palmer the blow that knocked her unconscious that the Ravens fired him and the NFL suspended him indefinitely, as the Ravens had previously only suspended him for two games. But why does it take this video, which forces Janay Palmer to relive the abuse, for anyone to take real action? Ray McDonald, 49ers defensive lineman was arrested for a domestic violence felony, yet he is still playing. Greg Hardy, defensive end for the Panthers, was found guilty of abuse and death threats towards his ex-girlfriend…and is still playing. Terrell Suggs, another Panthers player, is still playing despite the fact that his girlfriend has come out with horrifying stories of abuse, including him punching her in the neck and pouring bleach on her and their son. Why are none of these men being held accountable for their actions? Because they don’t have video documentation? The fact that we needed “proof” beyond police reports is a problem. Our society does not believe women until the abuse is pushed so close to our faces that we no longer can look away.
And the victimization continues. The media is blaming Janay with headlines such as, “Why Does Janay Keep Standing By her Man? This illustrates the societal ignorance of the nature of abuse by assuming that if it were really dangerous, the victim would leave and she could do so easily. The reality is that upon separation, the risk of retaliation and homicide increases by 75%, for at least two years (LERC) and victims/survivors know this; they feel it their gut or her partner tells her he will kill her. It happened when Jovan Belcher killed Cassandra Perkins. See Barriers to Leaving an Abusive Relationship for more information. Instead of putting the responsibility on Janay Palmer to leave, the media/NFL/courts should be demanding that Rice, and others, stop abusing.
In December of 2012, Kansas Chief’s linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered the mother of his young daughter and committed suicide. At their next game, the Chiefs hung Belcher’s jersey in his locker. “By hanging Belcher’s jersey, the Chiefs created a memorial for a man who murdered the 22-year-old mother of his infant daughter.”–Jemele Hill, ESPN
Here is what a Men Against Violence Group had to say in response.
Gender Role Expectations
Combatting Rape Culture
Tony Porter, in a TED talk, provides a moving example of how societal ideas about masculinity contribute to rape culture and acceptance of violence against women..
In response to the Chiefs hanging up Jovan Belcher’s jersey as a way of memorializing someone who had murdered the young mother of his infant, Joe Samalin, Sacchi Patel, and Ben Atherto-Zeman from MasculinityU wrote this short piece:
- Check out our Guys Getting Involved page and Feminism in Action for more ideas on how to combat rape culture