Ask a Raging Feminist: How do we end rape culture?

It’s no secret that we live in a society where rape culture is sadly a very real thing. From toxic messages of male masculinity to oversexualization of women from a young age, the unsettling truth is that rape culture exists, and we must break the cycle. So of course we asked our favorite Raging Feminists to weigh in with their thoughts.

How can we end the epidemic of rape culture?

To end rape culture, I think we have to transform our everyday culture. We have to raise our awareness of the ‘little things’ that add up to rape culture and make a giant effort to de-normalize them — things like the casual use of gendered slurs (like bitch and slut) in everyday speech and media; things like rampant and disproportionate objectification of women; things like the notion that romance is boys chasing girls. And how we raise awareness is by continuing to talk, continuing to write, continuing to disrupt the status quo by initiating that uncomfortable conversation whenever possible. It’s already in progress, we just need to keep pushing the conversation farther and harder, and never stop.” — Anna Holtzman

Ending #rapeculture will take a coordinated effort of centering victim/survivor needs over society’s impulse to punish first and heal second as well as early, comprehensive sex education. Until we teach affirmative consent — aka ‘yes means yes‘ — starting with young children, we cannot irradiate [sic] the mentality that excuses assailants and abusers. Understanding what consent is, how to ask for it and that it is everyone’s right to both give and rescind it is the hardest, most important step.” — Katie Klabusich

We end rape culture when we start to raise boys to value other human beings as human beings. Because most rapists are men, the solution starts with them.” — Veronica Arreola

More: Students say rape culture is men’s problem, and for good reason (VIDEO)

“As a media critic and media literacy educator, I truly believe that one of the most important site [sic] of intervention is media — the engine that reinforces and encourages the culture of rape that we’re referring to when we talk about ‘rape culture.’ We must expose the unethical victim-blaming narratives that permeate even the most respected news outlets in the country, as when The New York Times reported on repeated gang rapes of an 11-year-old girl by 18 young men in TX by asking ‘unanswered questions’ such as ‘how could their [town’s] young men been drawn into such an act?’, noting that ‘she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s’ and giving the first quote to a member of the community lamenting not that the rapes occurred or the horrific trauma endured by the child but the impact of the scandal on the rapists: ‘These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.’ We need to challenge misogynistic, racist and homophobic news framing that denies black women and lesbians the right to self-defense, as when NYC tabloids covered a group of women fighting back against a street harasser’s violence with headlines like ‘Lesbian Wolf Pack,’ ‘Killer Lesbians’ and ‘Girls Gone Wilding,’ inflammatory coverage that helped land the women — not their harasser — in jail. We need to debunk pundits who package baseless lies and hysterical opinions as fact, such as this myth-filled nonsense from Bill O’Reilly about ‘violent lesbian gangs’ raping America’s innocent daughters and attacking defenseless heterosexual men. And we can’t stop at journalism. As I note in my multimedia, media literacy lecture ‘Screen Shot: How Media Instigate Gun Violence and Rape Culture,’ we need to teach media literacy to help kids and adults alike become active, critical media consumers, able to resist the ideological propaganda embedded in rape culture-upholding music videosadvertising images and TV shows and movies that reinforce the dangerously prevalent ‘no means yes’ trope. In their place, we need accurate, comprehensive, inclusive news reporting and analysis of sexual assault, and challenging, creative, humanity-affirming entertainment that celebrates enthusiastic consent and rejects the glorification of sexual violence.” — Jennifer Pozner

I feel like believing survivors is the first step to ending culture. It’ll make rapists less likely to rape. It’ll make communities do more to prevent and address sexual violence. It’ll reduce instances of the media normalizing gender-based violence. Ending rape culture means taking rape seriously, and that is through believe [sic] victims and treating them well when coming forward. It means creating multiple avenues for justice that actually are effective. We can do a lot from the simple power of believing. I talk a lot about that in my speeches at colleges, and I wrote about it when I tackled the whole Stoya/James Deen situation.” — Wagatwe Wanjuki

Is part of the answer really in how we raise boys? I’m not talking about things like you get a pass if you are a good football player (you finally don’t automatically) or that kind of thing; I really wonder if we valued nurturance and friendship amongst boys the way we do for girls if we could change the culture from babies on through the life cycle. This fixes nothing immediately. It’s a longer view exploration, but no immediate ‘fix’ on this problem can last; the issues of power are too embedded for the word ‘no’ in whatever form/to whatever audience(s) to be loud or strong enough all by itself.” — Sarah Buttenwieser

More: How to talk to kids about rape… and when

The answer to how to solve rape culture is actually only two words: Educate men. The only way to eradicate rape culture is if men are raised in environments that do not pander to misogynistic ideas and behaviors. If they are not taught from a young age that female qualities make someone less than and worthy of ridicule. If bodily autonomy is respected and the narrative that “boys will be boys” is tossed out the window. When respect becomes the norm, that is when we will see the end of rape culture. And only then.” — Seraphina Ferraro

We can end rape culture by confronting it boldly and loudly and by refusing to let it exist any longer. Stamp even the embers out. Women are not things to be taken or things to be protected. Women are not things. Women are people.” — Jennifer Cumby

We end rape culture by letting boys and men know that they can control their sexual ‘urges’ — there’s no such thing as ‘the point of no return.’ We make sure boys and men know that girls and women don’t just exist for their pleasure. We embrace the pleasure of girls and women as something beautiful, not slutty. We teach the younger generation the joys of masturbation, but beyond that, what it really means to ‘feel yourself’ — and that’s never to deny that rape culture exists, but not to fear it either.” — Jill Di Donato

As rape culture, like most oppression, is systemic, change must happen on many levels. For example: The way we educate our children about consent and their own autonomy must change.

The way we blame victims of all genders must change.

The trial that victims are put on when they are raped and assaulted must change.

The value of a woman needs to shift to outside the male gaze.

We must, as a culture, stop erasing the voices of women of color.

Men need to be made comfortable and safe to talk about abuse.

Trans humans need to be treated like humans.” — Alex Blank Millard

More: Will #ThisDoesn’tMeanYes rape campaign finally put an end to victim-blaming?


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