When it comes to the idea of rape culture, there are certain things everyone, including myself, can agree on. Everyone agrees that women shouldn’t be raped. Everyone agrees that women are raped far too often. Everyone agrees that rape is never an acceptable consequence for not doing the “right” thing or acting the “right” way. Everyone agrees that often women are told that they deserved to be raped because they were “asking for it”, and that that’s a terrible thing to say. And everyone agrees that rape culture has far-ranging, awful consequences that make the reality of being a woman something that is often fraught and almost always degrading. Being a woman means living in a world where you know that there is a one in six chance you will be sexually assaulted at some point in your lifetime. Being a woman means growing up constantly being a bitch, no matter what you do. Being a woman means that it is not a question of if, but when and how often, that you will be verbally harassed, or objectified, and that you will always, always be found to be somehow lacking or wrong. And I think everyone can agree that that’s just not okay. Rape culture is about blaming women, about hanging the ultimate consequence of rape over their heads to keep them in line, about finding fault in women for no other reason than because they are women, and pretty much everyone agrees that that’s a terrible thing to do.
What people often either don’t realize or cannot agree on is why that’s a bad thing to do. It isn’t just that there are, of course, people who believe that there is a “right” way to be a woman, and that the “right” way usually involves a set of impossibly high standards that leads to constant disappointment and judgment. It’s that there then develops a reactionary strain of thought that says that women are judged too harshly and therefore should never be judged at all. And this, quite frankly, is just as equally ridiculous and problematic as the first way of thinking.