We already had to stand up and support that rape culture is a real thing and not a product of "female hysteria" this week. Now, thanks to Zerlina Maxwell's #rapecultureiswhen, we've discovered there might be a few people that agree with us.
"Rape culture" identifies the overwhelming normalization of sexual violence against women as a part of the cultural psyche, extending the cause of rape as an epidemic beyond individuals, to a culture that supports the mentalities that lead to rape. It should be mentioned that rape occurs on a spectrum, and cannot be defined only as forced male penetration. Top tweets all converge on one point: women are still openly sexually objectified and treated as bodies without autonomy, only until they are told they are or were responsible to prevent their own rape.
Twitter users attack those in positions of power for not battling or actively enabling rape culture (our old pal Paul Ryan features).
Rape culture also supports harmful stereotyping of masculinity, portraying men as driven only by their sexual desires and unable to say no to sex ever. This then allows men to act in these ways, and excuses some horrid behavior as "guys being guys." These stereotypes are of course also harmful to men, as they limit their perceived humanity. The gender binary y'all!
(White) men and women are not the only ones affected by rape culture, and this is reflected in the tweets. Children, spouses, transgendered individuals, and a diversity of racial identities are included too. Rape culture wants us to believe that rape occurs only between young, heterosexual, able-bodied people, usually strangers, when in reality rape affects many outside of this scope.
Of course, haters gonna hate. The worst part is they're always young women who have internalized rape culture. It's like a #rapecultureiswhen inception…
Do we even need anything other than Twitter these days, if a topic can be succinctly summarized in less than 140 characters? One last tweet tells us that even though a trending hashtag might seem like a big deal, there is still a lot of real work to be done.