Our Shared Critiques

We wish to critique:

Rape Culture: We are critical of narratives that trivializes, rationalizes, and condones rape and other acts of sexual violence. We are critical of the treatment of rape as a type of sex, since sex always requires consent. We critique the treatment of rape as something necessarily or fundamentally distinct from violence and other physical harms and the application of standards that view sexual harms as sex.[1]

Victim blaming and re-victimization[2]: We are critical of societies that not only blame victims of rape and violence, but also expect them to treat/solve the problem, either through prosecution or the use of whatever social standing they may have to address the harms they have experienced. We also critique re-victimization that occurs in disbelief of victim/survivors, emotional reactions on behalf of victims/survivors, and the re-victimization caused by the social idea that all rapes are the same and all must be traumatizing to the victims survivor in order to be valid. [3]

Punitive measures: We critique the idea that punishment is a method of treating rape culture or violence. We are critical of communities that condone the use of punitive measures and retribution as a way of creating ‘justice’ or prevention of further harms or signifying atonement.[4]

Systems of oppression: We call into question all systems that exist for the maintenance of dominant power structures and/or are inherently racist, classist, and patriarchal. These systems include the prison system, the police, and the state-sanctioned justice system.These can also include our own systems. Even sex-positive or consent culture systems can be biased towards or against certain gender presentations, races, socioeconomic factors, ages, sexual orientations, or standards of attractiveness. We critique any system that does not actively reflect on its own biases, conscious and unconscious, and work towards more equitable solutions.[5]

Addressing symptoms not systems: We critique the society that is not actively working to change the system that produces rape and violence, but instead focuses on punishment as a way to treating symptoms of those systems. While the repercussions of gender and sexual violence can be immense, we critique societies that put the responsibility of rape culture on certain individuals alone. We are critical of the idea that a satisfying solution to rape culture is to police each other’s touch in increasingly fine grained manner without addressing the underlying causes of violence, rape and other forms of domination.

Individualism of harm: We are critical of the assumption that the only harm done in rape and violence is to those directly involved. We are critical of ideas and actions that fail to recognize the harm done to the wider community when these acts are committed, and/or ignores the self-harm committed by the actor in violating another human. We are critical of systems that do not support or prioritize measures community and social care as ways of protecting against the traumatic effects of harms done and the harms that led to those harms being committed. [6]

The “bad rapist” trope: We critique the false reality that people who care about victims/survivors do not associate with people who commit sexual, gender, or partner violence. We are critical of the perpetuation of the image of a rapist as irredeemable and individual, i.e. the idea that rapists are “bad people” we don’t know, when in fact they are statistically our friends and lovers. We critique systems that paint “rapists” as people outside of our communities, and systems that fail to ask “How would you want your friend to be treated if they raped someone?”. [7]

One-size-fits-all solutions: We are critical of the idea that any one action or solution will work to transform all harms. Viewing premeditated rape and unintentional rape as one and the same, assuming all victims/survivors desire retribution, or that it is possible to find the singular solution to all harms negate the plurality and complexities of humanity. There are many different forms of assault that surely need different treatments. [8]

Perfectionism of solutions: We are critical of the idea that systems for transforming harms are invalid unless they are perfect and/or created by paid professionals. While learning and knowledge sharing are vital, harms will not wait for the perfect solution. We are also critical of systems and strategies that do not incorporate iteration and learning from failure.

[1] Read: https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/07/when-we-say-rape-culture/

[2] Victim blaming culture includes:

  • The idea that victims are to blame for sexual or domestic violence
  • The idea that victims who want to remain in relationship with their harmer are not “real victims”
  • The idea that victims who want to ignore the situation aren’t “real victims”
  • The questioning of a the severity of a violation based on the reaction of the victim
  • The re-victimization of victims perpetuated by the state
  • Systems that prioritize the anger of friends, lovers, family members of victims over the desires of victims
  • The re-victimization of victims by the assumption that they must necessarily be traumatized or destroyed by this experience and that life will never be the same again

[3] Read: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jan_Jordan2/publication/237969221_Beyond_Belief

[4] Punitive measures include:

  • The idea that locking up, torturing, or isolating actors of harm will prevent them from committing future harms
  • The idea that layering the harm of the carceral system on top of the harm of rape is an acceptable way to move forward
  • Systems that can be manipulated to create more harm as retaliation for harm
  • The idea that punishment is an effective deterrent
  • The idea that the violence of prison doesn’t in fact perpetuate more violence in society
  • The idea that calling the police causes no harm to anyone but the actor

[5] Read: http://www.dismantlingracism.org/uploads/4/3/5/7/43579015/whitesupcul13.pdf

[6] Failure to acknowledge harms as harms to the community, including

  • The idea that sexual, gender, and domestic violence are individual acts between individuals
  • The idea that communities are not responsible for the care of all members, not just victim/survivors

[7] https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/02/good-people-can-be-rapists/

[8] https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/05/non-traditional-rape-narratives/