This Is Rape Culture: Whose Credibility Problem?

By Erin Matson, NOW Action Vice President

If it only took telling a few lies over the course of your life to be free from the constant threat of rape, why, I’m sure women would lie through our teeth at every chance. The moon is fuchsia. It’s cool to get paid less. No woman has ever been or could ever be one of the 600 women raped every day in this country.

Well, it’s just not true. Rape culture doesn’t differentiate between poor women, rich women, immigrant women, native women, old women, young women, abled women, disabled women, women on a date, women who don’t know their attackers, women who lie, women who don’t. Rape culture means that while some women are more statistically likely to be raped, every woman is at risk of sexual assault and “No Means Yes” passes for an acceptable joke in far too many quarters.

This Fourth of July weekend, one very powerful and wealthy man named Dominique Strauss-Kahn was free to leave house arrest because of so-called problems with the victim’s “credibility.” I do say so-called, because neither lying on an immigration application, nor having an incarcerated boyfriend, makes it less likely a woman will be one of the 600 women raped on any given day.

Over the same weekend, another woman came forward in his home country, France, to press rape charges against the former IMF chief. Far from leading to a questioning of his “credibility” (a second set of charges pretty damning indeed, one would think), it has been largely overlooked in lieu of a flurry of suggestions that his political career is saved and perhaps he should run for president of France after all. This is also what rape culture looks like. It’s certainly not what freedom looks like, not for women.

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