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Rape culture is a term used within women's studies and feminism, describing a culture in which rape and other sexual violence (usually against women) are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage sexualized violence.

Within the paradigm, acts of sexism are commonly employed to validate and rationalize normative misogynistic practices; for instance, sexist jokes may be told to foster disrespect for women and an accompanying disregard for their well-being, which ultimately make their rape and abuse seem "acceptable". Examples of behaviors said to typify rape culture include victim blaming, minimisation and sexual objectification.

In a 1992 paper in the Journal of Social Issues entitled "A Feminist Redefinition of Rape and Sexual Assault: Historical Foundations and Change," Patricia Donat and John D'Emilio suggested that the term originated as "rape-supportive culture"[1] in Susan Brownmiller's 1975 book Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape.

In addition to its use as a theory to explain the occurrence of rape and domestic violence, rape culture has been described as detrimental to men as well as women. Some writers and speakers, such as Jackson Katz, Michael Kimmel, and Don McPherson, have said that it is intrinsically linked to gender roles that limit male self-expression and cause psychological harm to men.[2]

Researchers such as Philip Rumney and Martin Morgan-Taylor have used the rape culture paradigm to explain differences in how people perceive and treat male versus female victims of sexual assault.[3]

Criticisms of the paradigmEdit

Some writers, such as Christina Hoff Sommers, have disputed the existence of rape culture, arguing that the common "one in four women will be raped in her lifetime" is based on a flawed study, but frequently cited because it leads to campus anti-rape groups receiving public funding.[4] Others, such as bell hooks, have criticized the rape culture paradigm on the grounds that it ignores rape's place in an overarching "culture of violence".[5]

See alsoEdit

List of examples of rape trivialized in the media


  1. Patricia Donat and John D'Emilio, "A Feminist Redefinition of Rape and Sexual Assault: Historical Foundations and Change", Journal of Social Issues, vol. 48, n. 1, 1992; published in Di Karen J. Maschke, "The legal response to violence against women", Routledge 1997, ISBN 978-0-8153-2519-2.
  2. Jackson Katz, "Tough Guise" videorecording, Media Education Foundation, 2002
  3. Phillip N.S. Rumney & Martin Morgan-Taylor, "The Construction of Sexual Consent in Male Rape and Sexual Assault", in Making Sense of Sexual Consent, edited by Mark Cowling and Paul Reynolds, ISBN 0-7546-3687-9
  5. bell hooks, Feminist Theory:From Margin to Center, quoted in Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks, ISBN 0-89608-628-3

Further readingEdit

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