Rape tolerance and actual facts.

Trigger warning: Please take care of yourself and be aware of your own limitations whenever you read anything about rape.

I had a bit of a thing the other night when I discovered this article: “Rape flier causes outrage; Arizona sex assault victim speaks out.”

The flier, posted in a men’s bathroom at Ohio’s Miami University, read in part: “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape: 1) Put drugs in the woman’s drink, therefore she wont remember you… 6) Sex with an unconscious body does count, so don’t back down if shes sleeping; 7) Practice makes perfect, the more you rape, the better you get at it….”

Seeing this in the very week in which we have been assailed (yet again) with a new rash of rape apologism was just too much. My blood started to pound, I was suddenly crying, and I was filled with a powerful sense of emotional nausea (if that makes sense), reactions that are all overcoming me again, even as I type.

Women live with this every day of our lives, it’s in our leader’s mouths, it’s in the jokes we hear, it’s in the very air we breathe — and then we’re told that rape is our fault. To put an aspirin between our knees. To prove that we didn’t like the rape. To bear the rapist’s child. And to drown in shame.

I’ve been feeling all day that I really should write about it all, but I just can’t. I’m too exhausted by it, too worn down, too emotionally nauseated. But luckily, someone with a slightly bigger soapbox has written a piece filled with both righteous fury, and reams and reams of data. I’m cutting and pasting some of it below, but really, please: Click through and read the whole thing: “50 Actual Facts About Rape,” by Soraya Chemaly.

And men of good will? Please, please share this with your friends, your brothers, your uncles, your father. Please.

Remember facts? Remember facts about rape? Because it turns out that a whole lot of people know less than nothing about the subject. Indeed what they think they know is a whole lot of something that is wrong and dangerous to our heath, safety and well-being.

… For months now we’ve been subjected to surreal revelation when it comes to what people think and understand about rape, god and women’s magical bodies. Here is some real, fact-checked information from a list originally published last week in RHRealityCheck…..

1. Low estimate of the number of women, according to the Department of Justice, raped every year: 300,000
2. High estimate of the number of women raped, according to the CDC: 1.3 million
3. Percentage of rapes not reported: 54 percent
4. A woman’s chance of being raped in the U.S.: 1 in 5
5. Chances that a raped woman conceives compared to one engaging in consensual sex: at least two times as likely
6. Number of women in the US impregnated against their will each year in the U.S. as a result of rape: 32,000
7. Number of states in which rapists can sue for custody and visitation: 31
8. Chances that a woman’s body “shuts that whole thing down”: 0 in 3.2 billion

Had enough? Me, too. And, believe me, this is the Cliff Notes version. Some people are offended by frank conversation about violence, especially sexualized violence. I’m offended by tolerance for these assaults, scientific denialism, entertainment at the expense of people’s safety and bodily integrity, and shame-infused legislation that hurts children and women and is based on the belief that all men are animals at heart.

Rape happens everywhere . All over the world rape acceptance, rape tolerance, rape denial and rape ignorance at best are used to restrict women’s reproductive rights and impede women’s equality. At worse, rape is used strategically and with violence and malevolence as a weapon in war and as a tool of active oppression. Keeping the reality of rape in the shadows has obviously done us a massive disservice and provided cover for rapists and their apologists. So, even though it’s not easy information to digest, it’s important. Maybe information is part of god’s divine plan.

…Akin, Mourdock, Ryan, et al are the distortions. If men like Mitt Romney really doesn’t agree with them then he should grow some ovaries, so to speak, and stop playing in the same political sand box….  All of this goes hand-in-hand with Facebook rape pages, Daniel Tosh rape jokesReddit rapist threadsmusic, videos, movies, ad infinitum. This recent political display of religiously convoluted rape “reasoning” in legislation is a national shame with deadly consequences for women here and abroad.

To read the rest of “50 Actual Facts About Rape,” please click here.


  1. It’s startling that such ideas and words are still so prevalent in our modern age. Having a daughter, I now see a world filled with sexual landmines that she will have to defuse or detect in order to live a decent life.

    Nothing makes it harder for me to maintain my demeanor and hang on to my vow of nonviolence more than the idea that somewhere, even now, a man is attacking a woman (or man or child) and tearing from her the security of her own bodily integrity. It is so easy to refrain from doing this and yet, some men have no self-control to speak of, or if they do, they cede it to their animal passions. I simply want to pummel them, to batter them into quivering jelly, to smash them into insignificance.

    Women are being beset and besieged from all sides by men who cloak themselves in their masculinity, as if it bestows on them the right to take what they want from women. The power of this is so great, that it extends beyond women. Men, bathed in testosterone-fueled glory, see no barrier to their “conquests,” and many suffer at their hands. The rape comes, not just from the male member, but from every device or construction that extends and expands their power: the gun, the knife, the bomb, etc.

    We men of good conscience can speak up, we can try to intercede, but for now, we are outnumbered by the slothful millions of our brethren who bask in the radiance of their masculinity. We will conquer them, eventually, but until such time, the suffering goes on, and we must weep.

  2. A woman’s chance of being raped in the U.S.: 1 in 5
    Chances an incarcerated person is raped in the U.S.: 1 in 10

    That’s pretty scary. (Note: the incarcerated person in that statistic is not LGBT. For them it’s 15x higher.)

  3. I think it’s important to remember that someone who commits sexual violence is usually deficient as a human being in some regard. Violence is not a problem of the body: it is a problem of the mind. So what goes on in a rapist’s head and therefore comes out of rapist’s mouth often reveals the same problems as their actions do: a limited ability to feel empathy as well as a tendency towards seeing others as responsible for their actions rather than themselves. They do harm because they believe they are entitled to do harm. So, yes, rapists say that rape is the victim’s fault. That is how they see the world. How this becomes contagious is another story. But the fact is people are responsible for their own actions, and when they harms others, they are responsible for that too. We know this.

  4. In tears reading that portion of the flier…thank you for the ‘trigger warning’…wow. I don’t know how the rest of the list reads, however, it could’ve very well had “Tell her it isn’t rape because you know her “NO” really didn’t mean no.”…that was what I was told…”You must’ve said no a million times, but I know that’s not what you meant.” Sickening. Even worse…I believed it.

    • I’m very, very glad that you’re now able to say that in the past tense – you may have believed it once, but it is so important to realize that you know something very different now.

      Thank you so much for your story.

  5. Lise

     /  October 29, 2012

    I am a midwife. Sometimes, when I’m not attending births, I reflect on the 777 babies I’ve delivered. I wonder which of the boys will grow up to attack people. And I fantasize that we could have done something to stop it right then, at the moment he was born.

    Sometimes I wish that our language didn’t have a word for “rape”, that it was impossible to distinguish this kind of violent assault from any other kind of violent assault. So that no one could say “rape” and snigger. They’d have to say “violent assault” every time. And they could never laugh about it.

  6. Egalitarian

     /  November 7, 2012

    Again, you imply that only men are rapists, which is not at all accurate if you properly define rape. According to the latest CDC (US government) survey, 4.8% of all men have been “made to penetrate” and 79.2% of the perpetrators were women. Examples of “made to penetrate” are: a woman who has sex with a man who is passed-out drunk, or a woman who forces a man to have sex with her through violence or threats of violence. There is some confusion due to the fact that their definition of rape excluded “made to penetrate” and only included men who had been penetrated. That was far less common (1.4% of men) and was mostly perpetrated by men. However, if you include “made to penetrate” as rape, which you should, since it is forced sex, women are a significant percentage of rapists, and the majority of male rape victims were raped by women. You can read the report at:
    http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/NISVS_Report2010-a.pdf Here are direct quotes from the report:
    “Approximately 1 in 21 men (4.8%) reported that they were made to penetrate someone else during their lifetime”

    “For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims reported only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (79.2%), sexual coercion (83.6%), and unwanted sexual contact (53.1%).”

    The above, lifetime stats do show a lower percentage of male victims (up to 6.2% of all men) than female victims (18.3% of all women) although this is far more than the 10% you stated. However, if you look at the report’s stats for the past 12 months, just as many number of men have been “forced to penetrate” as women were raped, meaning that if you properly define “made to penetrate” as rape, men were raped as often as women.

    Here are some stories from male victims: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/v73r4/men_who_have_been_raped_by_women_can_you_tell_us/

    • Yeah, no. I have never implied, thought, or suggested any such thing, and I frequently make a very big point of championing male survivors as well. I did not in this post because much as rape is rape, and male survivors deserve every bit as much help and support and recognition as female survivors, men do not live in a society permeated and shaped by the fact of their vulnerability, a vulnerability that is often seen as the natural order of things, a vulnerability that is often mocked and exploited. So please have a seat.

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