The New Rape Culture

Blurred Lines: The New Battle of the Sexes

BBC (2014)

Film Review

Blurred Lines is about the new misogyny, which makes it socially acceptable to be sexually offensive to women.

BBC reporter Kirsty Wark makes a clear distinction between sexism, which she sees as an irrational bias against women’s equality, and misogyny, which is the dislike and deliberate denigration of women.

She focuses on four main manifestations of so-called “rape culture”: in stand-up comedy, social media, on-line gaming and adolescent male-female interactions.

The Year of the Rape Joke

2012 was known as the Year of the Rape Joke at the Edinburgh Festival. Several men Wark interviews argue strenuously that casual talk about rape is perfectly acceptable so long as it’s done in a humorous or ironic way. Others disagree. She talks to a psychologist who has studied the effect of sexual assault jokes on male behavior. His research shows that rape jokes validates the sexist views of men with underlying resentment towards women. After listening to jokes about sexual assault, they are more likely to oppose women’s equality in politics, in the workplace and in the home.

Misogynistic Social Media

Blurred Lines also examines several high profile incidents in which prominent females were subjected to vicious, graphic sexual slurs and rape threats on social media. The most highly publicized involved Caroline Criado-Perez, who received around 50 abusive tweets an hour for a 12-hour period after successfully campaigning for Jane Austen to appear on the ten pound note.

Misogyny is also extremely common in on-line gaming. Grand Theft Auto, the most popular on-line game of all times, is a classic example. It provides for players to score points by paying prostitutes and then mugging or killing them to get their money back. Meanwhile women gamers are frequently bombarded with sexually dismissive language and rape threats once male players discover they are female.

Recently Anita Sarkeesian, a Canadian media critic, tried to crowdfund a study on women’s roles in on-line games. The reaction she got was a barrage with graphically violent rape threats, in addition to having her crowdfunding site hacked and shut down. What was even more remarkable was that many of threat threats weren’t anonymous, as they were linked with Facebook pages.

Male Anger Towards Women

Wark, explores where this intense anger comes from by interviewing Australian feminist Germaine Greer, who shocked the world by discussing men’s unconscious hostility towards women in the Female Eunuch (1970). Greer maintains that many men still view a women’s position in family and society as subordinate. Thus they feel threatened by women assuming previously male roles.

Martin Daubney, editor of the British men’s magazine Loaded, has a somewhat different take. He blames the anger on extreme role confusion, especially among young men who have no jobs or clearly defined gender roles and see women passing them by.

The Role of Pornography on the Adolescent Brain

The documentary ends by examining the extremely violent on-line pornography teenage boys consume and whether this has an effect on their developing sexuality. According to the young women Wark interviews it does. They feel on-line pornography leads teenage boys to demand sex in the male-dominant way pornography portrays it. It also causes them to feel threatened and dismissive towards women who express sexual needs.

Another, more pernicious effect of ubiquitous on-line pornography, humor that makes light of sexual assault and the constant objectification of women in advertising is confusion about consent. This ranges from inappropriate groping at parties to gang rape which is posted to Facebook or live tweeted on Twitter.

5 thoughts on “The New Rape Culture

  1. “Meanwhile women gamers are frequently bombarded with sexually dismissive language and rape threats once male players discover they are female.”

    Why would any woman promote such a game? It’s bad enough that gen x, y and millennial boys and men partake of this kind of dehumanizing mind control.

    Humanity, for eons, has been divided in every way possible, by the religious and political powers that be. Religion in particular, as you know, is responsible for the division that stands between women and men today.

    Until we human beings stop labeling each other with divisive designations, including gender, this will continue as it always has, because it plays right into the hands and the agenda of the powers that be: Divide and conquer!

    It’s sick and disgusting. I don’t want to see anyone abused this way.


    • I think it’s really important for the older generation to reach out to young people to try to understand the amazing pressure their generation is experiencing. Many have no jobs – or really low wage jobs – and it doesn’t occur to them yet that these problems are social and political. They are taught to blame themselves for their problems. In my experience, this leads to a whole lot of self-destructive behavior.


      • I agree! life wasn’t perfect when I was in my teens, but there was still a stability left at that time. Today, I don’t know what the young people can reach out and grasp as being real and safe.

        I certainly am glad I never brought a child into this mess.


  2. “Religion in particular, as you know, is responsible for the division that stands between women and men today” and” Divide and conquer” I agree 100% but i still hate Hillory Clinton


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