Rape Culture Exists

This letter is in response to Tim Adam’s opinion article in the Oct. 6 edition arguing that there is no correlation between sexist language, jokes and subsequent misogynist and violent behavior.

Donald Trump was recorded in 2005 using offensive sexist language describing and encouraging acts of sexual assault. He argued in a presidential debate that this was just “locker room talk.” “Just locker room talk,” about the ways he likes to grab women’s genitals, kiss whomever he wants when he is overcome with the urge. Since the tape’s release, several women have come forward with statements that Trump assaulted them in the exact ways he described. Others, one list shows 16 women total, describe similar or more offensive/violent attacks. The fact that Donald Trump is a presidential candidate might lead one to believe that we live in a rape culture.

Hopefully you saw the First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the gathering of Women Together on Oct. 13. Mrs. Obama spoke about Donald Trump’s dismissal of the 2005 recording. She addressed the danger of men believing they can do whatever they want to girls and women and our bodies. She addressed the danger of boys receiving this message from a man of power and wealth, and the danger of girls receiving the message that they deserve this and their hopes and dreams mean little in the face of sexism and men’s desires. As Mrs. Obama put it, we are drowning in these messages. This might lead one to believe that we live in a rape culture.

I agree that we should: “work hard to find the best ways to identify the people who are most likely to commit the crime of sexual assault.”  Many people doing this research (including Dr. Lisak) have found that two of the most telling characteristics of perpetrators are the use of demeaning, sexist language, and objectifying women. Let’s continue to educate people to be sensitive to, and avoid, the use of sexist language and rape jokes. You can be part of the change. We need male advocates to stand up to those who commit sexual assault; we need men to speak out against sexism in all of its forms. We need men to put an end to what is clearly, a rape culture.

Betsy Danforth