Home > Famous Feminists, Feminism Fight Club > The Origin Of The Term Rape-Culture

The Origin Of The Term Rape-Culture


Well, wikipedia didn’t have it, all wiki has is an uncited assertion. But I was just perusing one of my favorite perusing spots and at the bottom of the page I was on I read this:

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 09:34:50 -0500
From: “Cambridge Documentary Films, Inc.”
Subject: Re: Discourse and ‘rape culture’

I appreciate Amy’s clarity, especially her point about male-male rape, pointing out the power vs. gender essence of the argument. I believe that this is key to any definition of ‘rape culture.’

When we made the film “Rape Culture” we highlighted the actions of an organization founded in 1974, called Men Against Rape in Lorton Prison in the Washington DC area. At the time people often misinterpreted what these, primarily African American men were saying. They were talking about rape inside the prison(raping men) and out(raping women) and pointing out the similarities. It appeared that they were defining themselves as rapists but they were trying to define rape as a power relationship that took a sexual form. Only one of the 13 members of the group was actually in prison for rape. Their work, in collaboration with members of the DC Rape Crisis Center was groundbreaking.

So, I googled me up “Cambridge Documentary Films, Inc” and clickety click I found this and here’s a quicktime clip, (the full item is on sale for 140 bucks! Fucking expensive. Democratize Knowledge Now!):

“Rape Culture” was first produced in 1975 and then revised in 1983. It helped to shape consciousness about sexism and violence against women. The term Rape Culture is defined for the first time and the film has played a major role in the emerging movement to combat violence against women.

This documentary examines classic films, advertising, music and “adult entertainment,” and documents the insights of rape crisis workers and prisoners working against rape.

This was the first documentary to establish the relationship between rape and our culture’s sexual fantatasies. The film shows the connections between violence and “normal” patterns of behavior. The film also attempts to expand our society’s narrow and sexist concept of rape to its real and accurate limits. The notion that rape is an isolated sexual perversion, the product of an individual’s deranged mind, is dispelled in this film.

Authors Mary Daly and Emily Culpepper expand the intellectual concepts of “rapism,” and help to expose the overwhelming support for rapist behavior in our culture.

Nowhere is the relationship between rape and our culture’s sexual fantasy better illustrated than in “Rape Culture’s” examination of popular films and media.

I think that’s hella funny, or not really it’s actually twisted and sad that men in prison originally came up with the “rape-culture” theory and now whenever we talk about rape prevention, anyone who asks about male-male rape is derided as making a “what about the menz” argument.


  1. N
    12/13/2009 at 7:42 PM

    I’ve only recently entered the feminist blogosphere and I have to say the “what about the menz” smugness already has me ready to leave. Way to show you are utterly uninsterested in having anything but a one sided discussion right? Great post, information that I will lock away in my mind for further use. Thanks for the fascinating and researched(why don’t more people do this?) post!


    • FW
      12/13/2009 at 8:00 PM

      Thanks :) It was really odd because I must have googled around for “origin of rape culture” a dozen times or more and then today I wasn’t even looking for it and boom there it was.

  1. 05/18/2010 at 8:09 AM
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