Right wing and Tea Party media groups are attacking major media outlets that — rightly — have equated the Penn State child sex abuse and rape scandal with the Catholic Church’s pedophile priests scandal, and instead are pointing the finger — wrongly and ignorantly — at homosexuals. Last week,“Newsbusters” took umbrage with Brian Williams and NBC News, and this week, “The New American” went even further, citing “predatory homosexual behavior” as the cause of the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal.
[TW - Rape] As the Penn State situation demonstrates—-and as did the Catholic Church scandal before it and as does the ongoing inability of our society to take prison rape seriously—-rape of men and children is also papered over, blamed on victims, or even condoned in our society.
The Penn State Scandal and Rape Culture
The country is still reeling—-and I expect will be reeling for a long time—-not only at the news of a cover-up of child sexual assault at Penn State that had gone on for years, but the growing awareness of how many men knew about the assault and did not call the police and the outrageous riots at the school by students who support Joe Paterno despite the role he played in the cover-up. It seems incredibly hard to believe that so many people could display such indifference to the presence of a child predator in their midst, and that so many more could find the problem not significant enough to take seriously by firing those engaged in the cover-up.
Now is the time to point out that feminists have been describing this problem for decades, and while it’s always going to be a shock on some level to see how much social support rapists and those who cover up for them get, it’s entirely predictable if you’ve been paying attention. In fact, excuse-making for sexual harassment, intimidation, and assault is so common that feminists created a phrase to describe it: rape culture. For once when it comes to feminist terminology, Wikipedia is accurate, so I’ll refer to its definition.
Rape culture is a term which originated in women’s studies and feminist theory, and describes a culture in which rape and sexual violence against women are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media all condone, normalize, excuse, or tolerate sexual violence against women. Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification and rape apologism.