Sexual Violence Myths

This page works to confront and dispell societal narratives surrounding sexual violence. The seven basic myths, and the arguments against them, are taken from Kate Harding’s Asking For It

Myth: It wasn’t really rape.

Fact: There aren’t different categories like rape-rape, sort-of-rape, gray rape, real rape, and not-really rape. If a person was forced to have sex against their will, it was rape. SO either you’re calling the putative victim a liar or you’re wrong, and it was really rape. 

Myth: [They] asked for it.

Fact: It is literally impossible to ask for rape. Rape, by definition, is sex you did not ask for. So either you mean that a [person] who dresses a certain way, or flirts, or otherwise expresses her sexuality on her own terms somehow deserves to be raped – which would make you a monster – or you are wrong, and [they] were not asking for it. 

Myth: She wanted it.

Fact: See “She asked for it” and “It wasn’t really rape”. Either the person was raped, or the person wanted it; both cannot be true at the same time. And if you want to call someone a liar, you should have the decency to be forthright about it. 

Myth: He didn’t mean to. 

Fact: Rapists like to rape. Most of them do it more than once. In “Understanding the Predatory Nature of Sexual Violence,” David Lisak cites a study in which 120 college men admitted to a totla of 483 acts that met the legal definition of rape. Forty-four of those were one-off crimes. The other 439 rapes were committed by 76 serial rapists, who “had committed more than 1,000 other crimes of violence, from non-penetrating acts of sexual assault to physical and sexual abuse of children, to battery of domestic partners” Rape is not an accident.

Myth: She lied. 

Fact: This is the only rape myth that has the ring of partial truth- somewhere between 2 and 8 percent of the truth. That’s how many reports of rape are estimated to be false, based on an analysis of several rigorous studies that attempted to answer that question. According to the cultural myth, though, women lie about rape all the time, for practically no reason at all- to get revenge on men who cheat, or punish men who didn’t call afterwards, or minimize their own shame over saying yes… here’s what you need to know: the vast majority of people do not lie about being victims of violent crime, especially since filing a false report is a crime itself. Come on, now. 

Myth: Rape is a trivial event.

Fact:  This goes back to our retrograde views about sexual purity and how they get tangled up with consent. Maybe rape is really traumatic for a young virgin, but for someone who’s had lots of sex before, what’s one more dick in the hole?  But again, the problem is not the sexual aspect of rape, but the willful rejection of another person’s right to decide who may touch, let alone enter, their body. Being penetrated without your consent is a big effing deal.

Myth: Rape is a deviant event.

Fact: This is the myth that props up most of the other six. Rape hardly ever happens, and it’s only committed by mentally ill monsters, not people who resemble –or are- my friends, coworkers, and family members. As long as you believe this, it makes sense that [she/he/they] must be lying, or [she/he/they] must not have meant it, or it must not have been real rape (see myth #2). As long as this is true, everything is fine, and there’s no need to be upset. 

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