Rape culture is a concept used to describe a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone sexual violence, victim blaming, sexual objectification, and trivializing rape.
Rape culture does not just encourage men to proceed after a woman says “no”, or teach them that a lack of physical resistance is an invitation, or that men are to assert ownership over whichever female body they desire. Rape culture also tells women not to claim ownership over their own bodies. It informs women that they should not desire sex and that saying yes makes them bad women.
And so women shoulder the blame. We watch our drinks when we are out, watch where we park, how late we work, who is around when we go outside, and so much more. We teach our daughters not to get into cars with boys, even if they are friends, to not be alone if they can – don’t separate when out, or go to the bathroom alone, etc.
And the reason we do all that is not because we think we can truly alter circumstances beyond our control, but because almost all of us have at one time or another been assaulted, even if that assault didn’t lead to rape.
We know that society in general will put blame on us when we are attacked and in doing so take away the responsibility of men to just not rape.
When the mitigating circumstance is the way we look, or dress, or act and not on the fact that any of this is not implicit permission to use our bodies the way a man sees fit, then we all participate in ‘blame the victim’ when it comes to rape.