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Help guide

What is rape culture?

How do we recognise it? How does it affect our society? How can we challenge it?

What is rape culture?

Behaviour, values and beliefs that normalise, trivialise, or make light of sexual violence and undermine consent. It is rooted in patriarchal power structures that fuel gender inequity.

Just some examples of rape culture include:

  • Slut-shaming,
  • Believing or contributing to rape myths
  • Victim blaming
  • Cyber flashing
  • Image-based abuse
  • Misogynistic or homophobic jokes

Misogynistic or homophobic jokes

Misogynistic or homophobic jokes aggravate a narrative that sexual violence and misogyny are accepted, played down, laughed off, and unchallenged by society. It contributes to widespread disrespect for survivors and those most affected by sexual violence and is widely regarded as one of the reasons sexual violence is so prevalent in our society.

Rape culture isn’t just catcalls and rape jokes. It’s embedded within our systems and institutions as part of a patriarchal society.

Victim Blaming

Rape culture often manifests as victim blaming, when survivors of sexual violence are blamed or not believed when they speak up about their experience of sexual violence. On the opposing side, it can be seen when perpetrators are given excuses or avoid justice, when the perpetrator is male this is often reinforcing the “boys will be boys” mentality.

It is not uncommon to hear that those most likely to be targeted for sexual violence are told to take responsibility for their own protection e.g to alter their appearance or routines to avoid assault.

So how do we challenge rape culture?

We see rape culture in many aspects of society, at the pub, in the classroom, on social media, in the press, in politics, and at work. Learning to recognise it can be tricky and challenging it can be even harder.

We prefer the “Call in” method to “calling out”. This invites a conversation to educate and grow as opposed to scolding and potentially alienating someone. A great place to start is learning more so you can tell others.

We offer a range of training sessions that cover the effects of rape culture and how to be an active bystander. Click here for more info. 

In the meantime though we have put together this list of resources as a jumping-off point!

You Don’t Have to be a Superhero to Disrupt Rape Culture – YouTube

How Men Can Combat Rape Culture | MTV News – YouTube

What is rape culture? | Rape Crisis England & Wales

16 ways you can stand against rape culture | UN Women – Headquarters