Ending Rape Illiteracy

Jessica Valenti's article on "widespread ignorance about what rape is, and this absence of a widely understood and culturally accepted definition of sexual assault is one of the biggest hurdles we have in chipping away at rape culture" is thoughtful and well written. Her full article provides helpful examples.

...how we change the culture is a hurdle we haven’t properly tackled. Feminism’s major cultural successes around rape have occurred on a micro level—taking on individual television shows or products. And, for the most part, our cultural work has been reactionary—we’re constantly on the defensive, whether it’s trying to fight back against victim-blaming headlines or offensive rape jokes.

... what’s crucial is that we make a shift from targeting pieces of the culture in a reactive way to proactively changing the broader culture in a more lasting way. We need to spend less time worrying about ultraconservative misogynists and extremist politicians and focus on shifting the way we all think about sexual assault and consent. We need to think and act much, much bigger.

The American public, young women especially, are ready for a new message about sexuality and for a definition of rape that is accurate, strong, progressive and indisputable.

... Is it possible to do all this with a definition of sexual assault that is not only widely understood and culturally accepted—but that is also comprehensive, intersectional and forward thinking? Can we get broad agreement around a definition of rape that shifts the focus away from the victim and onto the perpetrator, advocates for enthusiastic consent, and recognizes and centers structural inequities?

Tags: rape culture, rape illiteracy

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