Consider the position posited by Andrea Dworkin that all heterosexual sex is rape. The gist of the argument is that the power differential between men and women is so great that any act of sex on the part of men is an abuse of power. If this is true of course, we can thus say that women do not have the agency to give their body over to a man no matter what the circumstances.
If this is the case though, it follows that women have no agency whatsoever to do anything. After all, if they do not have agency over their own bodies, how can they hope to have agency over anything else? Furthermore, if they have no agency over anything, why should we treat them as creatures of agency? To do so would be to act on the basis of superstition, not rational precedent. We are thus left not only with the conclusion that we should ignore any and all acts of agency by women (legal rights, personal desires, declarations of self-hood…etc). If this is actually the case, there is nothing particularly offensive about rape, since the agency of a woman to make decisions as to who gets to be inside of her is trivial to the point of meaninglessness.
If the US actually had a rape culture, we would not put men into prison for years for the act of committing rape. We would not view rape as a heinous kind of evil. We would not be culturally conditioned to detest rape and hate those who commit it.
If the US actually had a rape culture, disagreements as to the definition of rape and the standard of evidence needed to convict someone of the act would not occur, because our legal institutions would reflect cultural norms and so either rape would not be enshrined as a felony in legal doctrine, or we would have lobbying groups seeking to remove illegality from the act of rape.
If the US actually had a rape culture, we would be sending our sons and daughters to university with not only the expectation, but also the hope, that they will rape and be raped. We might even drop them off on their first day of school with roofies and handcuffs, the same way Johnny’s dad might give him a six-pack of lager as a going-away present on his first day of freshman year.
Rape culture hysteria is significantly correlated with the number of women on campus, not the number of potential rapists. One could argue that this occurs because fear-mongering about rape culture drives off men, but even then, there are two problems that need to be addressed.
- Why wouldn’t this scare off women? Why would men avoid such bastions of rape while women flock to them in droves? As far as I am aware, rape culture theorists have no answer to this.
- If “rape culture” is really a feature of the external environment of the campus, not the internal environment of the students’ perceptions, wouldn’t a smaller number of men lead to a reduction in “rape culture”?
We are either forced to conclude that women enjoy rape and men don’t, or that rape culture is a construct that only exists in the minds of women.
If everything we believe is a result of social conditioning, how do we know that rape is even a bad thing at all?
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