Rape Culture

Rape culture is the collection of social narratives and norms that a culture uses to trivialize and rationalize rape. In “western culture,” some key aspects are assuming male aggression and the sexual objectification of women is the norm. The assumptions that men always want sex and “silence is consent” are also part of rape culture. The assumption that men can’t be raped is a part of rape culture. The use of alcohol or a short skirt as an excuse to rape is part of rape culture. Assuming “acquaintance rape,” isn’t really rape is part of rape culture. Doubting rape survivors because it’s easier to think of rapists as evil monsters is part of rape culture. Toxic masculinity is part of rape culture.

via Rape Culture and Predator Theory — The Good Men Project.


Toxic Masculinity

The U.N. is in the midst of its 57th Commission on the Status of Women, this year focusing on gendered violence, a global pandemic made all the more urgent by growing evidence that social change leads to increased violence against women. Why? Because destabilizing established social order—even in the interest of what we might agree is progress—can leave people feeling vulnerable. And when men feel vulnerable, toxic masculinity teaches them the way to reassert their power is by dominating women. There’s a pall hanging over the proceedings, a real risk that this year’s commission may wind up like last year’s, failing to come to any policy agreements thanks to the obstructionism of a handful of patriarchal countries who claim that their traditional and religious customs would be infringed upon if they had to take action to end gendered violence in their countries.

via Toxic Masculinity.

Can men be taught not to rape?

“Telling every woman to get a gun is not rape prevention,” she explains. “The reality is that we need to be changing how we train and teach young men. We need to teach them to see women as human beings and respect their bodily autonomy. We need to teach them about consent and to hold themselves accountable.” And when we do, things change. After Canada launched a “Don’t be that guy” consent awareness campaign in 2011, the sexual assault rate dropped for the first time in years — by 10 percent.

via Can men be taught not to rape? – Salon.com.


Ways to End Rape Culture

Rape culture exists because we don’t believe it does.  From tacit acceptance of misogyny in everything from casual conversations with our peers to the media we consume, we accept the degradation of women and posit uncontrollable hyper-sexuality of men as the norm. But rape is endemic to our culture because there’s no widely accepted cultural definition of what it actually is. Recent headline-grabbing instances of sexual assault, from Steubenville, Ohio, to Delhi, India, are prodding Americans to become self-aware about the role we play in propagating a culture that not only allows but justifies sexual violence against women. Activists suggest the following to end our collective tolerance for violence against women and create an environment that empowers both men and women to change the status quo (go to full article to read the entire list of 10 suggestions to end rape culture).

1. Name the real problemsViolent masculinity and victim-blaming. These are the cornerstones of rape culture and they go hand in hand. When an instance of sexual assault makes the news and the first questions the media asks are about the victim’s sobriety, or clothes, or sexuality, we should all be prepared to pivot to ask, instead, what messages the perpetrators received over their lifetime about rape and about “being a man.” Here’s a tip: the right question is not, “What was she doing/wearing/saying when she was raped?” The right question is, “What made him think this is acceptable?” Sexual violence is a pervasive problem that cannot be solved by analyzing an individual situation. Learn 50 key facts about domestic violence. Here’s one: the likelihood that a woman will die a violent death increases 270% once a gun is present in the home Remember, a violent act is not a tragic event done by an individual or a group of crazies. Violence functions in society as” a means of asserting and securing power.”

via Ten Things to End Rape Culture | The Nation.

Anger, violent thoughts: Are you too sick to own a gun? – U.S. News

If there’s one thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on, it’s that mentally ill people should not have access to firearms.

But as lawmakers rush to restrict that access in the wake of recent mass shootings, mental health experts warn of unintended consequences: from gun owners avoiding mental health treatment to therapists feeling compelled to report every patient who expresses a violent thought.

“Many patients express some idea of harm to other people, everything from, ‘I wish I could rip my boss limb from limb,’ to, ‘I have a gun and want to blow that guy away,’” said Paul Applebaum, director of the Division of Law, Ethics, and Psychiatry at Columbia University.

Therapists usually interpret this sort of talk as part of the treatment process, experts say. But under a new law in New York, one of the strongest to be passed to date, therapists may feel compelled to report every instance of violent talk, lest they face legal consequences if something happens. And some say ordinary patients may wind up suffering the most.

“I see it very frequently,” Steven Dubovsky, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Buffalo, said of patients expressing violent fantasies. “You see people who struggle with anger or have violent thoughts, and if I thought they were going to act on it right away, I would stop them.”

“Now if you’re mistaken, you’re wrong about this, and you don’t report it, you could face criminal sanctions. I’m not taking any chances at that point,” Dubovsky said. That could encourage therapists to over-report, he said.

According to DJ Jaffe, executive director of the Mental Illness Policy Org, which advocates on behalf of the seriously mentally ill, all the talk of mental health and gun violence obscures a bigger issue – a nationwide struggle with how to care for the mentally ill.

“Most of the things they’re discussing are totally irrelevant to helping people with serious mental illness,” Jaffe said. “No one wants responsibility for the seriously mentally ill.”

via Anger, violent thoughts: Are you too sick to own a gun? – U.S. News.


Mental Illness and Criminal Justice: Our Impossible, Contradictory Polices and Their Tragic Impact

Research shows that the mentally ill, in fact, exhibit low levels of violence, with only 5-7 percent of all mentally ill persons ever committing a serious criminal act, and rarer still, an act of violence targeting strangers. What little violence is carried out by the mentally ill is usually committed by untreated individuals who are abusing drugs and alcohol.

Even so, in the U.S. we’ve seen the criminalization of mental illness over the last three decades, a damaging trend that continues largely unabated. With the closing of state hospitals and reductions in mental-health hospital beds, the criminal justice system has come to assume the primary role for responsibility for the mentally ill. The U.S. holds more than 2.1 million individuals in local jails and state and federal prisons, and it has been estimated that more than 700,000 have a mental illness diagnosis, locked up in overwhelming percentages for nonviolent offenses.

Not surprisingly, the criminalization of mental illness is expensive. The price of keeping a mentally ill person in New York City’s Riker’s Island jail is two times higher, at $60,000, than providing community and residential care. A recent New York Times article by Brent Staples indicates that 40 percent of inmates sentenced to life imprisonment are mentally ill, often after committing a minor, nonviolent felony, such as shoplifting or passing a bad check, that constituted a third offense under states’ “three-strikes” sentencing laws.

One major consequence of our present situation is the continuing stigma of mental illness. The stigma reduces the support of the public to enhance funding of mental health services. Funding of mental health services have been reduced dramatically, a worrisome ongoing trend. It is imperative that attention be devoted at state and national levels to discussions about retooling mental health systems.

via Gerald Landsberg: Mental Illness and Criminal Justice: Our Impossible, Contradictory Polices and Their Tragic Impact.

Violence plays role in shorter US life expectancy

The United States suffers far more violent deaths than any other wealthy nation, due in part to the widespread possession of firearms and the practice of storing them at home in a place that is often unlocked, according to a report released Wednesday by two of the nation’s leading health research institutions.

The United States has about six violent deaths per 100,000 residents. None of the 16 other countries included in the review came anywhere close to that ratio. Finland was closest to the U.S. ranking with slightly more than two violent deaths per 100,000 residents.

For many years, Americans have been dying at younger ages that people in almost all other wealthy countries. In addition to the impact of gun violence, Americans consume the most calories among peer countries and get involved in more accidents that involve alcohol. The U.S. also suffers higher rates of drug-related deaths, infant mortality and AIDS.

In attempting to explain why Americans are so unhealthy, the researchers looked at three categories: the nation’s health care system, harmful behaviors and social and economic conditions. Researchers noted that the U.S. has a large uninsured population compared to other countries with comparable economies, and more limited access to primary care. And although the income of Americans is higher on average than that of other wealthy countries, the United States also has a higher level of poverty, especially among children.

Researchers said American culture probably plays an important role in the life expectancy rates falling short of other wealthy countries.

“We have a culture in our country that, among many Americans, cherishes personal autonomy and wants to limit intrusion of government and other entities on our personal lives and also wants to encourage free enterprise and the success of business and industry. Some of those forces may act against the ability to achieve optimal health outcomes,” said Dr. Steven H. Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, who served as chairman for the study panel.

The researchers reviewed an array of studies over the years. They estimated that homicide and suicide together account for about a quarter of the years of life lost for U.S. men compared to those in those peer countries. Homicide, they noted, is the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults aged 15-24. The large majority of those homicides involve firearms.

via Violence plays role in shorter US life expectancy – Health/Science – NewsObserver.com.