Rape Culture #10: Rape Culture and Politics

By January 23, 2019Uncategorized


Part ten in a series by Joy Pedrow Skarka ]

There are many examples found in United States politics that perpetuate rape culture. Here are only a few:

  • Many politicians have made negative comments about rape to support their stances against abortion: “If rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it!” said Clayton Williams of Texas in 1990, causing him to lose the election. Others have used phrases such as “legitimate rape,” “honest rape,” “emergency rape,” and “easy rape.” 
  • Some people assume that women often use rape as an excuse for regret. In 2006, Ken Buck, a district-attorney-turned-politician, once said, “A jury could very well conclude that this is a case of buyer’s remorse… it appears to me that you invited him over to have sex with him,” even though the rapist admitted his crime.
  • In 2012, Senator Todd Akin argued his stance on abortion by saying that “legitimate rapes” rarely result in pregnancy because women’s bodies could “shut that whole thing down.”
  • Michael Cohen, attorney for Donald Trump in 2015, said, “Understand that by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse.” This is simply untrue. Rape can and does happen in marriages. 
  • In 2016, 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. Many of them excused sexual misdeeds rather than criticize a member of their own party. When the famous video leaked with his comments about women, some people described what he said about woman as “foreplay.”
  • Judge Roy Moore, a Republican Senatorial candidate, was accused of varying degrees of sexual misconduct by nine women, including one of whom was fourteen years old when the alleged assault occurred.
  • Bill Clinton is most known for his sexual relationship with the White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Additionally, four women over the past few decades have publicly accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault or harassment. One woman accused Clinton of raping her. For more information, check out the series, The Clinton Affair.
  • In 2018, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault, and rape-culture myths were repeated. Of the three women accusing Kavanaugh, one woman recanted her story. We must admit that claiming rape when it actually didn’t happen is a reality. Yet, only 2–8 percent of reported rapes are false in any given area. Nevertheless, many politicians focus more on the 2–8 percent than the 92–98 percent of victims who have not lied. Politicians’ doing so perpetuates rape culture and rape myths. Here are a few rape culture myths perpetuated through the Kavanaugh case: (1) sexual violence is normal male behavior; (2) real victims come forward right away; (3) women’s voices count less than men’s; (4) the country owes accused men a path to redemption.
  • similar story happened nearly thirty years before the Kavanaugh accusations. Anita Hill testified that Clarence Thomas, then a Supreme Court nominee, sexually assaulted her. Thomas, as did Kavanaugh after him, joined the Supreme Court.

11: Rape Culture and Colleges

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