Ugh, it seems I can’t read anything on the internet without finding out something else that disgusts me. This story, summarised by Chris Clarke at Pharyngula, describes a story in the US that’s passed under my radar. Occidental College, the LA-based liberal arts college with a distinguished history, has a major rape problem. That on its own doesn’t mark it out as special: the world has a major rape problem.
The thing that marks it out as special is the actions of the college itself when faced with allegations of rape against its students. It placed protecting its reputation ahead of pursuing rapists. It first attempted to talk women out of raising allegations, then placing as much of the consequences of the allegations on the women. If they had to find a student guilty of rape, they gave out a slap on the wrist and didn’t raise criminal charges. What little punishments the rapists received were often reduced on appeal.
This, right here, is rape culture. The process of normalising rape and making it fit into a background of activity is rape culture. Victim-blaming and the minimising of consequences is rape culture. The college has now promised to change things, and has introduced real measures to make their students’ lives better. But the fact that it takes a sustained campaign to force an institution to behave properly is rape culture. We need to end rape culture.