Rape culture is real.
In the fall of 2017, millions of women and plenty of men shared their experiences of sexual harassment and assault under the hashtag #MeToo. The movement went global. Actors, politicians, journalists, radio personalities, celebrity chefs and other prominent men were forced to step down from their jobs, and in some cases, faced criminal charges. The avalanche of stories shared under #MeToo shocked the world. How could these abuses of power be so widespread?
The answer lies in rape culture—the beliefs, ideas, and actions that make excuses for male sexual aggression and violence and perpetuate the lie that these behaviors are normal and inevitable. Boys will be boys. If he teases you, it means he likes you. Don’t take no for an answer. From the playground to the boardroom, girls and women are valued for quiet compliance and sex appeal while men and boys are urged to take whatever they want, whenever they want it. Victims get blamed, and perpetrators are let off the hook.
#MeToo sounded the alarm about the damaging legacy of rape culture. People everywhere are standing up and speaking out. Teens are protesting sexist dress codes in their schools and challenging online bullying and slut shaming. They are rejecting toxic stereotypes about masculinity and advocating for enthusiastic consent in intimate relationships. The time to dismantle rape culture is now. In the words of actor Janelle Monae, “We come in peace, but we mean business.”
Spring 2019 – Twenty-First Century Books
A Junior Library Guild Selection
Available at Lerner Publishing, Barnes and Noble,
Amazon, and IndieBound.
Sexual assault remains one of the most common crimes committed in the United States; this book explains why. Rape culture, described by Betty Friedan in 1963, is a set of beliefs and cultural practices that excuses sexual violence, most commonly perpetrated by cisgender men against women. Keyser (Underneath it All, 2018, etc.) references events and cultural trends ranging from the #MeToo movement to Brock Turner’s acquittal to Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign to explore the underlying causes of rape culture as well as its devastating consequences. The author, who envisions the book as a “road map for building a better future,” ends each chapter with recommendations for action that readers can take to combat toxic and pervasive societal attitudes. The intersectional analysis does a thorough job of considering issues like blackness and gender nonconformity. However, the people profiled, as well as the quotes from and interviews with teens, lack diversity, for example, not mentioning any high-profile cases of transgender individuals. Additionally, topics such as the high rates of sexual assault of Native American, transgender, and gender nonconforming people, among others; the effect of immigration status on reporting rape; and the potential for prison reform through restorative justice are skimmed over. While one book cannot cover everything, this one certainly could have covered more. A laudably current guide to rape culture that at times sacrifices depth for clarity.