For years, feminists and those concerned with rape have pointed to a “rape culture” that supposedly normalizes and excuses the horrible crime of rape.  And this isn’t just some academic theory or minority viewpoint.  The White House calls for programs to “change a culture of passivity and tolerance in this country, which too often allows this type of violence to persist”.  The problem is that every single aspect of this narrative is false, and clinging to it not only does not help diminish the prevalence of this atrocity, but actively backfires against the stated goals of the “rape culture” detractors.

Instead of helping victims and working to diminish rape, those decrying “rape culture” engage in hysterical censorship campaigns.  Thousands of activists sign petitions like the one to force the cancellation of a Robin Thicke concert at Boston University.  Why?  Because, you see:

Thicke’s hit song “Blurred Lines” celebrates having sex with women against their will. Lyrics such as, “I know you want it,” explicitly use non-consensual language.

Now, I’m fairly certain most people have heard the song, and this in no way “celebrates” non-consensual sex.  Lines like “The way you grab me” and “One thing I ask of you” indicate a highly consensual relationship.  Yet, somehow, the song is accused of having a context of “systemic patriarchy and sexual oppression”.  And some British universities have gone so far as to ban the song entirely.

Additionally, the idea of a “rape culture” leads to an unjust approach to actual cases of the crime.  Instead of treating allegations similarly to other crimes, authorities seeking to avoid being painted with the “rape culture” brush treat the crime so harshly as to lead to a “guilty because accused” methodology. No longer is evidence required at a sort of trial – instead the court of public opinion pushes for a complete lynching of anyone accused of the crime.  Certainly, actual rapists will be caught up in this hysteria, but so are many innocent individuals.

This approach to criminal justice is set square against the legal presumption of innocence – the idea that “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”, in the words of English jurist Sir William Blackstone – that was fought for by various groups throughout history.  Even the Bible demonstrates such a principle, as seen in Genesis 18:23-32, where Abraham pleads for the innocents of the city of Sodom:

And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?  And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.  […] And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And He said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

Exodus 23:7 likewise commands the believer “the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.”  Both Biblical and secular legal requirements forbid the punishment of the innocent.  But it goes further than this.  In punishing the innocent as well as those proven to be guilty, people are incentivized to make it all up.  Thus, the actual victims are stuck mired in a system that is busy hunting down false allegations.  And the less evidence one need put forth, the more this will occur.

Certainly, the majority of cases will likely be actual victims coming forth.  And it is true that it is difficult to actually prove rape – it often devolves into a “he said, she said” scenario, unfortunately.  But this is not solved by punishing anyone accused of the crime.  Instead, a system is set up that harms both the innocent-but-accused and actual victims.  And that does no good for anyone.  Results, not intentions, are what matter in the end.  And facts, not emotion, should be the guide for determining how alleged criminals should be treated.