There’s a key psychological concept that is relevant to rape culture, known as “inductive generalization”. You can see a walkthrough on this here: http://goose.ycp.edu/~dweiss/phl222_critical_thinking/inductive_generalizations.htm .
In short: every experience I’ve had with X has been bad. Therefore, X is bad! Because my experiences with X have been very consistent, and because they’re *my* experiences, they’re important, and can’t be dismissed as inconclusive by someone else without running the risk of invalidating my experience entirely – and if you do THAT, well you’re just wrong.
A short example:
Person A: “I took my child in for vaccination, and a year later, she developed symptoms of autism. Several other people in my neighborhood had the exact same thing happen to them (also known as the Sharpshooter Fallacy). It’s clear that getting your kids vaccinated is definitely a mistake!”
Person B: “But there’s no conclusive proof that vaccines cause autism. Just because your kid got autism doesn’t prove there’s a connection.”
Person A: “Oh so you’re saying that my kid doesn’t matter??? Just wait till YOU have kids and…”
This is ultimately how nearly every discussion ends up (with all Third Waver discussions, but even more so when rape culture comes up), and I’ve found great difficulty navigating my way through this problem. Inductive generalization is often tied closely with a person’s experience. If that experience was tragic, or included a crisis event (such as rape), then it’s damn near impossible to make the person understand that a failure to produce a scientifically peer-reviewed conclusion does not invalidate their very real, very tragic experience. Their negative feelings can be completely legitimate and valid, and isn’t proof that the whole entire world is against them. There probably is a technique to help someone understand this, but I’ve yet to fully master it.
In the field of mental health, studies have shown time and time again that a person’s environment is the absolute best predictor of whether or not a person recovers from mental illness – to the exclusion of all other factors. This means that expensive drugs and thousands of dollars-worth of therapy are not nearly as impactful (nowhere close, in fact) as what kind of environment the person lives in. Having a healthy community that provides a sense of belonging and identity is perhaps the single most important factor in a person’s mental and emotional well-being, and makes it possible to recover from mental illness; something that in decades passed, was considered only “treatable” with medication, and certainly not curable otherwise.
Did you know that current mental health theory postulates that a strong community can even overcome drug addiction?
The crux of the article:
The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.
This isn’t just a matter of finding a group of friends that think and feel the way you do, and providing an echo-chamber for your thoughts and ideas. It’s more than that. It’s feeling safe when you walk out the door in the morning. It’s being able to say hello to the people you pass on your way to the bus. It’s being able to sit down to lunch in a cafeteria without needing your back to the wall “just in case”. It’s a sense that you don’t have to constantly keep your guard up, and the absence of any worrying suspicion that the people around you might hurt you the moment they get a chance.
Rape Culture prevents a person from having any sense of sanity in an otherwise sane world. It does not hold up to scrutiny on any level, does not promote any beneficial social cause, and believing in this nonsense only denies a person any sense of community. It’s inherently harmful, and like most other Third Wave holy scripture, wrongly creates feelings of general suspicion and scorn of others based on their gender.
My hope is that starting the 4th Wave will begin reversing the effects of this narrative, and replace it with reason and rational thinking. There are real issues that really do affect women, and these issues can and should be addressed.
So far, I’ve addressed every major point that rape culture theorist currently have to offer. And I’m not just saying “there’s no evidence for rape culture”, I’m going a step further, and saying there is no rape culture. So in order for my position to have any credibility, I must still be able to articulate clear and transparent parameters that would reassert the existence of rape culture, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
And here they are. Rape culture, as defined, might still exist if you could:
— Explain why rape should not be seen in degrees of concern, the same way all other crimes are, and also how the suggestion that it be viewed in such degrees is indicative of trivializing the subject, rather than an informed understanding of the legal process.
— Explain why the underlying philosophy of our justice system is incorrect; why a person should not be innocent until proven guilty where rape is concerned, why a case should go to court even if there’s no evidence, and why court proceedings should not question evidence in a rape case. This is important, since doubting the guilt of the accused is a key component of rape culture.
— Show actual rape-victim blaming happening often enough in the medical or legal systems to constitute what could be construed as a culture, and show this same thing happening in the mainstream media often enough that it would imply a degree of consensus from the general public. Refer back to what “victim blaming” means.
— Show evidence that seeing images of rape becomes part of a person’s subconscious, and from there, somehow becomes part of a person’s consciousness, and causes the person to be more accepting of rape.
— Show evidence that a man on top of a woman, or any other suggestive pic, is universally viewed as an image of rape. This is important because this is what’s often used as evidence of rape culture.
— Explain how a culture can demand the death penalty in a rape case, where less than 0.5% of the population experiences rape, and still be considered a culture that trivializes and endorses rape.
If you can fill 3 of these, I will concede the point, and admit that rape culture does exist, at least to a degree. If you can fill all 6, then rape culture definitely does exist.