Are we too tolerant of sexual assault?

Oct 13, 2017 by

by Zac Alstin, MercatorNet:

‘Rape culture’, prudence, and double-standards.

Apparently “everyone knew” about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults and abuses of power. But when it came to speaking out, everyone was either too afraid or too invested or both.

Feminists argue that Weinstein is indicative of a “rape culture” and that our culture encourages or facilitates sexual assault by powerful men.

This is hard to gainsay in light of the infamous “locker-room talk” by the world’s most powerful man, whose own claims of having sexually assaulting women did little to slow his political ascent.

The “locker-room” defence means in effect that the President only claimed to sexually assault women because he wanted to impress a television host, and thought this was a good way to do it.

For his part the TV host regrets his involvement and wishes he had shown the strength of character to change the subject to something safer like ratings.

His job at the time was to connect with the celebrity of the day. If it had been Martha Stewart, for example, he would have talked about organic gardening. For Donald Trump, it was “hot women” and what a powerful man can get away with.

We’re often blind to the cultural influences that shape us. But it behoves us to examine ourselves and think carefully about our preconceived notions – to be honest about the limitations and oversights in our own thinking.

There’s a reason why Donald Trump bragged about assaulting women. There’s a reason why “everyone” who knew the vague rumours about Weinstein chose not to question or investigate.

Common sense and rape culture

Conservatives are typically wary of feminism, and feminist claims about “rape culture” often earn a knee-jerk response of scepticism.

Recently in Ireland, radio presenter George Hook was suspended – and roundly criticised – for questioning the moral responsibility of a rape victim in choosing to go to the hotel room of a man she had just met.

“Is there no blame now to the person who puts themselves in danger?” Hook asked.

Hook is only the latest public figure to raise the issue of personal responsibility in the context of sexual assault. Is it really such an unreasonable question?

When we hear about an awful crime our first thought is how we or our loved ones could avoid becoming victims ourselves. People look immediately to what they can control, and if there is any suggestion we can avoid becoming victims, not only of rape but of any crime, then it’s reasonable to ask “what could they have done differently?” and hence learn how we can avoid the same fate.

We live in a world full of crime and violence and vice. We might prefer to be safe and secure at all times, but since that’s not the case we should exercise prudence and try to minimise the risk to ourselves.

But when it comes to rape, such responses are met with accusations of sexism, “rape culture” and “victim blaming”. The argument is that instead of trying to teach women not to be victims, we should teach men not to rape:

Read here

Read also: 5 lessons Harvey Weinstein can teach us about Hollywood by Michael Cook


Related Posts


Share This