Tara Samples 02-16-2015
The rape of the Sabine women, Florence Italy. Image courtesy Markus Gann/shutter

The rape of the Sabine women, Florence Italy. Image courtesy Markus Gann/shutterstock.com

The term "rape culture" is a sociological theory in which individuals who sexually harass and assault others are given a social license to do so, as they live in a society that makes excuses for perpetrators and blames victims for their own abuse. Feminist theorists often argue that rape culture beliefs are socialized into young men and women from childhood. Young men are socialized into beliefs that they have power and/or control and entitlement over others' bodies from a very young age. Likewise young women are socialized into believing they control men’s desire and lust via their clothing, behavior, and attractiveness. The theory of rape culture argues that these social beliefs facilitate sexual harassment, inappropriate sexual touch, sexual assault, and sexual objectification of others by reducing the stigma of engaging in unwanted sexual behavior and by increasing a since of entitlement from men towards women.

In Christian spheres of influence there has been an increasing focus — via Sojourners, Christians for Biblical Equality, and likeminded groups — to exposing how social beliefs, church leaders, and authoritarian theology has contributed to rape culture beliefs in the church and in the larger community. This focus comes in the midst of a media debate between social conservatives and social progressives about the very existence of rape culture. Inspired by conservative opposition to the recent publicity from the White House on the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses, this debate was further inflamed by the retraction of a Rolling Stone article about allegations of sexual assault at the University of Virginia. In response, it has become popular in recent months for conservative commentators to argue that there is no such thing as "rape culture."

This escalation of rhetorical debate is dangerous because it distracts from the real concern that rape culture theory was developed to address — that we help socialize dangerous behavior in children by our actions, inactions, and modeled beliefs. 

Tom Krattenmaker 08-29-2012
Perkins speaks to reporters outside FRC's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Perkins speaks to reporters outside FRC's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Thank you, Family Research Council, for now conceding what conservative groups have been loath to acknowledge in recent years: the truth that incendiary rhetoric indeed does contribute to a climate conducive to politically motivated violence.

Never has the moment seemed more opportune to forge consensus around an overdue new rule in the culture wars. Starting now, can we all please watch our words?

Most likely, you're aware of the incident that ignited this renewed debate about rhetoric and violence. On Aug. 15, a volunteer from a Washington, D.C., community center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people walked into the headquarters of the Family Research Council, an influential conservative Christian organization, with a gun, a box of ammunition and a burning grudge against the group and its anti-gay politics and rhetoric, authorities said. The suspect, according to court documents, shot a security guard in the arm before he was subdued by that same guard and taken into custody.

Thank goodness no one was killed and that the security guard acted so heroically to prevent the incident from getting far worse. The group's fiercest opponents in the ongoing national arguments — organizations representing ardent secularists and gay-rights advocates — were quick to condemn the shooting, and rightly so. Conservatives have likewise been clear, for the most part, in their denunciations of violence committed against liberal figures over the years.

Here's where the plot gets thicker.

Jim Wallis 11-11-2011
Stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Governor Perry should have to stand up and have the three hour Lincoln-Douglas style debates about why he wants to cut the Departments of Education, Commerce, Energy, and perhaps even the Environmental Protection Agency, and all the other government work that he would like to forget.

the Web Editors 09-22-2011

When President Barack Obama laid out his deficit plan Monday, he wasn't just trying to sell a policy. When he pressed for tax hikes on the rich and announced, "This is not class warfare," he was trying to exorcise a demon that has bedeviled the Democratic Party for decades and in the process deprive the Republicans of one of their trustiest weapons. The reaction from the right was swift and sure: "Class warfare!"

Gary M. Burge 05-10-2011
Once again last week the pages of the New York Times was graced with an ad published by David Horowitz's Freedom Center, one of
Julie Clawson 04-15-2011
Today is the annual National Day of Silence, a day where students across America pledge to be silent for a day in order to bring attention
I believe deeply in the power of nonviolence, first as a Christian, and second as one committed to seeing the principles of human dignity, freedom, and justice advanced throughout the world.
Chris LaTondresse 03-01-2011

"Farewell Rob Bell." With this three word tweet John Piper -- senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist church in Minneapolis, Minnesota and elder statesman of the neo-reform stream of American Christianity -- triggered an online firestorm over the weekend.

Cesar Baldelomar 02-16-2011

On May 30, 2009, a terrorist attack in Arizona ended the lives of two U.S. citizens -- a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter.

Debra Dean Murphy 01-24-2011
I used to live in a world where God was a given and unapologetic faith was the lens through which the world was seen and interpreted.
Duane Shank 01-20-2011
The calls for a more civil discourse in our public life spurred by the shooting in http://blog.sojo.net/tag/arizona/" targe
Debra Dean Murphy 01-18-2011
In his role as prophet to the nation, Martin Luther King Jr.
Johnathan Smith 01-17-2011

In his "I Have a Dream" speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sheldon Good 01-11-2011
God's heart broke just as ours did upon hearing of the victims in Tucson.
Duane Shank 11-01-2010

[Editor's Note: Welcome to Sojourner's Truth and Civility Election Watch Honor Roll. This post is part of a series of submissions from our constituents that highlight organizations and individuals engaging in positive, honest discourse.]

Simon Greer 07-27-2010
This spring, we saw an opportunity to join the efforts of Rev.
Cesar Baldelomar 05-28-2010
This past Tuesday, President Obama announced that he intends to send 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Ian Danley 05-17-2010

My beloved city, Phoenix, is making a fantastic run at being the punch line in the larger immigration drama. I wish we were focused on a less volatile campaign, working toward getting the Olympics or something.