Earlier today, Zerlina Maxwell, a feminist writer and political analyst, was inspired to start the Twitter hashtag#RapeCultureIsWhen in response to both TIME magazine and RAINN (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) claiming that feminists have overhyped the existence and impact of rape culture.
Last week, RAINN made their recommendations to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and for some reason decided to make a point of deemphasizing the impact of rape culture, writing:
In the last few years, there has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming “rape culture” for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campus. While it is helpful to point out the systemic barriers to addressing the problem, it is important not to lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime.
I would argue that it’s more than “helpful” to point out those systematic barriers, especially when the goal is to tear them down, and that doing so does nothing to lessen the fact that, yes, rapists are to blame for rape.
Meanwhile, a few days ago, TIME posted “It’s Time To End Rape Culture Hysteria,” which claims that, actually, we’re a culture that totally “despises” rapists. Oh, are we? Before commencing with the initial hashtag tweets, Maxwell tweeted, “A quarter of ppl R victimized, so I’ll keep hyping until my job is obsolete,” and “I also love when ppl question the existence of rape culture like it’s a unicorn and not readily apparent to those who know what it is.” #RapeCultureIsWhen reminds us of just what rape culture is and how insidiously it works in the here and now. Scroll through a Storify of just some of the tweets above, and then hop on over to Twitter and contribute some of your own. [Twitter]