I’ve heard a few definitions of rape culture over the years, but typing in “define rape culture” into Google netted one of the most concise definitions I have seen to date: a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse.
There are the obvious examples of sexual assault being uncovered on the news on a daily basis: Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, Roy Moore, etc. These aren’t the best examples of the systemic nature of rape culture in America though. These are example of rape culture but aren’t being trivialized or normalized (at least not anymore). The following is a deep dive into identifying the pervasive, systemic reach of rape culture in America. Prepare…
The champions of rape culture in America for more than two decades are Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Clinton supporters will likely suggest that this is a hit piece on the Clintons. It’s not. This is a hit piece on the pervasiveness of rape culture in America.
When Senator Gillibrand made the strong (and appropriate statement) that Bill Clinton should have resigned as POTUS during the investigation of his sexual harassment and perjury, there were Clinton loyalists who quickly jumped all over it with rape culturisms like Philippe Reines:
Ken Starr spent $70 million on a consensual blowjob. Senate voted to keep POTUS WJC. But not enough for you @SenGillibrand? Over 20 yrs you took the Clintons’ endorsements, money, and seat. Hypocrite.
Interesting strategy for 2020 primaries. Best of luck.
On the surface, this might look like a Clinton supporter/former employee venting about a Senator who gladly took Bill Clinton’s endorsements over the years and was now throwing him under the bus. This is what rape culture looks like, folks!
You might be thinking this is a pretty harsh statement given that Bill Clinton didn’t “rape” Monica Lewinsky. If so, that’s a good thing. I think you should be shocked to uncover just how systemic and prevalent rape culture is in America.
Reines makes the assertion that Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky participated in consensual blowjobs in the Oval Office. His argument might even have legal merit since sexual harassment (which is what a superior having sex with a subordinate is) isn’t “illegal”. By Reines’ rape culture logic, slavery (let alone raping slaves) during America’s early years was okay because it wasn’t “illegal”. Did I just compare rape culture to slavery? You bet!
So, how is getting a “consensual” bj in the Oval Office sexual harassment, let alone rape culture? By answering this question, we’re going to uncover the nasty pervasiveness of rape culture in America. It boils down to the very culture that it’s acceptable to someone with authority to take advantage of a subordinate. Someone with authority over another person has a level of power over that person by the very nature of their position. The President of the United States certainly qualifies as being in a position of authority over an intern in the White House. Claiming that Monica Lewinsky “knew what she was getting into” (or simplifying that to “consented” like Reines has done) exemplifies rape culture. Reines might as well have just said Monica was “asking for it”. Looking at this with a Weinstein lens: Monica was on the “casting couch”.
To make a long story short, justifying sexual abuse because it’s illegal = rape culture.
Furthering the rape culture nature of Bill Clinton’s exploitation of Monica Lewinsky is the fact that he’s married. The idea that a man, who has made a commitment of chastity to his wife, can up and get a bj from an employee is the epitome of the sense of male entitlement that is rampant with rape culture. Bill Clinton took advantage of Monica Lewinsky, and that is rape culture. Period.
Still, Bill Clinton’s exploits of Monica Lewinsky weren’t the most egregious of his rape culturisms. It’s pretty safe to say that the only thing separating Bill Clinton from being an alleged rapist and an convicted rapist is the statute of limitations and/or a phenomenal lawyer (meaning, a lawyer who leverages the inherit privileged that rape culture affords sexual predators (wealthy/powerful men) like Bill Clinton.
A further example of rape culture is claiming that Bill Clinton “more than paid the price” for taking advantage of Lewinsky. The notion that there’s a “price” to pay for sexually manipulating and abusing women is rape culture. The notion that Bill Clinton “more than paid” is monstrously rape culture. He paid the price because he couldn’t practice law (which he wouldn’t have done anyway) for five years? And I’ll get to the greatest falsehood about Bill Clinton “paying the price” in two paragraphs.
If you haven’t warmed up to me saying that Bill Clinton exploited and took advantage of Monica Lewinsky, that’s how pervasive rape culture is in your own mind. There in lies the sneakiness of rape culture. It’s like a shadow cast from a light that sits right in your own head. Rape culture is something you can’t fully see and understand until you look in the mirror and ask yourself how much you have unwittingly (or knowingly) participated in rape culture. How much have you justified Bill Clinton the sexual predator with him being an accomplished politician? How often have you said “that’s just politics”? Or “other politicians have done those things”?
That brings me to my last, and most poignant point. Hillary Clinton exemplifies rape culture in America. Victim blaming and shaming is the ultimate rape culture. Hillary Clinton has also said that her husband “paid the price“. No. Hillary Clinton, YOU paid the price for Bill Clinton’s sex abuse, not Bill. Hillary is both a victim of rape culture and has been perpetuating rape culture.
To wrap it up…
- Victim blaming and shaming your spouse’s sexual victims = rape culture
- Saying “Sure, Bill Clinton was a scoundrel, *but* he was a good President” = rape culture
- Saying “they knew what they were getting into” = rape culture
- Saying “that’s just how that industry is” = rape culture
- Issuing public character witness declarations like Lena Dunham and the 36 Women of SNL = rape culture
- Saying Bill Clinton was “unfathomably irresponsible” because “He knew what kind of enemies he had” and using the term “sexual assault” instead of sexual abuse to describe Bill Clinton’s predation of Monica Lewinsky = rape culture
- Groping medical patients and getting probation instead of prison time = rape culture
- Joe Biden = rape culture, and bringing up other sexual predators when someone broaches the topic of rape culture = rape culture
- Stating that a settlement (using tax payer money) for sexual harassment is “settling an issue” and not admitting any wrongdoing = rape culture
- Stating that you are “embarrassed” and “ashamed” for grabbing someone inappropriately during a photo-op and claiming that “this isn’t something I would intentionally do” = rape culture
- Claiming that groping allegations have “stolen the very real traumas of very real survivors” and “ and mocked them” = rape culture (even if you’re a survivor of rape).
IMPORTANT NOTE: Rape culture thrives in a society that in any way, shape, or form trivializes ANY sexual assault and abuse. Trivializing groping because it is not violent/penetration rape furthers rape culture.
- Defending a sexual harasser by claiming they are an “icon” = rape culture
- Referring to Bill Clinton’s sexual exploits of Monica Lewinsky as “The Lewinsky Scandal” = rape culture.
- Not wanting to discuss rape culture = rape culture
Rape culture = “a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse.” How much have we all participated in normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse? Now is the time to say, “no more”. Michael Tomasky, Philippe Reines, Al Franken, and Hillary Clinton are all rape culture stalwarts.