This is an excerpt from my recent interview for HEEB Magazine. Defining rape culture is one of those questions that in some ways feels very tricky, but its also very simple. Kind of like my film. The context is complex, the message is simple: communicate and respect each other. I thought I did a pretty good job with the answer, and gave Judaism some props for the groovy sex-positive tenants in our marriage contract.
A rape culture is one that assumes violence will happen during sex. It says: ‘Watch your drink’ or ‘men are pigs’ or ‘what did she expect?’ It asks women to live in the narrow roles of either virgin or whore, and tells us to be fearful. Jewish girls get somewhat of a break here, thanks to Dr. Ruth and our sex-positive roots in the Judaic marriage contract, but for men, rape culture expects them to be dogs and tells them they have to trick or coerce girls into bed. If given the choice, most people want to have good sex, where both parties initiate, are into it and are begging for more. A rape culture tells us that sex is bad, so you either have to steal it, rush through it, or get punished for doing it, or—God forbid—liking it.
Today, someone piped in to disagree with me on the site. I would roll my eyes if it wasn’t such a typical and disturbing response. In addition to misreprenting recent sex crimes in the news (its a wide net, only Kobe Bryant is missing), this person’s “solution” dictates that women be the gate keepers for male behavior. In its essence, it is exactly what rape culture is all about!
I will reserve final judgment until I see the film, but it also strikes me given the number of women like Laura Garza and Natalee Holloway who meet horrible ends by getting drunk and then leaving a bar with a strange man they have just met and of whose character and history they know nothing about; we would better served with fewer cliches about society as a whole, and more small scale, common sense campaigns advising women not to play Russian Roulette with their bodies.
How do you feel about being told not to play Russian Roulette with your body? Is it better to be safe than sorry?