How to know if you live in a rape culture
You live in a rape culture if there are significant inequalities and differences in power. Being equal does not require being the same or identical. We all have different abilities, priorities, and interests. Being equal means equal regard, equally deserving of basic human rights and of being treated with respect. You live in a rape culture if those in power believe they are better than others and more deserving of what society has to offer. Their feelings of superiority are based on their membership in any number of privileged groups (based on, for example, sex, race, religion, orientation, class, age, ability, citizenship, etc.) On the other hand, if your community truly embraces the notion that everyone is equally deserving of respect and the right to pursue happiness, and that each person’s safety and autonomy are more important than another person’s sexual access to them, then rape does not happen.
Abuse of power
You live in a rape culture if there is support for the abuse of power. One group feels entitled to exploit others to meet its own perceived needs. A rape culture endorses exploitation for the purposes of self-gratification, domination, control, punishment or exclusion of others. If, however, members of your community use their power only to protect and support each other, then rape does not happen.
Justification of abuse
You live in a rape culture if abuse is condoned or justified. Some people believe that violence and abuse are acceptable “as long as they have a good enough reason.” “She’s my wife.” “He was asking for it.” “It was just a misunderstanding.” “I couldn’t help it; I just lost control.” Alternatively, if there is a pervasive community commitment to the belief that “there is never a good enough reason to hurt someone” then rape does not happen.
You live in a rape culture if it is normal or acceptable to develop strategies and tactics to control or gain access to other people’s bodies. In contrast, if your community ensures that all sex is based on fully informed and mutual consent then rape does not happen.
Lack of accountability
You live in a rape culture if bystanders do just that – stand by and do nothing while someone is being attacked, threatened, coerced, exploited, dominated, violated or otherwise hurt by someone else. Conversely, if your community firmly believes that only one person is responsible for the abuse – i.e., the perpetrator, and that the rest of us are responsible for reminding potential perpetrators and victims of that belief, then rape does not happen.