9 Ways to Fight Rape Culture

Sign reads "Don't rape" with "Don't get raped" crossed out
cascade_of_rant / Flickr

When it comes to rape prevention, most advice is aimed at potential victims, not potential criminals. Advice for women on how to stay safe can range from well-meaning (​don't drink unless you poured it, travel in pairs) to downright victim-blaming (don't wear revealing clothing, don't "lead men on.") But wouldn't we eliminate the need for such advice if we focused instead on rape prevention tips for potential rapists (don't rape)? 

If only it were this simple. When it comes to rape prevention tips, perhaps the best place to start is with our society's deeply-entrenched rape culture. Here are 9 ways you can fight it. 

01
of 08

Teach Your Children About Consent, Especially Young Boys.

Father dining with son at fast food restaurant
Tony Anderson / Getty Images

If you are raising adolescents, are a teacher or mentor, or otherwise play a role in any young person's education and development, you can help fight rape culture by speaking frankly with adolescents about sex. It's especially important to teach young people about sexual consent—what it means, how it works, how to get consent, and what to do when a potential sexual partner refuses to give (or retracts) their consent. Don't shy away from frank, sex-positive conversations that emphasize healthy and safe sexuality. 

02
of 08

Call Out Problems in Our Media.

Poster
SambaPhoto/Luis Esteves / Getty Images

Rape jokes, song lyrics, video games with rape scenarios, and other cultural products all play into our society's rape culture. When you notice media that mocks or trivializes the issue of rape, call it out. Write to the author, artist, or publication that produced it. Similarly, media that dehumanizes women by treating them as sex objects contributes to rape culture. Call out these cultural products when you see them. Criticize them publicly, and boycott them if they refuse to make changes. 

03
of 08

Challenge Conventional Definitions of Masculinity.

Group of football fans yelling in stadium
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

In order to fight rape culture, it's essential to resist cultural assumptions that sexual violence is in any way "natural." Challenge common misconceptions that assault is caused by "uncontrollable" male urges. It's also essential to resist "jock worship" and other cultural norms that value strength and athleticism above compassion, as these norms work to excuse problematic behavior. Object to notions of masculinity that frame sexual aggression as a strong or admirable quality for men to strive toward. 

04
of 08

Resist "Slut-Shaming" and Victim-Blaming.

Rear View Of Woman Sitting On Bed Against Curtain
Fausto Serafini / EyeEm / Getty Images

It's all too common for survivors of rape to be accused of "asking for it," "leading him on," or otherwise being complicit in their assault. Sometimes, women are accused of "crying rape" and told that they are mistaking unsatisfactory or regrettable sex with unwanted sex. In fact, it is a whole lot more common for rape to go unreported than for false rape accusations to surface. 

Don't forget that consenting to some sexual activity is not the same as consenting to all sexual activity at that consent can be retracted at any point, even after sexual intercourse is underway. Bottom line: non-consensual sex is rape, regardless of the circumstances.

05
of 08

Use Your Words Carefully.

Sign reads "Don't rape" with "Don't get raped" crossed out
cascade_of_rant / Flickr

Rape is not "sexual intercourse," "sexual misconduct," or "unwanted sex." There is no such thing as "legitimate rape" and there is no distinction between "date rape," "real rape," "intimate partner rape," and "criminal rape." Rape is rape—it's a crime, and it's important to call it out as such. 

06
of 08

Don't Be a Bystander.

pointing,hands close-up
RunPhoto / Getty Images

If you witness sexual assault, or even just something that doesn't feel right, don't stand by. If you feel safe enough in the moment, call it out directly. If not, let an adult or police officer know.

Don't hesitate to call out sexist jokes or language that perpetuates rape culture. 

07
of 08

Create Policies in Schools and Workplaces that Support Survivors.

Woman listening
Getty Images

Many survivors don't feel comfortable speaking out after being assaulted for fear of repercussions like losing their jobs, being forced to school, or facing social isolation. In order to eliminate rape culture, it is imperative to create an environment in which survivors feel safe speaking up and calling out their attackers and in which the repercussions for potential rapists are emphasized instead. On a broader level, legislators must create laws that empower survivors, not rapists.

08
of 08

Support Organizations That Are Working to Fight Rape Culture.

Support great organizations working to fight rape culture such as Cultures of ConsentMen Stopping Violence, and Men Can Stop Rape. For organizations fighting rape on college campuses, see  Know Your IX and End Rape on Campus. You can also support broader organizations that are working to stop sexual violence such as the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence and  RAINN