Women are not possessions: fighting rape culture with misogyny

Every time I hear someone say  to a man ” You should call out rape apology because what if the woman was your mother or sister or aunt or daughter”, I wince. It’s one of those statements that men who think they’re helping make without recognising that it actually reinforces rape culture.

Rape culture depends on creating a dichotomy between “good” and “bad” women.  This is the basis of patriarchy: women as possessions of men who are controlled and oppressed through (violent) social structures which reinforce the construction of women as possessions. Implying that men should not rape in case someone else rapes their mother or sister or daughter is not helping to dismantle rape culture. It merely reinforces the belief that some women are unrapeable because they are not a possession of a man. If we want to end rape culture, we need to say rape is a crime committed against women, children and men; not because they are possessions of a powerful man but because they are human and are entitled to bodily autonomy and safety.

I understand that many people use the expression “what if it were your daughter or mother” because they are trying to help. We just need to be careful that the language we use does not accidentally reinforce the very structures we are trying to dismantle.

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